Rob Thomas' pre-Matchbox Twenty recordings are finally seeing the light of day, thanks to a former bandmate who spent a half a decade trying to put "the nail in the group's coffin."

Don't Play With Matches, the only studio album by Tabitha's Secret (which featured Matchbox Twenty bassist Brian Yale and drummer Paul Doucette as well as Thomas), is due for October 9 release.

Guitarist Jay Stanley — who, along with guitarist John Goff, parted ways with the band in 1995 — fought a five-year legal battle to get the album released.

"It's about putting the past behind me, putting the nail in the group's coffin," Stanley said Friday from his Orlando, Florida, office. "And people want to hear these songs. I've had thousands of people write our Web site wanting the music."

Stanley insists the album has the blessing of his former bandmates, although he is legally bound not to use Matchbox Twenty's name in advertising for the album. Rob Thomas' name is on the cover. A spokesperson for Matchbox Twenty was not available Friday for comment.

Don't Play With Matches features 10 tracks recorded in various Orlando studios from 1993 to 1995, including an acoustic version of the Matchbox Twenty hit "3 A.M." and the ballad "Dear Joan," which the group occasionally plays in concert.

The album's first single, "And Around," was added to about 65 stations nationwide last week, Stanley said.

"They have a modern, pop-rock sound, similar to Matchbox Twenty," Stanley said of the album, which was previously available in demo version as Internet downloads.

Stanley wanted the record to have a polished sound, so he and producers Tony Miceli and George Spatta (Britney Spears, 'NSYNC) re-recorded some parts and remastered the album. Session drummer Liberty DeVito (Billy Joel) and guitarist Guy Walker (Backstreet Boys) also added some parts.

With Don't Play With Matches finally hitting shelves, Stanley is moving on. He has formed a new band, Jack Glass, and is shopping demo recordings to labels. John Goff also has a new band, Nectar.

Matchbox Twenty are touring the U.S. with Train (see "Matchbox Twenty, Train Set Tour Dates").

Track list for Don't Play with Matches:

  • "And Around"
  • "Forever December"
  • "Here Comes Horses"
  • "Dear Joan"
  • "Unkind"
  • "Tired"
  • "Paint Me Blue"
  • "Swing"
  • "Dizzy"
  • "3 A.M." (acoustic)