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Don't dance if you don't want to
Matchbox 20 keep pushing the gospel of rock 'n' roll
Matchbox 20 with Kybosh and Death Valley Dolls
at the Republik
Monday, March 17
Rock is dead. Again. You've read the news: the Prodigy at Lollapalooza, U2 at the YMCA - a global electronic revolution featuring one nation under a groove with over a dozen different names (i.e. jungle, drum 'n' bass, etc., etc., etc.). Dead, dead, dead. Right?
"I read an article on Trent Reznor [Nine Inch Nails]," says walking corpse Rob Thomas (his band, a five-piece outfit from Orlando called Matchbox 20, insists on noodling away on those quaint little antiques called guitars). "He talked about some new [rock] stuff he was listening to and he gave them credit for being good songwriters but he scoffs at their lack of innovation. Which, to me, just sounds fucking retarded - what songwriters do is be innovative about themselves.
"They take their feelings and try to find a way to put it down into a song. If you like it, you like it and if you don't, you don't. But there's an honesty that's innovative - just re-discovering yourself every time you put out a collection of work."
Translation: go choke on your tab of E. Not that Matchbox 20 are the new messiahs of the electric church or anything (in fact "Hootie" pops to mind when you listen to Yourself or Someone Like You, their debut release). Nevertheless the sweeping melodrama of a song like "Push," their latest single, reminds you that rave culture is going to take a while to really threaten the soundtrack of middle-American teen angst. Years of Trans Am hot-boxing and Tastee Freeze chili dog sucking just aren't going to go away overnight.
For his part, Thomas' pre-Matchbox heartland exploration consisted of a text book dysfunctional childhood and a hitchhiking stint across the Southeastern states. A healthy dose of sleeping on floors and hanging out with rock types provided Thomas with the ideal environment to channel his past into prime ammo for future MTV buzz clips.
"Growing up it was me, my mom and my sister," he reflects. "My mom was single and when we were first growing up we were part of the lower income bracket. And, I just got to see her go through a lot of fucked up relationships. I got to be a first-hand spectator to a lot of abusive and controlling relationships."
Hence, the single, "Push," which has lyrics like "I wanna push you around, I will, I will / I wanna take you for granted, I will, I will."
"When I got older, I started to see those patterns in myself," says Thomas. "The way you treat people, you see that. I saw myself being like some of those guys - those jerks that my mom dated sometimes. I think a lot of the songs are about that: coming to terms with it and trying to walk away from it."
Which might not be as much fun as a night of club-land hedonism, but it should count for something.
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