Bob Dylan. Big Star. The Faces. Gram Parsons.
You could blend up all of these influences together and probably come close to making the Counting Crows.
The northern California-based band just passed the 20-year mark last year and is best known for its rollicking rockers such as “Mr. Jones,” “Hanginaround” and “Accidentally in Love,” and more reflective ballads such as “A Long December,” “Round Here” and “Colorblind.”
After 2008’s “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings” was the first album the band released that didn’t become certified gold, the Adam Duritz-led band tacked when it came time to record a new album. The result is 2012’s “Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation),” a collection of covers from well-known inspirations such as Dylan, Alex Chilton, Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood, and Parsons as well as lesser-known acts such as Kasey Anderson & The Honkies, Teenage Fanclub and Dawes.
In a conference call with other media outlets, Duritz told The Tribune that the album consisted of songs that they liked, and didn’t over-think it. The same ethos goes for this tour, which includes bands not picked by the Crows’ record label, bur rather by bands the Counting Crows liked.
Here is Duritz on:
On if the new album is an an accurate distillation of the DNA at the heart of Counting Crows:
No, I don’t think so. I think an accurate distillation is a bunch of songs we like. I think that’s what it is; just songs we like that we felt like playing. That said, I think that it probably sounds a lot like a Counting Crows album, because when you make a record, song-writing isn’t the main thing you do. I think, I hate to say that, being that I do most of that, but I come in with some skeletons of songs; it’s just some chords and some words and that’s a long way from what you guys listen to on a record. The work that goes into an album [is] what makes us a band. If that’s what all it took, I’d be making solo records, but I’m not really interested in doing that. Most of the work that goes into making a record is turning that sort of skeleton of chords of music into a song — into, in our case, a Counting Crows song, and that’s something we all do together.
On why the band recorded a covers album, instead of an album of original material:
We really wanted to make this record. It’s kind of as simple as that. We actually really wanted to do it, which is a pretty good reason for us for doing it. It’s like, you get really caught up on working on other people’s schedule of expectations of what they think makes up a record or what they think you’re supposed to, but it’s not a schedule of expectations; it’s just our lives. And you’ve just kind of got to do what you want to do and not waste time trying to fulfill other people’s expectations, because, I mean, why should there be any. I mean, I kind of can’t really care. I can see why people have them, but I don’t see why I should care about fulfilling them because it’s just not, I don’t know; I suppose if I wanted to write songs, I would. I just didn’t really want to write songs for Counting Crows that I was going to have to sing.
On the new album:
It might be the most enjoyable listen of all of our records ... I really like that about it. I find myself still listening to it. I find myself enjoying listening to it, too. Like, I feel like putting it on sometimes, walk around the city listening to it. I dig it. It just keeps surprising me. I don’t know why it is. I can’t explain this to you exactly. I’m just sort of drifting off the top of my head, but it definitely made a difference. If you see the band live now, I think you’ll see, like I don’t feel like I even have to move around. I could stand in one place without moving a muscle for the entire show. I mean, I don’t, but I could. It feels like the slightest gestures are reflected in everything the band’s doing, so overdoing it feels like I’ll be covering up stuff the other guys are doing. It feels like I can be very economical now because there’s so much happening and I think it’s making me a better singer.
On the band’s longevity:
I think it still feels very fresh to us. I think that getting that creative control right at the beginning and taking that attitude into everything we did made all the difference in the world, because it never became a repetition of something. It never felt like we were doing something for the hundredth time and, if it did, we just didn’t do it. Like, we made the records we wanted to make, exactly how we wanted to make them. I think they’re really different from each other and they always felt like we were never forcing ourselves to do anything we didn’t want to do. We just recorded, just followed our muse wherever it took us, wherever that was, and it seemed very different to me. It may seem the same to somebody else, but whatever it was, it still feels fresh to do it. And the same thing really applied to our live shows. Someone asked me a question awhile ago about, like, playing “Mr. Jones,” which I actually love playing ... Somebody was commenting on it and they were complaining about it on our Facebook page and they said that you should remember what got you here. But the thing is “Mr. Jones” didn’t get us here. “Mr. Jones” got us on the radio in 1993. “Round Here” on “Saturday Night Live” got us from No. 215 (on the Billboard charts), wherever we were, to No. 2 ... But neither of them is really the thing, because what really got us to where we wanted to go was playing shows of songs we wanted to play ... I remember we were playing in Miami, like a few weeks ago, and I just in the middle of “Mr. Jones,” I realized I was drifting. I don’t know, because, I mean, I don’t think we played it every night, but we’d been playing it a lot right [up to] then because I really do like playing it. It’s a f_____ great song. But I was drifting and I realized, “You know what? This feels like work right now on this song. It just feels like a chore” ... So I didn’t do it the next couple of nights and we played two of the best shows of our career in Atlanta and in Nashville and neither show contained “Mr. Jones.”
On if the band is hoping for a lot of onstage collaboration with the other bands on this tour?
It’s not [like previous tour] The Traveling Circus, which was built around everybody playing together all night long ... These are a lot of very unique bands that are very different from Counting Crows. My first choice of what would happen on this tour would not be to collaborate. It would be that people came out early enough to, like, really get into how great these bands are, because they are f_____ great. I mean, there’s so much good music to be seen on this tour this summer ... The best thing that could happen is people could get out there early enough and see what these bands can do, because they’re playing short sets every night, but they’re only playing half hour sets and, like, 10 minutes between bands, so it’ll be really quick. But these bands have so much to offer. I’ve seen them all play live and they’ve knocked me out and it’s the music I listen to. What it also did for me is it gave me a whole jukebox full of music to listen to for the last few years, so what I’ve been listening to is these bands and I think that same reward is out there for everybody else. If they come early and see these bands play, they’ll go get the records and they’ll love them, because, and then they’ll have more music in their lives, which is usually a good thing.
On why it has taken the band so long to tour:
I couldn’t figure out which subway it was and I didn’t know it was right after the Bedford exit.
The Outlaw Roadshow
Counting Crows with Field Report, Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, We Are Augustines
When • Saturday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.
Where • The Rail Event Center, 235 N. 500 West, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $38 in advance, $40 day of, at SmithsTix