Music News

Counting Crows' Adam Duritz on Success, Creativity, and Auto-Tune

Counting Crows first made their mark on the music industry in 1993 with their hit album August and Everything After, pumping airwaves with a thick dose of the addictive "Mr. Jones." Over the next two decades and beyond, that song continues to get radio play; the band has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and is still going strong, with live performances that surpass expectations.

Somewhere Under Wonderland is the band's first new studio album since 2008 and is expected out on Capitol Records this fall. But Counting Crows hit the road with a national tour that kicked off in Tampa and hits Hollywood's sold-out Hard Rock Live on Thursday. Duritz spoke with New Times about the album, his work with the Outlaw Roadshow, and his surprising opinion of Auto-Tune.

New Times: What can you tell us about the upcoming album?

Adam Duritz: It's all finished. I really love it, but I would say that about any record. It'll be out in September. "Palisades Park" is one of the best songs I've ever written. I just think it's phenomenal. I was just talking to this director; they're going to make a film of it, a short film. This song will be the first thing anyone hears, and it's eight and a half minutes long.

Which do you enjoy more, the creative process of writing, recording in the studio, or touring and performing live?

I don't know that I would say any of them is more fun than the others. It's not like when I was a kid. Everyone plays music as a hobby to begin with, and that's what you do first. But when you choose to spend your life doing it, it's not fun anymore in that way. Not that it's not enjoyable — it's very enjoyable and very satisfying — but you're not doing it for fun. It's your life; it's your job. It's like breathing: It's very necessary.

How do you feel about Auto-Tune?

I think people look at something that's different from what they did as if it's somehow less valid, and you always end up being stupid about that. I can remember being a kid and growing up listening to rock 'n' roll and jazz, and then hip-hop comes along and everybody starts to say, "Well, this is bullshit 'cause they're using a sample, and they don't actually play" and all this crap. The truth is, it's just a different form of creativity. And no, it's not the same as the form of creativity that you grew up doing, but it's just different, and by the way, there was someone doing something before you did yours, and your parents thought yours was stupid.

People who want to bitch about whatever the next generation's doing are just sort of like somebody's grandfather. I don't care about Auto-Tune. I can see that some people use it really creatively and some people use it in really boring ways. It's just like using samples. There's some people that like to use samples to just lean on somebody else's song; then there's other people that use them in the most impossibly creative ways ever. You know, like we'll never have another album like 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul.

When you're not creating or performing music, what do you enjoy doing?

I love the Outlaw Roadshow, the thing we do with the indie bands. Me and my friend Ryan Spaulding, who's a blogger, we've been putting on these shows for about five years. We put on these free shows, and we get 20 bands in a day playing in them at one of our venues in Austin or in New York. It's really cool. It's kind of like getting back into a peer group in a way. It's more about letting the other bands play. When you start out, you're in some town and you got a bunch of friends and you're all musicians and you're all going to see each other every day and you're rehearsing and you're playing gigs with each other, and then you know, like in our case, you get successful and you sort of lose that whole peer group, and unless you want to go hang out at the Grammys, there isn't really a peer group anymore.

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Ashley Zimmerman