No, Aaron doesn’t have leukemia, Judas isn’t leaving and Alternative Press doesn’t hate them. But before they became chatroom-gossip fodder, MATCHBOOK ROMANCE surfed waves of indifference and weeks of algebraic driving regimens on tour, before being bestowed the blessings of a punk-mafia godfather.
Story: Julie Seabaugh
Matchbook Romance-singer/guitarist Andrew Jordan, guitarist Ryan “Judas” DePaolo, bassist Ryan Kienle and drummer Aaron Stern-have been home a mere week after a stint with Taking Back Sunday, the latest in the seemingly never-ending string of tour dates characteristic of any hardworking young band. Scarcely had they begun to re-adjust to “normal life,” and enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers and when they were thrust back on the job. Today they’ve been standing under skin-baking studio lights for a photo shoot. Tomorrow they’ll be filming a video for their new single “My Eyes Burn” with director Jay Martin (Death Cab For Cutie) in their hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York. After that, they’ll be doing a bit of songwriting.
But at the moment, they’re nearing the end of the four-hour photo shoot, and they’re all getting a bit slaphappy. Talk turns to the spiciness of Jordan’s burrito, disturbing, patently unprintable stories about bands they’ve previously hit the road with and current up-and-comers in the field of stand-up comedy (all members agree that Dane Cook is king). Soon slaphappy turns into slapstick, and DePaolo’s fist catches Kienle in the crotch. The bassist collapses on the floor, moaning, "Urrrngh, you sank my battleship," as everyone laughs.
Everyone gets a bit quieter when the subject of negative album reviews-a few of which have appeared in this very magazine-comes up.
“Music’s not a right or wrong, good or bad thing,” says DePaolo. “It’s a case of opinion about what you like or don’t like. Some people love us, some people don’t. Is his [Jordan’s] voice whiny? Well, we even have that dilemma within our band.”
As the debatably whiny Jordan previously told AP, “It just feeds our fire, [like], ‘All right, cool, say that now, but we’re going to do something someday that’s going to make you wish you hadn’t said that.’”
So, is the sophomore album they’re currently working on going to be the one that comes with a tall side order of I-told-you-so?
“We hope so,” Jordan replies. “I mean, I don’t really want to be one of those people with middle fingers [sticking up at] the world.” He pauses. “We may get pigeonholed into a scene, but we’re really not like that. So, yeah, this next record, it’s definitely going to get back at them.”
The band originally known as Fizzlewick first came together in 1997, later adding DePaolo and Stern in 2001 to become the Getaway. All unabashed computer geeks, they inundated every music-oriented website and message board they surfed across with show dates and MP3 tracks, one of which (“Ex Marks the Spot”) was downloaded by Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph Records owner Brett Gurewitz via Punknews.org.
Gurewitz sent the band an e-mail, placed a few phone calls and finally flew them round-trip to L.A., where the band underwent a name change (a Toronto group had already staked a legal claim to “The Getaway”) and signed to the legendary punk label in June 2002.
“The thing to me about being signed by Epitaph is that I feel like I’m part of something much bigger, much more important than my band is,” DePaolo says. “But for some reason, we’re Priority One with them.”
"I remember going to the store back in fifth grade and buying my Offspring Smash CD, and never in my life did I think I would be on a label with those guys," adds Kienle.
Gurewitz produced Matchbook Romance’s earnestly poppy five-song EP, West For Wishing, which was released in April 2003. A month before its release, however, the band were already back in the studio, laying out the groundwork for their debut full-length.
"When we were out in California recording the album, Brett said, 'Come live at my house; don’t go stay at a hotel,'" recalls Jordan. "He’s got, like, an MTV Cribs house. We found out the reason was he wanted to get to know us as a band. Instead of having us live somewhere in L.A., he’d rather us live with him-every morning going right into the kitchen, eating all [his] food-and he was cool with it. He took us to Disneyland on days off.”
Says Kienle, "Brett was recording the Rancid record [2003's Indestructible] at the time, and he’d be like, ‘Everyone get up; let’s hang out before we go to the studio.’ We were like giddy little schoolgirls. We were hanging out with Mr. Punk Rock. He’s like our dad. He’s the bastard father of Matchbook Romance."
Having only hit the road for a few dates with now-defunct emo-rockers Keepsake, Matchbook Romance were soon cutting their touring teeth on the Volcom stage of the 2003 Warped Tour. "Warped Tour helped us out in a lot of ways," says DePaolo. "Not only was there the initial exposure, but we ended up meeting all these other bands who took us out on tour. Yellowcard took us out on tour; the Ataris took us to Europe. We really got thrown into the whole touring thing without any preparation, especially to do the whole Warped Tour in a van for our first tour, so we learned really fast."
For the rest of the story, pick up AP 200 below…