The band Live were photographed in Ojai for their album Songs from Black Mountain. From left: drummer Chad Gracey, singer Ed Kowalczyk, guitarist Chad Taylor, and bassist Patrick Dahlheimer,

Fourteen years after the release of Throwing Copper, the eight-time platinum record that put Live on the rock ‘n’ roll map, the Billboard chart-topping band is still making dynamic, provocative music. And with all the original members onboard-singer/guitarist Ed Kowalczyk, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer, guitarist Chad Taylor, and drummer Chad Gracey-Live emerged from the studio not so long ago with its seventh full-length CD-Songs from Black Mountain-a lyrically poetic and musically creative achievement.

The album, which spawned the hit singles “The River” and “Mystery” (heard by millions when the band performed live with Chris Daughtry on American Idol‘s season five finale), also has significant local ties; it was named for Black Mountain in Ojai, where Kowalczyk has been living since the early 2000s, and it was recorded right here at Santa Barbara Sound Design.

Since the record’s release in the spring of 2006, the guys have been touring relentlessly, not only in the U.S. but also Europe, South Africa, and Australia. But this Friday, May 30, Live will perform for fans, friends, and neighbors at the Majestic Ventura Theatre.

In a brief email interview Kowalczyk revealed why he likes living here, where he finds inspiration, and how cool it was to meet Nelson Mandela.

You’re currently living in Ojai. What do you enjoy most about returning home after touring? I have to say it’s the good ole peace and quiet of the Ojai Valley that I enjoy most, especially after touring.

What drew you to record Songs from Black Mountain at Santa Barbara Sound Design? Lots of reasons. First of all, it’s really close to Ojai, which allowed me to go home a lot during the recording. Followed closely by the beach, the nightlife, and oh yeah, the studio was really cool too!

What’s your favorite song, lyric, or riff on the Songs from Black Mountain album? My favorite song is “Mystery.”

How did you get involved in Will.I.Am’s video that went along with Senator Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech? It was one of those happy accidents, really. I got an email from a friend who works with Will and she asked if I was supporting Obama-I am-and if I would like to come down to L.A. and make a guest appearance in the song/video he was making. I’m so happy I did, it turned out so well and has been a real thrill watching it and, of course, Obama succeed!

What music are you currently listening to? I am listening to lots of old gospel and blues music these days. My current fave is Blind Willie Johnson. [I have to give] thanks to our guitarist, Chad Taylor for turning me onto him!

Much of Black Mountain was clearly inspired by where you live and your family. With all the touring you’ve been doing, where do you find inspiration for new songs? I’ve never had trouble finding inspiration for new songs, no matter what I’m doing. Life is full of inspiration, far more than I’ll ever get to write about.

How would you say your music has evolved from Mental Jewelry to Songs from Black Mountain? I like to think it’s completely different and completely the same. Different because I’m 36 now and have grown in lots of ways musically, personally, etcetera, but the same because the essence or core of the music is a timeless feeling of peace and strength that doesn’t change.

How has your creative process changed now that the band members are all living in different states? I’ve always been the main songwriter in the band, so the process hasn’t changed a whole lot.

What is your favorite/most memorable story from the road? Meeting Nelson Mandela last year in South Africa as part of the 46664 Concert, followed closely by my performance with Will.I.Am last month in Philadelphia at a Barack Obama rally. [That was] amazing!


Live will perform Friday, May 30, at the Majestic Ventura Theater (26 S. Chestnut St., Ventura) at 7 p.m. For ticket information, call 653-0721 or visit


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