Rob Thomas talks bringing soulful solo show to Civic Center
Rob Thomas has spent the last twenty years delivering hit after hit.
He's struck gold (literal, RIAA Gold-certified status) multiple times in his career, including songs like his 2005 solo single, "Lonely No More." His band, Matchbox Twenty, has sold tens of millions of records, beginning in the 1990s with fuel from singles like "Long Day" and extending into this decade with the 2012 Billboard Top 40 song "She's So Mean."
He started writing these tracks before some of his fans were born ... and he doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
The pop-rock singer and his band are set to play the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines Oct. 31, in support of Thomas' third solo record, "The Great Unknown." It's his first solo release since 2009 and first studio effort since finding a resurgence of success with the 2012 Matchbox Twenty release, "North."
The record gravitates toward classic, swinging pop of generations past, while still maintaining a modern polish. It's not as rock-rooted as what's heard with Matchbox Twenty, but it's just as catchy as anything he's done in his tenured time at the top of the charts.
"I started writing this when I was on the road with Matchbox," he said. "I've never made a record this way, where I'd literally go in for a week, record a bunch of stuff, and then take a couple of weeks off and go back and listen to it and re-write some stuff. I did it over such a long period of time that all these different influences were coming in."
Thomas credits a mixture of influences, from completely different corners of the musical world, to explain how he achieved the sound heard on "The Great Unknown."
He talked his roots as a child in the south, listening to storytellers like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, to his youthful descent into '80s alternative pop like Duran Duran. The record shows a bit of both while not compromising the sound Thomas has established in his time as a premier American artist.
"I'm like a pop guy that comes through this factory of country and alternative and songwriting," Thomas said. "My days aren't really spent listening to the new Swedish producers doing pop. I'm listening to Ryan Adams and Tom Petty and going and making a pop record."
"I want my record to be as diverse as my CD collection." — Rob Thomas
It's been almost 20 years since Thomas broke into the hearts of music lovers with Matchbox Twenty's debut LP, "Yourself or Someone Like You." Bolstering hits like "Push," "3AM" and "Real World," the record sold 15 million copies worldwide and has turned into a staple release from the '90s.
The record's success propelled Thomas into career milestones like the Grammy Award-winning collaboration with Santana, "Smooth," an appearance on the television comedy "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia," and launching his own not-for-profit organization alongside his wife, called Sidewalk Angels, which works with animal rescue.
Will Matchbox Twenty be doing anything to commemorate the album on its anniversary next year? Maybe.
"Everything's tentative," he said. "We're going to carve out time to do something because I don't think any of us thought that in 20 years we'd still be together (and) we'd still be making music and that people would still care. There's a little bit of gravitas of the moment — that you want to give it what it deserves."
There could be a little Halloween surprise thrown into the show. Thomas said in a previous year he came out on stage dressed as the Thriller-era Michael Jackson and his band opened the set with the classic track.
"We're working on (Halloween plans)," Thomas said. "We've had three or four shows on Halloween and it's always a big deal to us."
Where: Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, 221 Walnut St.
When: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 31.
More info: www.desmoinesperformingarts.org