Brett Gurewitz, owner Epitaph Records and guitarist for the mighty Bad Religion, discovered the New York band Matchbook Romance online, in a post at www.punknews.org. He downloaded an MP3 and, after hearing it, was smitten.
Gurewitz emailed MR lead singer and guitarist Andy Jordan about signing the band to his label, though they were called The Getaway then. "I thought it was a joke, so I didn't even tell the guys in the band," Jordan says, but after a phone call from Gurewitz a few days later, he knew it was for real. "I sat in the car for about half an hour and I couldn't move."
MR was surprised Epitaph wanted them because they don't exactly fit the labels generally harder-edged sound. Accurately describing themselves as a cross of emo, punk and pop, they are a somewhat new direction for the label to take.
While they most simply are The Ataris with balls, the scene at the Salt Lake City stop of the Warped Tour may be a good indicator as the crowd went so nuts that fights between fans and security broke out. (According to Jordan, security got smart and took a hike. Suffice it to say, this was their favorite stop on the tour.) Aside from the generous crowd response, Salt Lake means something because the Used, another, though louder and more metal, sort of emo pop band hails from there.
Gurewitz flew to New York to record the debut EP from Matchbook, West For Wishing. Immediately getting Jordan, guitarist Judas DePaolo, bassist Ryan Kienle and drummer Aaron Stern into a studio (or basement, as it was), he told the band he "wanted nothing to sound unnatural," giving them as much free reign as any more seasoned band to do their thing and record their songs.
Most listeners probably discovered Matchbook Romance on "Punk-O-Rama 8," the yearly collection of music from Epitaph's current line-up. The song, "The Greatest Fall (Of All Time)," is as hard-hitting as their live show and bounces from screaming hard whatever to poppier faster whatever in all sorts of post-adolescent glory.
Jordan credits the quality of that EP, and their upcoming album, as well as their ease on tour to Gurewitz help and guidance.
"He's amazing," Jordan says. "Ever since day one, he's been right at our side. No matter how busy he is, he's always making sure things are going good."
The Warped Tour is their first American tour, which they are enjoying to the fullest, including claiming big meals from friends and family at tour stops and drinking with bands who they've looked up to for their short punk lives.
More important than this, it is has contributed most of their experience with the press, most of whom have been nice, at least the ones they meet. "If they've heard you before, they care," Jordan says. "But if not, they don't give a shit. And some schedule times and don't even show up. It sucks for us because we want the interviews and to get our name out there."
Indeed, for a young band, getting your name out is the point. Since they don't have to worry about credibility, because it is inherent in a young band just trying to get by, the fact that they are nice guys and a decent band, and, more importantly, pound it out harder in live sets then some on the Warped main stages, should be enough. You would think it could work that way.
Up next for Matchbook Romance as the Warped Tour finishes up, with the September 23 release of their debut full length "Stories And Alibis," is a European tour, or, the easy part. When the obligatory American club tour hits sometime after that, the band could be up for an interesting ride.