There are certain questions that you just don’t ask Matchbox Twenty bandleader Rob Thomas and his wife of 14 years, Marisol Maldonado, both ardent animal lovers, like the one recently posed by sportsmen who visited their seven-acre estate in rural New York.
“They wanted to know if they could hunt on our property, and we were like, ‘No!’’ says the frontman.
“I want my property to be a place where these deer can just be safe and hang out, and know that they’re not going to get shot.” And they do sense safety, he adds. “They don’t even run when we come outside anymore. They just look at us like ‘Hey. What’s up?’”
Also welcome at Chez Thomas: rabbits, opossums, raccoons and wild turkeys, plus their two dogs — Samy, a Pomeranian rescued from a puppy mill, and Oliver, a dachshund-terrier initially written off as anorexic and catatonic at a shelter in Puerto Rico, where the plight of stray animals so moved the Puerto Rican-descended Maldonado and her husband that they personally donated $125,000 — and another $225,000 through their charity Sidewalk Angels Foundation — for the construction of a new Pets Alive facility there.
“Pets Alive has always been our pet project, and they needed a medical center for their cat community,” says Thomas, who bring his band to Concord next week.
The Thomases were volunteering at two Pets Alive locations in upstate New York long before they created Sidewalk Angels.
“When a dog gets adopted by a no-kill shelter, it’s not going to be euthanized. It’s safe, and then hopefully it will find a forever home after that,” says the singer, whose left arm is emblazoned with a tattoo of his beloved terrier Tyler, a Pets Alive adoptee who died during his last solo tour.
“I’m paraphrasing badly, but it was Gandhi who said that you can judge the humanity of a civilization by how they treat their animals.”
Furry friends were absent for “North,” Matchbox Twenty’s jubilant new comeback — just Thomas, Kyle Cook, and Paul Doucette, holed up in a log cabin studio outside of Nashville for three intense months, trying to find their groove.
“We were just bleeding money, spending $10,000 on wine, and it felt like floundering until (producer) Matt Serletic came in, looked at what we were doing, and saw the merit in it,” Thomas says of the CD that has launched three singles: “Overjoyed,” “Our Song,” and “She’s So Mean.”
Does Thomas says he sometimes feels guilty about that steep wine tab, thinking of all the pets it could have helped. He jokes, “Because those animals would have loved that wine! ‘Now just sip it gingerly, Fluffy!’”
IF YOU GO
Matchbox Twenty, Goo Goo Dolls
Where: Sleep Train Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $25 to $95
Contact: (925) 676-8742, www.livenation.com
Even though he’s won three Grammys, Rob Thomas has no illusions about his place in the rock pantheon.