...That's odd for us..you know, usually it's thirty minutes after bus call, you know, and we would still be in our rooms going 'no, don't call me, no'. Now everybody's pretty on a good...you know I mean we still have our moments but, you know, for the most part We're all pretty calmed down. I think it was after being on the road so long we realized that we couldn't hit it like that and do good shows, you know, and there were some shows, I know there were some shows that just suffered badly because, you know, of the night before...
...You wear yourself too thin...
Yeah. So It's been nice to be able to do shows and like be there and like be kinda know that when you walked off you're like 'I did the best I possibly could do...I didn't huck up pheglem or anything..'
[laughs] Alright, so let's talk about after the last road tour what did you guys do immediately? Did you take some time off and feed the brain?
Yeah, we um...we just kept away from each other for awhile. That was our main goal, I think after that long time we were like 'Ok, you go there and you go there' and [pardon me] Paul went to L.A. and I went to New York and Adam stayed in Miami and we all kinda separated ourselves, you know, which was nice because we could call each other on the phone but we didn't have to, like, trip on each other in the bus anymore, you know, It was a good thing. And uh, it was...it started off to be a five, it turned out to be a nine month break that started off as a five month break that we were all just so beat and getting everything together and trying to get everybody coordinated was a hard thing and then so I had to replan my wedding, like over and over and over and finally I just moved it way the hell out, I just put it in October 'cause by then we'll be way done with the record. So like a month into the record I had to stop for a month so I could go get married [laughs]
Alright, you had the success with 'Smooth' with Carlos Santana.
Yep. (Sounds like 'Yeop').
When'd you guys record that?
Um, I think it was February maybe... we all just trucked down to San Francisco for like two or three days you know and met up with Matt Serletic there and we recorded it just over a couple of days there and then that was kinda it, you know, and then a like couple of months later it was like 'Oh my God.'
Is there any inkling when you're recording something, you know, you're listening to the playback, do you have any inkling of how huge it's gonna be?
No, like I.. I...when we finished it I was like 'wow,' you know, 'that's a good song', and then once Santana got ahold of it and did it with his band it was just like, you know, 'this is hot', you know, and Carlos told me this song he's like 'This song is the vitamin baby this, is the one right here' and my wife's going 'it's huge, it's huge' but none of us thought of...like we all thought 'Wow this is a really good song.' We really loved the way it made us...you know, it was fun to work on something like that, it was fun to collaborate with another writer, it was fun to, you know, hang out with Carlos. And..and uh, I think everything else..if you expect that kinda success, you're probably a bastard.
You do that and that becomes gigantic..how did the guys in the band react?
They hate me....no just kidding [laughs]...um...did you see our video?
You know, to be honest when I saw the video I thought 'Oh, this isn't going...here's that 'Smooth' thing.'
There you go, they were taking it back, you know since it happened on our break they were all really cool with it. I mean, more than cool. You know, I uh, I called Paul, our drummer, to make sure that uh, the band wouldn't have a problem. Like when I was writing it, it didn't seem like a big deal 'cause you know, you can write whatever you want. But when you're singing it you kinda wanna check that out with the guys and that's 'cause you're like your writing some kind of duality there...
...that you weren't really expecting going into this, especially after your first record you know, and then I felt bad when there was like, you know, like I'd read things about how you know this was akin with my solo project I was like 'Whoa, whoa, whoa.'
'Didn't anybody call me and ask me about this?'
Right, and then my record company comes out with this thing and it says, like it's like 'Rob Thomas' huge and it has all this stuff and then at the bottom somewhere in little letters it said 'matchbox twenty' and I was like 'Hey guys, guys you're not helping the problem here you're not...'
'I'm in a band.'
Yeah right..but uh, but you know after the Grammies they all called me and they were all excited. I mean we're all really good friends and so...
So the friendship was still tight.
Yeah you know I think it's because I think we've all grown up a little bit and we give each other our space and we let each other be their own people you know and at the same time we're constantly mothers on each other you know wanna make sure that everybody's okay, wanna make sure....
[Sound of door opening is barely audible. Adam has randomly and suddenly popped in]
Adam: Listen, just focus on the interview. Don't listen to me. I'm at A - D - A - M. Don't focus on me guys.
[Rob laughing] That was Adam.
He can wander in. We don't mind..........okay so let's talk about Mad Season. What a phenomenal CD.
Thank you man.
What a different CD though from Yourself or Someone Like You.
It was little...you know it was funny, you know, we'd play it for friends and our friends were like 'I'm really glad you took some risks on this', and we were like 'Really, oh my God' and then we were scared 'cause we didn't realize we had taken any risks. We had uh...because you know, we had just still written 13 pop rock songs there was just a lot more going on in there like a lot more musically a lot more colors a lot more levels to it, there's um a lot more instrumentation going on the arrangements are much more sophisticated, that we couldn't even try to pull off three years ago...
The first time...
Yeah, but that uh..like after that three and a half, four years on the road we were all ten years older, you know I mean?
..We went straight from right off the boat to, you know, 'Let's go around the world a few times let's put yourselves in all these,' you know, 'situations' like, 'Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,' you know 'Let's see how you react.' It was almost like a science experiment.
So how does the writing process work? You come up with...what? The lyrics?
Um we usually like...my version of the song is like a copyhouse version. You know, like I'll sit at the piano or guitar and work out a version of the song that I like could sit and play for you guys you know, just sitting here. But uh, sometimes it stays pretty truthful and then once the guys get ahold of it sometimes you know it uh...
[sound of beeping becomes apparent]
....is that the fire alarm?
That's the fire alarm. .[laughs] You know, pagers are the worst inventions known to man, you know that?
Sometimes we um...sometimes they uh...they uh, you know, once they get ahold of it the arrangement becomes, you know, completely, completely different. Like sometimes we've had... I've started off with these little ballads that become some up-beat numbers and vice-versa. And then um, and then there's a whole different thing. Like with 'Real World,' you know, you have 'Real World' and you have the song and you listen to it and you're like 'You know it's an okay song,' but when Kyle got ahold of it and Kyle puts in the ba da ba-da-bum it's like, 'Oh wow, that's cool, I love that Rockford Files thing.'
'That's what I needed in that.'
Yeah, exactly and you're like, 'Man that's why I'm in a band. That's why I could never do this alone because I would never have that. It's a road I never would have taken.'
The collaboration definitely works bouncing off of each other.
Yeah I like, have no desire to ever not have that there. It's like a net, it's beautiful. You know, you got guys that you know that are your friends, and they come into this, into each song the same way that you do, you know. They wanna do something tasteful and something colorful You have Kyle and Paul and Brian and everybody is uh...are songwriters as well and you know they all write, which means that their music comes out that way. Like he writes guitar lines like really melody lines the way a songwriter would or Brian or Paul are thinking other parts, they think like a songwriter would. They leave space for the melody and leave space for, you know, the listener to hear it and not get so wrapped up in everything that's under it that you don't realize that the song is going underneath it all.
Well, let's talk about some of the songs from Mad Season. The first single, 'Bent,' how'd that come about?
Um, 'Bent' was like a love song that I'd been kicking around for a year and uh just finally came up with the, with the verses for it for you know, at the last minute. Like I'd had the chorus in my head forever. Like it's funny, like I think about it now I was walking around this time last year, I was walking around in New York, you know, in my head singing 'Help me I'm bent, I'm so scared that I'll never...'
You keep a recorder with you or something so you can get this stuff?
Oh yeah I have a little digital recorder that I always have with me, and for the longest time it was just that. And then when I came up with the first line of the verse it was like the rest of it came out and it was like 'Oh yeah, this what I want,' you know and finally put it all together and I didn't come up with the bridge until the uh...right before we recorded it like we recorded that and we did have a bridge but we were like 'It's kinda boring it just goes back and forth,' so last minute I wrote a bridge for it and like threw it in it was kinda like this pieced together..but the..the underlying emotion behind it was that it was like a nineties co-dependent love song, you know, like if... 'If you're screwed up and I'm screwed up, then we can be screwed up together.' Like the opposite of 'I'm okay, you're okay...'
Does it...different people have called and, you know, have heard the song and are like 'Here's what I think it's about.' Does it freak you when people go 'You know, that 'Bent' song is really a great love song. Me and my boyfriend get off on it' are you're like 'Well it's...'
You know, with 'Bent' it's funny, it's like with 'Push' I thought it was funny because people come to me and they were like 'That's our song' and I was like 'You've never listen to lyrics to that song in your entire life, have you?'
The funny thing is it seemed like to me 'Push' and 'Bent' to me were totally related because they are exact opposites, like when you listen to 'Push' without hearing the lyrics you just listen to it, it sounds like it could be a prom song, it could be a love song, it could be a... and then you listen to the lyrics and you're like....well..that's...that's pretty screwed up, alright. And then, with 'Bent,' when you listen to it, it's just the opposite. With the lyrics and all the minor chords it has this real weight to it that feels like, you feel like you're really telling someone off. But in truth, it's a happy song to me, like it's a love song, you know, it was something I had written as like, a joke for me and my wife. You know, 'cause we're both crazy. That was my joke.
Congratulations on your marriage, by the way.
Thank you man...she's leaving...it's great, she's leaving me today.
She's here with me today.
But she's leaving to film a couple of episodes of Back 2 Back on VH1.
She's going to co-host, so I'll be without her for a whole day.
Well, we can look for Mrs. Thomas on VH1.......Okay, back to Mad Season. One of my favorite songs is 'Rest Stop.' that...that sounded like a cold, cold, cold, cold, bitch.
Um, I'd uh... that's an old song. That's like eight years old. That one and 'Black and White People' were both written like eight years ago. And um, that was the same kinda thing. It was like we tried it for the first record but we weren't hitting it. You know, it sounded like a Journey song when we were doing it and we were like 'Let's just get rid of it, let's just scratch it,' and uh, and then on this record we were hanging out in the big room where the piano is, you know, and I was just playing it, and it was just me, and Paul, and Brian, like the original three that had been playing together and the three of us had known this song longer than the guys of matchbox did so we'd been living it forever and then I just started playing it and they started going with it so that the mood of it there we were just like 'there that's it', you know, and we weren't even going to put it on this record and we went and recorded it the next day and we got mad and were like 'Listen to this' and we threw it down and it was like 'Yeah' it just kinda popped up and it made me happy 'cause it's like one of those songs that stays in my little Rolodex forever you know, and until this whole record some of the songs just sit there and it's like a big unfinished to-do list you know and once you get them on a record you can finally take them out and you're like 'Aahhhh', you have more room for something else, so I was so happy to have those two songs on there but that was a uh...
It was a true story, but it happened to me when I was like 17 or 18. You know like I had...I was hitchhiking and I just met this girl and only known her for like a week and um, we stayed at the beach like, because I was hitchhiking at the beach and that's where I'd met her, and then uh... I was going to go back to her house at Tampa and then on the way back in the middle of the night somewhere she just pulled over and was like, 'You know, I don't think this is gonna work,' and she booted me out and it was back to hitchhiking again.
Yeah, it wasn't so bad. You're 17 so everything's kinda like happening not to you. You know, you get out of the car and you're like 'Oh, okay.' And then she drives off.
17, things bounce off you.
'...Alright, bye', you know. It works back and forth 'cause either that or everything is life or death. So when it's happened and you're like 'oh..ok..bye' and then you sit down and write a song about it and you're like, [makes voice emotional] 'Hey, she broke my heart.'
Rob Thomas, one more thing, matchbox twenty, known for phenomenal concerts. Last time we saw you here you were at the center with Semisonic.
Yeah, that was a great tour.
Thank you, man.
Are you doing anything differently for this set of warm up tours?
You know I think...just the beauty of it is that..it's...it's so scaled down. We're doing a lot of smaller clubs. I think this is one of the bigger places we're playing on the tour, and this is like a small club you know, compared to the center.
Um, I think that's just the beauty of this you know, we've just taken much as the old record and much of the new record, you know, and last night was spontaneous cover night. You never know what's going to happen. We don't know the covers that we play, but if more than two people know it then we start playing. So last night we played from some of 'Eye of the Tiger' [DJ laughs] and something else and you know, you never know what's going to happen. And that's fun, that's the fun of the club tours, not taking it too seriously, let everyone come in and it's like seeing a bar band, you know, have a few beers and see the band that's there, and we just happen to be the house band that evening, so that's a lot of fun.
And a phenomenal house band you are.
Man, good luck tonight at the American Theatre.
Rob Thomas, sold out show, matchbox twenty.
Great, great to meet you.