Welcome to Sound Bites, where we meet rock musicians at the crossroads between music and food.
To say that Rob Thomas is one of the most successful songwriters of our time might actually be an understatement.
One Grammy Award-winning smash hit that owns the radio for an entire summer, like “Smooth,” which Thomas co-wrote for — and sung on — somebody else’s album, could make any singer-songwriter’s career. But Thomas seems to bang out hits with surprising ease, both solo and fronting his super-popular, ’90s-formed alternative rock band, Matchbox Twenty (“Push,” “3 AM,” and “Unwell” were all hits, but the list goes on and on), which is still touring arenas and playing to sold-out crowds. It also doesn’t hurt that the band is supporting its first No. 1 album ever, 2012’s North.
CityEats had the chance to ask Thomas about his latest turn with Matchbox Twenty — and all his favorite culinary adventures along the way:
We grew up on Matchbox Twenty. What’s it like being part of the band again after all those years as a solo artist?
The two worlds are so different from each other. Being solo allows Matchbox to continue to grow and become something different, but Matchbox is always my home, musically.
In all of the years you’ve spent touring with Matchbox Twenty, what has been your favorite food city to visit on tour?
It would have to be either Rome, Italy, or Santorini, Greece. Both cultures really understand that the secret to great food is really fresh ingredients. Just a simple bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce in Italy is literally one of the greatest things you’ve ever tasted.
Are you the type of songwriter whose muse shows up at dinner, and you end up scrawling lyrics on a napkin? Were any of your songs started or written that way?
You never know when inspiration will hit — at dinner, in your sleep, on the bus, backstage. I always have my phone recorder handy to remember melodies, and have written many a lyric on a napkin, scrap of paper, envelope, etc. I think my wife still has the paper towel I wrote the lyrics to “Recollection Phoenix,” which is a song I wrote that Willie Nelson recorded.
You have a home north of the Big Apple in Bedford, NY. When you venture into the city, what is your favorite hole-in-the-wall place to eat?
New York is full of small places that have great food cheap. Joe’s Pizza, on 6th and Bleecker is awesome. Also, just pick up a pretzel, hot dog or knish from a street vendor, and you’re in for a treat.
Who’s the best cook in your family? What is his/her signature dish?
My wife is an incredible cook. Because she is Spanish and Puerto Rican, and our group of friends is so multicultural, she has mastered Spanish, Greek, Italian, Southern — really any kind of dish. It’s so great to be home and have her cook for me and our family.
Enjoy the complete Sound Bites series on CityEats here.