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Matchbox Twenty at DTE, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Matchbox Twenty quietly ceased to exist around 2015, and just as quietly came back into existence.

Part of the impetus was the 20th anniversary of the group’s debut album, “Yourself Or Someone Like You,” a 12-times platinum behemoth that launched four Top 10 hits -- “Push,” “3 a.m.,” “Real World” and “Back 2 Good.” The group has released three more albums since -- the last was 2012’s “North” -- and notched even more hits.

The four group members, meanwhile, have focused mostly on other projects, including frontman Rob Thomas’ solo career and bands formed by guitarist Kyle Cook (Rivers & Rust) and drummer/guitarist Paul Doucette (the Break and Repair Method). The group is touring this summer with good pals Counting Crows, and Thomas, 45, is hopeful that there won’t be any more breakups in the group’s future...

• Thomas acknowledges that the group’s recent turmoil is partly his fault. “We kind of had a falling out,” he says by phone. “It was really because last summer I was in the middle of a record that didn’t quite go the way I wanted, but Atlantic (Records) was willing to put out another single. (The band) was gonna go out last summer, but I chose to kind of try to support this record a little more (including touring with Counting Crows himself) and it came to a head and Kyle quit the band and me and Paul, who are best friends, didn’t talk for, like, a year and a half.”

• The debut album’s anniversary, however, helped focus the group members on getting back together. “We realized it was the end of the 20th anniversary window,” Thomas says, “and we all realized that no matter what was going on in our personal lives we’d be really remiss if we didn’t celebrate that somehow. So I just called up Paul and I said, “Listen, this is stupid. We need to do this.’ Before the first rehearsal I went to Nashville and he and I sat up ‘til 4:30 in the morning and just hashed everything out and then we got back together and -- it sounds kind of schmaltzy -- we’re closer than we’ve ever been, like we’re actually all really good friends again.”

• Though Thomas has a solo album on tap for next year and Cook will be working with Rivers & Rust, the singer is optimistic about another Matchbox Twenty album on the horizon. “This tour has made us realize that as soon as we’re done with (the solo projects) we want to go in and make some new music,” Thomas says. “I do think that we have kind of a more roots, organic rock record in us that we haven’t quite made yet. There’s a lot of differences within our records; They’re all over the map, not really super coherent sometimes, but that’s kind of who we are. We want to keep this going and see where it goes, because we don’t feel like we’re done yet.”

• Thomas, meanwhile, is taking his time with his next album, working with collaborators such as hitmakers Benny Blanco and Butch Walker. “I think I’m at, like, the fourth point where I think I’m done,” he says with a laugh. “The first time I wrote what I thought were 13 really good songs and was like, ‘OK, I got a record,’ and I played it for my wife and she’s like, ‘You’ve got three or four (keeper) songs. And I’m like, ‘S***, you’re right!’ Then I got back and write what I think is another record, and then I’ve got six songs. I definitely feel like I’m done enough that I’m ready to go into the studio and let whatever I have done now meet whatever inspiration I get from just being in the creative mode, and that’s what’s gonna end up being the record.”

• Touring with Counting Crows this time out has been a different experience than what Thomas encountered last year. “It’s really comfortable to be back out with the Crowd ‘cause we’re such good friends. That kind of camaraderie is really important,” he says. “And last time I played first, the first time I did that in 20 years. It was like, ‘It’s nine o’clock and I’m done. What do I do now? I’m just gonna drink and watch the Crows.’ But what you do is still the same thing. You’re still playing. I’m just lucky enough now to be able to have two completely different summers, as a solo artist and, now, with the band.”

If You Go:

• Matchbox Twenty, Counting Crows and Rivers & Rust

• 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.

• DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

• Tickets are $49.50-$129.50 pavilion, $29.50 lawn with a $90 lawn four-pack.

• Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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