Counting Crows interview, David Immergluck interview

Interview with David Immergluck

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ALSO: For more on the Crows, check out Mike's list of Counting Crows Deep Cuts.

Bullz-Eye last spoke with David Immergluck, lead guitarist from Counting Crows, back in 2003. With the band gearing up for a summer tour with the Goo Goo Dolls and the release of a new live album, the time was right to catch up with Immergluck again. Immergluck talked about what the Crows have been up to, his favorite female celebrities, and cures for hangovers.

David Immergluck: Thanks for delaying (the interview). I had to go get some food to soak up the alcohol that was still left in my stomach from last night. (Laughs)

Bullz-Eye: I understand! What went on last night?

DI: I was just out. Counting Crows are in Manhattan right now working on a record, and so, we’re kind of working six days a week. I tend not to go be a pirate when we are working and in the studio until I have a night off. And last night was my one night off. I’m afraid I made ample use of it. (Laughs)

BE: Did it involve strip clubs?

DI: No, no. We try to make our own party.

BE: Right on. Do you remember we talked a few years ago?

DI: I sure do!

BE: So I went back to make sure I don’t ask you the same questions over again.

DI: (Laughs) All right, cultural memory is only about six months long anyway.

BE: That’s true. So what have you guys been up to in the last few years?

DI: Well, it’s strange; we’ve been fairly dormant since the last time I talked to you. We were on the road for two and a half years straight – we were doing the tour for our record, Hard Candy, then it turned into a tour for Films about Ghosts, which was a greatest-hits compilation that came out. We just stayed on the road when these records came out. Then we had a song (in) the “Shrek” movie, and that was kind of hitting, and we were still on the road. So it was like this never-ending tour, which is fine. Me personally, I love touring. I can do it eternally and probably be a happy man. But it’s a lot to take for a lot of people. So we went on a “vacation,” but I wouldn’t quite call it that. We’ve been playing private shows every six weeks for the past year and a half or so. All of a sudden, there’s all kinds of activity with Counting Crows now. We’ve got the live record (New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall) coming out, so we’re going to go on tour all summer with the Goo Goo Dolls in the States. And we’re working on a new record right now as we speak.

BE: Oh cool. That was my next question…any talk of a new studio record?

DI: Yeah, we’re working on it right now. It’s been a while since we’ve been working on new music, so it’s been fun.

BE: How is the tour with Goo Goo Dolls shaping up? Are you guys co-headlining?

DI: Yeah, but I think generally we are going to go on last. I think when we go up into Buffalo, which is their home turf, and in Toronto, they’re going to headline.

BE: Have you met those guys at all?

DI: I personally haven’t but I’ve heard they’re really nice guys. We used to get our hair cut by the same fabulous hairdresser in Los Angeles. So I’ve heard stories about them. We also use the same Ear, Nose Throat Doctor. He has good things to say as well – the “Doctor to the Stars.” (Laughs)

BE: (Laughs)

DI: I could use him right now, believe me. (Laughs) I’m on the wrong side of the country.

BE: Oh, man. So what’s a typical day in the life of David Immergluck like when you’re not touring?

DI: Well, I’m sort of the vagabond of the band. Like my mailing address is in Los Angeles, but I was born and raised in the Bay area, where I spend probably 50% of my time, then 30% in Los Angeles and 20% in New York. I spend a lot of time in Richmond, Virginia as well. I do a lot of stuff with Camper Van Beethoven in the studio down there. So I enjoy the vagabond lifestyle, and I’ve been doing it ever since we got off the road. “Don’t try it at home, kids,” is what I say! But it works for me right now. 

BE: Hey, it’s great before you get too old.

DI: That’s right, but everyone has a different idea of what too old is. Some people think that 22 is too old to be doing this. I’m afraid I’ve been doing it a lot longer then that. I’m way past 22 at this point. It’s all in the mind, it really is.

BE: Absolutely. You had pegged Scarlett Johansson as your latest obsession when last we spoke.  

DI: Oh, that was quite a while ago.

BE: Yeah, it was back in 2003 if you can believe that.

DI: (Laughs) Way back in 2003. I must have just seen “Lost in Translation” and “Ghost World” had been out before that, which I quite liked. I really liked Thora Birch in that movie…I don’t know what became of her. I haven’t really seen her in a movie since then, really.

BE: I haven’t, either. So are you still obsessed with Scarlett?

DI: I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed with Scarlett.

BE: So who’s your newest favorite?

DI: That’s a good question. It’s kind of an obvious choice, but I kind of love Kirsten Dunst. Some guys don’t like her.

BE: Yeah, I wouldn’t say it is that obvious. Scarlett would be a more obvious one at this point.

DI: Yeah, oh yeah. But there is something about Kirsten that just….

BE: Like a girl next-door kind of thing?

DI: Yeah. Not that that’s usually what flips my wig but I just like her. She’s a nice girl, I’m sure. But beware of the girl that looks like the girl next-door, because she probably isn’t!

BE: So do you guys do anything like golf or anything like that when you’re together on the road?

DI:  I don’t golf. David Bryson, our guitar player, is a religious golfer. There are seven of us, and we all have our own little quirks. I spend a lot of time shopping for yet more records or chasing down the crazy nightlife.

BE: Like what you did last night.

DI: Yes. As my head hurts. It’s like what people keep on learning over and over, and I said it last weekend, too: “I’m never going to drink again.” And then six days later, here I am again the day after. I woke up this morning saying, “I’m never going drinking again.”

BE: And you’ll probably be out tonight.

DI: I’m supposed to go to a party tonight that one of the New York Dolls is having. It’s kind of hard to turn down. But we’re working tomorrow, and I don’t want to be feeling the way I feel right now when I’m in the studio. So I can’t hit it too hard tonight. That’s what’s called getting older and wiser. Knowing how to plan your demise.

BE: Right, it’s like thinking ahead: Do I really want to do this because I’m going to feel like crap in the morning? That’s so true.

DI: (Laughs)  

BE: So what are you listening to right now?

DI: Right now? I’ve got this ridiculous 10-CD box set, Rhassan Roland Kirk, which I just scored. It’s all these recordings from the very early ’60s. I’ve been listening to that. I’ve been listening to the Flaming Groovies compilation called Slow Deaths, which is quite good. Because I’m in New York, whenever I’m here I wind up, I can’t help myself because I buy so many CDs. I have my little New York collection now. Oh, and the new Gomez record. We’re actually working with Gil Norton, who produced that record.  

BE: Yeah, that’s a really good one.

DI: Yeah. I actually haven’t listened to it yet. It’s sitting on top of the pile. So I’ve got to check it out. And a couple of re-issues by the band the Fall. One is called The Infotainment Scam, which I quite like. I got it when it came out in the early ‘90s. I haven’t really listened to it since then and they just reissued it. I forgot what a great record it is. Other new releases I’ve been checking out are this guy named Kelly Stoltzout of San Francisco.

BE: He’s on Sub Pop, I think.

DI: That’s right. That record is really, really good, Below the Branches. It’s really, really killer. There’s also a record by a band called the Moore Brothers, this brother duo I’m quite fond of from San Francisco called Murder by the Moore Brothers.

BE: So I just read you guys have sold over 20 million CDs. Is that surreal to you?

DI: (Laughing) It boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

BE: I mean for anyone!

DI: Is that really what the number is? We don’t really spend a lot of time looking at the numbers. I mean, things are going well. (Laughs) That’s the good news. But 20 million? That’s pretty outrageous. That’s amazing. That’s how we are able to maintain our Peter Pan lifestyle. (Laughs)

BE: Is there a band on your wish list that you would like to tour with? Besides the Goo Goo Dolls?

DI: Gee…I mean. I like those old Fillmore bookings that happened in the ‘60s where not bands that were similar to each other but bands that were completely different from each other toured. Like Counting Crows and Jurassic 5. We were actually talking about trying to get that together several years ago when Jurassic 5 had a little hit going. And we played a festival with them in New Orleans and I was like “We have to play with them.” They are so different from us. But you know, the promoters were not amused, unfortunately. (Laughs) It is hard to find visionary people in control of the music industry right now.

BE: Especially in booking agents.

DI: Oh, yeah. People have so much money at stake that they are afraid to take any kind of chance. That’s how the great things are invented, by people taking chances. Going with their gut. That’s how all the great records were made, and how the great record labels were formed. When they were all first formed, they were headed by real visionary people. I don’t know if that’s the case now.

BE: Well they change weekly, so it’s kind of hard to tell.

DI: Yeah (Laughs) There is that!

BE: So what do you think the next trend in music is going to be?

DI: Oh, boy. I don’t know if I can answer that question. I think the post-punk revival has got to be kind of over now since there are so many bands, from the Strokes to Interpol. Even the Secret Machines. You know what I’m talking about?

BE: Yeah that all sounds like regurgitated ‘80s stuff to me.

DI: Have we already hit the grunge revival?

BE: I don’t think so, not yet

DI: What was that band, Puddle of Mudd, is that what they were called? I thought they were already a grunge revival band before grunge was even over. Like I said, cultural memory is so short, most people who are being marketed to aren’t that interested in looking back and seeing what has happened in the past. I used to think it was a little longer, like when Guns n’ Roses came out, then the Black Crowes – they were obviously very derivative of the Faces and a certain era of the Rolling Stones. I happen to love those bands, so I had a soft spot for the Black Crowes. But I realized, most people that were checking them out and watching their first videos, they didn’t know that Black Crowes were dressing like a very particular film of the Faces from 1971 or something. It must have been like 20 years later.

BE: I wasn’t aware of that, either.

DI: Oh, well, there you go. The “Hard to Handle” video, if I’m not mistaken, it looked like this old grainy film I had seen of the Faces. And then Guns n’ Roses were also that generation’s version of the Rolling Stones. The kids that were 13 years old when Guns n’ Roses were coming out didn’t really have any concept of what the Rolling Stones were like in 1969 or something. You can just keep on re-marketing these kinds of things to people. But now it seems like people won’t even look back half a year. Their attention span is so short you can just keep on re-marketing stuff. There’s got to be an undercurrent that’s going to explode somewhere and people are going to rise up and demand their culture to be a different way. It usually happens that way.

BE: Do you watch “American Idol” at all?

DI: No. God, it’s the end of the world, isn’t it? (Laughs) You’re addicted, aren’t you?

BE: has a sister site called Premium Hollywood and I’m actually blogging the show for that.  

DI: So does that mean you have a running commentary for every episode?

BE: It does. Plus I get paid to watch it.

DI: Oh, well, then that’s different! I don’t know if they could pay me to watch “American Idol,” though.

BE: It gets pretty funny.

DI: My time is worth a lot of money. (Laughs) I hope they’re paying you well. It could be brain damaging. You have to take that into consideration when you make your price.

BE: Well, cool. That’s all I got. Do you want to add anything? Do you want to talk about the best food for soaking up alcohol?

DI: (Laughs) Well I just had a fantastic Eggs Benedict down at the Bowery Bar. It was quite good. I’m told carbs are a good thing. Unfortunately our big night out ends with something like a huge slice of pepperoni pizza at 4:30 in the morning, because you thought it was a good idea. Of course when you wake up the next day, it wasn’t a good idea. That’s what usually happens to me in New York. When I’m in L.A., it’s usually one of the taco trucks, and I’ll be getting tripe tacos at like 3 in the morning. In San Francisco, it is one of the burrito shops: The Mission, a carne asada super quesadilla or something, always at 3 a.m. or after. And always I regret the next day.

BE: But it sure tastes good when it’s going down.

DI: That’s true! Oh, I’ve got a bunch of records coming out that are kind of Counting Crows-related but not really. Like the Cracker record came out a couple months ago called Greatest Hits Redux, that was a re-recording of a bunch of their songs, and I was corralled to be the bass player for that project. That came out a little while ago. And on 6/6/06 Cracker’s Greenland, the new Cracker original record, is coming out that I wrote a bunch of songs for and played a lot on. I’m excited about that. And I love the release date.

BE: Yeah that’s awesome. All the metal heads are gearing up for that.

DI: (Laughs) I think David Lowrey (of Cracker) is a little spooked by it, but I assured him it was a good omen. And we’re also releasing a record by my band, Monks of Dome, on that date as well, which is guys from Camper Van Beethoven and myself. That’s called What’s Left for Kicks. It’s been a long time coming, and we’re excited to get that out. I can tell you that much.