Band is back on the road with 'Birds of Pray'
IN THE CLIMATE OF TODAY'S music industry, it's the exception not the rule for a band to be putting out a new record every few years on the same record label that it started out with 15 years before. And unless they're U2, it's even harder to imagine that the band is still selling out shows around the world, content and at the height of their game. A band has to be more than good to pull this off. It has to have something that people get; that they understand, that they crave. Apparently, Live has all of these things.
The four York, Pa. boys who got their start as a William Penn Senior High School band called Public Affection have certainly persevered in a shaky music industry that embraced them when they first landed on the scene in 1991 with the album, Mental Jewelry. Whereas most of the grunge bands that Live went up against back then on MTV have since faded from the spotlight, Live is still on the radio, on the road and on the charts.
This is despite a significant shift in the band's lyrical content on their latest album, Birds of Pray. Although it's been hailed as a return to form for the band, a back to the basics approach of guitars, bass, drums and vocals -- the lyrics have matured as the band members have crossed over the threshold into Thirtysomethingism. Lead singer and chief songwriter Ed Kowalczyk has incorporated themes of family and parenting into his anthemic songs of love, faith and existence epitomized by the radio hit "Heaven," one of many songs on the album that mentions his new daughter. They may be family guys now, but according to bassist Patrick Dahleimer, the band still wants to rock.
"Being middle-aged and everybody raising families, I would have expected that Birds of Pray would have been a lot more middle of the road," said Dahleimer via cell phone from Miami where he now resides. "I don't know if we were trying to prove it to ourselves, but we made a rock record, which doesn't seem to directly correlate with where we are as people in our lives."
The bassist, who happened to be on the way home from the grocery store, said that family life has become increasingly important for the band whose members no longer live around the corner from each other as they did growing up. Spread out across the country now with Kowalczyk and drummer Chad Gracie on the West Coast, guitarist Chad Taylor still residing in the York area and Dahleimer in Florida, the band has the luxury of escaping into their own worlds during hiatuses from touring and recording. This ability to retreat and recharge has helped strengthen the band.
"It keeps the relationship between the four of us still pretty fresh," said Dahleimer. "Everybody's growing up. It's nice when we get together and there's that freshness that's still there."
Aside from a set of TV appearances pushing their latest single, "Run Away," the band has been doing the family thing for the past few months after wrapping up 2003 with sold out shows in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. They're about to embark on a "weekend-warrior" series of shows in selected cities in the US including tomorrow night's sold out show at Trump Marina.
"When we get back together, we're juiced to be together," said Dahleimer. "What can I say? It's been how many years and it's still fun."
After 15 years making records and touring, Dahleimer says he hopes the band is still doing the same thing 15 years from now. "It's the best job I ever had," he said. His admiration for bands that have survived decades in the music industry and that continue to make vital and current music furthers the notion that the band is in this for the long haul.
"REM and U2 are still out there doing it," said Dahleimer. "And I think they're doing it well. As businessmen and artists they continue to do what they want to do."
As far as what Live wants to do after the conclusion of the upcoming spring and summer dates, Dahleimer admits that the band hasn't thought that far ahead. In fact, they haven't even rehearsed yet for the upcoming shows.
"I'm not proud of it, but we never rehearse," said Dahleimer. "Generally, the only time we get together to work or to brush up is when we're writing or trying to come up with new material, which keeps it fresh. [On stage] we're not quite flying by the seat of our pants, because we know the songs inside out. They're the only songs we play; they're our songs."
Live performs at Trump Marina Friday, April 23 at 9pm. The show is sold out.
Live's Longevity: A rundown of Live's studio output.
1991: Mental Jewelry -- The single "Operation Spirit" reached No. 9 on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The debut album reached No. 73 on Billboard 200.
1994: Throwing Copper -- The immensely popular sophomore album hit top spot on Billboard 200. Hit singles included: "Selling The Drama," "I Alone," "All Over You" and "Lightning Crashes."
Caesars Entertainment cautions fans that "since there isn’t a cover-charge, fans looking to view the concert from the comfort of Backstage’s plush couches are urged to come early, as reservations will not be accepted."
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