Be it emo or rock, Matchbook Romance rocked the Brits

To Europe, with love: Be it emo or rock, Matchbook Romance rocked the Brits

Published in the Home News Tribune 3/05/04
Pulse Writer

Your first trip to Europe is not something that's soon forgotten.

Especially when you rocked packed rooms of sweaty Brits, as have the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., band Matchbook Romance.

The group, which performs tonight at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, recently returned from a tour of United Kingdon.

Shows were awesome. Communication was lacking.

"You miss technology," said bassist Ryan Kienle. "We didn't each have our own cell phones -- we had one cell phone for all of us. When we were over there we didn't get to stay in touch with our friends -- that's the biggest set back. We were seeing all this stuff, but we couldn't call any of our friends and talk to them about it."

The band -- also Aaron Stern, Ryan DePaolo and Andrew Jordan -- also enjoyed the architecture.

"It's amazing how old everything is," Kienle said. "We were walking through Glasgow in Scotland and we went through a building into an open square and there was a giant old building marking when Scotland won its freedom. It was so much older than anything in the U.S."

Speaking of structures of note, while Matchbook Romance usually gets the emo tag because of its heartache-inspired lyrics, structurally, the band's sweeping guitars, along with an acoustic ballad or two, belie its emo-fication.

"We've been calling ourselves a rock band," Kienle said. "There are so many post-metal hardcore, emo, screamo bands -- we're trying to stay away from that."

Which might be troublesome. Trying to walk such a line could cause a band to be too metal for the emo kids and too emo for metal fans.

"Some people wish we were more hardcore, and some people wish we had more love songs or pop songs," Kienle said. "I'd say we're pretty well received across the board -- everybody seems to find something. Maybe they don't like the whole album, but they connect."

Certainly Brett Gurewitz, head of Epitaph and a member of Bad Religion, connected after hearing a demo from the band when the guys where known as the Getaway. He signed the group, and relased an EP, "West for Wishing," and, more recently an LP, "Stories and Alibis," last fall.

Contrary to some reports, while Richard and Stefanie Reines of North Brunswick didn't signed the band to their label, Drive-Thru Records, the Reines were supportive of Matchbook Romance through the early incarnations of the band.

It helped that Matchbook Romance drummer Stern is a cousin of the Reines, Kienle said.

"They gave us direction," Kienle said of the Reines, who now live in Southern California. "We played the Warped Tour on the Drive-Thru stage, and they've done nothing but great things for us. They gave us constructive criticism, and they didn't try to sugar coat it.

"They put us on the right path."

That path this spring includes more dates with Mest, Boys Night Out, and a return to Central Jersey for the upcoming Surf and Skate Festival April 16-18 in Asbury Park.

Down the road, a return trip to the U.K. is sure to be in the offering. This time the guys will know what to expect.

"You can't find ranch dressing over there," Kienle said. "It's Matchbook Romance's condiment of choice."

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