The album's nine songs -- "I wanted to make a record-record, something digestible," Duritz says -- were recorded with Brian Deck, who worked with the group on "Saturday Nights..." and "Underwater Sunshine," and are currently being mixed. Titles include "God of Ocean Tide," "Scarecrow," "Palisades Park" and "Earthquake Driver," and most of the material was started by Duritz, who then enlisted bassist Millard Powers and guitarists David Bryson and David Immergluck to come to New York, where Duritz lives, once the ideas started to coalesce after last summer's Outlaw Roadshow tour.
"Somehow the four of us being there made it so I could write and just be part of the writing with everyone else," Duritz explains. "I started writing all these songs that were a little weirder than songs in the past, a little more imaginative. There were more spaceships and different things, a wider sort of range. I wasn't really sure about them at first, so I could come out of the room with verses and say, 'What do you guys think of this?,' and where I would've thrown a lot of these things out, the guys were so flipped out I'd be, 'Okay, maybe I'll stick with this,' and keep going. The second time we got together, I wrote five songs in six days with their help."
Counting Crows plan to preview some of the new songs during a summer tour with Toad the Wet Sprocket, which starts June 11 in Tampa, Fla. Meanwhile, Durtiz and company hope to have the album out by fall and are entertaining a variety of offers for its release.
"We've got eight or nine labels interested, so it's kind of like our first album, being chased around by labels," Duritz says. "Some of them are majors, some of them are more like distribution deals. It's not the same as it was when we left Geffen (after 'Saturday Nights…'), and it was really hard to work with a major label that seemed to want to pretend the Internet didn't exist. It's definitely changed a bit since then. Part of me feels like it's been great to not have the headache of being frustrated with an insane record company's ideas the last few years, but there's a part of me that also feels like people are really flipping out over this record, and I really like it. I'd like a lot of people to hear it, and promotion is the one thing record labels can do. So if we find a label that can help us rather than hinder us, we might go that way again."