Weekender

Ed Kowalczyk will take audience back to the beginning at The State Theatre

Former Live singer-songwriter Ed Kowalczyk will return to State College on March 20, this time as a solo artist.
Former Live singer-songwriter Ed Kowalczyk will return to State College on March 20, this time as a solo artist. Photo provided

Ed Kowalcyzk, best known as the singer-songwriter for alternative rock group Live, will bring the iconic “Throwing Copper” record to The State Theatre on March 20.

The album has sold more than 8 million copies and been certified platinum 8 times. The record spawned massive hits “Selling the Drama,” “I Alone,” “All Over You” and “Lightning Crashes.” The record’s impact is still felt today.

“It’s super important to me, of course,” Kowalczyk said. “It’s the record that really launched my writing and the band into a worldwide audience. It was a foundation for the next 20 years and further on to the future. It’s let me have a career doing what I love. As a writer you’re proud of your work, but you’re always working on the next thing. You’re always thinking you can do something not necessarily better, but you can do something different and continue to wow yourself and your fans. That’s the eternal quest — to continue at it. The foundation for all of that (is ‘Throwing Copper’) and it’s very important.”

Kowalcyzk will breathe new life into the iconic record for the 20th anniversary tour. The show promises a “stripped down” and more intimate take on the classic album.

“Most of the songs start with just an acoustic guitar and me in a room coming up with lyrics and melody,” Kowalczyk said. “We play the album from (songs) 1 to 14, just like it is on the record, and we generate a lot of production on stage too. It gets rocking, but it’s also got that stripped down thing too.”

Kowalczyk said his goal was to do something different because he’d been performing many of the album’s songs the same way for a long time.

“I really wanted to push it,” he said. “We stay true to (the album), but at the same time try to add a new layer of depth artistically with the multimedia. People are loving it; we’ve been all over the world with this tour. It’s pretty exciting. I’ve got my guitar player playing everything from acoustic to mandolin to lap steel. It’s pretty awesome.”

We’re celebrating a 20-year-old record in a really unique and new way.

Ed Kowalczyk

In addition to “Throwing Copper,” Kowalcyzk will play other Live hits.

“We do kind of a super set after the album,” he said. “It’s probably six or seven more songs including other hits from my work in Live as well as some of my solo stuff. We try to get everywhere with it.”

Since parting ways with Live, Kowalcyzk has released two solo albums and an EP. After this tour, Kowalcyzk will head back to his solo writing.

“You don’t get to celebrate the 20th anniversary of an album very often,” Kowalczyk said, laughing. “So, this has pushed my typical cycle for releasing new music back a little bit. I’m about halfway through a new album. After this tour, I’m going to get in the studio in April and May and hopefully have something out this year or early next year.”

Kowalczyk’s off time is mainly spent with his family — even if it costs him a good night’s sleep.

“I have four kids, so I’m pretty busy being Dad most of the time,” he said. “On the road I always joke that I’m coming out here to sleep.”

Kowalcyzk’s love of singing traces all the way back to his own childhood.

“I’ve always enjoyed singing, ever since I was really little,” he said. “Then, as that progressed, the original band started when we were right out of junior high school. I started to get into rock ’n’ roll and lyrics and melody with a whole other level of interest. That, of course, led me to doing it for my life’s work. In the very beginning, I just remember always loving to sing, and I always felt like I was pretty good at it. It always brought me so much joy, and I just wanted to keep doing it.”

When asked who in history he would like to collaborate with, Kowalcyzk’s answer was a little off the wall.

“I absolutely love Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,” he said. “I would have loved to collaborate with him. He’s super inspirational. Eddie Vedder worked with him. As far as more Western artists, I think it’s Bob Marley. I’m a huge fan of him.”

State College brings fond memories to Kowalcyzk. He performed here with Live several times over the years.

“I just remember coming up there really early on, and then later playing big places like Bryce Jordan Center,” he said. “I remember having great shows there. I love the feel of the town. It’s kind of remote and a really unique place. I’ve always had a really good time, and The State Theatre is great. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Kowalczyk promises the show will be a great experience for fans of Live, as well as fans of passionate singer-songwriters.

“Whether you’re an old fan of ‘Throwing Copper,’ or haven’t touched base in a while, come on out because it’s both new and old,” he said. “We’re celebrating a 20-year-old record in a really unique and new way. It’s a great show.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Ed Kowalczyk: “Throwing Copper” Unplugged 20th Anniversary
  • When: 7:30 p.m. March 20
  • Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
  • Info: thestatetheatre.org
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