By CP, Edmonton Sun (Alberta)

He's toured the world with his multi-platinum rock band Matchbox Twenty, but singer and recent solo artist Rob Thomas says he'll always have a special connection to Montreal.

The Grammy-winning songwriter - whose debut solo album Something to Be comes out April 19 - met his wife Marisol, a Spanish model, in the city in May 1998.

"We always talk about going back there," said Thomas, 33, in Toronto. "We want to see it because it's probably going to seem so different to us."

The two had their first encounter backstage after a Matchbox concert in Montreal, and although their meeting was brief, Thomas says it was very impactful.

"It's funny because we met for five minutes and then I had to go on a bus and leave and I just had her number," he recalls.

"But that night, (there) was this very weird connection that we had, and we started talking on the phone non-stop while I was overseas."

Weeks later, when they reconnected in person, Thomas says they already knew "everything about each other."

"On our first date - at a Boston radio festival, a cheap date I know, but I couldn't help it - I told her that she was the girl I was going to marry," he says with a smile. "I even told her the song that she was going to walk down the aisle to - and she did."

The two tied the knot in the fall of 1999 and moved to New York, but Thomas says they always talk about the city that brought them together.