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Better Than Ezra at The Strand, 5 Things To Know
When your big hit is called “Good,” how bad can life ever be?
Things are, in fact, good for Better Than Ezra. The New Orleans-formed group is not exactly at its mid-90s commercial peak now, but the four group members still play shows with regularity and record with relative regularity -- and value the fact that the group’s till going as it approaches its 30th anniversary next year...
• Better Than Ezra’s latest album, “All Together Now,” came out nearly three years ago, but frontman Kevin Griffin says the set still has life in it for the band members. “We keep discovering songs on the record,” he explains by phone. “We’ve always come out of the gate doing, like, three songs and we don’t play the other ones ‘cause we haven’t rehearsed them. But throughout this three=year process we’re like, ‘Oh, let’s start doing ‘One Heart Beating’ and ‘The Great Unknown’” or some of the other songs and we’re like, ‘Wow, these are great! Why haven’t we been playing them?’ I think that’s a testament that the album is one of our strongest records.”
• Griffin, 48, acknowledges that it’s time for BTE to be thinking about a new album -- and is, in fact, “kind of like halfway through” the process now. “It’s’ kind of a return for us,” Griffin reports. “Americana is the wrong word, but you can tell I’m such a fan of Ryan Adams and the Avett Brothers, and them maybe bands like the Head and the Heart. I really love that whole feel of music; It’s a real natural sounding style, but done in a fresh way with some fresh production techniques.”
• Griffin is also working on a solo album, saying that “whichever one gets one first is what I’ll put out. I’ve never done (a solo album) and I’m 48, pushing 49, so it’s about time. I just have a group of songs that don’t’ feel like Better Than Ezra songs. You’re always in search of different things and different challenges, and a solo record has been something I’ve never done.”
Working on two albums has been both exciting and challenging, according to Griffin. “It’s all really just a bunch of new songs, however they come out,” he says. “The solo album is exciting; It’s your name out there, and you can’t hide behind the band. But does this album have to be the most amazing, greatest thing ever?’ Nah. I’m just going to make a record and put it out. Same with the Better Than Ezra album.”
• 2018 will bring BTE’s 30th anniversary as a band and 25th anniversary of breakthrough sophomore album, “Deluxe.” “I think what we’re doing to do is combine the two, the 25th anniversary of ‘Deluxe’ and the 30th anniversary of the band -- which is crazy, just nuts,” Griffin says. “I can’t believe I’m still doing it. There’ll be a new record, and we’ve thought about re-recording ‘Deluxe’ but doing it acoustic or something like that, and maybe bundling it with the new record or a new EP. We’ll see. It should be a big year.”
• Outside of BTE, Griffin has sculpted successful career writing for, and with others -- including Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Barenaked Ladies, James Blunt and others. Upcoming he has a new single for Phillip Phillips and songs that have been recorded by Moon Taxi, the Struts and Madison Ward & Mama Bear. The outside writing, Griffin adds, also makes him a better band member. “I think being able to write and have that other income stream of songwriting royalties has allowed me to have breathing room where I don’t have to be on the road all the time,” Griffin explains. “So now when I tour I just love it. I love to be on the road, but it’s not the thing that makes me. It’s really about, ‘Man, I love playing,’ and I love playing with my guys in Better Than Ezra. We’re such good friends and we have fun, and that was the original joy, just getting together with your friends and jamming and playing music. That’s what Better Than Ezra is.”
If You Go
• Better Than Ezra and Shawn Hook
• 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8.
• Flagstar Strand Theatre, 12 N. Saginaw St., Pontiac.
• Tickets are $34.50-$54.50.
• Call 248-309-6445 or visit flagstarstrandtheatrepontiac.com.
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