Rob Thomas Offensive Remark Down Under ... Drinking Til 'I'm A Black Australian'

2/20/2016 10:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

update_graphic_red_bar1:15 P.M. PST -- Rob has released an apology, saying, "Please understand that although is it no excuse, I was completely unaware that in Australia there is a polarizing social issue happening right now involving indigenous people and alcohol. I'm sitting here in my hotel room completely gutted that a joke that I made was much more relevant to the times in Australia than I realized ... I feel like a fool and apologize to all Australians."update_grey_gray_barRob Thomas found himself in a heap of trouble in Oz ... making a highly offensive remark towards Aboriginal Australians. 

The former Matchbox 20 front man was in Melbourne Friday and when talking about his flight over says, "I drink til I think I'm Australian." Rob continues, "And then I keep drinking til I think I'm a black Australian." A big no-no considering the history and current struggle of alcohol abuse among natives. 

You can hear a collective groan and even some boos from the crowd after the remark. We're guessing Rob didn't mean any harm, but one things for sure ... people were upset.

We've reached out to Rob for comment ... so far, no word back.