By Jeremy Essig
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A child of the early-'90s Bay Area pop scene, Duritz is a Camper Van Beethoven devotee who waxes nostalgic for the days when breakout single mattered not. But with the chart-topping success of "Mr. Jones" and "Round Here," the Crows found themselves in a strange position, as August went on to sell some 5.5 million copies.
The band's subsequent studio releases -- 1996's Recovering the Satellites and 1999's This Desert Life -- each sold about half as many units as their predecessor (Hard Candy, released in July, just went gold). But whereas Eddie Vedder recently admitted to intentionally "weeding out" his fanbase after Pearl Jam's debut, Ten, sold nearly ten million copies, Duritz just lets the chips fall where they may.
"I'm a huge Pearl Jam fan, but I write songs because I'm inspired to write them," Duritz says. "Do they really care so little about their songs? I think that's a pile of shit. I do believe they said it, but I think more of them than that, to be honest with you. I think the whole fame thing is a huge issue for Pearl Jam because they got flagged from day one as being wannabe Nirvana."
The gravity of fame isn't the only area in which Vedder differs from the dreadlocked troubadour. While the Crows were touring with the Who in Washington, Vedder sneaked backstage and left Duritz a book on the purportedly negative influence of Coca-Cola on schoolchildren. Not by accident, either -- the Crows had recently cut a commercial promoting the fizzy behemoth.
"What the book said was that Coke was willing to pay all this money to put Coke in the cafeterias. It doubled the amount of money this particular public-school system could spend per child," Duritz explains. "I appreciated what [Vedder] was trying to say, but to me, it's a no-brainer."
Continuing to churn out insightful pop tunes is a no-brainer for Duritz, too. It's a living and, fortunately, one that stimulates him creatively, gossip mongers be damned. "You can't affect everyone's opinion," he concludes, "so just write your music."