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April 22, 2008

A Crow regains his footing

LEO: This album seems very dark — even by Counting Crows standards — what happened in the last five years that made you more miserable than ever?Adam Duritz: Oh, I lost my fuckin’ mind, that’s it … I lost my fuckin’ mind … that was a major problem in the delay. Yeah, and I apologize to my bandmates daily for taking six years, but yeah, that’s kinda what it was. LEO: Has turning 40 affected your songwriting?AD: Not really. I don’t really think about my age at all, I never really have. I think, what’s the point? I mean, you get all of your days, you have them all, and you can do what you want with ’em. Nobody takes them from you. So I find it hard to be anywhere but where I am. I don’t really feel young or old or anything. This is what 43 is. I mean, being 43 affects me in that I’ve lived these years. Forty through 42 were very good, but 43 is no real milestone. I don’t really see age landmark-wise that way. I think you are who you are. It’s all just a matter of how you approach each day. LEO: The Counting Crows have been known for so long as romantic and lovelorn, but there seems to be more than a few, subtle and less-than-subtle, references to various forms of raw sexuality. As a songwriter, how can you be frank without coming off vulgar? AD: Well, there’s been some stuff on other albums that were that way, but on this album, I didn’t really have a problem with being vulgar. I kinda even wanted some of it to be. There were songs that people wanted me to take off of the album for that very reason. Not just in a sexual way, but there are songs that are ugly personally.A lot people wanted the guitars off of “You Can’t Count on Me” — and they said take the “t” off of the end of that word. They wanted “1492” and “Los Angeles” off the record … completely. They wanted “On a Tuesday in Amsterdam” off of the record because they said that was too embarrassingly raw emotionally. I said, “Fine, I’m embarrassing, but I want it on there.” And “1492” is the reason for the whole record, so no one could just take it off — ugly or not … that’s the point. LEO: What was it about Brian Deck, who worked with Modest Mouse and Iron & Wine, that made him the right guy to do the Sunday Mornings portion? AD: I wanted a really cool folk album, like when they were imaginative, and they had electric instruments on them, and they were really elaborately arranged and creative. Like Simon and Garfunkel. “Sound of Silence” is a very electric song with ornate drums. Tapestry has lots of electric guitar on it, you know? I wanted to find a way to make a folk album that was really creative and had no boundaries to it. We’re a seven-member band. I just wasn’t interested in stripping down to, like, two people — I wanted to make a really interesting album.So I just started listening to music. I literally got on my computer and had iTunes, Amazon and allmusic.com in three windows. Letting one thing lead me to another, and each time I’d be like: “Who produced this?” or “Who produced that?” and “Who produced this?” As I looked around, the name Brian Deck kept coming up.LEO: Will fans have to wait another six years for a new Counting Crows album?AD: I’m not in any rush to do anything but the work when it’s time to do it. That said, we’ll work our asses off when it’s time to do it. Ya know, I’m not very good at being away from home. I love the gigs — those two hours of the day; but I miss my friends, my family and my girlfriend. I like being home. I’m not really built (for being on the road). I really like my family, I really like my friends, I really like being at home — I really treasure that stuff more than some people.It kinda cracked me last time, because I hadn’t seen my grandmother much for the last five years of her life, and then she died while I was in Australia. It’s all well and good to work hard; and I really believe in working hard. I was brought up to believe that’s really important to work your ass off. But you have to keep in mind that it’s not the most important thing, though.I was talking to somebody the other day about me, and they brought up that I’ve always complained about touring and that I don’t like it. They don’t understand me bitching and moaning about the thing that everybody wants to do. But I’ll tell you this: I may complain about touring, and I may have a hard time touring, but I went out and toured. Complain or not, bitching and moaning; do you know how hard that was for me? I’ve been 12 of the past 15 years on the road … because having something of yours on the radio … it comes and it goes. You’ve got to be connected to someone; in front of them, live on one night, when it’s just you and them … and you share it … then that can last forever.I don’t know how to put it other than, getting yourself signed is one in a million; to get your record even released is one in a hundred million, if not more; to have a hit … that’s one in a billion. To be in this band that is No. 1 on iTunes, Amazon and Wal-Mart right now. To be in our position after 15 years … the odds are so incalculable they might as well not exist. We honor that, so we put in the work.  Contact the writer at leo@leoweekly.com