Kowalcyk’s career “Alive” again in solo form

Thursday, March 17, 2011 9:13

Spirituality has always been part of Ed Kowalczyk’s lyrics. On “Alive,” the solo album he put out independently last year after leaving hugely popular alt-rock band Live, that quality is definitely more prevalent.

Ed Kowalczyk earned four platinum records with alt-rock band Live.

Ed Kowalczyk earned four platinum records with alt-rock band Live.

“I took a page out of the U2 book,” said the singer/guitarist, in a phone interview from his home in Ojai. “They’ve always had a universal approach. Nobody doubts they’re Christian, but there’s an open door for everybody in any faith to consume the music at any level. I wanted to make sure that was the case with this record.”

Kowalczyk spent nearly 20 years in York, Pa., outfit Live, which racked up several big rock radio hits (“I Alone,” “Lightning Crashes,” “All Over You,” “Lakini’s Juice,” “The Dolphin’s Cry,” “Turn My Head”) and saw all four 1990s CDs go platinum or beyond.

Following the band’s 2006 effort, “Songs From Black Mountain,” and his subsequent exit, the vocalist drifted into a creative malaise.

“I had to stare into the void of inspiration I was having and unpack it. I was bored and tired doing things the same way. As a songwriter and performer, the routine of it all was sitting on the process,” he said. “Shaking that up was absolutely what the doctor ordered.”

So Kowalczyk started doing acoustic gigs for the first time three years ago.

“I decided to give it a whirl and fell in love with it,” he said.

Not only did the change serve as a “reconnection” with his craft, but the “bare-bones nature of the shows led to an intimacy I was able to create with the fans in that environment. The connection to the (old Live) lyrics was reinvigorating for them and me.”

Although recent tours to support “Alive” have been in stripped-down solo and full electric band modes, the current jaunt will find Kowalczyk using a “power acoustic trio” with bass, guitar and drums.

“Actually, it’s going to rock a little bit more than I had anticipated, which I’m sure none of my fans will have any problem with. … I’m excited, because one of the fun things about this new chapter in my life is being a lot more spontaneous,” he said.

The recording process for “Alive” was also done in an off-the-cuff manner. Kowalczyk traveled to Austin, Texas, where producer C.J. Eiriksson (Live, Incubus, Jack’s Mannequin) owned a studio and recruited local musicians.

“I went down there on a wing and a prayer,” admitted the singer, “and didn’t really know anyone. If I had any reservations, within 48 hours, they were completely gone. Drummer Ramy Antoun totally rocked my songs and made me think about ‘em in different ways.”

While the album’s sound isn’t far removed from the soft/loud dynamic of Live, Kowalczyk pointed out distinct differences.

“It was like night and day,” he said. “They weren’t coming in with any conditions or approaches. Everything was completely fresh. That lent itself to a real open experience in the studio with everybody trying things. There was a real spark.”

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Ed Kowalczyk

When: 7:30 p.m. March 22

Where: Anthology, 1337 India St., San Diego

Tickets: $19-$33

Info: 619-595-0300

anthologysd.com

Web: edkowalczyk.com

Via nctimes.com