Bet­ter With Age

Rock bands fi­nally team up for tour

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ROGERS - JO­CE­LYN MUR­PHY

Emerg­ing as main­stream acts of the ’90s al­ter­na­tive rock scene only years apart, Count­ing Crows and Match­box Twenty are not only em­blem­atic of the mu­si­cal pe­riod, but their his­to­ries are in­ter­twined as well. When get­ting their start as a lo­cal band in Or­lando, Match­box mem­bers were play­ing cov­ers of Crows’ songs at their club gigs. Drum­mer/ rhythm gui­tarist Paul Doucette even re­calls re­turn­ing to the band af­ter a short ab­sence when he and lead singer Rob Thomas saw each other at a Count­ing Crows show.

“It’s funny and to­tally fit­ting that we’re cel­e­brat­ing our his­tory with them,” Doucette says of their co-head­lin­ing “A Brief His­tory of Ev­ery­thing Tour,” Match­box’s first in four years and their first out­ing without a record at­tached. “It’s a pack­age that a lot of peo­ple have wanted over the years. We’re two bands that are def­i­nitely based in melody, very song-ori­ented bands. But we put on a very dif­fer­ent show, so I think we show both ends of that spec­trum.”

“Song­writ­ing is a re­ally im­por­tant part of mu­sic [but] it’s an un­der­rated thing,” adds Crows’ lead singer Adam Du­ritz. “Be­cause a band that has a sound that works for a mo­ment maybe lasts for a sec­ond, but bands that re­ally write songs, that mu­sic can be time­less. And in this case, you have two bands that are still play­ing, writ­ing, record­ing 20- [and] 25-plus years later. That’s a very, very rare thing.”

Like a few other bands from this sea­son’s AMP sched­ule who are cel­e­brat­ing more than two decades to­gether with a fresh tour, Match­box and the Crows are both pulling songs from across their cat­a­logs. Both Doucette and Du­ritz ad­mit that while of course they’re per­form­ing their hits, each set on the tour will be just a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent.

“When you’re younger, all you’re see­ing is what you want things to be, so you’re con­stantly in a bat­tle of, ‘This isn’t right yet, this isn’t right yet,’” Doucette shares. But with “the gift of age,” he jokes, “my per­spec­tive on things changed dras­ti­cally. There’s def­i­nitely songs I’ll play that I like a lot more than I liked them at the time — I have a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what they are, for what we’ve done. Is it the great­est song ever writ­ten? No. But does it need to be? Not re­ally. It can just be a great song.”

“Our songs are very much liv­ing things, and that means they can be dif­fer­ent one night to the next. And they are,” Du­ritz of­fers. Though he says the group’s lib­er­ties dur­ing the live shows likely frus­trate some fans, if peo­ple were only given mu­sic they al­ready know they like, no one would ever hear any­thing new. “We’re very cre­ative, and you’re not re­ally hear­ing the record played. It’s a lot of im­pro­vi­sa­tion that comes out be­cause the truth is, a song you wrote on one day meant some­thing the day you recorded it, and your life’s dif­fer­ent now, and your ex­pe­ri­ence with that song’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent too.”

The most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple of that dif­fer­ence, Du­ritz re­veals, is with “Mr. Jones,” the sin­gle from de­but al­bum “Au­gust and Ev­ery­thing Af­ter.” The record’s only up­beat tune, “Mr. Jones” — writ­ten when Du­ritz was dream­ing of a rock star’s life, but al­ready know­ing how hol­low that ex­pe­ri­ence would be — made the Crows fa­mous.

“Play­ing a song about dream­ing about be­ing a rock star and how that’s not re­ally go­ing to be what you think is dif­fer­ent than my ex­pe­ri­ence now af­ter hav­ing ac­tu­ally lived it 20-plus years, or even my ex­pe­ri­ence af­ter just a few months on the road,” he shares. “You could ei­ther just play your songs the way they al­ways were and sing them ex­actly the same, or you can al­low your life to fil­ter through your songs — and in that case they’re go­ing to change ev­ery day.”

COUR­TESY PHOTO

“When I play songs I’ve played a mil­lion times, [the crowd isn’t] hear­ing it that mil­lionth time; they’re hear­ing it once. So you get this re­ally gen­uine ex­cite­ment re­ac­tion,” shares Match­box Twenty drum­mer and rhythm gui­tarist Paul Doucette, left. “Es­pe­cially when we play songs we haven’t played in 20 years, peo­ple get re­ally ex­cited about it. So you can ei­ther go up there and you can be a self­ish per­former, or you can be part of the col­lec­tive. And [that’s what] we’ve al­ways been — we’re part of the col­lec­tive. This is a shared ex­pe­ri­ence.”

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