Last month, Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas released The Great Unknown, his first solo album in six years. In an exclusive video interview with Rolling Stone, the singer-songwriter explains why he took his time on the LP. “Every couple years, you get to put out 12 songs that represent you,” he says. “You just want them to be the best songs they can be.”
The 43-year-old musician also summarizes his journey from emerging alt-rock star to veteran family man. Looking back, he says Matchbox Twenty were caught off-guard by their immediate commercial success: “First record [1996’s Yourself or Someone Like You] came out, and people were calling us, going, ‘You’re selling a million records a week,'” he says. “We were like, ‘Is that good?'”
Thomas says he embraced the indulgence of rock stardom but eventually learned the importance of staying grounded. “You’re drinking a lot more; you’re taking any pill you can get; you’re snorting anything you can do,” he says. “And if you’re lucky, you come out on the other side of it, and you find a center to look to.”
For Thomas, that center is his wife, Marisol, who was recently diagnosed with a lesion on her brain, causing the singer-songwriter to cancel a run of tour dates behind The Great Unknown. Thomas knows his wife’s journey will be difficult, but he’s optimistic about the future. “She’s gonna probably always have good days and bad days,” he says. “But at least we don’t have the fear that we don’t know what we’re doing.”
Despite his goofy acting spots for Funny or Die and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Thomas isn’t planning to switch career paths any time soon. “I just want to keep trying to make good records,” he says.