SIOUX CITY -- Counting Crows, best known for hits “Mr. Jones,” “Accidentally in Love” and “Round Here,” headlines the final outdoor concert of the summer at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's Battery Park Saturday night.
The band features Adam Duritz (lead vocals), David Bryson (guitar), Charlie Gillingham (keyboards), David Immergluck (guitar), Dan Vickrey (guitar), Jim Bogios (drums) and Millard Powers (bass).
Here's what Duritz had to say about touring, influences and the band's name.
What keeps you going with these big stadium performances?
We play a different show every night so it’s never really gotten boring. We play whatever we feel like playing every time, and it changes every day. I don’t really get in a rut of any kind. Playing music is something I love. I probably would have hated it if I played the same thing every night. I typically don’t. It’s never really gotten boring.
You’re playing at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Sioux City on Saturday, so would this be your first time in Sioux City? What draws you here, and what are your thoughts about it?
We’ve played the Fourth of July (Saturday in the Park) there. It was really cool and beautiful and I really dug that show. It only made sense to want to go back. We’ve played some really cool shows in Iowa anyway.
I read that you extend and rewrite your songs during live performances, adding extra verses or sections or parts of other bands’ songs. Why do you choose to do this?
Um, I don’t know. I just think they’re kind of living things. It just sort of happens. I don’t really do it intentionally, not like I plan it out ahead of time, just sometimes I make stuff up. It’s just improvisation. Sometimes I feel like there’s more to a song or there can be more to a song right then than just a song itself. I don’t know. I just choose different ways to do that. I like creating on the spot too, I like that we’re doing something different.
What’s usually the reaction from the audience when you do that at shows?
I think they’re really into it, I don’t know. I’m not really paying that much attention to the crowd usually. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that there’s nothing to get from them. The best you can get is a bunch of applause, which is nice. You can’t really see the whole crowd, so what if you were playing a show and the people in the front were just sitting there and you looked bored. It’s a few hundred people maybe. But there’s like 10,000 people behind them and you might not be able to see those people and they could be on their feet screaming. I guess my point is it doesn’t matter, they’ve all come to the show and you owe all of them your best show, and they don’t actually have any real responsibility to clap for you or not. I don’t really think they owe me anything particularly. It’s sort of like you don’t want to base too much of your performance on an audience because what if you get a bad response from an audience. Do they then deserve a shitty show? I don’t think so. Your responsibility is the same as everyone else, you have to put out your most passionate, committed show that you can. I guess I don’t pay a lot of attention to the audience because it’s just sort of you get some affirmation I guess, it feels good to be cheered for. It feels really good but you wouldn’t want to base your performance on that because just because you don’t get it, are you then going to choose to suck? It wouldn’t be very good.
Will you be playing mostly new songs or main hits for most of your performances on this leg of touring?
Like I said, it changes every day, I have no idea. I don’t really think about it much ahead of time. We tend to play stuff from every record, every show. One of the things I do when I’m making a set list is I have all of our songs on paper listed by album. As I’m putting songs in the set list, I’m circling them or crossing them off on that record so I can literally see how many songs I’ve picked from each record. I’m not necessarily that I'm trying to make it even. It’s always something I’m aware of. We do it every day around dinner time, make the set list. It changes every day. I don’t think it’s ever new songs or old songs, it’s just we have a lot of songs and so it tends to come from all over.
What bands have influenced your sounds, if you would attribute any, and what events from your life have influenced your music?
I’ve listened to so much music throughout my life. Growing up in Oakland, it’s a lot of soul at that time. I don’t know how much that’s in that music, although I do hear it in my singing because I think I’m very rhythm tuned, but I don’t know. I’ve listened to so much music that there’s a million things I’m sure.
If you had to define your sound with a genre, what would it be?
Music. I don’t know. I never really thought (about genre). That was a problem for us… you know the genres tend to be what a radio station puts on it to tell you what kind of station they are for advertisers, so it just changes where you are in your career. We were an indie rock college radio band at one time because we were only played on college radio. Then we were an alternative band because we were a new band. Then we were a Top 40 band because we were on the Top 40. We were an adult alternative band because we’re adults I guess. It seems to change wherever you are in the public consciousness. Musicians tend to never think about those genres. You never think about being this kind of musician. It just changes with how people perceive you and their definition. I still think of us as a college radio band, in a way, just because we were in college when we started. Things have changed.
How did you all meet and form together?
We were in a lot of different bands in the Bay Area. A lot of us played and toured with three bands at a time. David Bryson, one of our guitar players, he had a recording studio. We met a lot of people there. You play gigs and you’d open for each other. Charlie (Gillingham) and Dan and our piano players and one of our guitar players. I opened for bands they were in, and they opened for bands I was in. We’ve all played in different bands and we knew each other from that stuff. Some of the guys would say they’ve played in other bands with us, some guys played in friends’ bands or they were our friends in those bands. We just kind of all knew each other from San Francisco and had a pretty hot music scene right then. There were a lot of rock and roll bands playing. A lot of different kinds of music. There were a lot of bands around the bay area.
How did you decide on the band name?
I was actually trying to think of band names. It was something I was doing on a given week years ago, and I actually had one of those yellow legal pads with two columns on the page horrifically shredded with band names. I was watching this movie called "Signs of Life" that my best friend Mary-Louise Parker was in. It was her first movie and I had seen this movie in the theaters and it came out on VHS. I rented it, and I was at home watching it by myself. There’s a scene in that movie where... a flock of crows flies up and (the character) says, "what was that nursery rhyme your grandmother used to tell us about Counting Crows?" I said to myself, "oh, that’s the name, Counting Crows." And that was how we got our name. The funny thing is everybody hated it because the truth is, all band names are terrible until they’re not. Band names get their legitimacy because of the band. If you think about it, The Beatles is the worst pun ever like literally that’s the dumbest pun name ever in the history of band names. But it’s not, it’s great, because they’re the Beatles. If they weren’t the Beatles, it would be stupid, but they are so great. Counting Crows, depending on who you ask, is neither great or shitty, just like the band.