Worldwide success Matchbox Twenty is coming to Wollongong Entertainment Centre on Sunday, November 19. But the band is not content to rest on its laurels, drummer Paul Doucette tells DENISE EVERTON. With worldwide album sales in excess of 13 million and a string of smash hit singles, Matchbox Twenty fans would convincingly argue their band had made the grade.

The boys themselves would beg to differ. Although agreeing their first album, Yourself or Someone Like You was the best record we could have made at the time'', drummer Paul Doucette is adamant the guys didn't quite nail it''.

The first record I look back at as being very timid,'' he said.

We had never been in the studio before so it was all new and scary and exciting at the same time. With (the second) record we had been through it, we'd been on the road and played 600 shows together as a band so we knew what we were doing.

We walked in with a lot more confidence so it was a much easier and a lot more fun record to make.

The first record was an extremely successful one as far as sales go and that always amazed me and continues to amaze me. I think it's okay. I don't think there's anything special about the record. I think it has a couple of good songs on it but I'm glad it did do well, I'm not complaining.''

Heading back into the studio to record their second album Mad Season was always going to be a time for testing new waters.

Not content to reproduce the sound and style of their original album, they went in search of greater depth and discovered it in a most unusual recording format.

The aim was to provide less rock guitar orientation and more depth of instrumentation. To achieve that, they worked primarily as individuals in the recording studio.

"We actually did the record in a way so as to allot the most control to each individual member,'' Doucette said.

We recorded this record like an assembly line where we only worked together one day a week and then each of us would individually come into the studio with no-one else except our producer and engineer.

In that way each member got to put on their stamp of exactly the way they heard it and then the end result was what we got. It made for an interesting way to make a record because you didn't know where it was going to turn.''

The unusual technique in which five parts somehow merge into one whole was first experimented with when the band provided a song for a Fleetwood Mac tribute CD. They liked the result, decided to try it on a larger scale and are justifiably pleased with the result.

But Doucette said the band would not produce another album in the same way, preferring to cut new ground every time they headed into the studio. The next album could be either a regular live rock record or something quiet and intimate.

It has been a dream run for the band. Matchbox Twenty had its genesis about eight years ago when Doucette answered an ad and joined a band called Tabitha's Secret involving, among others, Rob Thomas and Brian Yale. Four years ago the original band split and the trio was joined in a new band - Matchbox Twenty - by Kyle Cook and Adam Gaynor.

Almost before they knew it, they were in the studio recording Yourself or Someone Like You and following it with an international tour.

So fast was the rise to success that Doucette said the band didn't have time to get caught up in the madness of what was happening. They just looked at their lives and laughed.

To date Rob Thomas has stolen much of the limelight as songwriter extraordinaire thanks to his additional success at the Grammys for his collaboration with Carlos Santana on the album Supernatural.

On Mad Season Doucette co-wrote the song Stop - the first time the duo has collaborated - and believes there is much more to come from not only himself but also the remaining band members. But while Doucette says individual members will be stretching their creative flexibility, Matchbox Twenty has plenty it still wants to achieve.

I think this (album) is a step in the right direction,'' Doucette said. We're consistently trying to figure out who Matchbox Twenty is and we're really not going to know the answer to that until we're done, until we're not making records any more and we're just sitting back and listening to what we've done ... but we're on the right path.''

So while the musical sound of Matchbox Twenty is constantly under review, there's one thing Doucette said fans could rely on - it all has to begin with a really great song that sounds as good on an acoustic guitar as it did with full instrumentation. After that, the band is only limited by its own imagination.