IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Counting Crows' Adam Duritz Talks 'Freeloaders'

Sunday, 16 December 2012 09:24 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Counting Crows' Adam Duritz Talks 'Freeloaders'

While we mostly concentrate on speaking with actors and filmmakers here at IAR, once in a while we get a chance to talk with an accomplished musician that has also contributed to a motion picture.

This year alone we have spoken to indie-pop icon Liz Phair (People Like Us), reggae legend Bob Marley's son - Ziggy Marley (Marley), Hole members Patty Schemel and Eric Eriandson (Hit So Hard), R&B queen Mary J. Blige (Rock of Ages), and rapper-turned-actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (Freelancers). Now, we’re very proud to add Counting Crows’ lead singer Adam Duritz’s name to our esteemed list. Duritz is best known for penning and performing such classic Counting Crows songs as “Round Here,” “A Long December,” “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby,” “Holiday in Spain,” and the ‘90s anthem “Mr. Jones.” But now the celebrated singer has entered into the film world as a producer and actor with his new movie Freeloaders, which features the Broken Lizard (Super Troopers) comedy troupe and is currently available on VOD. 

Freeloaders tells the story of five hapless losers that live and party in rock star Adam Duritz’s mansion while he is away on tour. In fact, the film is loosely based on Duritz's real life and was written by director Dan Rosen, and Dave Gibbs, who is actually a former tenant of Duritz’s house. In the movie, when Duritz decides to get married and sell his Los Angeles home, his five houseguests are forced to leave their lavished life or find away to buy the house themselves. After several failed attempts, the group of friends put together one last effort to raise the money so they can stay in their beloved home. In addition to Duritz, the film also features Academy Award-winner Nate Faxon (The Descendants), Olivia Munn (HBO’s Newsroom), Brit Morgan (HBO’s True Blood), Dave Foley (A Bug’s Life), Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek), Jay Chandrasekhar (The Dukes of Hazzard), Garrett Morris (Critical Condition), and Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers). 

I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Adam Duritz about his work on Freeloaders. The accomplished musician discussed the film, why he wanted to produce it, the true story it is based on, working with Broken Lizard, his lack of interest in acting, the difference between the onscreen Adam Duritz and the real one, his longtime friendship with Clifton Collins Jr., singer Gemma Hayes, recreating the “Hangingaround’ video for the end credits scene, and what’s next for the Counting Crows.

Here is what the talented musician-turned-producer and actor had to say:

IAR: To begin with, were you a fan of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe before making this film, and how did you get involved with the project?

Adam Duritz: Yeah, I’m a huge fan of theirs. I think they are really funny. I had a couple friends who wrote a screenplay. One of them wanted to direct it and I wanted to see them get a chance. They were kind of worried, and I was worried too, that the chance would be taken away from them. So I asked if they would let me have it for a bit and I went and raised the money with some friends from New York. We put together the group to make the movie and then we brought in Broken Lizard and some other people who were really good at making comedies to sort of guide us because I’ve never made a comedic movie before. So they jumped on board and it was great. 

Getting involved in the film industry, producing a movie, and doing some acting, were those all opportunities that you had been interested in exploring for a while, or did this project simply just happen because you were trying to help some friends make a movie?

Duritz: Well it was just to help some friends. I actually enjoyed the producing part of it. I thought it was really fun. I think I'd only really be interested in working on comedies if I ever did it again. Acting wasn’t something I was that interested in but it was really cool to do.

How did you end up playing the rock star in the film? Was it always intended that you would play that part, or was it originally written in the script as more of a generic rock star?

Duritz: No, I had this house in L.A. for a decade and it was like a home for wayward boys, and girls actually. All those characters kind of lived in my house in real life. It was the out of town hotel for every band from New Orleans that came through town. A lot of my friends from New Orleans who were writers or musicians moved out to California and lived with me because they could. There were members of my band and members of a million other bands living there. It was just a big halfway house for goofballs for a long time. They wrote the movie about that. I didn't know when they were writing it what it was about, but when I read the script, it was clearly about my house. 

So the film was really based on situations that had happened to you, correct?

Duritz: No, things that seemed to happening while I was out of town, although, I was probably in town for a lot of it too at times. I mean the movie is a fictional account of the house that we all lived in. 

Is the house used in the movie really yours, or was that just a house they rented for the production? 

Duritz: No, no that was just a house in Chatsworth. 

Can you talk about the real Adam Duritz vs. the character of Adam Duritz depicted in the film? Were you concerned that portraying yourself in that way might lead some people to think that is how you really are and could possibly hurt your public image?

Duritz: I wanted the character to be more ridiculous. I really didn't want to play a cool rock star guy; that was the only thing. I just wanted to be silly. To me it was like I didn't really want to act, I just wanted to be a goofball. I actually wanted to be more bizarre, but there was stuff that got cut out of the movie. I had a number of costumes but I don't remember which parts ended up on camera and in the movie. We did all my stuff over the phone pretty much until the end. But I think the last time I was on screen, and I can't remember if they ended up using it in the movie or not, but I had a bunny outfit in one scene and a long hair wig in another. I really did enjoy the producing part. It was fun working on a comedy. But it was incredibly long days, like eighteen-hour days. I was also doing press for a European tour at the time so I was getting up at like five in the morning, which is the only time I really had free. I was doing interviews then I was jumping in the car and driving up to Chatsworth and I was there until ten or eleven at night every day. It was really long days, but it was really fun. The cast was a blast too. I got to hang out with Clifton Collins Jr., who I had been a friend with years before when I lived in L.A. I hadn't seen him in a long time, but someone sent him the script. At this time Clifton was a pretty successful actor, he'd done Capote, and was just brilliant playing Perry Smith.  He was also in Traffic, and Star Trek, and so many more great movies. He wrote me an email and said, “Hey, I just got this, is this really yours? They say that you are attached. I'm really busy right now but if this is really your thing and you're producing it, then I'll read it.” I said sure, yeah it's me. He goes, “Dude, I got to do this movie, this is the funniest thing ever. I’ve got to play this guy. I'll get a mullet, and I'll be perfect.” He's hysterical in the movie. It was kind of cool because we got a chance to hang out, and I hadn't seen him in years really. It was a blast. I spent a lot of time with those guys and that was really fun for me too. But the acting, I don’t really care about.

Irish singer/songwriter Gemma Hayes is spotlighted in the film, did you play a role in getting her involved in the project?

Duritz: Oh yeah, I've known Gemma for years. I was a huge fan of hers and she's opened for us in Europe on a tour. We've been close for a long time. From that point, she'd moved to L.A. We were looking for different pieces of music for that scene and I gave her CD to Dave Gibbs, one of the other screenwriters. He’s also the lead singer of Gigalo Aunts and the Low Stars, and he’s one of the guys who lived in the house for years and years. He and I played lots of different music for Dan Rosen, our director. We were very high on Gemma and he liked that song too. 

In the end credit scene you perform “Hangingaround,” and it’s reminiscent of the actual music video for the song. What was the inspiration for that and was it fun to kind of recreate the original video?

Duritz: We actually shot the music video for "Hangingaround," the real music video for the song, in the living room of the house that we all lived in and with all of our friends. So we just had all of our friends come over, and be in the video with us. Largely the original music video was shot in the actual house, the original one. So we thought, what if we make the ending of the movie a remake of the “Hangingaround” video only this time with the cast. At one point we thought about using the real people who had lived in the house in real life too, but then we didn't end up doing it because no one was around. We sort of had all the family there just like we did in the video. We had so much fun doing the original that I thought we'd do it again. It was easy too. We just recorded a live version during a sound check at a gig one night and we just used it for that. 

Finally, what's next for the Counting Crows? Are you guys working on a new album, and are you going to do another tour anytime soon?

Duritz: I was working on a play a lot last year that I was writing with a co-writer. But he just got a green light on a movie that he is directing and he started filming that recently, so I don't think he'll be able to finish writing the script with me and I suppose I’ll probably stop that for a bit. I guess we'll work on our next Counting Crows record. We're going to Australia and Europe in the spring, probably around March or April, I think, and after SXSW. We’ll do SXSW and then we'll head out to Australia and Europe, and then do the next album. 

Freeloaders is currently available on VOD.

To watch an exclusive clip from Freeloaders, courtesy of our friends at Moviefanatic, please click here

Or, just click on the video player below.

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