Keeping Up With The Joneses.
Counting Crows play Festival Hall on Saturday.
Guitarist with San Francisco’s Counting Crows, David Immergluck, is suspicious about exactly what I’m trying to say - or, in this case, not say. It’s understandable. He’s a member of a band whose debut album, August And Everything, came out without a single in late 1993, then took off on the wave of adulation that greeted songs such as Mr Jones, Round Here and Rain King as they hot radio across 1994. By the end of the year, Counting Crows had the biggest selling record of the year. These days it’s seven million-plus and still selling. They were the new American superstars. Purveyors of a genuinely charming American rock. The common comparison was with Minneapolis’ excellent Jayhawks or a rootsier Collective Soul.
That said, they’re a bigger live band in Europe than they are in America, recently playing to 6000 people in Glasgow, 4000 in Belfast and 9000 at a melt the house down show in Dublin. setting the tone for the night was the brilliant - and apparently hard-drinking - Gemma Hayes.
Immergluck is in London on a typically gloomy winter’s day. Duritz’s online journal has painted a picture of the Irish leg as being a rather drunken, sleepless, hoedown. “Oh, what a surprise,” Immergluck laughs. “We have an extreme fondness for Dublin and Ireland in general. We like going there. They take good care of us there.” And Gemma Hayes? “She’s really fantastic. And, yes, I’m afraid she can drink. We thought we were good drinkers, but only for Americans. We’ll try our luck in Australia.”
They won’t be short of company.
“The tour’s been going really well. We’re on top of the world right now.” It has been quite a lot of work for the past few years. “Well, yeah, but it’s work we love so there you go. It’s certainly paying off. We’ve been playing live for a long time now and I guess we’re getting a reputation for being a good live band.”
It’s a strange history isn’t it. You really have to consolidate now a decade after the beginning.
“What do you mean by that,” he asks. That your first record sold so many records and those that followed haven’t, so now you’re building your audience in different areas. Yeah, yeah.” You’re not just an American band. “We’re looking for world domination. I guess it’s the American way somehow, obviously.” It certainly looks that way with a certain gentleman running around. “Please,” Immergluck interrupts. “don’t embarrass me.”
Narrow squeak, then. Besides the ever-growing live audiences tend put a prick in my theory. Ticket sales talk, you know. Immergluck confirms that a musician you can’t ask for much more than being able to step out on a stage each night in front of big, pumped audience, and play good show after good show.
And what of ambition, which usually changes with circumstance and as youthful aims are met.
“I don’t think it’s changed,” he says. “The ambition has always been to be successful, make a living doing something we love. The success is already there. Everything else is like ‘wow, oh it’s still going on. fantastic.’ The ambition is to make it continue.”
“Other than that it’s things like ‘Are we going to get to Australia this time?’ That’s been an ambition for a long time, and of course, now we’re coming. Then it’s ‘let’s go to Asia’, let’s see where else we can go with this thing. And let’s continue to make good records.”
What about Hard Candy?
”It was time to make a record. It wells up like a boil then you release it. A band goes through cycles, just like anything else. You tour, you tour, you tour, you get burned out on touring then you have all this material you want to record and you just go in and do it. We just did what we always do, we just made another record. The manner in which we did it was different.”
“Historically, Counting Crows have always been a band where when we’re in recording mode, we’re in recording mode, and when we’re in touring mode we’re in touring mode. This time, we’d record for six weeks, then go out on the road for five weeks. Come back, record for a month, go out on the road for another five weeks. Come back and record for two weeks and go back out for three weeks. We were really mixing it up this time. We haven’t done that before and it worked out well. I think we’ll do it again. It keeps things fresh.”
“One of the great things about songwriting is it’s infinite. There’s no one way. There’s no one system of music. There’s no one way to make it happen. That’s why it’s such a great field to be in. it’s always fresh and you always end up surprising yourself.”