MATCHBOOK ROMANCE – interview by Skye
It was an Internet love affair made in heaven when Poughkeepsie, NY’s Matchbook Romance logged on with Epitaph head honcho, Brett Gurewitz. After hearing one of their tracks via MP3.com, Gurewitz fell head-over-heels and zipped an email to Matchbook’s singer, Andrew Jordan. It wasn’t the typical get-to-know-ya email, but rather an offer Jordan couldn’t possibly turn down – a record deal. The Matchbook Romance journey began in 1997, when bassist Ryan Kienle and Jordan decided in a high school music course that they were going to start a band. After numerous band name and member changes, they landed their current line up, which includes drummer Aaron Stern, and guitarist Judas DePaolo. And, the rest is history. In the wake of their new release West for Wishing, Matchbook Romance is busy burning a trail across the United States.
So, what is a “Matchbook Romance”?
I don’t know! Actually, our drummer came up with the name just out of nowhere and it doesn’t have any real “meaning” behind it. It just sounded cool and we’ve tried to apply so many different meanings to it. I don’t really like doing that because then it just sounds like we’re reaching and that’s unnatural. It just came out of our drummer’s mouth and that’s it. I like it because it has a romantic part in there, and that’s kinda like our music. I am like the romantic in the band.
(Andrew begins to explain to drummer Aaron how to get into the building)
That’s him now, he can’t figure out how to get into the building.
He can name the band but he can’t get into the building?
Sad, isn’t it? It’s like this weird big barn door that doesn’t look like a door. So anyways, I didn’t like the band name at first but it grew on me.
Your song “The Greatest Fall” is a pretty strong anthem-type song, what is it about?
That song is about a bunch of things. It’s about the band’s general thought about how something can be the greatest thing ever but then totally hurt us in the end. It was also based on my relationship I was having with this girl at the time. Everything was so perfect, then I went on tour and things just fell apart. It was also about a relationship our drummer was going through. I get a lot of influence from people around me, and their stories, and lives. I feel for them and that stuff actually ends up showing up in my songs. Sometimes I wanna speak out for those people. Like if you have a friend who has a boyfriend who treats her like crap and hits her and you just wanna kill him, it’s like that, only I speak out in my songs. Basically it’s about how things can be so perfect, but you can also lose them just like that.
From your EP to your full-length, how did the recording process change and what did you learn during the process?
I learned how to sing a lot better. I’m slowly progressing. I took vocal lessons between the EP and full-length and I learned how to control my vocals a lot more. The guys learned so much more about their instruments and the proper way to be in the studio.
How was it working with Brett?
He was recording the EP for us for free to help us out because he loved the band. He came to New York and came to the studio, and we had old strings on our guitars, our drummer had old beat-up heads on his drums, and Brett walked into the room and was like, ‘Uh, you guys didn’t get any new heads…” We were like, ‘No we thought this was okay’. He was like, ‘Uh, no, we have to go to the store’. He went to the store and bought two brand new guitars, all new drumheads, and everything, just for us to play on. So yeah, we’ve learned a lot working with him.
How do you feel about music file sharing and websites like MP3.com?
I think if someone downloads a song they should die! Just kidding! I think it’s totally cool because if bands use the Internet correctly it’s like worldwide free distribution. It can’t get any better than that. You don’t have to go to the store and pay money, and you can download some new bands that you like. I think after that you should respect the band and pick up the album. It creates a huge buzz, which is great for bands like us. There have been a ton of kids at our shows and without the Internet we would have never been signed.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
Oh man, there are so many things! Okay, can’t live without…um, I’d probably have to say my journal. That’s what I write all my lyrics in. It doesn’t feel right to just write my lyrics on some random piece of paper at some motel. I have to write them in this book, so that’s something I can’t live without. I really build up inside and I have to release it and get this stuff on paper. If I didn’t have that journal, I would feel weird and write it on some piece of paper that I’d end up losing or throwing away.
What can we expect from Matchbook Romance in the future?
We are going to tour like crazy! I made a promise to anyone who has ever heard of us across the world that we will play in their town, or close to it. Also, I’m hoping that we’re going to be successful and write like crazy for the next album. We want it to be so much better than this album. Don’t get me wrong, I think this album is great, but we want to surpass it and do something bigger. Not change our sound though. It’s still going to be the same band, just a lot better!