Adam Duritz on Reconnecting with Rob Thomas

Two artists that first broke through in the ‘90s with a brand of rock that appealed to pop fans—but with lyrics that were more introspective than the average chart-topper—were the Counting Crows and Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas. And this summer, both have united for a tour, which will visit the Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk on August 16. Our old friend, Adam Duritz (who Pulse spoke with a year ago), was up for a chat shortly before the show.

How has the tour been going so far with Rob Thomas?
It’s really been good. It’s probably the happiest I’ve ever been on tour—maybe ever. Everyone is really cool and it’s a great group of people. The opening band, K Phillips, is a good friend of mine, and he and Rob completely hit it off. We’re all out watching each other play every night. Plus, I was good friends with Rob a long time ago, and I haven’t seen him much for at least a decade. It’s been nice restarting that friendship.

Has there been consideration for Counting Crows to collaborate on a song with Rob?
Yeah, we talked about doing it during the summer, but I wanted to get the tour going first. But I do a lot of collaborating on records—it’s almost always with friends, which is why it wouldn’t be entirely unlikely to do it with Rob. I tend to not plan that stuff out. If Rob was making a record and he wanted me to sing on it, I would absolutely say yes.

When will the next Counting Crows album arrive?
I started writing stuff for it earlier this year—just little pieces of ideas for songs. Probably after the tour we’ll get back to work on that.

What is your favorite Counting Crows album?
I go around on that. For years, I thought it was Recovering the Satellites, because it was such a big leap for us—going from August, which was an album we were really limited in what we could do, to when Ben and Dan joined the band, and we could play more of the rock songs like I wanted to play. We had more electric guitar. But over the years, as a band, we found we really loved playing the songs on This Desert Life. Because it was maybe the quirkiest of the records. We were experimenting a lot when we made it, and there are all these interesting, weird songs, like “I Wish I Was a Girl,” “High Life” and “Colorblind.” Those are the ones we have gravitated back towards and are most excited to play live. Right now, I’m obsessed with the last two records—Underwater Sunshine and Somewhere Under Wonderland. [Wonderland] turned out to be the quickest and best an album has ever translated to live performance. “Palisades Park” may be the best song I’ve ever written, and it’s been amazing live since the first day we played it. “Scarecrow” has always been great live, “God of Ocean Tides” is probably the best arrangement we’ve ever done—it’s just so beautiful. That album’s been knocking me out lately.

How do you compare playing New York to other areas?
It’s home, so it’s kind of better than everything else. Also, it’s New York, so even when it wasn’t home, it was special, because it’s just cool to get to New York City and play a gig. I can remember Wetlands, the first time we ever played in New York, and all the shows over the years—the Beacon, the Central Park shows. It’s New York City—it’s the capital of the world. Things that knocked me out that way were coming to play here, and going to play in London. The first time we went overseas, I felt like the Beatles in reverse—the Beatles came to New York City to play The Ed Sullivan Show, and we got to London and I thought, “Wow. We’re really in a rock band. We’re in London and we’re going to play a gig.” Those two cities always have that same kind of vibe for me.

greg prato

greg prato

Greg Prato has lived almost his entire life on Long Island. He has written for Rolling Stone, and has penned many a book on either rock n’ roll or sports. See what he’s up to on Twitter @gregpratowriter.