Settle into your seat at the sold-out Matchbox Twenty concert Friday night at the Stranahan Theater and start taking things for granted.
After all, that's what comes with the price of your ticket. The high-tech light show needs to be synchronized with the music, the sound should be good, the set list an impressive journey from tempo to tempo and mood to mood, and the musicians had better be at the top of their game.
When it's done right, and Matchbox Twenty has a 17-year track record of success, it's a seamless exercise in rock and roll entertainment.
But peek behind the curtains with the band's guitarist Paul Doucette in the 50-minute documentary A Night in the Life of Matchbox Twenty (you can find it on YouTube) and the painstaking attention to detail, sleepless nights, and perfectionism that comes with putting on a large-scale rock show is obvious.
You can get tired just watching it.
Fortunately for Doucette he's cast aside a good deal of the hands-on planning that was so obvious in that film from five years ago and exchanged it for a more relaxed approach. He admitted in a telephone interview that he needed to back off a bit for his own sanity.
"I don't take on as much I used to. I used to like to be very involved in every single aspect of everything we did," he said. "I've sort of learned to let go a little bit and trust that other people are really good at what they're doing without my getting involved."
Matchbox Twenty is touring to support last year's "North," only the fourth studio release since the band's inception in 1996. While not exactly prolific, the group fronted by Rob Thomas — he of the successful solo career and massive success singing Santana's "Smooth" — has managed to score a number of hits, including "Push," "3am," "Real World," and "Lonely No More."
Doucette said the writing process for "North," which features a pop sound that incorporates hip-hop rhythms and mainstream rock, began while Thomas was on a solo tour. He and fellow guitarist Kyle Cook began working on tracks before the rest of the band joined them in Nashville.
Having a member with a high-profile solo career creates some scheduling challenges, but the band is able to discern its own songs — Doucette has released an album on his own under the moniker Break and Repair Method — from those destined for solo release simply by collaboration on the music.
"Matchbox Twenty can only be what we want it to be and no one else can dictate that. And we sort of try to remember that, but sometimes you can get in your own way and say, ‘That's not something we would normally do,' and then you have to get past that part," Doucette said.
The former husband of Frank Zappa's daughter, Moon Unit, Doucette said he spent the three years between Matchbox Twenty's last tour and working on "North" honing his craft and being a father. He was the band's original drummer before switching to guitar and considers himself "jack of all trades, master of none."
But he said the group has honed its craft to the point that virtually all the melodies on "North" are memorable and finely polished.
"It's definitely the result of a lot of hard work. We all tend to write a lot and we go through a lot to get to what we get to. But it definitely gets easier as you go long," he said. "If someone starts playing a chord progression we can all shout out melodies all day long and keep thinking of them because we've worked on that."
Music begins at 7:30 Friday night at the Stranahan Hall, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. The concert is sold out. The opening act is Phillip Phillips, who won the 11th season of ’American Idol.’
Contact Rod Lockwood at email@example.com or 419-724-6159.
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