By Kim Roberts, Omaha World Herald (Nebraska)
When Matchbox Twenty last performed in Omaha three years ago, the guitar-pop band was at a high point in its career.
The band's first two albums, "Yourself or Someone Like You" and "Mad Season," had sold about 12 million copies.
Lead singer Rob Thomas had recently won a Grammy for his collaboration with Carlos Santana on the single "Smooth."
But the band was not pleased with its music - especially with "Mad Season."
"We made an overproduced record and we were really unhappy with the results," said drummer Paul Doucette from Phoenix, where the band toured last week.
"Just because people buy a record doesn't mean it's good," he said. "I mean, the 'Macarena' was a hit."
With that in mind, Matchbox Twenty decided to return to its rock roots on its next album, "More Than You Think You Are" (2002).
The result was a guitar-heavy and lyrically-driven record reminiscent of the band's days before breaking into the big time.
"The idea of this record was to capture what we actually sound like," Doucette said. "We wanted to simplify our music."
Band members also shared songwriting responsibilities on the album for the first time. In addition to Thomas, who normally handles the writing, Doucette and lead guitarist Kyle Cook contributed.
The band also includes rhythm guitarist Adam Gaynor and bass player Brian Yale.
"A year later, we all still feel really good about this record," said Doucette, whose group released an EP of mostly live songs last week. "That's a sign that we're going in the right direction."
However, "More" has been the least commercially successful album of the group's career to date. The album has sold just over 1million copies, while the group's previous two records have collectively sold upward of 20 million albums.
Still, "More" is far from a dud. The single "Unwell" has been in the Top 10 on the Adult Top 40 chart for 40 weeks, including a long stint at No. 1. It ranked at No. 7 earlier this week.
It follows the success of "Disease," another of the album's tracks, which was co-written by Mick Jagger.
The songs, along with other Matchbox Twenty hits such as "Push," "3AM" and "If You're Gone," have helped the group earn more No. 1 hits and more time at No. 1 on the modern Adult-Contemporary and Adult Top 40 charts than any other artist, according to Nielsen BDS.
The rock band also has fared well on the overall Top 40 chart, which recently has been dominated by hip-hop and R&B acts.
Doucette believes the band's success is driven by its ability to transcend genres.
"Anyone can listen to us," he said. "We're trying to follow in the grand tradition of Tom Petty, who just put out great records. Everyone likes good music."