Hey look, the Counting Crows are still around. Recently frontman Adam Duritz answered a few of our questions prior to playing at Summerstage (which goes down this evening at 6). We'll always love "August and Everything After," but it speaks volumes that the New Yorker he admires most is Robert Moses.
When you first started out, blogs weren't even around—do you keep up with music blogs these day? I read a few, although I'm sporadic about it., I like Ryan's Smashing Life, AbsolutePunk.net, Ain't It Cool News ... Bill Janovitz (formerly of Buffalo Tom) writes great pieces on his Facebook page.
What's the biggest change as a band from then to now? Not much really. We all seem the same.
How did the Traveling Circus tour come about? Two of our guy's wives had babies last Fall and they both had to leave tour early. Augustana was out with us and they starting filling in on a few songs. We ended up turning the show into a show about all of us playing together as opposed to a show about them filling in here and there. It was just a lot more fun. I decided right then and there that The Medicine Show was the only kind of tour I wanted to do this summer. Hell, I can't imagine touring any other way ever again to be honest. This is the best thing I've ever done. I'm truly proud of it.
What can people expect at the shows? The Circus begins on time with everyone (all 18 of us!) onstage together playing music. We play together and we play apart. We play in small combos from different bands and we play as guest musicians with each other's bands and sometimes we just play as one enormous band. Mainly, they can expect three and a half to four hrs of music played by a variety of different musicians in a variety of different styles. You get it from all sides and somehow it all just works. i think that's because it works for us. We love doing it. It's just music, we all love music, and it sure as shit doesn't occur to us that we're playing types of music we're not "supposed" to be playing. We leave that sort of thinking to others and just assume that, after 200-250 minutes of proof, anyone at the show will realize that the concept of any one kind of music being better, different, or cooler than another was nonsense to begin with.
Is there a new album on the way? Nope. Just a show tomorrow night.
Are you tired of playing any of your older songs? Nope. Well, that's not true. I get tired of songs all the time. It just doesn't have anything to do with them being new or old. You just get tired of stuff sometimes. I only want to play a song on a given night if it feels like I'm going to be inspired to play it that night. That's why we make the setlist up every day after soundcheck. I feel like the way to play the best show is to play the songs you're dying to play, no matter which songs they are. I've never felt we were a singles band anyway. We make albums. The record company tried to get some of the songs from those albums on the radio. That didn't make them better songs though. Most of the time it didn't get them on the radio either.
"Mr. Jones" would be the obvious example of a song we might be tired of playing. Sometimes we did get tired of it just like any other song. When we did, we'd either drop it from the set or re-invent it. We must've come up with 3 or 4 totally different acoustic versions of that song by now. I was getting really sick of the last one and it was on the verge of moving out of the rotation when the strangest thing happened. It got really rock and roll. More than any other song, "Mr. Jones" was influenced by the way we were playing when we recorded "Saturday Nights" and it revitalized the tune for all of us. It got dirty and loud and fun and now it's a blast to play. We don't play it every night but I dig it when we do.
What current bands are you listening to? Fruit Bats, Holopaw, Fleet Foxes, Chris Brown (the other Chris Brown-his album is called Now That You're Fed), The Quarter After, Midlake, Stew/The Negro Problem (the greatest modern songwriter in my opinion), Marc Carroll, Gemma Hayes, Kathleen Edwards. Spent yesterday listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Sam Cooke though and I have the time of my life listening to Augustana and Spearhead every night.
Who do you consider your greatest influences? Carolyn Forche, Big Star, Ken Burns.
Which New Yorker do you most admire? Ken Burns (part-timer, I know), Robert Moses, Ella Fitzgerald, Bernard Malamud, Lou Reed, George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, JD Salinger, Isaac Asimov, Harvey Milk, Spike Lee, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko
Given the opportunity, how would you change New York? I think I love it just the way it is.
Best cheap eat in the city. Joe's Pizza
Best venue to play in the city. I'm assuming Central Park but I won't know til next week. For now, it's between the Hammerstein Ballroom, The Bowery Ballroom, and the Blender Theater.