Counting Crows Cooped Up To Record New Album

Platinum-selling folk-rockers are in Hollywood, Calif., hills 'palace,' working with co-producer David Lowery of Cracker.

The original plan called for Counting Crows, the San Francisco Bay Area-spawned

folk-rock band, to begin recording their third studio album at the end of summer or in the

early fall. But singer/pianist Adam Duritz, now based in Los Angeles, came up with a

brainstorm that started the sextet recording at the end of May.

"I had this idea about starting without really being prepared," said Duritz, 34. So he

contacted David Lowery, the ex-Camper Van Beethoven singer and current leader of the

band Cracker. Lowery had been tapped to co-produce the next Crows effort.

"I was like, 'How would you feel about coming out a few months early?' " Duritz recalled.

"I just thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we didn't have any prejudices, if we didn't have any

preconceptions about the songs? Wouldn't it be cool if we had David here right now to

bounce stuff off of before we start getting our mind set on what [the songs] need to be

like?' "

Working in what co-producer Dennis Herring (Throwing Muses, Camper Van Beethoven)

termed a " 'Boogie Nights' palace" in the Hollywood, Calif., hills, the Crows have thus far

completed close to five songs for the album.

"I'm really attracted to the fact that they're a California band [that's] real intrigued with

making a California record," Herring said. "I really want to make it sound like it's from

California right now."

"There'll be things about this that sort-of hearken back to the first Counting Crows

record," Herring added, referring to the bare-bones production on some tracks from the

band's debut album, August and Everything After.

Counting Crows -- comprised of Duritz, guitarist David Bryson, guitarist Dan Vickrey,

bassist Matt Malley, keyboardist Charlie Gillingham and drummer Ben Mize -- first

achieved renown with their multi-platinum debut, which launched the band onto the

charts with such songs as

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Counting_Crows/Mr._Jones.ram">"Mr.

Jones" (RealAudio excerpt), an uptempo rumination on fame, and the

melancholy

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Counting_Crows/Round_Here.ram">"Round

Here" (RealAudio excerpt).

Duritz reflected on a few of the band's new songs, describing "Hanging Around" as being

"like a hip-hop Beatles song ... about growing up and being a bum and getting stoned all

the time in Berkeley [Calif.]" and "High Life" as having a "looping Talking Heads sound.

It's got that Wurlitzer-teardrop sound." The singer acknowledged that others, such as "St.

Robinson in His Cadillac Dream," "Come Around" and the "weird waltz" of "Amy in the

Atmosphere," were still works in progress.

That progress is being spurred along by the experience that the band acquired while

recording previous albums. That, in turn, has led to the loose atmosphere that Herring

said is prevailing in the studio: "They seem real relaxed and in a creative place ...

They're a bit like veterans now. They know what's going to be involved, and, so far,

everyone feels happy with the results ... It's an evolving thing, and a lot of songs are

coming up all the time."

In what appears to be a Counting Crows first, Duritz revealed that he has been tapping

out the melodies to some of the new tunes on a xylophone that was purchased by

Vickrey prior to the band entering the studio.

"I play a ton of xylophone on this album," Duritz said. "It's really good for figuring out pure

melody lines. I don't know whether they'll end up as xylophone parts [on the completed

album]. They might be on some other instrument, but I keep hearing them in my head as

xylophone parts, and then I lay them down as xylophone tracks."