Soulful vocals, ringing guitars and probing lyrics about people whose lives are coming apart and their struggle to hold on–these are the elements that drive the debut album by matchbox 20, YOURSELF OR SOMEONE LIKE YOU (Lava/Atlantic). It’s a record that, in the words of Guitar World, is loaded with guitar-driven melodic rock tunes and emotionally chargedvocals. Hits commented that the vocals are gutsy and theproduction by Matt Serletic (Collective Soul) is impeccable,while critic Shawn Ryan noted in theBirmingham News that the guitars bite; hooks are large…lyrics are sharp and sincere.

Elsewhere, Microsoft Music Central critic Rod Moody noted:ROB THOMAS is a storyteller whose lyrics focus mainly on personal relationships, and he delivers his lines with a certain intimacy, like two friends sharing a good secret. YOURSELF OR SOMEONE LIKE YOU builds momentum from the strong vocal delivery of principal songwriter ROB THOMAS, who doesn’t so much sing these songs as bite into them. He’s complimented by the background vocals of lead guitarist KYLE COOK and rhythm guitarist ADAM GAYNOR, whose electric and acoustic guitar arrangements are combined with the rhythm section of drummer PAUL DOUCETTE and bassist BRIAN YALE.

You can hear their dynamic interplay in songs like “Long Day”, the LP’s first radio track which charted Top Five, “Real World”, “Argue”, “3 AM”, “Girl Like That” and “Push”,the LP’s second radio track. THOMAS describes the romantically combative “Push”–whose chorus is highlighted by the lines”I wanna push you around, I will, I will/I wanna push you down, I will, I will/I wanna take you for granted” –as a song about how I was manipulated and how I handled it; how I grew to like it and got comfortable with it. I felt that was the only way that you could have a relationship was if you were being controlled or if you were being manipulated.

THOMAS adds that the song was actually written from three points of view, including the one of the woman who it’s about.THOMAS adds, “Some people get the wrong idea and think that it’s about physical violence, when it’s really about emotional violence. I usually get my best ideas when I’m walking,” responds THOMAS when asked about his songwriting approach. “I used to do a lot of hitch-hikingwhen I was younger, from 17 to 20, and I’d spend a lot of time at 3:00 in the morning sitting onan off-ramp forhours. You just sit,there and no one is around you.You can scream,you can sing if you want, you could do whatever you want. I had my little keyboard with me in my backpack and I’d pull it out and sit there and work on some tunes.”

During this period of THOMAS’ life, he drifted around in an effort to understandhis family problems at home. The characters on YOURSELF OR SOMEONE LIKE YOU compellingly wrestle with ghosts and demons, and while it’snot clear if they’ll win their battles, you root for them throughout the album. The folks who inhabit these songs are bruised (“well I’m surprised that you’d believe/in anything that comes from me,” from “Long Day”), but they’re proud,too (“she’s got a little bit of something, God it’s better than nothing,” from “3 am”). They’re dealing with busted-upromances (“and we’re all grown now, but we don’t know how to get it back to good,” from “Back To Good”), insecurities(“she said I don’t know if I’ve ever been good enough,” from”Push”) and fears (“you think this life would make me bolder but I’m running scared is all…I’m same old trailer trash in new shoes,” from “Girl Like That”).

THOMAS — who was born on a military base in Germany and reared in the southeast–honed his song writing abilities while fronting in a variety of local bands in his high school years (he lists such artists as Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Al Green and R.E.M. as influences). While enjoying the local scene, THOMAS was introduced to DOUCETTE and YALE. After playing together for a few years in bands and tour ing regionally, the threesome decided to start a new band–what was to become matchbox 20. After recruiting the talents of GAYNOR from Criteria Recording Studios in Miami and COOK from the Atlanta Institute of Music, the line-up was complete. matchbox 20 quickly joined forces with producer Matt Serletic, who co-produced the Collective Soul albums,and began tracking demos. It wasn’t long before the band attracted attention from both coasts, signing with Lava/Atlantic.

They wasted no time and headed back intothe studio with Serletic to record YOURSELF OR SOMEONE LIKE YOU. The instinctive union among these five musicians–immediately evident during the band’s electrifying live shows–is a reminder of what can be achieved when musicians never lose sight of the fact that the song is the most important thing. “I think we get up there and try as honestly as we can to convey the songs as energetically and heartfelt as we can,” says THOMAS. “These are our songs and we really feel good about ’em. I don’t think we try and put any dramatics into it, but after a show when we’re just talking to people, they’ll tell us, You know you were so into it, that was so intense to watch.’ To us, we were just playing the songs and losing ourselves in them. It’s like if you come to a rehearsal, you’re gonna see the same thing.It’s not something that we can help really.”

from the official matchbox20 web site