Matchbook Romance Biography
The band's beginning dates back to 1997, with bassist Ryan Kienle and vocalist/guitarist Andrew Jordan working together in various bands. The band added a third guitarist, Ryan DePaolo in summer 2001, and drummer Aaron Stern shortly thereafter, calling themselves The Getaway. All of them being confessed computer geeks, not to mention poor (as musicians tend to be), they put their geekdom to use promoting the band. Kienle: "We were promoting our shows over punk sites and mailing lists and other bands' guestbooks and messageboards...putting our music up on MP3.com all of that. We really pushed it hard."
One of their tracks, "Ex Marks the Spot," was downloaded by Epitaph honcho Brett Gurewitz, who had read raves about the band on PunkNews.org. He flew the band from NY to LA and back. It was a whirlwind romance that produced a contract, a name change, a masterful EP (West for Wishing), a summer-long Warped Tour engagement, and European tour with new friends and fans, The Ataris. It continues today as they present their debut full-length, Stories and Alibis.
Where West for Wishing was a calling card, meant to introduce fans to Matchbook Romance before and after the Warped Tour, it was also a bit of a red herring. Stories and Alibis, produced by Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Pennywise, Weezer, The Jesus Lizard, Melvins), finds a band that was holding back, saving their best material as a suckerpunch, but also hungry and focused.
"A few of the songs off the new record," says Kienle, "were from a five-song EP we released ourselves [as the Getaway]. We re-recorded them for the LP, because they're the songs we got signed off of. You can't just abandon them; there's something behind that music that Epitaph loved and that we love."
A listen to these songs (the surging "Promise," the exhilarating, road rocker "She'll Never Understand" and the urgent "If All Else Fails") as well as the majestic sing-along "Stay Tonight," the acoustic left-turn "Tiger Lily" and album closer "The Greatest Fall (Of All Time)," shows why they're beloved. Matchbook Romance has chops, songwriting skills, sincerity and harmonies (even the shrieking backing vox are almost in tune) to beat most bands. These qualities radiate within the band and grow with them.
"It stands as more of a photo album, if anything," says Kienle, summing up the record. "It covers two years of our lives and a lot of things we've gone through. And it covers drastic different styles of music and a wide range of topics, lyrically. We are just playing what we love and it comes across totally different on every song. It's not really that much of a constant style, but it's all drawn together nicely. It's constant, but each song has it's own personality to it. Its own style."
Further, he says, Stories and Alibis reflects a band that has grown both as a group and as individuals throughout Warped, which was their first proper U.S. tour.
"Almost every single city we played, except for Cincinnati and Boston, we had never played before. And the crowd went off at most of the shows. It was just amazing, our first real tour and we had hundreds of kids watching us. We couldn't believe it. But it pulled us together musically; we're all on the same page. We had a lot of fun and we're just so excited about what's coming in the future."