When Rob Thomas Went Solo on '...Something to Be'
Rob Thomas did a classic rock star frontman move by releasing his debut solo album - ironic, considering how pop-friendly the album was.
When ...Something to Be hit record stores on April 5, 2005, fans had already known his work with Matchbox Twenty, who were well on their way to selling 20 million copies of their three studio records. His voice was also well known on Santana's comeback hit "Smooth," a No. 1 for 12 weeks in 1999 and 2000. But ...Something to Be was a conscious shift from straightforward rock toward more rhythmic, danceable ideas.
“Once you don’t have two guitar players, a drummer and a bass player,” Thomas said in an interview, “it kind of opens you wide to do whatever you want. A song like ‘Lonely No More’ would have never happened on a Matchbox record. And I don’t think it should. That’s not what kind of a band we are...just because I would write it doesn’t mean Matchbox would play it.”
"Lonely No More," the album's funky lead single, reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and preceded the album's debut at No. 1 - the first time a male artist from a larger group debuted atop the album chart. Other fan favorites included the propulsive "This is How a Heart Breaks," the introspective "Ever the Same," and "Streetcorner Symphony," which featured bright horn arrangements from Jerry Hey (who was responsible for the brass on Michael Jackson's albums) and a blistering guitar solo from John Mayer.
For Thomas, who was used to Matchbox Twenty getting mixed reviews despite their success with audiences, he saw his solo work as something of a vindication. "Maybe, just maybe, I have attained a higher level of acceptance,” he told Entertainment Weekly a few months after the album's release. "People are finally saying, ‘You know, he’s not so bad. He does write some good songs.'" Indeed he does!