Photo by Terry Wyatt, courtesy of Essential Broadcast Media
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
The 90s were certainly a unique period in music, seeing the explosion of such bands as Nirvana and Radiohead as they explored new themes and sounds, creating entirely new music genres in the process.
And while many of the 90s top bands had fallen to obscurity by the turn of the 21st century, Better Than Ezra, who are known for hits such as “Good” and “In The Blood,” have persisted, seeing their latest live performance on Sunday in front of thousands at the Pilgrimage Music Festival in Franklin.
Ahead of their performance on Sunday, lead vocalist, guitarist and founding member Kevin Griffin sat down with the Home Page to talk about how the band has managed to remain relevant for over two decades.
Questions from the Home Page are paraphrased.
HP: What are your impressions of Pilgrimage so far?
KG: I’m just blown away by the turnout, the smoothness of the operation this year, and I’m just always humbled to see it working the way it does. The weather is amazing, especially after enduring rains and having to shut down last year, so I’m just in awe.
HP: Is there any song in particular you’re most excited to perform on Sunday?
KG: There’s a newer song called ‘Grateful’ that Ezra put out in 2018, and it’s what the song is about – gratitude. I had a grandfather who said you would never trade your problems for someone else’s, and that really rings true.
There’s a lot of negativity in stuff that goes on, but if you take a moment to sit back and think of all the things to be grateful for, then you set yourself up for having a great day and a great life. There’s always more good things than bad, and that’s what that song’s about, so I always like sharing that song with people.
HP: Not many 90s bands survived the turn of the 21st century. What would you attribute your band’s longevity to?
KG: I think that we’ve always really served our fans, we tour a lot, we listen to them when they ask for certain songs, so as a result, we have a really active fan base. And we’ve never stopped – we’re always been out there touring, we’ve always been putting out new music.
Also, we put on a great live show. There were bands in the 90s that sold more than us, that were considered cooler than us, but they’re not around anymore. We just kept putting out music, we didn’t stop, and as a result we’re still here. That’s just really been the [Modus Operandi] for my whole career, not quitting.
HP: Your band has been reluctant to coast off of nostalgia, going as far as to decline offers to perform at ‘90s nostalgia tours.’
KG: I don’t have a problem with being nostalgic. Some people will see us as nostalgia, and that’s cool, [but] a lot of fans know the later albums. You can tell by the reaction when we play ‘Good’ or ‘In The Blood,’ which were hits in the 90s, and then we’ll play ‘Crazy Lucky,’ ‘Grateful’ or ‘Juicy,’ and the younger people get off to that, and that’s super gratifying.
I just am always… that word again, grateful, just to be able to do what I love to do. You can’t change how people perceive you. For a long time I was like, ‘aw, I wish we were Radiohead, and why can’t we be that cool,’ but you are what you are, and I love it.
HP: What are you working on right now?
KG: Right now I’m working on putting a tour together, I’ve got a solo album that comes out October 4. October and November I’ll be touring all over the United States, and so I’m getting that band together, we’re rehearsing.