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New music ahead for Counting Crows

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013

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Counting Crows might be feeling a bit of deja vu on tour this summer.

The group -- whose multi-platinum debut, "August and Everything After," came out 20 years ago -- is on the road with the Wallflowers, re-creating the same double bill that went out during the summer of 1997, when both bands were enjoying successful sophomore albums. And Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz says the pairing is as potent now as it was 16 years ago.

"I just got a call earlier this year about doing it, and it seemed like a perfect, no-brainer tour," says Duritz, 48, who put Counting Crows together during 1991 in Berkeley, Calif., and has led the band through six studio albums and five different lineups.

"We know (the Wallflowers). They know us. I think our two audiences like the other band -- or at least respect them enough to enjoy their sets. We haven't really toured with another (established) band like this in a while, but it's pretty easy. It's not a big thing to look after, which is a pleasure."

Duritz has some big plans post-tour -- mainly Counting Crows' next album its first of original material since 2008's "Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings." He says the band has "about four or five pieces of music," which remain unfinished but are clearly pointing the way towards an album.

"We've been playing them with the band in sound checks on the last tour, down in Australia," Duritz says. "We had a little time to work on them and the band really liked them. I just have to finish writing them now and get some more (songs) going and then get us back in the studio."

That will likely happen later this summer, Duritz says, though it's possible Counting Crows will preview some of the new songs on the road "if I get them finished to the point where they're ready for that. If something's ready to play in a gig we've never had any hesitation doing that." And he predicts there will be a marked influence from making last year's covers set "Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation)."

"It had a huge effect on the band, making that covers record," Duritz explains. "To me there wasn't that much difference between making 'Underwater Sunshine and an album where i wrote the songs. It would be different if we treated it as a karaoke album and just went in and learned the songs, but we often never played the original version for the band before we recorded it, so it still felt like a Counting Crows record to me -- except I didn't write the songs.

"And it really opened the band up to work with other people's ideas. It was like collaborating with people who weren't there, and it made us better. It was a great thing to do. It's an incredible waste to spend your entire career working with only one songwriter."

Duritz is also starting to plan some sort of deluxe reissue for "Recovering the Satellite's," Counting Crows' 1996 sophomore album, which he says will incorporate a healthy amount of video footage from the group's vaults. And he's waiting to resume work on "Black Sun," a stage musical collaboration with playwright Stephen Belber. The project is "just sort of sitting right now" while Belber works on the film adaptation of his 2004 play "Match," though Duritz says that having more time to dedicate to Counting Crows is more than mere silver lining.

"Listen, when you have the opportunity to make a movie, you need to do that. I totally understand," Duritz explains. "And while that was going on I wanted to shift to doing something for the band, which is good. It's about time for that, anyway. I felt with the play I was letting that slip, so it feels good to be back in that (band) frame of mind again."

Counting Crows and the Wallflowers perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 4, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills. Tickets are $46 pavilion and $26 lawn with a $75 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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