Live Takes Flight With 'Birds'

Excerpted from the magazine for

Not only does Live's new Radioactive/MCA album "Birds of Pray" (due May 20) sonically hark back to the band's early days of guitar-driven power-pop, but it also shows Live performing with the same high level of energy with which it crashed onto the music scene 12 years ago.

"We've been in the music business since 1991, and we're continuing to make music that rivals the rest of our work. That's what feels the best to me," frontman Ed Kowalczyk says. "It's one thing to survive. It's another thing to survive with the same drive and hunger."

Indeed, after five albums ?- the most recent, 2001's "V," was a more experimental effort ?- Kowalczyk, guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer, and drummer Chad Gracey journeyed to Nashville last fall to craft new songs that ride a familiar, guitar-driven wave.

"We wanted to be somewhere where we had never spent time before," Kowalczyk says of the band's sojourn in Music City. It helped set the tone for a simpler, more back-to-basics recording process with producer Jim Wirt (Hoobastank).

"On the last record, we were hardly ever in the room at the same time," Kowalczyk notes. "This time, it was just the four of us. We went with an approach that was closer to what we had traditionally done before."

The resulting 13 songs are sure to spur recollections for fans who have been Live loyalists since its 1994 breakthrough "Throwing Copper," which sold 5.6 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Ensuing releases, despite critical praise and successful radio singles, have seen the band's album sales gradually diminish. "V" has sold 284,000 copies.

Among the perks aimed to draw fans back to the band is a bonus DVD that will be included with initial shipments of the new album. The disc features Live performing some of its best-known songs, such as "Selling the Drama," "Voodoo Lady," and "Nobody Knows," at last year's Pinkpop festival in Holland.

A U.S. tour will commence later in the summer, after Live returns from a European tour that includes a festival show in Holland where it will share the bill with Coldplay.

"We feel so confident about this record that we are committed to getting it out there," Kowalczyk says. "We aren't taking anything for granted. We are hungry again."

Excerpted from the May 24, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

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