Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Guitarist opens up his wings to speak

When presented with a roll call for the rootsy rock group Counting Crows, the average pop-music student may be hard-pressed to name someone other than Adam Duritz. Even the most devoted fans may scratch their heads and reply, “Which one is he?” when calling Dan Vickrey’s name.

But the “Bueller? Bueller?”-style reaction doesn’t phase the laid-back guitarist. Standing out in the bulk-sized seven-piece band isn’t as important to him as a quality track, a solid lick or a new pair of Pumas.

From his New York hotel room, the dry-witted, Bowler-sporting Crow, who harbors an intense desire to sing and a vast knowledge of Run DMC lyrics, prepares for the band’s multi-date run at the Hammerstein Ballroom and an appearance with Howard Stern.


As he speaks, Vickery easily picks melodies from his guitar, providing a soundtrack to discussions of the band’s latest album, its upcoming performance in Madison and the finer points of karaoke. P.S — he’s the one in the hat.

Badger Herald: On your website, you are quoted as saying you can read minds and possess martial-arts skills. Is there a superhero lurking inside you?

Dan Vickrey: Yes.

BH: What’s his name?

DV: Rex.

BH: Does he sing or play guitar by day?

DV: Both. He does it by night, too. That’s how he saves the world.

BH: On Hard Candy, “Why Should You Come When I Call” is a love song to the booty call — a track that resonates particularly well with the college crowd here. What do you like about this track?

DV: That’s one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s such a fun song, and Adam sings beautifully on it. We went in and sort of recorded half-assed, just jamming. Then we went back and recorded it once or twice more and (producer) Steve Lillywhite came to us and said that our demo was better than anything else we laid down — there was a certain energy to it that was missing on the other versions, so we kept the original.

I sort of forgot about it, though. We should work it into our set, but it’s a hard track to play live — too many vocals.

BH: You’re also a band that is heavy on the geographical name-dropping. I know we’re no Miami, Spain, Baltimore or L.A, but any chance of Madison making it to a track?

DV: One never knows … Madison is a great place to play and a great college town. We love playing there.

BH: You’ve played many different-sized venues throughout your career, and even here in Madison (The Barrymore, The Alliant Energy Center and soon the Kohl Center). Which do you prefer?

DV: I don’t really ‘prefer’ any of them. It’s fun to have an intimate club setting, but it’s better for the fans if we play bigger places because more people can see us. I know that when my favorite band went on tour and sold out their show before I got a ticket, I’d be pissed. All of them pose different challenges, and all of them give different rewards.

BH: You spend a lot of time touring Europe. What’s the draw of performing overseas?

DV: We want to play where our fans are. It’s economical, and we enjoy it. I can never tell if there’s any difference between audiences here or there. They all sing along, and they all have a good time.

BH: Counting Crows fans are some of the more passionate, and perhaps overly dramatic, fans around. You guys felt some pressure when you did the Coke commercial this summer. Do you feel you get burned by being so accessible?

DV: The thing with the Coke commercial is that we felt comfortable with it. It’s like, who doesn’t drink Coke, you know?

We’ve been approached to do beer commercials, and we’ve turned them down for obvious reasons. We approached the Coke thing knowing some people wouldn’t be happy, but if we were all right with it, then we’re going to do it.

BH: So where do the fans stand in fueling your music?

DV: Without a doubt, fans fuel the show. But when it comes to recording, it’s all about us. We want to be true to ourselves and record songs that we like and that we are proud of.

BH: You are heading back to Belfast early next year — any hesitations?

DV: We love Ireland. And there’s no problem with Belfast, it’s a great place to play. Although I was wearing a bowler there the last time and somebody told me to take it off, because it identifies me with one of the feuding sides.

BH: Speaking of, what’s with the hat?

DV: I like hats. I like to accessorize. I’m just starting to get into shoes now. I just bought some new ones today.

BH: Any brand or designer you like?

DV: I don’t really go in for designer stuff. Today I got a pair of dope Pumas. They’re cheap and simple.

BH: We know you like to sing almost as much as you like to play guitar. So you’re in Madison’s Karaoke Kid — what do you sing?

DV: I put in for two. Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline,’ because that always gets the crowd going. And Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way.’

BH: Run DMC, Riverdance, AC/DC, Backstreet Boys and Cher have all played the very stage you will play Tuesday. If the rest of the band gets stuck in Chicago, who do you want to come back for an encore performance with you as the special guest?

DV: (long pause) Run DMC. You got to.

Dan Vickrey, his Pumas and the rest of the Counting Crows come ’round here Tuesday Oct. 22 at the Kohl Center. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets.

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