Better Than Ezra is straddling the past and present as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of its debut album this year.
The group is releasing both a new single, “GRATEFUL” (whose lyric video is premiering below), as well as a vinyl-only silver anniversary edition of its Deluxe album, which included the No. 1 Alternative Songs hit “Good” as well as the top 5 “In The Blood.” Fans might recall those successes coming during 1995, but Deluxe was first released during 1993 on Swell Records before Elektra signed the trio and re-released Deluxe, which subsequently went platinum.
“It’s also the 30th anniversary of the band, which is crazy, just nuts” singer-guitarist Kevin Griffin tells Billboard. “I can’t believe I’m still doing it.”
The “GRATEFUL” single, which is also offered as an instant gratification track with pre-orders of Deluxe, is part of a batch of “a lot of new songs” Better Than Ezra has been working on as a follow-up to 2014’s All Together Now. “The track is about taking a pause and seeing all things in your life that are amazing, despite all the madness in the world,” Griffin says. “It’s about not giving in. It’s about moving forward.” “GRATEFUL” has a highly commercial, anthemic sheen that certainly pairs nicely with the approach of Deluxe, but there group’s other songs may have a slightly different character.
“For me it feels more…Americana is the wrong word, but you can tell I’m such a big fan of Ryan Adams and the Avett Brothers and the Head and the Heart,” Griffin says. “I love the whole feel of that music. It’s real natural-sounding and maybe some traditional themes but done in a fresh way with some fresh production techniques. That’s how some of our new songs sound.”
With Better Than Ezra taking part in Barenaked Ladies’ just-started Last Summer on Earth Tour, there’s no word yet on when the group will release its next album. Meanwhile, Griffin — who’s written songs for BNL, James Blunt, Train, Sugarland, Meat Loaf and many more — is working on his first-ever solo album, which he describes as “a group of songs that don’t feel like Better Than Ezra songs.” And working on both band and solo material is exciting and challenging for him.
“You’re always in a search to do different things and different challenges, and the solo record has been one I’ve never done,” Griffin says. “You can’t hide behind anything; It’s your name on there, and maybe with my fans because I’ve waited so long it’s like, ‘Wow, does this album have to be just f***ing amazing? The greatest things ever?’ I’m just going to make a record and not put any self-imposed criteria or bars I have to pass or set, because then it’s a no-win scenario. You’re competing against yourself. It won’t be ‘the culmination of a lifetime’ — it’s just gonna be a bunch of new songs I wrote.”