People Of The Year

Three months into 2000, Rob Thomas was already having a hell of a good time. Coming off a year in which his cred got a much-needed boost, thanks to being the voice on Carlos Santana's comeback hit, "Smooth," the newly svelte Matchbox Twenty frontman scooped up three Grammy's in March for his work on that song. During the spring, he and his new wife, Marisol, bought a new home in Westchester County, New York. ("Going into town, its like a Bigfoot sighting," he jokes.) Then at the end of May, his band released Mad Season, an album it had begun working on with producer-Svengali Matt Serletic nearly a year earlier.

What are you most proud of from this year?

Our record. Without a doubt. I would be proud of the whole Grammy thing, but I feel like that all came because of Carlos. I take some of the credit, but I can't take too much of it, because if Matchbox Twenty had done "Smooth," it probably just would have been another track on Mad Season.

You're being very humble.

Not at all, actually. I think we made a f*cking great record. I'm proud that I've put songs like "You Won't Be Mine" on there -- songs that didn't have that Matchbox Twenty feel.

Do you think people have adjusted their attitude about the band?

Most criticism I was hearing was the idea that we were never going to be heard from again. But we put out another record that didn't totally sink like a rock, and it makes me feel like now they're looking at somebody else. Now they're yelling at Vertical Horizon, "Hey, you're next record's gonna suck!!"

What was the best thing you wore last year?

I liked my suit at the Grammys. I got it from Lords, in L.A. I love that place. I found out about it from Scott Weiland. All their shirts have the Western cut, where the back collar goes down to a point. And I like their pants. Its hard for me to find pants that fit, because I'm kind of stocky -- but I'm not really heavy like I used to be.

The whole body-image thing -- that's got to have changed for you in the past year.

I didn't realize how much of my mind it was occupying until afterward -- how much I dreaded stylists' meetings, standing around with my shirt off and realizing that nothing there fit me. Now I love going to get new clothes.

It's got to be good that people aren't making fun of you about it anymore.

Its good that they don't have that thing to focus on, because that's just another thing to take people away from the music. After a certain point, the amount of records we sold took people away from the music; they were writing about the amount of success we had. It's nice just to give them one less thing to look at and be able to say, "You like this or you don't."

By Jenny Eliscu