Music Live performs as part of the Summerland Tour on Tuesday at the RAGBRAI Events Village.

Live performs as part of the Summerland Tour on Tuesday at the RAGBRAI Events Village.

Live knows the ropes

Published on July 16th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

The Summerland Tour, performing at the RAGBRAI Events Village on Tuesday, features four big ’90s acts: Everclear, Live, Filter and Sponge. Live cofounder and guitarist Chad Taylor said it’s one of the more pleasant touring experiences he’s had in his nearly 30-year career.

“There’s been literally no drama backstage between either the bands or the crew members,” Taylor said during a phone interview from a tour stop in Corpus Christi, Texas. “We all went out the other night, hit a little tiny bar and had drinks and hung out. I can’t say I ever remember this much camaraderie and respect. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that none of us are young bands. We’re seasoned vets.”

Live’s return to the stage has been relatively recent. It went on hiatus in 2009, and Taylor said he knows he was just going through the motions before the break. Since the band started performing again last year, he feels a spark again.

The band has had one big change since the hiatus started, a new lead singer. The band had a not-so-amicable split with Ed Kowalczyk in 2009 and eventually filed a lawsuit against its former singer. Since last year, Unified Theory singer Chris Shinn has been handling vocals.

“For many years we were in a deeply committed relationship, almost like a marriage, but at some point the relationship started to fall apart,” Taylor said of the split with Kowalczyk. “When you’re in a band you have to give of yourself to be a part of a unit. We had one person who constantly didn’t give of themselves, and it was very painful.”

Taylor said he’ll never say never to working with Kowalczyk again, but the band is much happier with Shinn out front. The band owes finding Shinn to another ’90s act, Blind Melon.

Live and Blind Melon did their first national tour together in the early ’80s. When Blind Melon’s singer Shannon Hoon died in ’95 that band’s guitarist, Christopher Thorn, joined Live. After more than a year Thorn quit the band and eventually formed Unified Theory with Shinn.

When Live decided to look for a new singer, Shinn’s was the only name that appeared on the wish lists of all three members. He flew to Pennsylvania to sing a few songs with the band and before the practice was over, they offered him the job.

“He can definitely duplicate what Ed does, but that’s not necessarily what we were going for,” Taylor said. “We just wanted to make sure we did justice to the way the songs used to sound. I think Chris sounds more like ‘Throwing Copper’ Ed than Ed did in the last 10 years. You can hear that passion and certainly the angst we had when we were a band in the ’90s.”

Taylor said that when Live first hit it big the members were too young to understand how thoroughly their lives would change. They didn’t get to appreciate their fans. The fame came so quickly they suddenly had bodyguards creating a barrier between them and the people who enjoyed their music. Now Taylor says social media lets him directly interact with Live fans. In fact, if you like Live on Facebook, he’s probably clicked on your profile.

“Suddenly they’re real people that I can look at,” Taylor said. “I’ll click on their profile and see people from all walks of life from all over the globe. It’s super exciting. I love that access to fans. It all feels very real and tangible to me.”

Summerland Tour

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Court Avenue bridge, downtown

Cost: Free


About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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