As Counting Crows Tour Begins, Adam Duritz Talks About New Album

Adam Duritz was visiting a friend’s farm in the west of England when he suddenly felt the urge to play the piano.

“I hadn’t written for a long time,” he recalls. “So I rented a keyboard. A friend of mine drove it from London and I started playing a bit. A few days later I wrote the song ‘The Tall Grass.'”

The next day he was playing with “The Tall Grass” just to see if it was really done when he started experimenting by singing the final lyrics on different chords.

It was then that he found himself singing a line that was not in the song.

“Bobby was a city kid.

At first he thought, “Well, maybe that’s a longer song,” like a “Palisades Park,” the eight-minute epic that opened what was then Counting Crows’ last release, “Somewhere Under Wonderland” in 2014.

It wasn’t long before he realized that the town kid part wasn’t part of “The Tall Grass” at all. It was the first line of a new song.

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Duritz began to see a larger image for the album

“But I couldn’t help but think how cool it sounded to come out of ‘The Tall Grass’,” says Duritz.

“I was just like, ‘This is Magic. ‘ I thought, “What if I wrote a bunch of songs where the end of one is the start of the next and they flow like one long song?” And immediately, I was feverishly excited by the idea. “

This is how Duritz came to write the aptly titled “Butter Miracle Suite One” in which the songs follow one another like the second side of “Abbey Road” or the sequel that ends “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street ”by Bruce Springsteen. To mix together.”

The Counting Crows Tour begins August 7 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The group is scheduled to perform at the Arizona Federal Theater in Phoenix on September 12.

The first two songs of “Butter Miracle Suite One” were written at this English farm in August 2019. Returning to the farm two months later, he wrote what he believed to be the next two movements of his suite, ” Angel of 14th Street “. and “Monday School”.

But he was sure “Monday School” reminded him of something else.

“I kept thinking it was something I accidentally stole,” he recalls.

He asked his band mates if the song reminded them of anything and they all said no.

“I’m like, ‘Are you sure? Does that sound like something from Elvis Costello?'”

Rightly convinced that he hadn’t accidentally stolen “Monday School”, he sent all four songs to their producer, Brian Deck, who loved the idea of ​​the sequel.

So Duritz asked, “What about ‘Monday school?’ “

Deck said he really liked this song and found it very catchy.

Duritz asked “Does that remind you of anything? Like, I don’t know, Elvis Costello?”

Deck replied “Oh, yeah, that’s ‘Miracle Man’,” referring to the second song from Costello’s iconic debut, “My Aim is True”.

So Duritz threw that song out and wrote what he thinks was a better song to take its place and bring the climactic finish, “Bobby and the Rat-Kings” to the sequel.

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“Butter Miracle Suite One” is not a record concept

There are two things Duritz says he has always envied in other artists. One is the ability to get an entire audience to sing every word.

“I always wanted to write things that looked more like this,” he says. “The other thing is, sometimes I want to see people in the audience playing aerial guitar. But I don’t write things like that either.”

“Bobby and the Rat-Kings” is the sound of Duritz trying to do both of these things at the same time coming out of the end of “Angel of 14th Street”, which has a huge ending.

“So I wanted to crash into something with big, Who-like power chords,” Duritz recalls.

Despite the songs on

“But my attempt to make the power chords sound like the Who ends up sounding like something ‘The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle’ in some ways. It doesn’t sound like a Who song. But these chords of power kill him, I must say. “

Despite the songs on “Butter Miracle” all flowing like a sequel, this is not a concept album.

“There’s not really an attempt to have an intrigue running through them,” says Duritz. “I tried more to visit my various impressions and feelings on different things.”

There is, however, a recurring character named Bobby who appears in “Elevator Boots” and “Bobby & the Rat-Kings,” two songs that involve a character’s relationship to music.

But as Duritz says, they see this relationship from two distinct angles.

“Elevator Boots” is sung from the perspective of a traveling musician for whom people, places and cities are very temporary, fade away and disappear, music being the only constant in his life.

In “Bobby & the Rat-Kings” this same fictional band is a way to show how important Duritz thinks it was to have these bands that meant everything to him as emotional touchstones providing the band. original of key moments in his life. .

It makes sense that music emerges as a recurring theme.

As Duritz says, “The most important thing in my life has been music, obviously – starting out as a fan, an obsessive music geek when I was a kid, then at some point being someone. who makes it and writes it. “

“I composed it to work a certain way”

Duritz has felt pretty good on every record Counting Crows has ever made, from “August and Everything After”, the first multi-platinum album that spawned the groundbreaking singles “Mr. Jones”, “Round Here” and “Rain. King “at” Somewhere Under Wonderland. “

At this point in the process, says Duritz, “they’re always where I want them to be.”

But this time Duritz said he felt particularly ecstatic.

“I didn’t really know if this was going to work until we finished it, mixed the last song and cut them together,” says Duritz.

Hear the assembled pieces play as one piece of music in "Miracle Suite One Butter," Adam Duritz says, "has been perhaps the most satisfying moment of my career."

“I made it up to work a certain way. I designed it to work a certain way. We played it with that in mind. But I didn’t really know until I got it. hear at the end because there was no way to hear it ahead of time and see if it really worked. “

Hearing the assembled pieces play as one piece of music, says Duritz, “was perhaps the most satisfying moment of my career.”

Now that “Butter Miracle Suite One” has been released and he’s stepping up as Bobby & the Rat-Kings to promote it, Duritz says the plan is to play the sequel in its entirety, assuming all goes well. during rehearsals before the start of the tour.

“One of the exciting things usually is at this point you don’t have any more new surprises for you as a musician,” says Duritz.

Counting Crows and frontman Adam Duritz perform at the Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, Arizona on August 2, 2017.

“But we still have this unexplored experience in front of us of playing these songs as a whole. We didn’t record them playing them for 18 minutes straight. We would record each song and go into the first verse of the next song. “Then we would stop. Because we wanted to make sure the transitions were there. But we didn’t play it all together.”

No sooner had they finished putting it together in the studio when someone asked, “Are you thinking of doing another one?”

As Duritz remembers this conversation, “I thought… ‘Yeah!'”

In fact, he spent another month this summer at that same farm in the west of England working on another four-song suite.

“I didn’t get it all,” he says. “And they are not finished. They are not tightened. But they are the germ of another sequel.”

So what exactly is a butter miracle?

“Oh, I’m not going to tell you,” Duritz replies, laughing.

“I really like the surreal nature of this title. It has a reason for this title. But if I tell everyone what it is, it’s still pretty cool, but it kind of limits it. . It gives it all that basis and takes it’s weirdly absurd. And I just like that it’s kind of surreal absurdity. “

Guitarist David Bryson, with whom Duritz founded Counting Crows in 1991, asked the same question.

“I’m like ‘OK, I’ll tell you, but you have to promise me you’ll never tell anyone.'”

So his group mates know the story now. But that’s all.

“I kept it a pretty good secret,” Duritz says, “if only for that reason, because I ended up liking the title all the more because it was more surreal.”

Counting crows

When: 7 p.m. Sunday, September 12.

Or: Arizona Federal Theater, 400 W. Washington St., Phoenix.

Admission: $ 48.50 and more.

Details: 800-745-300, ticketmaster.com.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on twitter @EdMasley.

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