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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 March 2008, 10:46 GMT
Talking Shop: Counting Crows
Counting Crows
Counting Crows will headline the Wireless Festival in Hyde Park
Fourteen years ago this month, Counting Crows burst onto the music scene with the hook-laden single Mr Jones and the multi-platinum album, August And Everything After.

Their latest CD is split into two distinct parts - the angry, rock of Saturday Nights and the laid-back folk vibes of Sunday Mornings.

Lead singer Adam Duritz talks about his fight to get the record released, insomnia, and getting angry with fans.

The album was originally supposed to come out last November - did you have trouble finishing it?

Not at all. It's been done since last June. We pulled the record ourselves because the label didn't have any idea of how to put it out.

What happened?

There's this massive invention that allows everyone to reach everyone else in the entire world for free. It's called the internet and I was trying to explain that to the record label.

I wanted to put out a free "digital 45" - one song from each side of the record - to get the idea of the album's two different themes out there.

So the label didn't like the idea?

Well, they said no. So we pulled the record - and believe me they weren't happy with losing a Christmas release.

You eventually got your way. Do you think the tactic worked?

Put it this way - I got an email from a guy I know at Apple a month before the album was available, and the pre-sale version was at number eight on iTunes.

Counting Crows
Duritz (centre) doesn't mince his words when talking to fans online

There was no single, we hadn't done any press at that point, there was no reason for us to be that high on the charts - except we did all this online stuff.

I don't know about the record business, but the music industry is not dead. It's a great time to be in a band because there's a tool that allows you to reach everyone for free.

You adopted the internet very early on [Duritz has kept an online diary for years]. Are you ever overwhelmed by the number of fans? Presumably some of them are a bit obsessive.

We have big arguments! You know, I promised them at the very beginning that I would be honest about everything and that meant that when I got angry with them, I would write angry stuff and we would have huge fights!

Has there ever been a point when you've thought: "I can't take this anymore" and decided to stop writing to people on the website?"

No, but there was about a year when I either began or ended every diary entry with "some of you are very unpleasant people!"

It began because I've been a good friend of the actress Mary Louise-Parker [Weeds, The West Wing] since we were kids. Someone from her fan club wrote to our site asking if anyone would like to raise money to buy a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame for her, and she just got savaged by our fans.

They laid into this poor girl who was, you know, just like them. She was somebody's fan. So I just ranted at them on every post - even the nice ones.

I'd write something beautiful like: "Everything is possible and your dreams can come true. By the way, some of you are very unpleasant people, love Adam."

Do you still suffer from insomnia?

I've always had problems - I have a dissociative disorder, which makes the world seem like it's not real. And when the world doesn't seem real, it can be really scary to let go and give up even more of it. So sleep has always been something of a problem.

It's particularly hard for me because of the gigs. A gig is like doing a workout that ends at 11:30. I don't get home 'til after one and I'm wired. So touring really adds to my insomnia.

Does it affect your writing?

A lot of my songs are about isolation and certainly that sensation is never quite as strong as it is in the middle of the night. But I've written a lot of songs in the daylight, too.

You're coming over to headline the Wireless Festival in UK this year - are you excited?

Oh yeah, that's cool. Headlining in Hyde Park? That's pretty cool.

We made our career in Europe by playing festivals, so I have a lot of love and reverence for those shows.

What's your favourite festival memory?

In the 1990s, we spent a whole summer where our end of the day ritual was to meet the guys from Gomez at the side of the stage and smoke cigarettes and drink cans of beer and watch Oasis.

Noel Gallagher is a genius. Those songs are great, and they're loud and they're fun. That's a really good way to spend the end of the day.

Adam Duritz was speaking to BBC entertainment reporter Mark Savage. Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings is out now.

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