New album strikes creative chord

By David Steinberg, Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

Collaborative songwriting helps matchbox twenty grow

You don't have to listen closely to hear the banjo. But you are probably wondering: What's up with a banjo on a rock 'n' roll tune?

The instrument is heard on "Unwell," the second hit single from matchbox twenty's third album "More Than You Think You Are." "Unwell," like "Disease," the first single off the CD, has received major radio play.

"We were looking for a unique direction to the song, and it seemed logical to try that," Kyle Cook, one of matchbox twenty's guitarists and backup vocalists, said in a phone interview from Boston.

"It was Paul's suggestion, and I'm really happy about it. It does a really cool atmospheric thing for this song."

Cook was referring to matchbox twenty drummer Paul Doucette.

Matchbox twenty will be in concert at Journal Pavilion Monday and in El Paso on Tuesday.

Cook thinks the new, hot-selling album represents a landmark for the band in terms of the level of collaboration in songwriting.

"What sets this record apart for me is that I co-wrote two songs, 'Soul' and 'Feel,' with Rob (Thomas) and Paul. I think we finally struck a creative chord with each other where we've really found the language that works," he said.

"And I think it helps in the creations, too. If the music and lyrics are from Rob's mind all the time, it becomes a little mundane. So this collaborating helps the growth of the band."

In terms of another kind of growth -- popularity -- matchbox twenty couldn't be more accepted. Its debut album, "Yourself or Someone Like You," sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and produced the hit radio singles "Push," "3 am," "Real World" and "Back 2 Good."

Its second album, "mad season," produced the hit singles "Bent" and "If You 're Gone."

Thomas, matchbox twenty's lead singer, also is known for singing "Smooth," which he co-wrote with Carlos Santana. It was on Santana's "Supernatural" album. Thomas earned three Grammys for his part on the CD.

Cook said he's organized his own band, called The New Left, which is expected to produce its first album next year.

"It's like matchbox twenty in the sense that it's about a memorable melody and very much the structure of the song. But the arrangements are a bit more experimental like Radiohead," he said.

If you go

WHAT: matchbox twenty with Sugar Ray and American Hi-Fi

WHEN and WHERE: 7 p.m. Monday, June 16, at Journal Pavilion. 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, at the Don Haskins Center, University of Texas at El Paso

HOW MUCH: Albuquerque concert $46.50, $29.50 at Ticketmaster outlets or call 883-7800. El Paso concert $41.75, $49.25 and $55.25. Call (505) 646-1420