Counting Crows Return Behind "Best Record We've Ever Made"

Categories: Inquiring Minds

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Photos by Danny Clinch
21 years after the release of Counting Crows' notable debut August and Everything After, front man Adam Duritz is confident the band's forthcoming seventh album, Somewhere Under Wonderland, is their best work to date.

"Everybody's freaking out about it," Duritz says of the record, due out this fall. "Those who've heard it are through the roof."

Wonderland explores new lyrical territory for Duritz, who experienced writers' block before its making.

"It was weird," recalls the dreadlocked songwriter. I always finished songs in one sitting - and that could be one 45-minute sitting, like with 'Rain King,' or one eight-hour sitting, like with 'Mrs. Potter's Lullaby.' If I didn't finish a song in one sitting, I'd throw it out," he continues. "But I found that after a while, I wasn't finishing anything. So I started writing down every idea I had, as not to let anything disappear into Completely Forgotten Land."

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Duritz compiled his ideas and beckoned his band for a weeklong stay at his house, where they sifted through his many notes and recordings, and eventually altered them from rough ideas into full songs. The septet repeated this process a few times, until the songs became Wonderland.

"I'd collaborated with the guys before," Duritz says, "But never so completely. I'd been thinking I didn't like the songs, but I just didn't know how to judge them. The guys inspired me to keep writing."

Wonderland's "broader" lyrics came as a surprise even to Duritz, a historically subjective songwriter.

"I've always written in the first person, but these songs are much wider range," he compares. "They're still songs about how I feel, but the imagery ranges much further out than what I was thinking while walking around New York that week."

"My friend recently described me as having been writing this epic tragedy for years, about how living with being sort of crazy fucks everything up," he says. "Then he reminded me that that's not all of me; I'm also goofy, and I don't just walk around tragically moping. He thinks these new songs are a truer picture of me than my old songs are."

After over two decades as Crows' chief songwriter, Duritz is learning not to take others' opinions of his songwriting too seriously.

"People want to hear one kind of song from me -- like if it's not serious or tragic, then it's not real art. And I've always thought was silly. I mean, I'm writing about my life," he says. "Life has a lot of different sides to it."


Story continues on the next page.

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Bayou Music Center

520 Texas Ave., Houston, TX

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