NEW YORK (Billboard) - After flying high for a decade, Counting Crows reached a crossroads in late 2006, when singer Adam Duritz found himself in a downward spiral of rock star excess and overwhelming depression.
Known as the emotive dreadlocked singer whose open-wound emotions fuel his creative ambitions in the studio and improvisational spirit onstage, Duritz was in bad shape. Not only was he unable or unwilling to seriously consider finishing the follow-up to 2002’s “Hard Candy,” but he questioned whether he wanted the band to continue at all.
“The writing got affected by the fact that I just hated the whole life,” Duritz says. “It’s just like, ‘I’m tired of the record business.’ I was tired of radio and the press and the degrading aspects of being famous. The entertainment industry is such a f—-ing cesspool. So I just, like, went on walkabout.”
At various times in the past year, including the initial sessions for what yielded the new album, “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings,” Duritz slowly emerged from a fog he blamed on various antidepressants that left him with numerous side effects (including insomnia and weight gain).
Also playing a key role in coming to terms with his celebrity was a chance encounter with Mick Fleetwood on a plane bound for Maui. For five hours, Duritz says, he opened his heart to his idol, who is no stranger to rock ‘n’ roll insanity.
Fast-forward five months, and Duritz and the Crows returned to the studio to finish up “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings,” due March 25 via Geffen. The semi-concept album is divided between rock-driven songs and more acoustic-based material.
“I didn’t really know what I was going to do with the band,” Duritz says. “I knew I had a record I wanted to make really badly, that I had at least one last thing to say.”
The new single “You Can’t Count on Me” — which, according to Nielsen SoundScan, has sold 34,000 downloads since its early February release — is No. 6 this week on Radio & Records’ Triple A (adult alternative album) chart. The group has earned 11 top-10 hits on that tally since it was established in 1996.
The Crows, who toured fairly consistently during the long break between “Hard Candy” and the new album, are expected to spend the next 18 to 24 months on the road, in North America and Europe.
The group’s renewed exuberance crystallized for Duritz last summer after a particularly momentous Des Moines, Iowa, show.
“We started to leave, and I’m like, ‘Wait a minute,”‘ Duritz says. “I jumped off the bus, ran back to the other bus, banged on its door and just jumped on everybody, pushed them on the ground and punched them and said, ‘We’re awesome.’ Then I ran back to the other bus and drove a thousand miles. That’s kind of what’s going on with our band right now. Good things.”