Live’s Ed Kowalczyk and Chad Taylor Discuss Remastered ‘Mental Jewelry’ Package, Reunion and Band’s Future
The recently reunited, original line-up of Live: Ed Kowalczyk (vocals, guitar), Chad Taylor (guitar, backing vocals), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass) and Chad Gracey (drums, percussion) have recently announced they’ll mark the 25th anniversary of their 1991 debut album, Mental Jewelry, with a deluxe reissue digitally and physically on Friday, August 11.
The newly remastered package includes an unreleased studio track (“Born Branded”) from the original album sessions along with two songs from the band’s 1991 Four Songs EP as well as a previously unreleased, 1992 concert from The Roxy in Los Angeles.
I recently spoke with Kowalzyk and Taylor about the album package, their reunion and more in this exclusive new interview.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since Mental Jewelry was released. When you look back on that album now with so much perspective, what thoughts come to mind?
Kowalczyk: What’s been most exciting about the experience is not only listening to the original album but also the second CD, which is a live performance from The Roxy that we did back in 1992. Just to listen to that and realize that we were not fucking around. We were nineteen and swinging for the fences from the minute we stepped out with that album and tour.
What was the songwriting process like for the band back then?
Kowalzyk: We usually did a mixture of riffs and ideas to jam out and others where I might bring something in that was more fully-formed that we would tear down and rip apart. It’s always been that hybrid and I think that’s even the way we’re approaching our writing now.
Taylor: Because we were so young when we were writing, there were obviously no rules. It was a process of self-discovery. I can remember having conversations with Ed with my perception of how difficult it must be to write lyrics, and then he would tell me he was having problems putting together chord parts. But we always pushed each other.
Kowalzyk: One of the other things that strikes me is how much that energy at its core has never left the band. It’s been a constant, intense and visceral approach to performing. We throw down hard every time we’re on that stage.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from Mental Jewelry. What can you tell me about “Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)”?
Kowalzyk: I remember sitting in the practice loft of Chad Gracey’s garage and Chad Taylor was there playing this rhythmic groove. I was following his rhythm and started doing a chant over that. There are only two or three more chords but there was enough to get an emotion across. Then you add Gracey’s drumming and how energetic the song is. We wanted a song that would grab people’s attention right out of the box. It definitely did that.
Taylor: At the time, I had no idea I was even writing a song. I remember Ed telling me to keep playing and then he started singing overtop of it. That’s actually my first memory of a collaboration with Ed. The other funny story about that song is because it was one of the first songs we had written, I remember telling our manager that I didn’t think it should be on the album. I have to laugh at that now because it came out of the box and was the signature thing that started to build the band. But again, we were young and blissfully unaware of the business and were just trying to put our best foot forward.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Kowalzyk and Taylor Here
It was a turning point when the band Live took a self-imposed hiatus in 2009.
Lead singer Ed Kowalczyk wanted to focus on a solo career while the band wanted to return to a more ensemble-based format. Unable to resolve their impasse, the band and Kowalczyk decided to go their separate ways.
Enter vocalist Chris Shinn, who over the years had developed a strong rapport with members of Live. Now, after a therapeutic three-year soul search, Live are back with a new singer, album and perspective.
The Turn, Live’s first album in eight years, reunites the band with Jerry Harrison, who produced three of the band’s previous albums — Mental Jewelry (1991), Throwing Copper (1994) and The Distance to Here (1999).
The release of The Turn also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the group’s 8 million selling Throwing Copper, a monster album that yielded the band’s biggest single, “Lightning Crashes,” which was Number 1 at Modern Rock radio for 10 consecutive weeks.
With 20 million in worldwide album sales to go along with a dynamic new lead singer and a redefined focus, Live are ready to enter the next phase of their career.
Live consists of Chad Taylor (guitars), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass), Chad Gracey (drums/percussion) and Chris Shinn (lead vocals/guitars).
I recently caught up with Taylor to discuss The Turn, guitars, the 20th anniversary of Throwing Copper and what he’s most looking forward to with this new version of Live.
GUITAR WORLD: It’s been five years since Live took a hiatus/break. Was the expectation always that you’d one day get back together?
The end of Live 1.0 was open-ended. What we knew at the time was that the chemistry that had been so essential to making Live exuberant, exciting and creative had just dissipated. We were a band that could have probably have used a therapist, but like most men, we just decided that separation was the best idea to try to salvage any kind of relationship we had we each other.
During the time of the break/hiatus the clarity that helped solidify everyone’s future was the fact that Ed [Kowalczyk] made it clear he wanted to make solo music, and we made it clear we wanted to make ensemble music. There’s such a difference in the way you do it. You can hear in the transition of Live through our subsequent records how the band became more focused on the singer/songwriter than on ensemble creativity. In my opinion, the thing that always made Live was our ability to play off of each other. When we lost that, the spirit of the band went away.
Read my complete
Interview with Chad Taylor by Clicking Here!