After three weeks on the road with the Counting Crows, Ed Kowalczyk is in high spirits surrounded by old friends and playing new music with his band Live with a renewed intensity. It’s not a place he ever imagined to see again but he’s grateful to be back.
“It’s amazing. We’re having a blast,” says Kowalczyk from Austin, Texas where Live and Counting Crows will share the bill on the Crows’ 25 Years and Counting Tour. “We’re sounding bigger and more rock than we ever have. It’s really at a fever pitch.” The tour pulls into Jacksonville Aug. 4 for a stop at Daily’s Place.
Both bands are celebrating huge career milestones. The tour is a nod to the Crows’ longevity as a band that still records and tours with its original lineup. Live also marked the 25th anniversary of its 1991 release Mental Jewelry last year and will celebrate its seminal album Throwing Copper which spawned such hits as “I Alone”, “Iris” and “Lightning Crashes” next year.
Live reunited in 2017 after a 12-year hiatus and played a series of festival dates to text the waters. Playing alongside peers and influencers inspired the band to record its first new material in over a decade. “Love Lounge” is the first single from the band’s new, soon-to-be-released EP.
“There’s this renaissance going on in our lives as a band that’s kind of like riding a bike. Except it’s like riding a brand new bike with a Tesla engine on it. The new music has taken it to a whole new level of energy,” says Kowalczyk. “We’ve added two new touring members to the band, Zak Loy, who was my guitar player when I was solo, and drummer Robin Diaz is playing percussion. We haven’t changed the songs but it’s added a new layer and is really opening things up to new colors that we didn’t expect so we’re super excited all over again.”
The 25 Years and Counting Tour marks Live’s third time out on the road with the Counting Crows. The bands toured together in 2001 and again in 2008. But their history dates back long before they were touring mates. Kowalczyk shares a unique perspective and parallel journey with his old friend and Crows’ frontman Adam Duritz.
“I go way back with Adam to the days when I lived in southern California and we were hanging out. We got together as friends first and then did the first tour. It’s crazy that it’s almost 20 years ago,” he says. “I was talking to Adam about the way it all came together. They’re celebrating, of course, their 25 years and counting. Our 25th anniversary of Throwing Copper is next year which is pretty damn close to the same trajectory. It felt really great to be able to put this tour together. Not only do we get along really well but this music is still so important and so relevant to people for both bands that it’s just a great feeling.”
Kowalczyk was recently walking through Manhattan when he became aware of his friends’ continued influence. Counting Crows songs were playing in the gym and echoed from the window of a passing car.
“Maybe it’s like when you get a new car that you think nobody else has and then all of a sudden you see them everywhere. It was like that but it was with Adam’s music,” he says. “As soon as we started the tour, I’m hearing Counting Crows music everywhere. I sent him a text and said ‘hey man, your music is still everywhere’ and he texted back ‘yeah, we’re the survivors’.”
As the tour continues throughout the summer, Kowalczyk is humbled by the opportunities that he’s received with his bandmates in Live over the last 25 years and he isn’t taking a moment for granted. “It’s an interesting thing because you have you be crazy enough at some level to believe that you can be around this long but when it actually happens you just end of pinching yourself. Not only that we’re still doing this but doing this with so much joy, maybe more than ever,” he says. “It’s a real trip. There’s been a lot of ups and downs in the band and to be able to hone back in on the music and have the music still feel so great, it’s a dream.”