South Florida usually prepares for any upcoming hurricanes in August, however, on the 1st residents and visitors can look forward to the positive energy of Live blowing into the Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach. The band will take the stage promptly at 7:30, Lead Vocalist, Ed Kowalczk enthusiastically told me. “I want people to know when we go onstage. We’re playing a 70 minute set, a journey through our whole discography.”
This “25 Years and Counting Tour” with the Counting Crows has been hitting North America cities this summer with Live and their four original members plus additional musicians Robin Diaz (Percussion) and Zak Loy (Guitar) They originally started playing together before they were even in High School. Along with Kowalczk, Chad Taylor (Lead Guitar) Patrick Dalheimer (Bass), and Chad Gracey (Drums) formed in Junior High when they were about 13. “The summer after 8th grade,” Kowalczk remembered. They played throughout their High School years in York Pennsylvania. They knew this was the path they wanted to take. “We always took it seriously, “ he revealed. After they graduated in 1989 they sent a demo out. It landed with Radio Active records in1991, which led to the release of their first album in 1992 “Mental Jewelry. “
How did they go about choosing their band’s name? Kowalczk explained, “Live is the spirit of where we were and try to stay, so much joy for playing together. Yeah, I’m decent with lyrics, but terrible at naming things. I think we put the name in a hat and I pulled it out!” he joked then continued more seriously, “we knew we had to be good in concert and be popular calling ourselves ‘Live.”
Well, from their debut album, then their 1994 LP “Throwing Copper” (which reportedly sold over 8 million copies), then “Secret Samadhi” in 1997, “The Distance To Here” in 1999, “V” in 2001, Birds of Pray” in 2003,”Songs From Black Mountain” in 2006, “Live at the Paradiso” in 2008 to their 2014 LP “The Turn,” they definitely proved that their name suits them with songs that have sold over 22 million copies. Their latest song “Love Lounge” captures their stapled unique rock sound. They recently went to Manhattan to make a video for this song at the Gold Bar in the lower east side of the city. They spent two days filming with an array of scenes, starting with Kowalczk on the rooftop, then the band in the lounge playing while people are gambling and then a contortionist comes into the scene, in total creating a captivating, and entertaining way to present this new tune that keeps this group going strong. Absolutely a must see!
This fall fans can look forward to the EP they are mixing now containing four more songs that Kowalczk described as having an “up tempo rock theme.”
Their sound can be attributed to the bands that they listened too in their early days. The Smiths, The Cure, U2 – “cool rock of the 80’s,” Kowalczk dubbed them. However, one might think hailing from York, PA (which is about 2 hours west of Philadelphia) they may have been influenced by the bands making their mark in the music industry coming out of the City of Brotherly Love, but Kowalczk conveyed, “we were not into the metal bands. Clubs like CBGB’s in New York City and the old 9:30 Club in DC is what we found we could relate to.”
He recalled that the first concert he saw, U2’s The Joshua Tree in 1987, had a huge influence on him. He also credits early blues music prior to the 1970’s as having an impact on his musical preferences. Songs like “Turn My Head,” seem to capture this genre, but with a Live twist. Kowalczk’s musical abilities weren’t from formal training, rather he states that his schooling is “rock in roll school. “ He isn’t stopping either, but continuing. “I started taking lessons in guitar again.”
This news should radiate with fans since he has written all of Live’s lyrics and melodies. He does however share his song writing experiences with the entire band. “We always have collaborated. It’s team work.” He elaborated on how all the members contribute to each song. Whether its chords from the new guitarist Loy, or riffs from his longtime friend Taylor, each musician takes part in creating the sound that makes Live who they are. “We all have similar musical influences,” he solidified as their “core element.”
One of these influences they recently had the opportunity to play with when they toured three weeks in Holland. They performed at a festival called Bospop and Kowalczk told me when Billy Idol took the stage he went into fan mode and truly rocked out with him. “I found myself singing along with Billy Idol and I remembered every word!”
As for mentoring, when asked what advice he’d have for any new bands Kowalczk recommends having a “total stream of confidence and then go back and get out the gibberish. It’s a deep personal thing. Go with your own heart and soul. Give and commit.” He went on to say about his own group, “we care so much. We love what we do!”
His enthusiasm was loud and clear throughout this interview leaving me to see how and why this band is so successful. They clearly do put their heart and soul into their music which transpires into songs that people can relate to and enjoy. This bundle of positive energy is heading in our direction as Kowalczk told me their current tour schedule and how they look forward to getting back to Florida.
They were in Autin, TX, getting ready to play there the next evening. As for South Florida, he said that they had previously done some mixing in South Beach and they were “looking forward to getting back.” Not so much for the high temperatures that the summer brings!! He laughed and joked, “It’ll be nice and cool right? No need for air conditioning.” We wish right about now!
We apparently are the opposite of Holland which he informed me had “perfect” weather with the highs in the 70’s and no rain! Where is my passport?!
Back to reality though, there is a cool concert heading our way that is packed with energy and fun. A great way to relax and enjoy the evening at an outdoor venue, viewing a remarkable show that will certainly be entertaining and an opportunity to take in Live’s musical history. No need to pack a hurricane kit, only cell phones to light up in appreciation of Live’s love of performing their music. – Lori Smerilson Carson