Heard you had an intense studio session last week. How are things going? I'm home in California right now. It's about 100 degrees and windy, and I am watching a plume of smoke. Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes.
Your new track "Forever" is stripped down as is your acoustic tour Open Wings, Broken Strings. Are you toning down the rock? (Acoustic music) is at the core of what I do. I've never done a concert like this. The song (on my Web site) is for me to show people who I am and what I do. I just came back from (recording) in Austin, Texas. I'm almost finished my new album. There are moments that I really get into it. There's huge rockness going on.
Were you familiar with Art Alexakis of Everclear and Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer before? I was fans of both of them before. I met Art in the '90s. We were together on a bill back in May, and we were on the same wavelength. I though Art would be perfect (to tour with). (Leigh) has an amazingly beautiful voice. We're kicking it off in York, which should be a pretty cool night. My guest list will be full.
Is Live on hiatus? What are the other members doing? It's a fluid situation. I'm digging into this new tour and have no future plans to tour or play with Live at the moment. I'm super-excited and focused on my new thing. The other (members of Live) are creative people, so I'm sure they will continue with music.
A lot of bands don't last long. What kept Live together for decades? We started when we were 13. That definitely lent itself to a solid foundation.
You recently celebrated a birthday? I was on tour for my actual birthday (July 16). When I got home, I had a SpongeBob birthday party. There was a wicked cake and plates and napkins. My kids love (SpongeBob). My 7-year-old is also a Harry Potter fanatic.
I talk to a lot of artists in the area who voice frustration about the local scene. But do you think those early struggles gave Live determination to achieve success? Those (experiences) are the life lesson that keep on giving. I can look back and see those limitations. It's like when you workout. When you put more weight on, you get bigger muscles. It's really hard, but it prepared us for playing out in (Los Angeles).
You played with Del McCoury another York native. Had you met him before or heard his music? I just recently got my education in bluegrass. I played with him in the last four months (and learned that he's) from York. I actually have plans with the band. We started talking about it that night.
What other musicians would you want to play with? There are so many. Maybe MGMT.
What's the best advice someone ever gave you in the music industry? One of my dear friends Gary Kurfirst gave me and Live our first record deal. I was working at Granfalloons at the time. He was a mentor - the guy who said "we're going to do this." We benefited tremendously from that. He was someone who believed in us. His thing was always to just make it great . . . and know when it's time to say "no" to things.
What advice would you give to bands trying to make it big? Take care of your fans. A rock star is something that's just a flash in the pan. It's superficial. When you're making music from that heart that's what it is all about.
You show love to fans on your blog and Twitter. How has social media changed what you do? So much of the music industry has fallen apart. (Social media) is one thing that's risen from the ashes. It great that you can communicate directly with fans. (Musicians) never had that ability to connect before.
You have an online book store. Most of the titles are spiritual and inspirational reads that cover many religions. Do you practice one or are you a student of all? I follow the truth. I can find that truth and glean it from all manner of traditions. I've recently been reading and understanding the Bible for the first time in my life. It's incredibly powerful. Universal love . . . is higher than religion. If you do that, you can embrace everyone.
Is that part of what inspired your Everlasting Arms charity? The title and everything is to build a channel of giving with concerts and turning it back around and giving it back. As an artist. . . I want to share all the time. It feels totally great. In the future, I hope it evolves (and) really becomes significant.
With so much going on, what keeps you going besides coffee? (Laughs) I had to take a break from coffee. It's hard when you are branding your own coffee beans. I had to let off the throttle. Meditation and trying to get back in the gym as much as I can (keep me going.) There is more going on in my world by far than any other time in my life.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
WHAT: Open Wings, Broken Strings - featuring acoustic performances by Ed Kowalczyk of Live, Art Alexakis of Everclear and Leigh Nash of Sixpence None The Richer
WHEN: 7:30 tonight
WHERE: Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York
COST: $25, $35 and $40
On the Web
For details about Ed Kowalczyk, visit www.eddieklive.com. Follow Kowalczyk on Twitter at twitter.com/eddieklive.
To read more FlipSide meet-the-artist interviews, visit www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.