It has been seven months and thousands of touring miles since the October 1996 release of Matchbox 20’s Lava/Atlantic debut album, “Yourself or Someone Like You.” Frontman Rob Thomas says the Orlando-based pop-rock quintet has learned quite a lot along the way.
“You can’t worry all the time about what you’re doing with radio and what you’re doing with sales or with the record company,” he said recently, “because regardless of where you’re at, you’re going to be doing the same thing. You’re going to play the best you possibly can; you’re going to get into the van and go to the next place and do it all over again. You just can’t sweat over that stuff.”
Patience has paid off for Thomas and band mates Kyle Cook (guitar), Adam Gaynor (guitar), Brian Yale (bass) and drummer Paul Doucette. After stints opening for the Samples, Jars of Clay and the Lemonheads, Matchbox 20 is finally seeing some results: “Yourself or Someone Like You” is at No. 129 and climbing this week on Billboard’s pop albums chart, and radio is embracing the single “Push.”
More than a year ago, Thomas admits, he was bright-eyed and green behind the ears when the group went into the studio with Collective Soul co-producer Matt Serletic.
“Matt’s our age, about 25, he wasn’t an old, set-in-his-way kind of guy in his 40s that was bitter and only had his way of doing things,” Thomas said. “Matt was just one of us, like another member of the band, and getting all excited about the music. That really helped our situation, because we were pretty new to this.”
Matchbox 20 and Seven Mary Three, poised for the release of its second Mammoth/Atlantic album (“RockCrown”), are leading a new Orlando charge. Labels may be combing Central Florida for “the next big thing,” but Thomas says the music scene there didn’t happen overnight.
“There’s always been bands here, just like in any city,” he said. “It’s just so funny how you get a couple fingers out there before anybody will take a look at them, and then all of a sudden everyone acts like bands are popping up out of nowhere. It just doesn’t happen that way.”