This Sunday, Matchbox 20 will wrap up their current tour with a show in Tinley Park.
Nick Jakusz spoke with founding member and lead guitarist Kyle Cook about the band’s journey from exploding into popularity in the 90s, the role technology plays in how we create and consume music and some of his highlights in rock and roll over the past 30 years, and some MB20 songs that he wished the listening public knew more about:
Cook spoke on changing technologies over the years. Matchbox 20 burst into popularity on the heels of their debut album Yourself or Someone Like You in 1996. If you were in high school at the time, you also likely started to dabble with a new website called Napster and later Lime Wire. That was certainly on the radar for the band as well, which you can hear in the interview around the 30 minute mark.
He also explained how new technology has become a part of his musical repertoire.
“I struggled for a while with the idea that I needed to be a computer scientist as well as a guitar player,” Cook said. “But that’s unavoidable even in our daily lives with all the apps we need to engage with and need passwords for. I just see [making music] as an extension of that.”
“You can make albums cheaper now and more conveniently and why would you not embrace that? I don’t think any of that makes great songs invalid. It’s just a different set of tools. I’m just continually looking for that balance of what got me interested in doing this in the first place and embracing the technology moving forward so I can continue to reach as many people as possible.”
Cook talked about the long history of MB20 and how their songs now being played on “classic rock” stations like 95.9 The River.
“We’re a band with a handful of enduring songs that people have taken into their lives…gotten married to, children have been conceived to, the list goes on. How is that not wonderful? It far surpasses any lamenting about getting older. Every artist who creates wants to end up in a place where they can look back and see not one, but two or even three generations of people listening to their music. It’s amazing.”
I can’t tell you how many people approach the band with tears in their eyes because to them there is some kind of closure or gap that is now closed because of all these years they were listening to a particular song. Some cases its a mom with cancer or a child with a t-shirt that said he’s seven years cancer free and one of our songs is what helped them through a hard time. So when you are faced with that profound impact of your music, you appreciate it so much deeper than the frivolity of youth and trying to be young and sexy and popular [like in the beginning].
Cook also is very adement that MB20 will never NOT play their hits in concert. He says, “There are bands that don’t play their biggest hits, which is bizzare to us. We respsect these songs have found places in people’s hearts and minds over the years and there’s no way we would not play those songs.”
Cook gives a lot of the credit of the bands success to their frontman Rob Thomas.
“Let me tell you, and I feel more deeply about this as time goes on, Rob [Thomas] is one of the best songwriters of our generation. One of the best living songwriters. He’s written songs he’s written in hotel rooms that we never recorded that I still remember the choars of. He has a real gift in not only his voice but also his songwriting.”
He continues to tell the story about how he and Thomas’s band, then “Tabitha’s Secret” got together to form Matchbox 20.
In a more personal moment, Cook spoke on the personal difficuties he faced during the pandemic, and how sobriety was the end of a road that could have been much darker:
Cook even relayed this great story about when he played with Mick Jagger on an album and how the pressure of playing with a rock icon brought out his best: