Matchbox 20 in the Early Days: Flashback to 1996-98
In 1996, Matchbox 20 signed with Lava Records and recorded an album called Yourself or Someone Like You. Already feeling the promise of recording this album, imagine the excitement that came when an announcement was made on the same day of the release of this album that Atlantic Records procured Lava. Atlantic, being a huge label, had incredible resources for promoting their music. Publicity and marketing for this new album evolved becoming a huge break in the music industry for Matchbox 20.
The first track release was “Long Day” which was classified to begin with as alternative rock but instead it ended up remaining on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for 22 weeks. The next release was “Push” which brought them to the number one spot in six areas for modern rock, alternative and pop charts all within the summer of 1997. Of course, the band made music news headlines but not without a bit of controversy from women’s advocacy groups at the time who felt the songs lyrics —”I wanna push you around, I will, I will”— could possibly promote violence towards women. Rob’s response was to help bring understanding to the lyrics themselves plus he explained that his inspiration to write “Push” actually came from a strained relationship he had been in where he was a recipient of emotional abuse and manipulation.
As the next release came for Matchbox 20 in the form of “3 AM” which spun itself again to the number one spot for the alternative and adult contemporary charts and the band found itself in the news again. This time it would be former band members of Tabitha’s Secret filing a lawsuit against Thomas, Doucette, Yale, and Serlectic in 1998 for a portion of the profits from this new hit single. The conflict derived from the undetermined terms which felt like they still existed for Tabitha’s Secret since Rob had wrote and performed “3 AM” in the early ’90’s as a member of that band. After all, Tabitha’s Secret had been hoping to have a CD release of their own entitled Don’t Play With Matches which did happen in 1998. A resolution came for Tabitha’s Secret as they were granted rights to record and play this song since two of the T.S. band members had played on the demo which helped Matchbox 20 gain their record deal.
Awards at the time:Best New Band Rolling Stone Readers’ Poll, 1997; Best New Rock Act Performance Magazine Readers’ Poll, 1997; Billboard Album Artists Duo/Group, 1997; NARM Convention Best Selling Recording by a New Artist, 1998; Diamond Award by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling over ten million albums in the United States,
Success grew for MB20 and soon they reached diamond status in the United States and multi-platinum in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. So much more ended up coming into place, even in the next few years for the band and its members, it’s fun to look back and remember what they used to be in the early days. Also, it is simply amazing to see how far they’ve come now.
If you’d like to share your favourite memory of this time period of the band or let me know if I’ve left something out, please leave a comment.
I found some brilliant videos of the band in Australia during those early years: