US rockers talk ongoing success, worst gigs and Sugar Ray’s ‘non-stop porn’
By Catherine Elliott.
Matchbox Twenty have made a victorious comeback recently with their new album North, earning them their first ever No.1 on the US Billboard chart, topping the Australian charts and debuting at No.14 in the UK earlier in September.
The ‘Unwell’ band have been making music since 1996 and have enjoyed huge success in the US, Australia and New Zealand. They had a five year break during which they released a greatest hits album and had a slight change of line-up, a change of bassist.
Gigwise recently caught up with frontman and lead guitarist to discuss how it felt to finally bag a No.1 album,why frontman would never resort to appearing on Dancing In The Stars and how the British fans are way ‘too hip’ for them.
» Was it a conscious decision to take such a long break between your third and fourth albums?
: We never said we were gonna take this long to do it. It was more a case of life just happened. When finished his first solo record, he was ready to go with Matchbox but I wasn’t ready, I think there was also a point where wasn’t ready. We just had to figure out how to line it up.
» How did it feel when the album hit No.1 on the US Billboard chart? Was there ever a worry that your fans might have moved on in your absence?
: It was amazing, it’s our first No.1 record. Even with all the success that we’ve had, you keep telling yourself that a number one doesn’t matter, but then when you get one your like, oh yeah it totally matters. We did a greatest hits record five years ago and we toured some of the biggest places we’ve ever toured so we knew that the base were there. But to be sixteen years on, and, our story is that that we’re still moving forward. We debuted over here in the UK at No.14, which is a huge. That is the biggest we’ve ever debuted so for us. All we want is to continue to move forward, and not to slide backwards. I always said, if we ever made two records that nobody cared about, I’d quit.
» Now you’re back on tour, are you wishing you’d done it sooner?
: No the timing was perfect, the way everything’s worked out is good because we love what we do, and we wouldn’t want to do everything else because. There are other things in our lives besides the band. If we would have toured sooner, those things would have suffered.
» How was your headline performance at the iTunes festival?
: It was amazing, flawless.
: Yeah it was fun; it was only our second show so were still working out some kinks…but energy is always better than perfection. I’ve got to say I do find when we come here that there are fans that we would just never see in America. It’s like; you’re entirely too hip to be listening to us dude, this is didn’t you realise?!
» Is the buzz still as strong? And how have your backstage antics changed – are you more mellow now?
: Well I don’t know about you but I stumbled to my bed at 6.30 this morning. So no I don’t feel mellower to be honest.
: But then, we’ve never really had backstage antics, we’ve always had after show antics.
: Yeah our backstage is relatively quiet.
: We’ve always been very serious about the gig, like before the gig everyone is warming up and stretching out to get ready for the gig. We’ve never wanted party it up then.
: We did this tour with Sugar Ray and when we walked past their dressing room they had a road case, and it folded out into a bar, it had a TV that was non-stop porn and there were masses of people in and out the whole time, we were like, ours is not like that one bit.
» What’s been your worst ever show?
: I thought our iTunes Festival show wasn’t great, I felt I had had a bad show, but then I watched it and I was like nah it wasn’t that bad. For me though, one of my stellar moments was back when I played drums at the American Music Awards, we played ‘Disease’. And I for some reason thought it was a great idea to wear bell bottoms. I’m playing and then my drum stick gets caught in my pants and I go down to get it so then I dropped my other stick and I nearly fell of the chair, and I just look like, give me a clumsy guy?
» A lot of mainstream artists are releasing a new album every year. Do you think this is a good way to work, or will it end up in a case of quantity over quality?
: I think our career says no, and I think this is a good example, but I’m gonna end up sticking my foot right into my mouth here: one of my favourite artists is Ryan Adams. He releases 20 records a year man and I think that if he just put them all together that he could pick out the best stuff and then each year he would put out one of the greatest records ever made. So yeah, I think that sometimes people are too prolific for their own good.
: was it a struggle at all sharing writing duties more fully with the band?
At first it was, it’s just not the way I was used to working. I think to be frank, it got a lot easier once I realised the quality of the stuff we were putting together. When I hear the song ‘Overjoyed’, that is better than anything I have ever written alone. I don’t care where it comes from as long we can sit down and write songs like that. You realise that you are flexing a different muscle, but you’re still being creative.
» Who was ‘She’s So Mean’ inspired by?
: Everyone knows that person; we just thought that it would be a fun song to write.
: We had the melody but with no lyric and only the line ‘She’s So Mean’, we decided writing a story about how even intelligent people can do things that they know are bad for them, and once they’ve triggered that its bad for them they continue to do it, especially where either love or sex are involved, emotionally everybody is on the same level. You hear these stories of genius, titans of industry meeting a really hot waitress and their whole life falls apart.
» What’s still on the list to achieve in ?
: Another record,
: I’d say we just want to carry on moving forward. There are a lot of people that will look in from the outside and try and tell us what to do. But we don’t want to do that, we want to do what we’re doing now and we want to continue improving.
: You can’t listen to other people because somewhere in this world there someone that thinks are the greatest band that’s ever lived, and there someone else that thinks we are the biggest piece of sh*t that they have ever heard and that we should die. So the only people we are going to listen to is ourselves. I mean I’d rather listen to the first one, because I’m a realist.
Thank you very much, . North is out now.