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Counting Crows

May 2009

IT is a never ending tour that brings Counting Crows to Nottingham next week, following the release of last year's Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings.
Unfortunately, the album isn't inspired by Alan Sillitoe's Nottingham set novel but frontman Adam Duritz is aware of it.
"Sure. Albert Finney and... I have 'em both," he says, meaning the book and DVD.
For the next few minutes the conversation is stilted. There are long pauses. He sounds unsure of what he is trying to convey.
"When I was writing this album originally it was just Saturday Night.... my life sort of changed in the middle of it."
"... I'm sorry... distracted... Alan Sillitoe! I'm completely distracted by the fact that I can't remember the guy's name."
Now he's hitting his stride.
"It was an album about disintegration, falling apart and losing your mind. Then my life changed a little bit and I was writing songs that didn't really fit.
"At the time, I just knew I was tired of being in the band. I thought this was our last record. `I'm doing it and then I'm getting out.
"But then we spent twenty days with Gil (Norton, producer) in New York City in June of 2006 and we came out with music that felt real and raw. We went back on the tour that summer and we felt revitalized."
What was changing in his life? Did it relate to the dissociative disorder?
"Well, that's been happening to me for 20 odd years," he says.
Duritz's condition, in simple terms, means he feels removed from real life.
"It's not depression or anxiety but if you don't think the world's real you'll get sad and worried. So it leads to a lot of other mental imbalances.
"The truth is most of these records have been about my life falling apart as a result of this disorder."
So what is it exactly?
"It feels like things aren't really happening. The more you feel that way the harder it is to attach yourself to it. Life is something that you have to take part in. You have to wake up every day and live it. And people don't just stay in your life, you have to be a part of theirs."
As a result he finds relationships difficult. Even though he's dated a number of a high profile women, including Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox.
High five, Mr Duritz.
"That's been very exaggerated," he says dismissively.
"I had lunch with Jane Seymour yesterday and that tops all that by a thousand. One lunch with Jane Seymour tops all that crap by a mile. She's funnier."
Low five, Mr Duritz.
The condition would be better handled if he wasn't a member of a rock n roll band.
"The best possible thing for dissociative disorder is familiarity. And my life is exactly the opposite," he says.
"I'm great when I'm on the tour because it's very regimented but when it's over I just crash."
Then he changes his mind.
"I'd be OK on stage for sure. But then after the gig you're so detached from things, you go back to a room and sit there and stare at a wall. And that'll drive you right around the bend."
Duritz formed Counting Crows with David Bryson (guitar), Charles Gillingham (keyboards), Dan Vickrey (guitar), Jim Bogios (drums) and Millard Powers (bass) in San Francisco during 1991. Their debut album, August & Everything After, released two years later, went on to sell seven million copies. But it was 2002's singles Mr Jones and Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi from their album Hard Candy that earned them mainstream success worldwide.
Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings is just their fifth album.
"I don't write very many songs," says Duritz.
"Every two or three years I write 13 songs and we put 11 of them on a record."
Which must frustrate the record company. They have no control, he says.
"Before our first album there was a bidding war for our band so we had some choices. We found a record company that would give us two things. One was really high royalties. I thought that was better than having money upfront. That turned out to be a really smart move.
"The second thing was full creative control. And we got it."
He adds: "We've never followed a trend. And we've never been the centre of popular culture. But 18 years later, we're still here and we're making money."
The relatively little time that he dedicates to writing music means he has space for other pursuits. Of late he's been working on a movie.
Freeloaders is the story of five guys and a girl who live in the lap of luxury in a rock star's mansion. Duritz is the rock star, who decides to sell up, prompting the six hangers-on doing everything they can to stop him.
"It's a really dirty, funny comedy. It's like Animal House. A bunch of my douche bag ex-room mates wrote it about themselves. It's a fictional story about what happened behind my back, in my house when I was gone.
"I play myself but just on the phone. I didn't want to be in it. I have no desire to act."

Counting Crows, supported by Blind Pilot, Royal Concert Hall, Tuesday May 19, 8pm, £33.50/£35, 0844 576 5483,

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