It was well over a month from my writing this that I was able to
talk to the boys of matchbox 20. The interview went well, I thought
the show they did that night was awesome, but for the life of me I
haven't been able to figure out just how to put this thing together
- until now. The worst writer's block I have ever had, I figured the
band thought I was using them, their publicist probably hated me,
and every time I sat down to write this article my mind turned off.
I tried to take the easy way out, just writing down the questions
with their answers, but that read like shit. Then I thought of just
dumping the interview and making it a downloadable audio file but
that seemed worse. So, I waited, and waited, until the time finally
would hit me of what to write. It came, and oddly enough it came
now, while I'm on a plane to New Jersey, for a working vacation with
much of the staff. Well, this article is sort of a Q and A article,
it's sort of not, and whether you like it or not at least it might
give you some insight into a few of the boys from matchbox 20.
I remember this interview like yesterday, only it wasn't. It was a
gorgeous day in Chi-town and I was heading to meet the band at
Schuba's, a local tavern type place, around 5 o'clock. Strolling
past the bus, I'm a little early, and out comes Adam Gaynor, the
rhythm guitar man for the band. Then, at the worst time, brain fart.
I couldn't remember his name. So, it started with a "Hi, I'm
The Dude on the Right. I've got an interview with you guys."
Yea," Adam said, "you must be our 5o'clock." That I
was. Well, they were still doing some sound checking, so he has me
come into the bar. Sitting there was Brian Yale, bass player,
watching a little TV and reading the paper. I start the casual
conversation, and the conversation turns to basketball. This being
Bull's town, and most of the matchbox 20 boys being Miami fans,
conflicts of interest had already begun. But, this interview
wouldn't be about basketball. Nope, this interview would be about
David Hasslehoff, Peter Jeremy, and a dog.
Sound check ended, and it was time to head for the bus and the
talkative dudes of the band, Rob Thomas, lead vocalist, Adam Gaynor,
and Paul Dolcette, the drummer. Armed with some standard questions,
and our typical list of off-the-wall type questions, it was time to
find out about one of my new favoritist bands, matchbox 20.
They Ain't Tired, They Ain't Talkin', but They're Hobnobbin.
Simply enough, I ask the guys how they are doing. I know they've
been on the road, "Push" from "Yourself or Someone
Like You" is just starting to get some major airplay, and I
figure it's got to be pretty exciting. Rob blurts out "Tired.
No, wait, that's not true. Ever since we got the bus I think I've
been sleeping too much." It turns out they say it was Vince
Gill's bus, and it is then that I find that there is one person in
the group who you really don't know if you can ever believe, and
that dude is Adam. In keeping with the country theme, they point out
the cute little window etchings, and Adam throws out that it is
actually an etching of Bambi's mother before the gunshot wound,
complete with an "X" where the gunshot hit.
Now, as important as Bambi is to many people, the e-mails I got
before the interview didn't care about Bambi, the girls wanted to
know who was single, who wasn't, and who might cheat. So I asked, to
which "Jerome" said they all were single, except when
their girlfriends were around. Not talkin', except to say most of
them have girlfriends, but you ladies out there, you have to find
Enough about girls, how was the band handling their new-found
notoriety and was there anything they don't like about being famous?
Well, it seems the band just really likes to play and they take the
good with the bad. They're in a strange spot, or the
"in-between stage" as Rob seems to explain. Some days big,
some days small, they play major venues to sold-out crowds who
didn't pay to see them, and tiny venues where they don't even know
if anyone will show up. Kinda like this show at Schuba's - the boys
wanted me to call all of my friends because they didn't think anyone
was coming. I couldn't break it them that I don't have any friends,
so relying on me to bring in some people wasn't a good marketing
strategy. But, in the end, it seems they already have the right name
because the place was packed. Rob also put things in perspective,
about how cool it is to be opening for bands like Offspring and
Jackopierce, but as of then, he says, they're "hobnobbin with
the stars, but they don't know who we are."
The Music Biz
So they're a new band, they've got a hit under their belt, and I'm
wondering if they'll be around a while and if they wonder that too.
The breakdown of the question was pretty simple, what might be the
reason for the number of "one-hit wonders" that seem to be
prevalent today - maybe more so than before, but who was to blame -
radio, the industry, the bands, who? Well, Adam had his answer, and
he blamed it all on Peter Jeremy, some dude who lives in South
Dakota. The band explains he is well connected, and just keeps this
list, with bands like Dexy's Midnight Runners, to control the fate
of every band out there. Alright Adam, first you're pointing out
that "X" marks the spot on the Bambi etching, and now the
"downfall of all bands that don't make it over a year," as
Adam put it, can be blamed on one dude. Well, I didn't believe this
one, but Rob led the discussion into a way most bands can probably
gauge the life of their success - the number of songs you have going
into that first record. Yea, maybe some of those songs won't be
making it on to that first CD, but if you've been writing for a
while and can do it smartly, your chances of lasting over a year
will be greater.
Rob then put things into a perspective I never thought of before,
"For a lot of people's first record they have their whole life
to write that record. They've been working on it since they were
ten, culminating it into a record, and then the next record they
have a year to put together twelve songs…. Now you've got the
pressures while you're writing, worrying if people are going to like
this… Before you were just doing it." And as Adam explains
that Rob did their record in an hour and a half, and a half-hour of
that was a lunch break, Paul works in the culture of Americans
versus the rest of the world. Groups like Bon Jovi, artists like
Meat Loaf and David Hasslehoff, are still considered huge throughout
the rest of the world due mostly to the loyalty of the fans, whereas
Americans always want the next thing. The guys don't blame radio
alone, they don't blame the industry, in fact they seem to think
that most of the times the success of that second record is usually
just luck. And as they're talking, their attitude isn't one of
worrying about their second entry into the CD rack, their attitude
is of just playing and writing the next record and hoping people
like it. "All we can do is play and play and play and do the
best we possibly can," Rob says, and "try to never get
caught with a dead hooker in a hotel room."
The Internet, "Always and Forever," and Rob Writing
for David Hasslehoff
Contrary to many bands with web sites, matchbox 20 seems to really
take an interest in their site and in keeping their fans informed.
They also seem to understand the concept of why the web is there and
where it is going. From their excitement in the first weeks where
ten people may have visited, to now bringing in over 1000 a day,
Adam says he still has the first message ever posted and he still
writes back and forth to that person on occasion. Adam and Brian
Yale tend to most of the e-mail and messages, but they all seem to
get involved. And it's from their site that led me into where the
superstition of singing "Always and Forever" before every
show began. See, the web site said they do it, but didn't tell how
it started, and like most superstitions, I figured it perpetuated
itself because of a bad performance. I was right.
Rob explained that it kind of started from his seeing Martin
Lawrence in "House Party" singing the song, and from then
on an occasional hug of a bandmate would bring a re-enactment
singing of "Always and Forever," and they explained that
it usually happened before shows. Going on and on they didn't
realize how much they were doing it until one night when they
didn't. Yep, as superstitions would have it, the show that night
fell apart, and hence, before every show, it's a little singing fest
with the boys of the band and their tour manager. And if you want to
catch them with their pants down, literally, the easiest chance is
before a really big show. They sing and drop their pants and piss
off the people trying to get them on stage.
And the conversation shifts to songwriting. A couple of days
before this interview, a fan wrote in with a simple question - When
will matchbox 20 be releasing a new CD? Well, not to burst the new
fan's bubble, but it might be a while. They've been writing
together, and Adam says everyone should just relax. They've got
plenty of songs to put together a new CD, but "Yourself or
Someone Like You" is now starting to get the sales that, even
though it's been out a while, for the new fans it is brand new. They
say they are waiting for some time off, and looking towards Summer
of '98, but Adam says they're waiting for David Hasslehoff's writers
to give them a call and maybe lend a hand. Rob throws himself into
songwriting mode, throws out some lyrics, and Paul shifts the
attitude from waiting for Mr. Hasslehoff's writers to maybe Rob
should be doing that writing. Rob, with a gleam in his eyes, says
"I could get just shit drunk and write something and he (David
Hasslehoff) would just eat it up!" I really didn't know that
"Baywatch Nights" could have such a profound effect on an
up and coming band, but the dudes of matchbox 20, well, let's just
say their seems to be a weird appreciation for the show.
A Funny Story - only one, Van Morrison, and A Good Shirt
The press release for matchbox 20 tells of Rob Thomas' transient
days, hitchhiking and singing at off-ramps in the middle of the
night. Me, I'm thinking there have got to be some stories to tell,
so my inquiring mind asked Rob and the band any good stories while
starting things out. Again, as talkative as they were, they weren't
talking about this because, as Rob says, "We'll either get in
trouble with our family, our girlfriends, somebody, or our record
company," but Adam felt this sudden need to clear his soul and
confessed that "we once killed a man in Denton, Texas… we're
not going to say who killed him, but we all hid the body." I
questioned their burial techniques, without the use of a couple of
bags of lime (all of a sudden they seemed really scared of my
knowledge of burying bodies, but just seemed to chalk that to my
being from Chicago). In the end, Rob did have one story to tell. He
put it like this: "You meet a lot of guys, like I met this guy
who wanted me to pose naked for a men's magazine, and some other guy
who pulls over, and I'm like the farthest, farthest, farthest thing
from homophobic. I mean, I'm like borderline bitch. But, I get in
the car, close the door, put my bag behind the seat, it's a truck,
we pull off, I look back, see some golf clubs, and say 'Do you
golf?' He looks over, he's like 65, and he goes, 'Listen son,' exact
words, I'll never forget them, 'I'm a gay person. Do you mind if we
pull off over here and I suck ya?' I was like, 'a… no.' 'So you
don't mind?' I was like, 'a.. no, I just appreciate the ride.' And
he was like 'Well, how about if I just touch ya?' and he reaches
over and starts grabbin' for my package, and we're doing like 70 and
I grab the gear shift, the truck starts rattlin', stops, and I get
out, I'm like kickin' the truck. I was like 17 or 18, it was fucked
up." Adam comes in "That's when he started hating
golf," which isn't true, according to Rob. My personal moral to
the story: Be wary of dudes in trucks carrying golf clubs.
Now, as much as funny stories are few and far between, the bands
and artists the boys would like to jam with are many. Rolling Stones
comes out first, Anni DeFranco, Paul throws in R.E.M., Adam wants to
dance with Michael Jackson, Rob would like to jam with Van Morrison,
and Neil Diamond comes up as well. And you know, as they rattle off
the names of the bands, it starts to fold into place where the
musical stylings of matchbox 20 come in, because if you listen to
their songs, you can start to hear a little bit of all of those, and
then with their own styling thrown in for good measure. That rolls
into what makes a good song, which Rob thinks is impossible to tell.
His analogy - "What makes a good shirt? One person will like
it, one person will think it sucks," and I get the feeling from
all of the boys that they play what they like, like what they play,
and will enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.
What Do You Remember Most About Your First Car?
With the serious questions over, it was time for the important
things, and what better thing than first cars. For Paul and Adam,
the stories ended the same. Paul, his was a 1980 Datsun B210, gray,
and he loved it, "more than life itself," as he put it. He
remembers that some guy smashed it, and he was sad. For Adam, it was
a 1972 Chevy Malibu, and Adam wonders why he is still alive because
it seems he got plowed to by an illegal alien in Texas. But it was
Rob's story that had some helpful hints. It seems his first blue
pick-up truck got re-possessed at a gig. But the advice I get is if
you're behind on your payments, don't ever tell people where you are
going to be. He explains that someone called his house looking for
him, and they were told what club he was playing at. Well, repo
people are tricky, and when he left the club his truck was gone. I'm
just hoping that he can keep up the payments now, with the band's
success and all!
Are You Dog or Cat People?
Paul blurts out first - "Dog," followed by Rob, "Cat…,
and dog," while Adam heads for the reptile bunch. They all
agree they would love to have a little dog on the bus, a trained
Chihuahua who could fetch them a pack of Camel's or a red-head, but
due to some allergies to animals, it looks like they'll be looking
for a new rhythm guitarist because Adam, although he would love a
dog, is allergic. A problem in the band, but I hope they can
Corner Pub, Dance Club, or Crowded Bar?
General consensus among the boys - corner pubs and crowded bars, but
no way in hell a dance club. Rob, though, seems like he is on the
perennial search for dive bars, "the dirtier and divier the
Drink of Choice?
Rob - Jack and Coke
Paul - Beer, Dos Equis Lager preferred.
Adam - Apple juice
I Never Leave Home Without…
Rob blurts out "My condoms, nah, just kidding." Paul
chimes in "You're in big trouble now!" But the
conversation turns to pre-bus, post-bus, and not being on tour.
Answers ranged from ear-plugs, bus keys, guitars, sunglasses, and
Adam's real answer, "My cosmetic bag, that would be my answer,
because I've got so much shit goin' on between oxys and hairsprays
and fuck it, I'm the biggest bitch you know." 'Nuff said.
Is It Okay to Lie to Someone You Love in Order to Avoid
Hurting Their Feelings?
General consensus, yes, and Rob thinks it's alright to lie to
everybody. But seriously, he follows that by explaining "on the
grand scheme of all the bad things in the world that can happen, a
little white lie is nothing if it spares a little embarrassment, as
long as it doesn't get out of hand." Meanwhile, Adam turns
lying to someone into the founding of our country, and that
"George Washington, he was the biggest liar ever, no offense to
his family and stuff, but he was a liar." Thanks Adam, I'm sure
the Washington's will appreciate that.
Favorite Cartoon Character?
A tie in the cartoon character between Space Ghost and The Tick.
However, there is a little more fondness for Space Ghost because
they all say they've met him, and "he's awesome," so says
Any Good Lawyer Jokes?
Adam has a million of them on his computer, he says, but Rob says
the biggest joke is how much they pay their lawyer. I understand.
What Was the Worst Job You Ever Had?
This one brought a little bit of thinking to the group, and Rob
found his. Turns out he worked at one place for two days, but had to
quit because he wouldn't wear the little red hat, Adam worked for a
pizza chain and wouldn't put his arm in the big vat of pizza sauce,
thus ended his rise to stardom in the fast food industry, while Paul
loved every job he ever had, and was always able to find a little
bit of fun in everything. Rob then changed the tone of the question
to the best job, which he considered his present employment in
matchbox 20, while Paul still would like to wait on tables, as he
puts it "I rocked at it, I was so good. I was a much better
waiter than I am a drummer, that's for sure."
What's the Best Advice Anyone Ever Gave You?
Here's the list, by no particular person, in no particular order:
"Stay focused, it matters." - Kim Stevens
"Deny, deny, deny."
"I don't know that girl."
"Be conscious of everything that's going on, know what everyone
is doing, but act like you're totally an idiot."
And the Interview Comes to a Close
So I wrapped it up, Rob apologized for their somewhat lack of
seriousness in some of the answers to which I apologized for the
lack of seriousness in some of the questions, and Paul kicks in
"That's the first time anyone has ever asked me about my first
car." Was I impressed - pretty much so, for this band seems to
have their act together while still having fun just playing and
writing. Me, I'm hoping that Peter Jeremy doesn't have them on the
list of one-hit wonders, but I think they might have a chance to
pull it off, because as Rob puts it, "As long as they let us
tour, we will tour. We will do whatever we have to do to keep this