Rob Thomas Reflects on the 2000 Grammy Awards
Billboard spoke with Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty about his 2000 Grammy Awards experience when his smash Smooth won Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Rob Thomas reflects on the 2000 Grammy Awards: “Rob Thomas: If I were to have a conversation about that night 13 years ago when aliens landed on my roof and probed me, that wouldn’t be any more surrealistic than what happened that night. It was one of those moments when your biggest moment is viewed and shared. Like, it was my biggest moment, it was Carlos’ biggest moment, and it was one of the biggest moments in the history of the Grammys, and I got to be part of that. “Supernatural” was the parade at that Grammys, and “Smooth” was the lead float.
As appreciative as he is for any accolades that he gets, Carlos is not the kind of person that gets nervous about whether or not he’s going to win. He was really happy to get nominated, but every time you hear Carlos speak about motive and intent and life and spirituality, those things are really him, it’s not a put-on. I was just this kid, stoked to fucking be there and be a part of it. I was nervous! I had lost Grammys before, so I know what it’s like to not have your name called. But I don’t think that he really cared, as far as whether he won or lost. He’s kind of mastered Daoism — he was just completely in the moment. If I’ve learned anything from Carlos over the years, it’s a lot from that moment.”
What Thomas remembers about Grammy Night: “[The night] is kind of a blur. I remember certain things. I remember the fact that Bono handed me a Grammy. And when I walked up on stage, he said, “Hey Rob.” And I was like, “Fuck, Bono knows my name!”
I remember going up to accept it with [“Smooth” co-writer] Itaal Shur and making sure that I didn’t speak so much so that Itaal had a chance to talk. I wanted to make sure that I thanked my wife, but then I forgot to thank Matt Serletic, who produced “Smooth” and who’s one of my best friends. I called him the next day and was completely apologetic… I left him out of the speech because I got so nervous. I felt like he was my Chad Lowe.”
Thomas on when he felt his solo career started: “For me, personally, that would probably be the minute that my solo career started. That was the minute where I decided, “Hey, I wanna make some solo records,” where I could appreciate working with other musicians and step outside this box — not to leave Matchbox ever, but to be able to step out and explore what it’s like to work with other people. Before I could even do [“Smooth”], I went to Matchbox and asked them if it was cool if I did it. And at the time, when you’re doing a record with Carlos Santana, nobody had any idea that it was going to be this big. It was one of those things where I was like, “I’m gonna work with Carlos because I love Carlos, and I’m gonna have to tell all my friends.” I came to Paul [Doucette of Matchbox Twenty] and asked him if it was okay to do it, and he said, “Is it like ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’?” And I went, “No dude, it’s nothing like that, it’s a real Carlos Santana song.” And he said, “Oh, okay. Have a good time!” Don’t get me wrong — the leather pants were cool. I just don’t wear leather pants anymore. I’m 40. There’s a cutoff point to wearing leather pants. If not, there should be. I’m looking in the audience, and everyone that I love, all these artists, are looking at me. It’s not like we were all a party or whatever; for those four minutes, they were looking at me. I just had to push that outside of my head so I could perform the song and not make it feel false. And I didn’t want to fuck it up for Carlos!
There are certain successes that you have that you’re only a small part of, and then they have this life of their own, and this was one of those moments. You felt like it was this ride that you got to be a part of, and you moved with it but definitely didn’t control it. Me and the band have this joke where, if I’m somewhere anywhere in the world and someone comes up to me and says “I love that song,” we know what song they’re talking about. We’ve had a lot of well-charting singles as a band, I’ve had a few more solo [singles], but when someone comes up to me and says, “I love that song,” we know, immediately, and say, “Oh thank you, Carlos is great.”