KYLE COOK has had a very high profile gig since 1996, when Matchbox Twenty – with Kyle as lead guitarist – first burst into the national scene with their landmark album Yourself or Someone Like You. The album went on to sell 10X platinum, launching a group that is regarded as one of the most popular American rock bands in recent history, achieving the rare feat of simultaneous success at modern rock, adult alternative and Top 40 radio. Their influence hasn’t dimmed: their most recent album, North, climbed to #1 on the Billboard Top 200.
As Kyle’s career has continued to evolve – within MB20; as lead guitarist/lead vocalist with The New Left; co-writing, performing and producing several songs on John Waite’s 2011 Rough & Tumble; opening his own record label last year – the Indiana native is taking the culmination of his experiences and, for the first time, releasing an album that is all his own. Wolves, Kyle Cook’s first solo project, reflects his evolution as an artist, as well as his love for all forms of music.
“After writing in Nashville for almost 10 years you collect a lot of songs,” Kyle explains. “I mean, you’re writing on your own constantly, but you’re also co-writing. So I tried to focus on the songs I wrote without the influence of others and then selected co-writes that fit the direction that I was naturally going toward.”
“I feel like those who need to compartmentalize this album will claim it’s ‘country’ because of the instrumentation and colorful characters, but I’m going for something much more genre-less here,” Kyle says. “In the same way California has influenced so many records, so does Tennessee, and I had to let it in.”
Wolves, which was released in 2015, also marks the first full album from Kyle’s own Tennessee Recording Company imprint, which he opened with longtime friend and collaborator, Mike Fiorentino, and web developer Ben Shaw in 2013.
The new album draws themes from his Midwestern upbringing – themes Kyle feels are universal. “This is a darker record. There are a lot of unfulfilled dreams where I’m from, and a struggle that comes along with that,” he explains. “Struggles with substance abuse as a way to medicate and cope with everyday life and struggles, with what might have been if the road forked differently.”
The project takes its title from a song that Kyle penned on the road during the last Matchbox Twenty tour. “That’s why I decided to title the album Wolves,” he explains. “It was a great metaphor for the things we are vulnerable to. It’s not a literal song at all. Wolves are opportunistic creatures. That metaphor made a lot of sense to me as well as something to build an album around. But in this context the ‘wolves’ are other people, and sometimes your own feelings, holding you back.”
Kyle includes a nod to a few of the writers that have influenced him: “Some songs are coming from a place of a fictional character. I’ve always loved that about Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan.”
Kyle is hitting the road to bring his new sound to fans across the U.S. The set list will reflect the knowledge that Kyle has gained over the past 20 years, from mastering guitar in high school to attending the Atlanta Institute of Music to joining Matchbox Twenty.