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Rob Thomas Talks New Matchbox Twenty Album 'North,' Spills His Songwriting Secrets [Exclusive Interview]

Matchbox Twenty MAIN - Photo Courtesy of Bloomingdales by Cliff Watts

Multi-platinum pop rock outfit Matchbox Twenty returns on September 4 with their fourth full-length and highly anticipated studio album, titled "North." The group of Rob Thomas, Paul Doucette, Kyle Cook and Brian Yale is gearing up to continue their winning streak of platinum hits with a fresh new sound that maintains the group's instantly identifiable sonic approach and Thomas' distinct vocal performance.

Frontman Rob Thomas explains in an exclusive interview with ArjanWrites.com that after a five-year hiatus the group decided to live together in a house in Nashville last year to reconnect, record and pick up where they left off in 2007 with "Exile On Mainstream." "I've been in the solo world for so long, and I had this whole other life and all these other songs that I played," the three-time GRAMMY winner tells me. "It made sense for us to sequester ourselves, and have to stay together and personally bond instead of just showing up in the studio. That really worked and living together reminded us why we are all such good friends."

The LP's title, "North," directly refers to the group's reunion. "When you lose your direction, you look north to get back on track," Thomas smiles. "That's what it felt like for us as a band after all that time away."

Matchbox Twenty also changed its songwriting process in order to refresh the group's creative mojo. "This was the first time we started writing together from the beginning," Thomas explains. "So it was going back to the same dynamic as a group but completely change how we worked together. We ended up with 60 great ideas, melodies and hooks, and together with [producer Matt Serletic] we narrowed it down based on quality."

The result of their renewed bond flavored with a bit of frivolity is a compelling and very accomplished collection of songs that will stand the test of time. Songs range from the dance-oriented "Put Your Hands Up" to the heartfelt balladry of "Overjoyed" to their hooky new single, "She's So Mean" that took the group a little while to finish. "['She's So Mean'] was almost entirely written on the spot and then it took us months to write a chorus," Thomas remembers. "We recorded like 5 or 6 different choruses, and then we finally figured it out and we re-wrote some of the lyrics because we had a story to tell."

The timeless quality of "North" once again underlines Thomas' reputation as an iconic songwriter who has been honored with three GRAMMY Awards, 11 BMI Awards and two Billboard Songwriter of the Year awards for both his chart-topping solo work as well as collaborations with such legends as Santana, Mick Jagger and Willie Nelson. Thomas' songwriting secret is to send listeners on a journey and write from a very real place. "If I write about a moment that happened to me, I'm not really writing for you to just know about that moment," he reveals. "I'm writing for you to know how that moment made me feel so you can relate to it in your own way."

Thomas explains that the key to his success as a songwriter is to get out of his comfort zone and try new things. He explains, "Most songwriters feel that they're only as good as the last song they wrote," he says. "There's nothing like that feeling when you just wrote a great new song. I always put myself in an uncomfortable position and work my way through it. And after years of doing that, the idea of a blank page and what that can be, continues to expand." (Click here to download Matchbox Twenty's new single "She's So Mean" on iTunes now.)

July 31, 2012 | Permalink