ISN’T IT ILLEGAL FOR AN ARTIST TO WRITE A SECOND SONG WITH THE SAME TITLE AS A PREVIOUS SONG, AS YOU’VE NOW DONE WITH “REAL WORLD”? It is not. And I didn’t! The new song is called “Real World ’09,” which is very different from “Real World”! Originally, when I wrote it, I was going to call it “Welcome to the Real World,” but then I thought it would just look like I was pretending I didn’t write a song called “Real World” on my first record. So I figured the best thing to do was look it straight in the eye and just call it “Real World ’09,” as if it’s the new version.

THE THEME OF THE ALBUM SEEMS TO BE TROUBLED RELATIONSHIPS. HOW’S THE MARRIAGE GOING? The marriage is going fine. We’re pretty self-actualized because of all this stuff! I think most people in relationships have these horrible fights and blowups. If you’re a good couple, you move on and evolve from that moment. But as a writer, your job is to stay in that moment a little bit longer and think about what would have happened if life had turned out differently from that moment on.

MANY PEOPLE CONSIDER YOU A GUILTY PLEASURE. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?
That’s definitely some sort of a slam for someone to say you are a guilty pleasure. My guilty pleasures are the things that give me exactly what they promised me -- but they promised me absolutely nothing, and I appreciate it. I guess it depends. [Matchbox Twenty] has always been in the middle of the road. If you’re Britney Spears, then the music I make is Soundgarden. But if you’re Soundgarden, we’re Britney Spears.

YOU’VE MANAGED TO MAINTAIN A CERTAIN LEVEL OF ANONYMITY NOT USUALLY AFFORDED FOLKS AS SUCCESSFUL AS YOU. IS IT A BLESSING OR A CURSE? It’s a blessing! You have to work at being that person. When I’m in Los Angeles, every restaurant that’s worth going to has paparazzi out front. If I lived in L.A., I would probably have a much higher profile. But I live in Westchester, up in horse country. If you don’t know who I am but you know my songs and I can sell out Madison Square Garden and the Staples Center and I can still go to the grocery store, then I’ve won.