With Matchbox Twenty hits like “Push,” “3A.M.” and “If You’re Gone” under his belt — along with those three Grammys for his 1999 collaboration with Carlos Santana, “Smooth” — singer Rob Thomas headed off to make a solo album with the hope that everyone would basically forget all that.
“It’s like nothing I’ve attached myself to or written,” he said of Something to Be, due April 19. “I like the fact that if you hear it, you might not know it’s me. And that’s really what I wanted to do with this record, to be something that kind of spanned out as much as the CDs that I listen to — from a little bit of funk to a little bit of jazz.” Guest artists including John Mayer and Robert Randolph kept Thomas company on some of the tracks.
At first glance, the title of the album’s first single, “Lonely No More,” may appear to be a reference to being with his bandmates or maybe his wife of five years, Marisol. Not so, he said. “Sometimes there’s ’the bitch that left me’ song, sometimes there’s the pining song, but this is the ’don’t jack me around’ song. Everything has a designation and that’s that one. I’m not sure how indicative it is of the rest of the record but it’s definitely a good starting point.”
Making a video without any other musicians with him was a whole new experience for Thomas. The dizzying treatment for the “Lonely No More” clip, devised by director Joseph Kahn (U2’s “Elevation,” Britney Spears’ “Toxic”), at first drops the singer into a pretty solitary setting, but quickly changes the scene into something much more, well, not solitary.
The video starts out with Thomas sitting in a chair in an apartment with a crisp and post-modern design. Once he gets up, all the furniture flips and starts twisting. His solipsistic experience is spun into a nightclub full of gorgeous partiers and then switches back and forth between the two worlds, all the while rotating around Thomas. The energy builds to the point where he starts throwing the furniture and it enters into the club space and begins flipping with ease to the beats in the song. At one point Thomas walks out on a red carpet and falls, his body rotating until he lands on his bed. Eventually his two worlds meld and flip yet again as the clubgoers flood into the apartment. At the end everything has swapped, and he is left alone back in the club.
Thomas said most of the jitters he felt going into his solo project have now dissipated. “I was really nervous when I started to make the record because you’re not sure how much of what you do is you, and how much is who you surround yourself with,” he said. “Now I feel a little more comfortable. I made the record, that seems like the hard part, now playing it is gravy.”
A solo tour is currently in the works.