Adam Duritz isn’t expecting a gold watch. And he certainly isn’t thinking about retirement.
But he’s happy to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of his band Counting Crows the usual way — by going out on the road. They’ve been out with Live (a band that started around the same time the Crows did and recently reformed) on a summer/early fall tour (called "25 Years and Counting") that will come to Breese Stevens Field on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Boom Forest, not Live, will be opening for that show.
Speaking by phone earlier this summer, before the tour started, Duritz said he’s pleased that the hard work that goes into being a band — not just making music but keeping relationships strong — has continued to pay off. Duritz talked about what he’s learned from being a bandleader over the last 25 years, what he has planned for the show and why he’s a little leery about releasing new music.
Are you kind of itching to get out there?
These are people that I’ve spent most of my adult life with. Not just the band but a lot of the crew. I’m just used to living with them. Having been off the road for a little while, it’s a little weird.
I’m excited about going to work and knowing where I’m supposed to be every day. When you have time off, it’s a little more amorphous. And it’s fine, I like the amorphous time. But I also like the sense of a structure and a schedule. Because a lot of my life is not structured, not scheduled.
Nobody gets into music looking for a stable, long-term career. So what does 25 years together mean to you?
I think everybody actually gets into music for a stable, long-term career. It just doesn’t turn out that way. You dream about doing it, and you dream about doing it for the rest of your life. It’s like nobody dreams of being in the NBA for a two-week contract.
So on the one hand, I’m pretty pleased, because it’s a rare thing that we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m not sure what to make of it.
You’ve toured this summer with Live, who broke up and then got back together. So you must appreciate being able to stay with it.
I think that’s a really big deal. I understand what causes bands to break up. It’s a real shame. It’s a mistake we often make, when we can’t figure out how to live together and work together. But it’s not as replaceable as you think it is. I’m really sad when it happens to my friends, because I imagine it ends up being a pretty big hole.
Is there something you can pinpoint as to why you guys have avoided that kind of pitfall?
I can’t speak for the other guys, but I realized pretty early on that this band was more important to me than anything else. When other things came up, questions, queries, discussions about things that didn’t seem right, you always had to weigh that against, “Is this more important than the band?”
Because you can always do the math. Everybody in every band can do the math to figure out why they deserve more. But if it makes everybody else unhappy, or if it doesn’t leave enough for everybody else, what good does it do you to deserve more if it breaks your band up?
We’ve always tried to think long-term, and we’ve always tried to think of all of us. At least I’ve tried to. And as the guy whose in charge, I think that makes a big difference when I’m not just thinking about me. But in a way, it is thinking about me. It is the most selfish thing, because I always knew that what made me happier than anything else in my life was this band. So, in a way, anything you might credit as unselfishness is really a certain kind of selfishness that’s just smart.
It ended up being more complicated and nuanced than I ever would have expected. And it’s an endlessly changing thing, because we get older, our lives change, people get married. You can’t just dismiss it and you can’t just accept all of it. You have to find a balance.
But it’s got to feel good to have it pay off like this, to have 25 years together.
I don’t lose a lot of arguments any more. I can say, “Well, we’ve been doing it this way for a while now like I say, and we’re still here.” They’re not even pissed off about it. The truth is it doesn’t even come up much. There were more disputes early on because of certain decisions, and I was just plain wrong sometimes.
There is a certain “Wow, 25 years this shit has managed to stick together.” There’s no way that should work. And here we are. It’s bigger this year than last year. And bigger last year that the year before. So I get a little cred for that from the guys now.
How do you plan a show for a 25-year tour?
We want to play material from all the records and entire career. But the thing is, that’s what we’ve always been doing. The 25-year thing wasn’t all that big to me, at least initially. When it came time to celebrate 25 years, it seems like the best way to celebrate that is probably what we’ve always been doing. We’re going to play different songs every night. We’re going to change the set list every night.
Are you working on any new music?
I’ve got a lot of pieces — of lyrics, of ideas, of melodies. Our last record (2014’s “Somewhere Under Wonderland”) was my favorite record that we’ve ever done. It was the best experience that I’ve ever had with a record company with our career. Capitol Records really went 110 percent, and it still didn’t make much of a blip on the culture. It got some nice reviews, but it disturbed me a little bit. Because record companies suck so much, that when things go wrong you can blame some of it on that.
I don’t want the next thing to disappear. So I want to take some time and think about it. It’s not just about radio and some interviews and then hope it charts. There’s more to it than that, and it’s important to be innovative and have a million ideas. Because you can't do all of them.
I’ve been hesitant to do much more writing because I know what will happen. I’ll want to go into the studio and record them right away and then put them out right away. I don’t want to repeat what happened last time. I loved that record, but I want a little more of an impact this time.