Counting Crows' Adam Duritz Mourns Lost Album Tapes: 'It's Disgusting'

Adam Duritz Counting Crows - H 2012
Getty Images

Adam Duritz Counting Crows - H 2012

The band's frontman says Geffen Records "has no idea" what happened to missing recordings from 1996's "Recovering the Satellites."

Counting Crows' seven-times platinum debut August and Everything After turns 20 next year, but Adam Duritz isn't planning much of a party. Instead, he tells Billboard, the group would rather celebrate Satellites -- as in Counting Crows' sophomore release, 1996's double-platinum Recovering the Satellites.

"Everyone says we should do something for August...but, honestly, a group of years seems like a particularly lame reason to revisit a record," Duritz says. "I can see why, the commerce of it. But it would be like just taking money from the fans. We just did that live album and DVD (2011's August and Everything After: Live at Town Hall), which I think is great. I'd be hard-pressed to think of a better testament to that album than that. At this point everyone has August; I don't think there's anything new to discover about it."

STORY: 'American Idol' David Cook Covers Counting Crows

However, Duritz feels that Recovering the Satellites is ripe for a revisit. "That's a truly great album a lot of people missed," he explains. "I don't think it necessarily got the credit it deserves 'cause there was a bit of backlash after August. It was a huge step forward for the band to go from August and Everything After, which was pretty contained, to Satellites, which is a much more sprawling record." Duritz says there's "a lot of documentation" to build a Satellites package from, including entire concert videos, any MTV Live at the Ten Spot special and a VH1 Storytellers episode. There's also documentary footage of Counting Crows making the album filmed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) that was used for an Electronic Press Kit supporting the album.

"I'd like to do a package for Satellites that has all that filmed documentation, plus a lot of great photographs. That would be really cool," Duritz says.

One thing the group doesn't have, however, is more music to include in such a set. "Geffen lost all the (master) tapes," Duritz reports. "What exists is the digital tapes that they transferred to do the mix; those still exist, but it's only the songs mixed for that record. Anything not mixed for the record is gone. We tried to find some stuff a few years ago for something else we were doing, and Geffen has no idea where they are. 'A Long December,' all the songs, the actual two-inch tapes are gone. It's disgusting, just so frustrating..."

Duritz isn't sure yet of a timetable for a Satellites package, and he's currently focused on finishing work on Black Sun, the stage musical he's collaborating on with writer and director Stephen Belber. An early version was presented at the 2011 Ojai Playwrights Conference, and Duritz reports that he has "about 10 songs ready with five more that I just need to know a little more about the play to finish those songs." Duritz says he and Belber recently met to discuss their progress but that they're waiting to see if Belber will be taking a new film directing job. "Right now I feel like my mind is stuck on the play," Duritz says. "If we don't do that I have to get it out of my mind and...go write a record for the band."

Counting Crows hosted a pair of Outlaw Roadshow jamborees at the Roseland Ballroom during the CMJ conference in New York, and tonight (Oct. 23) begin a 15-date tour in Port Chester, N.Y. He's not yet worrying about new material for the band -- "We don't do a lot of planning for our records," Duritz explains -- but he does expect that this year's covers set Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) will make an impact on what the band does next.

"It's already had a huge impact," Duritz says. "There's something liberating about doing someone else's songs. Everybody loosened up and played free but still listened to each other. It's just transformed the band live; we've turned into a way better band live, and I think that will come out even more on our next record. So when the song's start to come out, we'll see what the record's about. I'm not sure where we're going just yet."