"But one thing Matchbox Twenty doesn't like to do is repeat themselves. Each album has a significant identity and we put a lot of time into that."
That fresh perspective each time is a good thing, Cook said, because when the sound stays the same, "That's when it gets stale and people become uninterested."
The result is an interesting mix of anthem and ballad, mellow and upbeat. It's the first Matchbox Twenty album on which Cook has a song solely to his credit ("How Long") and one featuring his voice on lead vocals ("The Way").
"It's nice to have a cast of characters to bring some variation," Cook said. "That was a new thing for us."
Though he's played an instrument since he was 9 and took up violin as part of his rural Indiana school program, Cook said he wasn't as comfortable singing at first.
"That took a little bit more time," he said. "I knew I could hear notes and that I had good pitch."
Even now, Cook still isn't comfortable singing in all settings.
"Sometimes it's more nerve-wracking singing in the living room with your family than it is on stage," he said.
The song that took the longest to pen on the album was "She's So Mean," about a woman who is, shall we say, a piece of work.
Written by him, Thomas and Doucette, it began as a freestyle exercise in lyrics.
"That took a long time to get the lyrics going," Cook said. "We don't do tongue-in-cheek. But we said, 'Let's take a stab at this.' We invented this character who gets whatever she wants - it took a surprising amount of time to get it right."
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@ dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.