Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas & Counting Crows' Adam Duritz Reflect on Each Others' Biggest Hits and Best Qualities

Rob Thomas and Adam Duritz go way back (Thomas used to get Duritz comparisons when he was cutting his teeth).

On July 12, their respective bands, Matchbox 20 and Counting Crows, will launch a co-headlining tour, A Brief History of Everything. Ahead of the joint trek, the frontmen reflect on each other’s most memorable hits.

ROB THOMAS ON COUNTING CROWS:

“Adam is best when he’s being wistful, and the song is vulnerable.”  -- Thomas

"Rain King," 1994
"We used to cover that in college. If we wanted to play the big night on campus, we had to do half originals, half covers. The covers went from Counting Crows to Live to Melissa Etheridge. It was a ’90s cornucopia.”

"Mr. Jones," 1994
“Right after [that song came out], they played at our local place [in Orlando]. We hung out with them after the show. I remember giving Adam our band’s demo. I don’t think he listened to it, but he received it very nicely.”

“Accidentally in Love,” 2004
“It’s not an easy thing to do, to write a cool song for an animated film [2004’s Shrek 2]. When you’re doing something like that, there’s a kind of schlock to it. But if that song had not been in that movie, it would’ve just been considered this really great, happy love song.”

"If I Could Give All My Love" -Or- "Richard Manuel is Dead," 2002
“I think that Adam is really best when he's being kind of wistful. It fits his voice too. There's a longing in his voice. I've always really appreciated him when he's in that place where he sounds vulnerable and the song is vulnerable.”

"Sullivan Street," 1993
“I feel like whenever we were on the road with them, they would have certain nights where they would open with ‘Sullivan Street,’ and certain nights where they didn't. I loved it so much that no matter where I was in the building, if I heard them opening with ‘Sullivan Street,’ I would come running out, just so I could catch it live.”

"Palisades Park," 2014
“[It’s] a song that should get a lot more love. It's like something Springsteen would've done during his Darkness at the Edge of Town period. If there's a moment where Adam could be Springsteen, it's definitely ‘Palisades Park.'”

 

ADAM DURITZ ON MATCHBOX 20:

“Rob’s good at capturing minutiae in lyrics, things that are offhand.”  -- Duritz

"3AM," 1997
“When Rob was [touring] solo, he’d play ‘3AM,’ and I got so knocked out. It’s a heartbreaking song, and he was playing it in this slowed-down, emotional way. It erased the studio version in my mind.”

“Push,” 1997
“I always loved that song because it was complicated. You’re taking the role of someone dominating another person, who’s not necessarily a sympathetic character. It’s hard to pull that off.”

“Unwell,” 2003
“I’ve dealt with mental illness in my life. ‘Unwell’ always resonated with me because of that. The ‘all day staring at the ceiling’ part of it [speaks to] spending a lot of time by yourself -- especially because we tour so much.”

"Long Day,"1996
“’Long Day’ is one of my favorites of all of their songs. I just love the toughness of it. The guitars are so heavy. I love the drive of it. They're willing to let the guitar punch through on that song. It almost pummels you.”

"If You’re Gone" (2000)
"It's just such a brilliant piece of writing to me. He's really good at capturing minutiae in his lyrics, just things that are off-hand. More than big statements about how things are, sometimes the tiniest little statements about what's on the wall in a room or the way someone stumbles over their words when they're trying to tell you something -- those things are such important parts of songwriting. I think he's really good at that stuff.”

This article originally appeared in the July 1 issue of Billboard.