Tabitha’s Secret will become a matter of public record with the October 9th release of Don’t Play With Matches. Broken up since the summer of 1995, the band contained three current Matchbox Twenty members: singer/guitarist Rob Thomas, bassist Brian Yale and drummer Paul Doucette.
Tabitha’s Secret formed in Orlando in 1993 with Thomas, Yale, Doucette and guitarists Jay Stanley and John Goff. Stanley said the group had been offered record deals by Atlantic and Hollywood Records when the band fractured due to “third-party interference.”
“Deals were struck with the [producer Matt] Serletic Production Company and not directly with the band,” Stanley says. “It caused some turmoil that caused the band to disband at that point. Basically, when the band split, John [Goff] and I were forced out of the record deal [with Atlantic Records] that we’d played on the demos for and done the live performance showcases for. We were cut out of the deal and forced to take legal action at that point.”
Extended litigation ended with Stanley and Goff receiving the rights to the ten-song recording, which Stanley said sounds very similar to Matchbox Twenty. Available on the Internet in demo version since 1997, the songs feature Rob Thomas on vocals and include an acoustic version of the Tabitha’s Secret-penned, later Matchbox Twenty hit “3 a.m.” Under the terms of the agreement, Matchbox Twenty can’t be mentioned in the advertising or on the album cover – the names of the five band members are written across the top of the cover – and no publicity photo of the band will be sent out with album advances.
With the help of producers Tony Miceli, George Spatta and ProTools software, Stanley cleaned up the demos, re-recorded and re-played parts to bring the songs up to major-label quality. The newly completed album will be issued through the EMI-distributed Pyramid Records, with the first single “And Around” already released to radio.
“Initially it was a little bit heart-wrenching,” says Stanley of his ouster from Tabitha’s Secret and Matchbox 20’s subsequent success. “But financially it’s been rewarding, and over time I’ve learned to let go of it and I’m moving on with other things. I’ve got a new band and basically I’m just releasing this record as a nail in the coffin, so to speak, to put that in the past and give everybody access to the music of Tabitha’s Secret. I wish [Matchbox Twenty] the best, but, as far as I’m concerned, Rob walked away from the songs and the public deserves to hear these great songs.”
Matchbox Twenty’s management confirmed that the former members of Tabitha’s Secret are within their rights to release the material but declined to comment further.