Somewhere in their 30-year (!) history as a band, the Counting Crows became known as a consummate touring band – always on the road. They have been on the road promoting the band’s latest record, 2014’s Somewhere Under Wonderland, for more than a year now, traveling throughout Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and now the USA. Lead singer Adam Duritz says playing his records live is vital to his creative process. “Truthfully, I think a lot of my creativity is satisfied by playing every night,” he told music blog The Aquarian. “I don’t necessarily feel the need to write. It’s my favorite thing to do, it’s more fun than anything else.”
At this stage in the band’s career, touring involves taking entire families across the world – but just because the band has grown up, it doesn’t mean it’s stopped evolving. The Counting Crows may be constantly touring, but no show is to be missed. Their performances always invoke something new and interesting, finding new subtleties in tracks that have been performed thousands of times over… perhaps that’s why they are “the eternal live act,” both in and out of the studio.
“A lot of our recording takes place live,” Duritz also told the Aquarian. “We get in there, we’re playing in a room together. We’ll work until we kind of get the form of the song we want. And someone will nail something. It could be a bass part, a guitar part, a drum part… and everyone will go over their parts, but often we’ll just keep a lot for what you already have. It’s not like you’re laying down a drum track and then you’re laying down a bass track, we’re playing all together. Even if the drums are the first thing to go down, it’s a drum track that was played with everyone. So largely when people go back to look at their parts they’re leaving a lot of their parts in there from what was done live.”
Duritz is also honest when it comes to the band’s expansive back catalogue. There are songs in their repertoire that he thinks are much better now, played live, than they were when originally recorded. Years of touring have honed them into better songs. He also admits that some songs are easier to play live than others, and on some occasions, it’s taken him years to “get inside” a song enough to feel happy with the version he’s playing on stage.
Duritz is also honest in admitting that his main motivation for touring so extensively isn’t purely creative – it’s also about money. With little radio promotion and songs selling for just over a dollar on iTunes, bands now have to tour to survive economically – and Duritz is determined for his band to survive. For the Counting Crows, that means an endless cycle of recording and touring – and for their fans, it means the chance to see their idols more often than some other acts, experimenting with their own music in a way your average pop idol never gets the chance to do.