90s pop-rockers Better Than Ezra played to a full Belly Up crowd on September 22. Before the show, O&B’s Sylvia Borgo sat down with founding members Kevin Griffin and Tom Drummond for an interview. In the wide-ranging discussion, Borgo, Griffin, and Drummond discussed their new Top 40 single, “Crazy Lucky,” as well as the hot sister that is San Diego.
Owl and Bear: You guys were in Orange County last night. How did it go?
Kevin: It went really well.
Tom: The feedback I’ve gotten is that it looked amazing and sounded really good. It’s one of those things where we don’t have any control over shows like that, all we can do is perform and trust that they’re on it.
Owl and Bear: You’re touring for your newest album, Altogether Now, and you had Top 40 success with your song, “Crazy Lucky.” How does that feel? You have a whole new demographic.
Kevin: It’s cool. It’s nice to have new music for your fans and to get excited about. “Crazy Lucky,” is doing well for us, considering that it is on an independent label and they don’t have the money to really jam it down the throats of radio and really get it out there. So we are really happy.
Owl and Bear: Do you like coming to San Diego?
Kevin: We’ve always liked San Diego. Los Angeles and San Diego are like sisters. Los Angeles is the cheerleading captain and you think you want to go out with her but she doesn’t want to go out with you. So then you’re like, “Hmmm…” Then you turn around and there is the sister. You say, “Take your glasses off. Wow! You’re gorgeous and you’re the marrying kind.” That’s San Diego. We like Los Angeles too, but we dig San Diego.
Tom: It is a little easier lifestyle.
Kevin: I like the way downtown has come along. It’s changed a lot, very pleasant.
Owl and Bear: You’ve written for so many artists and bands, Barenaked Ladies, Taylor Swift, and many others. How does that come to be? Do you seek them out or do they seek you out?
Kevin: Both. We chase after some people. But now I know a lot of people and when the album cycle comes up, I get asked to write with them which is really nice.
Owl and Bear: Tom, how do you feel about that?
Tom: I’m good with it because typically there are certain group of songs that are Better Than Ezra songs. There are a couple that have gotten away.
Kevin: Some songs are just Better Than Ezra songs, like the ones on this album. Some songs aren’t. There are a few in-betweeners but for the most part it works out.
Owl and Bear: Do you go into songwriting with an idea like, “I listen to Barenaked Ladies, this song is for them.”
Kevin: I got asked to write for Ed. Ed came to Nashville and we wrote two different times. I’m a fan, so I had ideas that were Barenaked Ladies-ish that I pitched to Ed. “Odds Are” is the first song we wrote. I then realized it sounded like a much faster version of “Crazy Lucky.”
Owl and Bear: Tom, any songs that Kevin has written that you’re kind of mad about that got away?
Tom: The only one that is super obvious is “Collide.”
Kevin: We didn’t have a record deal at the time and the label that we were with, wasn’t going to be able to put it out. “Collide” being a hit was sort of a fluke, it was the third single of our record and it was dead in the water. And someone started playing it in Phoenix, a radio station, and it took off. Who’s to say?
Tom: Strange things happen.
Owl and Bear: You two have collaborated together on this album.
Kevin: Yeah on a lot of people’s favorite song, “The Great Unknown.”
Owl and Bear: You guys are from New Orleans, still living there. Still LSU fans?
Tom: We were until this Saturday. It’s over.
Owl and Bear: You do a tremendous amount of charity work through the Better Than Ezra Foundation, notably with the Bethune Elementary School.
Kevin: We just did this thing for Los Angeles Unified School District, at a performing arts school, for 10th-graders. We performed for them and answered questions. They are all aspiring musicians and are in a band together. So we talked about our career in music.
Tom: Because of the work we’ve been doing with Bethune, we can see how important it is to get the kids interested between the hours of 3pm to 6pm, which is the danger zone. In order to make things better, we fund this after-school program.
Owl and Bear: Will you keep working with Bethune? Will you be expanding your charity work?
Tom: we will definitely keep working with them and slowly expand. We are not going to take away from what we are doing now. As we build, we might start working on other stuff.