Difference between Matchbox 20 Albums and Rob Thomas
Rob Thomas, a lead singer and songwriter of Matchbox 20, sang a few solo songs of which, one was rated among the Top 10 hits and, his effort was recognized when he was ranked No.5 among a cluster of celebrity singers on Billboard’s Top 20 list of Hot 100 songwriters between 2010-2011. Was Rob the reason for Matchbox 20 becoming so successful in the 2000s, or was it Matchbox 20 that helped push Rob Thomas’ popularity as an exceptional music talent?
“It’s been 10 years since the multi-platinum selling band Matchbox Twenty which included Rob Thomas, Paul Doucette, Kyle Cook, and Brian Yale, released a full-length studio record, and in 2012, they released their new album, ‘North,’ writes, Coachman (2012). Coachman had the privilege of interviewing Rob Thomas in 2012, and during the interview, Rob was asked a number of questions by Coachman which included questions like what made the band come together again for North, sharing songwriting duties with the band, and their future. Speaking about their unison after nearly a decade, Rob was quite forthcoming by saying that the group always had that in their minds and that it was only because of the extensive touring as a group or individual that made them retire for a while. Once they finished their last tour four or five years ago, Rob was already recording his solo record while on the road, because of which he had to put all his effort into that. Once his solo albums were released, the band got back together, and while he wrote a whole number of songs, the band played them. However, Rob was quick to add that the others of the band too got involved in writing so that there was no stalemate in their songs. The best part was that because others also contribute to writing the songs, it makes the whole process of listening and playing quite an exhilarating experience. This is what makes the band so successful. Rob also added that because they had songs like, ‘She’s So Mean’ and ‘Put Your Hands Up,’ it kept them together and the transition to writing together more enjoyable. What’s more; when we develop a song, its only when the group together appreciates it together, does the song come out. It is not about individual choices.
On the title, North, Rob said that it was just directional, in the sense that since the band had retired for a while, they felt that, North was a direction people followed when lost. “We don’t really worry about the sequence of songs that are played. It is the record companies that decide that and therefore, whether it was ‘She’s so mean,’ or ‘Overjoyed,’ or ‘Put Your Hands Up,’ we are hardly concerned. We as a band enjoy them all,” ended Rob Thomas. “It’s a kind of a democratic process with five guys, who all have a stake in this, and who all have tastes that we trust in music, just weighing in. And sometimes it would just come down to the vote. If four people really hated a song and one guy liked it, then the song doesn’t make it.” The interview clearly shows that whether it was solo or with the band, the music that was played was what made them successful. It was not about individual brilliance, but the collective effort of the band that makes them popular. Even though Rob did start by writing songs for the band, and continued to do so for his solo performances, which were successful, the band’s success didn’t come from any individual’s brilliance, but the collective effort of each member of the group.
Regen (2009) in Rob Thomas: Pop Music's Master Songsmith on the Sounds and Stories Behind Cradlesong, says that Thomas, the Grammy-winning singer and the ‘frontman’ of the successful rock band Matchbox Twenty, and the scribe behind megahits like ‘Push,’ ‘Smooth’ and ‘Lonely No More,’ is arguably the hardest working songwriter in pop music today. With record sales in excess of 80 million albums worldwide, Thomas spends most of his time writing songs. Cradlesong is a song with a difference. With acoustic and electronic timbres, Thomas gives the entire collection of tunes a new sheen all its own. This showed that Rob Thomas liked to innovate and didn’t like to churn out cliché music that could hurt his popularity. He talks about the use of OASYS and different drum software, the base, and keyboard to get a vibe going, and then write to the track that he wrote.
The Press, New Zealand carried an interview tat took place between Vicki Anderson and Paul Doucette in 2012 on their new album, North. Since forming the band in 1995, Matchbox Twenty had sold more than 30 million albums. Some of their albums included, Mad Season (2000), More Than You Think You Are (2002) and a greatest hits collection, Exile on Mainstream (2007), which included Disease, a co-write with Mick Jagger. The band went into hiatus in 2004 and was back in force; with the lineup of Rob Thomas, Kyle Cook, Brian Yale, Paul Doucette and Ryan MacMillan. On quizzing Doucette on what he thought about their reunion, he said that getting the band back together was initially something of a disaster since each band member had their own definite ideas on the way forward and they ended up with so much material they weren't sure what direction to take. He too like Thomas says that North signified the direction they chose’ “trying to figure out where our north was.” However, getting back together to record after such a long break wasn't difficult, as “their relationship was like a marriage,” he ended.
Moon (2000), in ‘'Smooth Sailing Matchbox Twenty, Which Will Preview its New Album in a Sold-Out Show Sunday, Seems Primed to Follow Up on The Huge Success of its Debut Disc and Singer Rob Thomas’ Hit With Santana,” says that Doucette had fear that the band didn't want to deny the Santana association as it faced the dreaded job of following up an unexpectedly successful debut. "If anything, it created some anticipation for our record, and gave Rob a little bit of notice as a writer, which we all think he deserves” said Doucette. Thomas had no illusions about his ‘Smooth’ success leading to an enhanced profile as a songwriter or singer.
These research studies clearly reflected the mind-set of the band members and do not in any way reflect Thomas’ supremacy on the group. Thomas’ popularity on the contrary can be attributed to his part in Matchbox Twenty. Matchbox Twenty’s music was unique and each member of the band contributed to their popularity. This sentiment was expressed by the band members when they reunited to release their new album. However, there is no denying the fact that Thomas is an exceptional music talent.
Coachman, K, (2012), Interview: Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas Discusses the Band’s New Album, North, http://blogcritics.org/interview-matchbox-twentys-rob-thomas-discusses/
Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2010, (2012), Matchbox Twenty [Derived Headline], The Press, Fairfax Media: Fairfax New Zealand Limited, ISSN 01139762, p.12
Moon, T, (2000), Smooth Sailing Matchbox Twenty, Which Will Preview its New Album in a Sold-Out Show Sunday, Seems Primed to Follow Up on The Huge Success of its Debut Disc and Singer Rob Thomas’ Hit With Santana, Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., General Interest Periodicals, United States, ISSN 08856613
Regen, J, (2009), Rob Thomas: Pop Music's Master Songsmith on the Sounds and Stories Behind Cradlesong, New Bay Media LLC, 35(7), ISSN 07300158, p.20-27