Recording a batch of cover songs for its latest album, "Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation)" had a marked impact on Counting Crows.
And especially on frontman and chief songwriter Adam Duritz.
Primarily, Duritz explains, working on songs by Bob Dylan, Big Star, Pure Prairie League, Travis and others -- what he calls "collaborating with people without them being there -- was a refreshing change from the band's usual self-contained approach.
"This is really no different than any Counting Crows album...(except) we didn't limit ourselves to one writer," says Duritz, 47, who founded the band in 1991 and hit big with its 1993 debut "August and Everything After" and the hit "Mr. Jones." "When we were making this record, it was really occurring to me how much sense it made...when people made records with lots of songs recorded by lots of different people, not necessarily even written by themselves, and they made great records for years and years and years.
"I think Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra sound completely different doing the same songs, as do the Beatles. I mean, all three of them recorded Beatles songs, and they all sound really different, too...It was just such a great, liberating thing to get to work with so many other songwriters like that."
And, Duritz adds, those "collaborations" also impacted the way the band played as well.
"I noticed afterwards how much better I thought we played on this album," he says, "how the guitars were so much more aggressive and expansive and expressive...The band made a huge leap forward playing on this record, and I can only assume it had something to do with working with songs that weren't mind."
But Duritz won't predict how that will affect the way Counting Crows make the group's next album. "I don't imagine I'll start letting other people write the lyrics," he says. "I get asked a lot of questions about what I think this or that means about the future, and I have no idea what's going on later today. The future is generally not something I think a lot about."
Counting Crows' Outlaw Roadshow Tour with Good Old War, Foreign Fields and Filligar, takes place at 7 p.m. Friday, June 22, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills. Tickets are $42.50 pavilion, $25 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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