Back in 1996, Matchbox Twenty — Rob Thomas, Kyle Cook, Paul Doucette, Adam Gaynor and Brian Yale — was just another struggling band looking to prove they were more than everyone thought they were. Two hit records later, and album sales of 20 million plus, they have done just that and now the band has released its third album, aptly entitled “More Than You Think You Are.” NBC’s Matt Lauer has more on the group in “Today’s Backstage Pass.”
Despite becoming one of America’s most popular rock bands, the group’s members can still poke fun at themselves.
“Matchbox Twenty… it’s such a stupid name. It just does not fit,” says lead singer Thomas.
“It was cool when we were like you know, 20,” says drummer Doucette.
What does Matchbox Twenty mean? According to their record label, Atlantic Records, it’s completely made-up, with no real meaning.
Despite the name, Matchbox Twenty has logged an extraordinary string of hit singles, including “Push,” “3am,” “Real World,” “Back 2 Good,” “If You’re Gone,” “Mad Season,” and the #1 hit “Bent.” In addition, lead singer Thomas has received a number of songwriting honors, including three Grammy awards for the #1 hit song “Smooth,” co-written by Carlos Santana for Santana’s album “Supernatural.”
“I think we’re just your typical, run-of-the-mill rock, pop, country, jazz (and) soul kind of quintet,” says Thomas.
“Few people get to do what we do at the level that we do it. We’ve kind of been lucky enough to get some success at this,” says Doucette.
Regardless of their sound, don’t call them hip. Thomas says, “the band’s saving grace has been that we are not hip.” What Thomas means is that Matchbox Twenty’s focus isn’t getting on magazine covers, their focus is the music.
The band’s third album, “More Than You Think You Are,” was released in the fall of 2002. So far they have had two hit singles from it, “Disease” and “Unwell,” which recently was # 1 on the Adult Top 40 charts and is currently #1 on the VH1 video countdown. According to their record label, they have sold just over a million copies of this, their third CD, so far.
Critics seem to be split on whether this album sounds like the Matchbox Twenty we are used to or a whole new concept. But one thing is for sure: they are getting great reviews. Billboard said the new CD is “a hands down smash” and the Boston Herald said it’s their “best album yet.”
Thomas and Doucette are the main songwriters for the band. And collaboration isn’t always easy. In fact, a little tension tossed into the mix makes for better music.
“Rob and I have been playing together for 10 years. We spend a lot of time together,” says Doucette.
“A lot of time arguing,” says Thomas.
“We both want to make a great record and we both want to put on a great show and want to do everything the best we possibly can. It’s a struggle, me pushing it this way and him pushing it that way and so we kind of meet in the middle,” says Doucette.
The band’s inspired lyrics speak directly to the fans.
“You guys are great, your music gets me through the toughest time,” a fan says to Thomas.
And while other bands would be comfortable with their success, with every album Matchbox Twenty strives to take it up a notch.
Doucette says, “We’re always in search of the great song. Sometimes maybe we come closer than others and we’re still looking.”