Preview: Matchbox Twenty is back from hiatus with first album in 10 years

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Fans seeking 1990s nostalgia will get more bang for their buck this summer because Matchbox Twenty is teaming up with fellow pop-rock band the Goo Goo Dolls on a co-headlining tour.

"I think we definitely share a fan base, which is great, and I think it's going to be a great show," said Matchbox Twenty drummer Paul Doucette during a phone interview. "Summer tours are always great."

Mr. Doucette, a North Huntingdon native, will be lighting up First Niagara Pavilion on Saturday with bandmates Rob Thomas, Brian Yale and Kyle Cook.

Matchbox Twenty

With: Goo Goo Dolls.

Where: First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets: $32-$111.75;

Matchbox Twenty found significant radio airplay in the late 1990s, with singles including "3 A.M.," "Push" and "Back 2 Good," from its 1996 debut album, "Yourself or Someone Like You." The album went 12-times platinum and the band rose to international fame.

It followed up with two studio albums, "Mad Season" (2000) and "More Than You Think You Are" (2002), and a compilation album "Exile on Mainstream" (2007).

Additionally, singer-songwriter Thomas embarked on a solo endeavor and won three Grammys for co-writing and singing Carlos Santana's 1999 summer hit "Smooth." His other notable singles include "Lonely No More" and "This Is How a Heart Breaks."

But last year, after a 10-year hiatus, the band released its fourth studio album, "North." It sold 95,000 copies in the first week to debut No. 1 Billboard's 200 albums chart. And it appears that Matchbox Twenty is making a comeback.

"We fall into the same dynamic, we've known each other for so long, and it's just normal to us. I can go three years and never talk to Brian [Yale, bass guitarist] and then when I see him in the room it's like, 'Hey, what's up?' And we're right back where we were three years before," Mr. Doucette said. "We have that kind of way of doing things like a family."

The quartet recorded more than 60 songs for the new album and eventually narrowed it down to 12 tracks. Singles from "North" include thelighthearted "She's So Mean," upbeat pop dance tune "Put Your Hands Up" and cheery "Our Song."

"We're a band that really respects the craft of songwriting and the craft of record writing. And the thing that we wanted to do on this record was focus on the songs that responded well to that. Because there was a lot of stuff that we really loved and thought were really strong ... but we didn't want to force them into something that didn't work," he said. "And we decided we wanted to make a crafted Matchbox Twenty record. Once we figured that out, our goal was to find songs that fit that narrative."

The new album has a different sound and feeling from previous Matchbox Twenty hits, but fans need not worry. Mr. Doucette said the band balances shows with new singles and longtime fan favorites.

"There's certain songs that we have to play. At this point, we've been around long enough, that if people come see us and we don't play 'Push,' they're going to be like, 'Well, what the [expletive].' And we get that. We understand that. There's a certain amount of songs that are going to make their way into the set list all the time," he said. "And then we have other slots that we switch out here and there. But it's a good mixture."

Although the Norwin High School graduate hasn't lived in Pittsburgh since he was 20 and no longer has family here, he plans to visit the house he grew up in and hit some other hot spots during his day off.

"I have to go to Primanti Brothers," he said. "That will be one of the first things I do."

The musician reminisced about growing up in the city and going to rock shows as a kid. The first concert he ever went to was Van Halen at the now demolished Civic Arena. He and his friends slept outside in the parking lot, next to the Monroeville Mall, and waited for tickets.

Mr. Doucette said playing at the arena in the early 2000s was a big deal for him because "that's where I grew up going to concerts. So that was, sort of, my hometown thing."

But he also considers First Niagara Pavilion his hometown venue and said, "I saw shows there when it was Star Lake."

Matchbox Twenty, which will play there Saturday, has shown remarkable staying power despite successful solo projects and multiple hiatuses.

"The fact that we're able to do it at the level that we're doing it is staggering. It's definitely not lost on us and we realize how lucky we are and how hard we had to work to get it and how hard we still have to work to keep it," Mr. Doucette said. "We're musicians. This is what we do. If it wasn't this, I would be playing bars. I don't know how to do anything else.

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Katie Foglia: or 412-263-4903.


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