Heartbreak and Healing: Matchbox Twenty’s Kyle Cook finds peace with ‘Wolves’

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Kyle Cook admits he sometimes has self-confidence issues.

The Matchbox Twenty guitarist took 43 years to release his debut solo album, “Wolves.” He was a bit fearful of releasing his own material, but this time, the circumstances were ripe.

“Unfortunately, my relationship with my wife unraveled,” Cook says. “We’re divorced now, and all these songs started emerging. They were piling up. They had some personal meaning to them. After two decades, I finally put out a solo album.”

“Wolves” explores heartbreak and healing, all to the tune of Cook’s signature guitar sound. His influences shine through—Queen (“Better This Way”) and the late Tom Petty (“Wishing Well”).

“Wolves” allowed Cook to explore music and create songs that fit his voice. The title track is 2 minutes, while the closer, “Silver Lining (Opus),” meshes three songs and an additional chorus to clock in at 13 minutes.

“The three songs are very personal. I’m a huge Beatles fan. I loved the back half of ‘Abbey Road,’” referring to the medley that closes the record.

“In this singles-based era, people want to put playlists together and stream things. They’re not committed to this many minutes of music. Those songs are 15 minutes. The strings and the guitar parts connect via the keys and harmonic bits. That took me a while. I wanted to be ambitious toward the end of the album.”

Music has always been an important part of Cook’s life. He grew up in the tiny Frankfort, Indiana, 50 minutes northwest of Indianapolis. Concerts and the radio shaped his future desires.

His first instrument was violin, which he started in junior high. His choice quickly switched to guitar when he heard Slash’s licks on “Appetite for Destruction.”

Through an ad in Guitar World magazine, Cook discovered the Atlanta Institute of Music. The school’s president, Nite Driscoll, took notice of Cook and referred him to producer Matt Serletic. From there, Matchbox Twenty was born. Matchbox Twenty’s debut, “Or Someone Like You,” has sold more than 12 million copies.

Cook, who has also performed with John Waite and Mick Jagger, found his long-term marriage’s problems needed to be written about. But “Wolves” isn’t a downer. “Never Goodbye” acknowledges his ex-wife.

“Even though we’re not married any more and we will probably see each other very rarely, we have these two children who make us tied and bonded infinitely,” he says. “And therefore, we will never actually say goodbye to each other.”

Cook will play cuts from Matchbox Twenty and “Wolves” when he performs at Monterey Court on Friday, April 12. He’ll put his own spin on Matchbox Twenty songs, even though they’ll still have that Cook signature sound.

“I’ve felt being technically good at an instrument or virtuosic is cool, but having people be able to hear and identify something you’re playing is more important as an artist,” Cook adds.

more info

What: Kyle Cook w/Paul McDonald

When: 6 p.m. Friday, April 12

Where: Monterey Court,

505 W. Miracle Mile

Cost: $12, general admission

Info: brownpapertickets.com