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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 26, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 26
Rock hottie, LGBT ally Rob Thomas returns to Seattle with new music and tour
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Rock hottie, LGBT ally Rob Thomas returns to Seattle with new music and tour

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

ROB THOMAS
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
June 29


The flipside of being a rock star is sitting on a couch with your dogs and doing absolutely nothing for hours on end. But this is bliss, if you ask Rob Thomas. When he's not in a recording studio, pumping out a new solo album, or on tour fronting the Grammy-nominated group Matchbox 20, he's delightfully glued to a TV watching the latest season of 'Game of Thrones.' The New York-based musician, who has appeared briefly on 'The Voice' and the FX comedy 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,' has also dedicated his personal time advocating for same-sex marriage and raising funds and awareness for needy animals.

Thomas is on the brink of releasing his third studio effort, The Great Unknown, that will include the leadoff single 'Trust You.' The strong LGBT ally recently spoke to a small group of North American journalists via roundtable conference call, where he answered questions about his upcoming tour, album, double-act career, and personal life. Each reporter was able to sneak in three to four questions.

When I asked him where the motivation comes from to publicly voice his support for LGBT rights, he was quick to state a reply. 'I grew up with a lot of my friends who were gay and I think, especially in the '80s, [with] the idea of if you have gay friends then you're gay. Then you become one kind of person or the other. You either become someone who gets offended by the notion or by someone who really doesn't see why that would be a derogatory term for someone to call you, and then you just move through life that way. It's just never been a question.'

You might recall Thomas penning an op-ed on legalizing Gay marriage for the Huffington Post titled 'The Big Gay Chip On My Shoulder' in 2009, where he blasted religious conservatives like Pat Robertson for trying to pass off their anti-Gay hate speeches as inspirational messages on traditional values. 'The support of legalizing gay marriage is in no way meant to change the ideals of the section of Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin,' he wrote. 'But we should refuse to let other people's ideals shape the way we live our lives. Each of us has a short ride on this earth and as long as we stay in our lane, and don't affect someone else's ride, we should be allowed to drive as we see fit.'

Changing the subject, I also inquired about his current taste in music, if he was a fan of artists such as Hozier, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran. 'You definitely named three that I really like a lot,' declared Thomas. 'I like Cage the Elephant and Young the Giant. I love My Morning Jacket. Anything they do, I'll listen to it over and over. I really like Kings of Leon. I like Grouplove a lot, too. That's a really great band. There's a lot of stuff out there, I realize, and maybe it's just where I come from, that if I'm on satellite radio, I'm usually listening to Alt Nation. What's happening in the alt world is really great. There's a lot of really cool '80s alternative influences. If you go between that and the '80s alternative station, it's hard to tell which station you're listening to sometimes. I appreciate where alternative pop is right now.'

Since Thomas is a self-proclaimed couch potato, I wanted to know, as well, what he enjoys watching on television. 'Oh my goodness. It's a little bit of everything,' he said with a chuckle. We're as obsessed with 'Game of Thrones' as we are with 'Downton Abbey.' We're as rabid about both of them. You know what I mean? Screaming at the screen for 'Downton Abbey!' That's how into it you'll get.'

Before anyone starts wondering if Matchbox 20 is still together, Thomas offered confirmation. 'Unless somebody knows something I don't, we're still a band. We have our 20th anniversary of our first record next year, so I know that we're going to do something there and we'll definitely always go out and tour and make music. We have too much fun not to.' The pop-rock group is known for about a dozen hit singles dating back to 1997, which includes 'Push,' '3 a.m.,' 'Unwell,' 'Disease,' 'How Far We've Come,' and 'Bright Lights.' As a solo performer, 'This is How a Heart Breaks,' 'Lonely No More,' 'Ever to Be,' and 'Smooth' (with Carlos Santana) are among Thomas' top 40 records.

His new single, the aforementioned 'Trust You,' is certainly catchy, even drawing mild comparisons to Taylor Swift's 'Shake It Off.' Co-written with longtime producer-collaborator Matt Serletic, Thomas noted that the song came together in Atlanta. 'We started off with this vibe, but it made us start thinking how everybody has that one friend that calls them up and when they do, no matter where they are in their life, no matter how stable they are and no matter how good things are going, they're going to go out and they're going to make a lot of bad decisions with this friend. Everybody has one of them. You're going to somehow end up in some dive bar at 7:00 in the morning with something on your shirt and you don't know your own name. Everybody has that one friend, so this is about that.'

Anyone catching Thomas on tour this summer is very likely to hear the released track and a mix of solo and M20 material as well. 'When you first put out a solo record, you don't want to come out and just play a bunch of Matchbox songs with a solo band, so you try and get creative, explains the veteran artist. There's a lot of covers that happen. You're doing all kinds of stuff. Now after going into our third record, now it's more about trying to set up a couple different set lists like Set A, Set B, and Set C. You know there are certain songs, certain singles, that people really want to hear that are going to be on every one of those sets.'

And after many years of being a road warrior, Thomas still gets excited about touring. 'I love the smell of the gas on the bus. I love the sound of the hum. I love waking up in a different place every day. You wake up every day, you don't know what it's going to bring. A lot of people can't say that for their job. You step out of your bus, you're going to be in a different city, you're going to meet hundreds of new people, anything could happen in that day. After a year and a half or two years, I need to get home for about a half a year. At least four or five months, which is funny because when I'm home, I don't do shit.'

Thomas is set to perform June 29 at the Paramount Theatre. Tickets are available at Tickets.com.

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