NRR catches up with Better Than Ezra’s, Kevin Griffin for insight into the bands past accomplishments, current adventures, and future projects.
If youâ€™re a fan of nineties pop rock, you may well know about the Under The Sun Tour that is currently making its way across the U.S. The lineup features Better Than Ezra, Uncle Kracker, Eve 6, and Sugar Ray. In fact, the guys have a newly released, country inspired summer single, “BYHB,” that theyâ€™ve recorded together under the name Uncle Ezra Ray.
What you may not know is what these bands have been up to since the last time you sang “Good” at the top of your lungs while listening to SiriusXM’s 90s on 9. To get a handle on whatâ€™s going on, National Rock Review jumped at the opportunity to talk with Better Than Ezra’s founding member and lead vocalist, Kevin Griffin.
First and foremost, Griffin is a busy man, what with being a father to a 16 year old and six year old twins, writing for the likes of Taylor Swift, Christina Perry, and Barenaked Ladies, to producing, recording, and delving into the world of festival promotion, busy may actually be an understatement.
Griffin’s current undertaking, outside of this totally fun summer tour or course, is a two-day music and cultural festival, taking place in Franklin, Tennessee on September 26 and 27. This is the first year of the festival, which features everyone from Cage the Elephant and Willie Nelson to Jimmy Cliff and Cheryl Crow. The roster is a who’s who of musical talent as well as artisans, craftsmen, demonstrations, local food and drink, a marketplace bazaar, and tons of activities for kids. Itâ€™s an event that Kevin is excited about and rightfully so.
Music is what Kevin has always done, in some form or another, in front of an audience or behind the scenes, the creativity never seems to stop. â€œItâ€™s fun, itâ€™s a challenge. I always have songs in my head. What I do most now is write and produce for other artists,â€ said Griffin.
Yet, even if the behind the scenes work is more his forte at 46, donâ€™t think Griffin has abandoned the performer inside him. â€œI love getting out and jumping around and having fun and that informs my songwriting. It gives it balance. If youâ€™re a musician, or an actor, or a painter, you get this bug as a kid and it doesnâ€™t go away. It was never about fame and fortune for me. It was always about performing and having fun and having that outlet. I just love doing it and as long as people keep coming to the shows and having fun I still get to do it, and itâ€™s a blessing.â€
It would be impossible to talk to Griffin without at least attempting to get a definitive answer on the origin of their band name. If you Google the question, the guesses are endless and all claim to be true, it is the Internet after all. What does “Better Than Ezra” really mean? â€œYou know thereâ€™s definitely a story behind the real meaning of the band name, but we decided, as silly as it is, that a long time ago we would quit telling people the explanation because they were always let down. Their imagination and explanations were a lot more intelligent and well read than the actual explanation. So we still donâ€™t tell people.â€
Even though Griffin still wonâ€™t divulge, the former Louisiana State University English major does have a best-loved fan misconception, â€œMy favorite though is from â€˜Moveable Feast,â€™ Hemingway, which is amazing, where I think itâ€™s page 258 it says â€˜…anything was better than Ezra learning to play the bassoon.â€™ and so the fact that â€˜better than Ezraâ€™ had something to do with music and written by Earnest Hemingway, exists, that is such a serendipitous thing. I dig that. I wish it was that.â€
If you plan on checking out the Under the Sun tour, and really who canâ€™t use a little nostalgia on a hot summer night, youâ€™re in for all the hits and more. â€œItâ€™s a night chock full of music for sure. Weâ€™re gonna play a condensed version of our normal set. Itâ€™ll be hitâ€™s, but itâ€™ll be our most recent single, probably a cover or two, just cuz we like playing fun covers. For us it wonâ€™t just be songs from the 90’s, although there will be plenty of songs from the 90’s, but we want people that are fans of the band, that see us a lot, to be able to hear a song they havenâ€™t heard in a while.â€ Sounds like a perfect set list.
But one more question before we go, since for many of us, the 90s were a blur, for so many reasons, especially here in Vegas, I had to ask if Kevin remembers any of his many tour stops here, â€œOur shows were always crazy affairs. We used to have showgirls on stage (at our Vegas shows) and without fail we would end up going out after with the showgirls…and it never ended well. It would always end up in some god-awful club on the outskirts of Vegas, with the sun coming up, going into some ill-advised stretch Navigator, cursing yourself and your poor decisions. But, again, weâ€™d always come back for more.â€ Well, Vegas can definitely get more of Better Than Ezra at Mandalay Bay pool on July 18, 2015. Showgirls not included.
Under The Sun Tour