Rob Thomas, the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty, has a cool complex. He knows he’s not cool and that he fronts an un-cool band.
But when you’ve sold more than 25 million albums, racked up some 10 top-10 hits, including one you wrote with Carlos Santana, your solo album is certified platinum and you’re about to kick off a major tour with Jewel, do you really care?
AP: Why the complex about not being cool?
Rob Thomas: I don’t trust cool.
AP: How do you define cool?
RT: To me it’s never been a bad thing to not be cool. It kind of relates to [being] in the moment and a trend. I think we’re cool in the grand sense that we play music all day... and live like 16 year olds. We’re not cool in the hip sense.
AP: Do you consider yourself a rock star?
RT: No. I consider myself a successful musician. A rock star is Tommy Lee.
AP: Are you working on a new album since your record, “Something to Be,” came out more than a year ago?
RT: The next thing is going to be a Matchbox Twenty record. I’m not writing for it yet. I’m waiting to see what we do. We want to see where everybody’s head is at.
AP: When will that kick off?
RT: I still have this tour and then I think I’ll need a break. It’s been a year-and-a-half.
AP: Speaking of your tour, you have a seven-piece funk band?
RT: It’s a big loud bombastic kind of show. I like to have pin-drop moment and then Bam! Come right back. We’re still working the set list each show and changing it around. We had a show that was over two-and-a-half hours.
AP: Are you doing cover songs — two hours is a lot of time to fill?
RT: There’s some solo stuff that didn’t make the record and some covers. We’ve done Smashing Pumpkins and Al Green and Maroon 5 and the Eagles. We might do “New Kid in Town” and at another show play “1979” and then play “Mercy Mercy Me.”
AP: You dropped out of high school. Do you ever regret that decision?
RT: Yes and no. I dropped out and got my GED and thought I was going to join the Army. The only reason I regret it and if I could’ve found a way to do what I’m doing, I would’ve liked to go to college, which I may still do just for the sake of learning. I still regret not taking piano lessons.
AP: How did you get involved with Pets Alive, which you’ve called your favorite organization?
RT: My wife had heard about it. We were looking for a no-kill shelter and we went up there one day to just do some work and fell in love with the place. When we’re home we go up every couple of weeks.
AP: What can’t you live without on your tour bus?
RT: A steady supply of books. I read everything. I try to keep three books going at one time — a biography, a fiction and a nonfiction. [I need] Playstation. A guitar. My wife has been great and having her on the bus is amazing — she makes it like a home. As long as I have my wife with me, it’s all good.
AP: Who’s the biggest celebrity in your cell phone?
RT: Willie Nelson or Clive Davis. The most important is Willie. Carlos doesn’t count as a celebrity anymore because he’s my friend.