Matchbox Twenty drummer Paul Doucette got a big break the day before the band launched its tour with Sugar Ray.
The drummer broke his hand in a fit of anger during a dress rehearsal and has been playing in pain for two weeks. “It definitely makes me look like a complete idiot,” lamented Doucette. “It wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”
Doucette, who co-designs the band’s light shows, had been up for three nights ironing out kinks in the staging, but just 24 hours before their first show, an April 25 gig in New Orleans, the presentation was still plagued with problems. Tired and anxious, the drummer took out his frustration by throwing an ill-fated punch at a garbage can.
“I actually thought about it for a second before I did it,” Doucette said. “Sometimes the tops of the cans are aluminum and they give, but this one was hard as a rock and it broke my hand.”
At first he didn’t realize the extent of the injury. The knuckles on his right pinky and ring finger were extremely swollen, but Doucette could still move his fingers, so he figured he was OK.
“Everyone was a bit panicked,” he said, “but I was like, ’As long as I can hold a stick, I can play. I’ll just play real light.’ I took ibuprofen and I started icing it before we went on. There’s a song in the set where I play piano, and I had more problems doing that than playing drums. I actually had to alter a part because I can’t use my pinky.”
Since the pain hadn’t subsided more than a week after the injury, Doucette saw a doctor, who X-rayed the hand and determined the drummer had suffered a “boxer’s break,” a fracture of the bones on the knuckles frequently caused by a punch that lands wrong. The doc suggested Doucette take some time off so the bones could heal properly, but the stubborn drummer has continued without missing a beat.
“I’m not gonna make it worse by playing,” he said. “It’s just not gonna get any better. It will just heal the way it is. But I can almost make a fist now, so I figure it will be fine.”
Matchbox Twenty will remain on tour with Sugar Ray through July 6 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The band’s next single will be “Bright Lights.” Frontman Rob Thomas is currently writing for Pink’s next album and wrote a still-untitled track for Santana and Marc Anthony, which will appear on the “Havana Nights” soundtrack.