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