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Matchbox Twenty's Paul Doucette: "We Sound the Best We've Sounded"

As I'm writing this, Matchbox Twenty's 1996 hit "Push" comes on at Starbucks. It's not surprising to hear these radio hits, both old and new, considering the commercial success the band has had over the years.

Despite almost 20 years together, two hiatuses, and different side projects, the band continues to evolve and attract fans. Proof? Its latest album, North, debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.

We caught up with Matchbox Twenty drummer Paul Doucette while the band was touring in Connecticut to chat about the new album, the tour, and how things have calmed down for these guys as the band has grown over the years.

New Times: How has the tour been going so far?

Paul Doucette: The tour's been great. We sound the best we've sounded, and we're really happy about that. It keeps getting better. It's fun to do it for as long as we've been doing it and know that we have some experience now. We're no longer walking on stage like "Oh, what do we do?" Now we walk on stage, and we know what we're doing, and it's coming across.

How else has it changed touring this time around than previous experiences?

We're playing smaller rooms on this run, so that's pretty different. We're doing a lot of theaters through this winter, and we haven't done that in a long time, so that's been fun. It's been challenging, to bring our show, which we had just done in Australia (which was an arena show), and we wanted to keep a lot of that through this run. So bringing that into a smaller room was interesting.

So next week, you'll be playing Hard Rock Live here in Florida. Are you looking forward to that show?

That's where we started the last tour, so we haven't been there in a while. Playing Florida is great. It's fun to go back there because that's where we started. It's like, "Hey everybody, look what we did."

Are you planning on hitting the slots in the casino after the show?

Personally, I'm not a gambler, so probably not. But other guys in the band are, so they probably will.

It seems like it's going to be a big year for you guys, especially with the Matchbox Twenty Cruise coming up in December.

Now that could be a crazy experience. That's something I've never done. I've never even been on a boat, so we'll see how that goes.

What do you think it will be like playing on a cruise to fans?

You've got to figure that the people on that cruise are going to be diehard Matchbox Twenty fans. From that point of view, it's going to be awesome. It's a great thing to do for people who are huge fans of ours, and a lot of those people have been with us for a really long time.

For someone who has never been to a Matchbox Twenty concert, but who knows the music and has been listening to you guys for a while, what kind of show can they expect?

I hear from people who have had that experience and are usually surprised by how much of a rock show it is. It has a lot of energy. We definitely have down moments because we have ballads too, but we try to make it a fairly energetic show. Our goal is to entertain. We understand that's why we're there, and we try and give it everything we have for two hours.

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And with the latest album and the recording process, I read online that was a very collaborative process this time around. Could you talk a little about that?

We've always written individually. Rob was the main songwriter for the band for a long time, and over the years, Kyle and I started writing songs and we ended up having songs on the records that we all just individually wrote. When we got together to do the greatest hits (Exile on Mainstream), we wanted to try all of us writing together with nothing and seeing what would happen.

So we tried that, and we gave a fair amount of that for this record. We also did individual writing and brought in a lot of songs that we wrote separate from each other. We had a really large collection of material to work on. Like if I had a melody and played it for Rob or Kyle, they're going to hear it and take it in a direction that I never would have thought of. When you're open to that sort of thing, it could be something more than you thought it could be.

Matchbox Twenty. 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at Hard Rock Live, 5747 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets start at $54 via Ticketmaster. Call 954-797-5531, or visit hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com.

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