Twenty years after its release, I still get excited when I hear the first few chords of the Live song “Lightning Crashes” on the radio. That guitar is frankly awesome and then Ed Kowalczyk’s vocals inject the song with an intensity for the ages. The album “Throwing Copper” is also home to “I Alone” and “Selling the Drama,” both of which are permanent staples in the alternative rock canon. “Copper” has sold more than 8 million copies.
Live went on to release five more albums before it all went to hell. In 2009 the band announced a two-year hiatus, which soon morphed into the band permanently parting ways with Kowalczyk. Ugly lawsuits ensued. These are now settled, and in October, Kowalczyk released his second solo album, “The Flood and the Mercy.” Last summer, Live toured with replacement lead singer Chris Shinn.
I caught up with Kowalczyk the day after he saw Lorde in New York City with his 11-year-old daughter. We talked about the “Flood” record, his tour, the aftermath of the split with Live and, of course, how the Lorde show was. Kowalczyk’s “I Alone” tour will be stopping in Portland on Sunday with guitarist Zak Loy joining him.
Q: Have you written any new songs?
A: I’ve got four or five things that I’m really happy with. I plan to get together with my producer Jamie (Candiloro) in the next few months and start that process. I probably don’t expect a record this year because we’re still into working “The Flood and the Mercy,” but I would say early next year for sure.
Q: What’s it like touring for you these days?
A: It’s interesting, I feel like I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked, especially acoustically, because there’s no drummer. My right hand is the drummer for about an hour and a half. So in some ways I have more stamina or at least stamina that I had that I didn’t know and I’m kind of digging for it, especially for the acoustic shows. It’s still thrilling to get on stage and reconnect with the fans over the old music and present the new music. It’s so darn thrilling that I kind of forget I’m touring to be honest with you. It’s such a blast.
Q: How much do now-settled legal conflicts with your former Live bandmates weigh on you? And does it bother you that Chris Shinn is out singing the songs that you wrote? Where are you with this stuff?
A: To be perfectly honest, I’m having such a blast and this has been such a renaissance for me as an artist, as a performer and as a person that it really outshines what might otherwise be in my periphery. Of course I hear things. My opening about calling that Live is obviously that I don’t agree with it. I feel like it should be something else. The fans deserve the real thing and the band that they grew up with. I’ve said that from the beginning. I’ve just tried to nurture my relationship with my fans with these acoustic shows, in particular give them the songs the way they’re supposed to be. The acoustic thing for me is really close to my heart because it’s so real.
Q: What did you grow up listening to as a teenager?
A: I feel like somebody hit fast-forward on my musical taste. When I started to care about music it was like the college rock of that mid-80s era. I used to just sit there and listen on WVYC out of York College all the time for the early R.E.M., U2, The Cure and The Smiths. They were my bands. They were the bands that I wanted to be like, those are the writers and the musicians and the singers that I wanted to emulate.
Q: What is your current favorite song on “The Flood and the Mercy”?
A: It’s been this for a while. It’s “Seven” the first single. I feel like I have moved into a new place creatively, vocally, songwriting wise and lyrically. I felt it was one of the better songs I had written in a long time.
Q: What can fans expect from your show in Portland?
A: The ration is starting to get a little stronger in the solo aspect because I have more records now so I’m doing more of those songs. But I still play all the hits of my work with Live and of course a couple of things that maybe people aren’t expecting from the older albums. Everybody leaves with, I think, a pretty good, full picture of my entire career as a writer all the way from 1991’s “Mental Jewelry” to now.
Q: So how was Lorde the other night?
A: Phenomenal. She is absolutely cut from a different cloth and was phenomenal. I love the album and I was really hoping that I would like the show as much, and I was blown away. It was fantastic.
Ed Kowalczyk. 8 p.m. Sunday. Port City Music Hall. 504 Congress St., Portland. $20, $30; $40 preferred seating; 18-plus; portcitymusichall.com
Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at: