Matchbox Twenty (Randall Slavin)

It has taken five long years, but Matchbox Twenty is finally back, with its latest album, “North.”

The last time the pop-rockers delivered fresh music was with the 2007 album “Exile on Mainstream,” though some fans may have considered that release a bit of a cheat.

The set featured seven new songs but was mostly dominated by greatest hits.

Paul Doucette, rhythm guitarist and drummer for Matchbox Twenty, says the long break was never the plan.

“It was one of those things,” Doucette says. “You don’t plan to take five years in between records. But people have things to do.”

Rob Thomas was busy with many projects. The lead singer has a successful solo career with albums such as 2005’s “. . . Something to Be,” and his guest feature spots included the huge hit “Smooth” with Carlos Santana.

Doucette says he’d be lying if he didn’t admit that Thomas’s solo career didn’t cause inconveniences for Matchbox Twenty.

“We all recognize that. We get it. There are times when the band has to suffer a little bit,” he says. “But at the end of the day, he’s our friend, and we support that.”

He adds that it has worked both ways: At times, Thomas put his solo work on hold for Matchbox Twenty.

“Rob could be making a record, but getting the four of our schedules together even without Rob’s situation is hard,” Doucette says. “We’re lucky to have been doing this a long time, but this is only one aspect of our lives. We have kids and are involved with other things. All of that has to factor in.”

Doucette says “North” reflects the band’s admiration for the craft of songwriting. “We leaned toward songs that tapped into that part of us. This record is a lot about craft.”

The set scored Matchbox Twenty its first No. 1 album, a milestone it seems the band would have already reached by now.

“When we put the record out, we knew we had spent a lot of time away,” Doucette says. “But there are still people out there who want to know what we’re doing.”

The success of “North” reminds the band members that they still have more left in them.

“Seventeen years and we’re still here,” Doucette says. “That’s pretty great. But we know we still have more to do, still people out there who care about what we’re doing. And we still know there’s things out there we haven’t accomplished.”

This summer, Matchbox Twenty has hooked up with Goo Goo Dolls for a tour. As Matchbox Twenty weighed the idea of different acts to tour with, Goo Goo Dolls kept coming up.

“We knew they had a new record,” Doucette says of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Magnetic.”

But it goes deeper. “We share a lot of fans,” he says. “We sort of do run in the same musical circle. If you’re a Goo Goo Dolls fan, you’re a Matchbox Twenty fan. And if you’re a Matchbox Twenty fan, you’re a Goo Goo Dolls fan.”

— St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Matchbox Twenty

Appearing Aug. 10 at Jiffy Lube Live.