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Q&A with Eddie Kowalczyk

by Jeff Moeller / Los Angeles Kings

On August 28, 2009, there will be a special acoustic performance with Eddie Kowalczyk of Live at the Kings Hockey Fest '09 (read the release here).

Hockey Fest Info | Buy Tickets Now caught up with Mr. Kowalczyk to ask him about growing up a sports fan, his dream of performing with Bob Dylan and the days of videos on MTV. Growing up in Pennsylvania, what sports did you play as a kid and were there any sports teams that you followed?

Eddie Kowalczyk: I was into all of the Pennsylvania teams at some point in my childhood. I would flip back and forth between the Pirates and the Phillies and I was always a Steelers fan, but not much of an Eagles fan. Then I became kind of a band nerd in school and I went the music route. So I lost touch with my sports affinity about 25 years ago when I started playing music more, so that was the extent of it.  But I played soccer and basketball in school, and I have been to a bunch of games.  I was buddies with Dennis Rodman back in the day; actually I am still buddies with him, and so I have gone to a lot of games and always enjoyed it. You live in here in Southern California with your wife and kids.  When you have some downtime, what do you like to do?

Eddie Kowalczyk: We live between Santa Barbara and L.A. in the mountains of Ventura County, so we actually hike a lot.  We are a pretty active family and we get outside a lot, so we appreciate all of the active stuff that you can do outside around here.  We camp a lot- we actually just got back from El Capitan State Beach up above Santa Barbara.  If you haven’t ever camped up there do yourself a favor, because it is incredible and the coastline is just beautiful.  I love California; I have lived here for over a decade now and there is a never ending list of wonderful things that you can do in the state that we live in. Music is always changing, but one thing that has changed significantly lately is how musicians and bands connect with fans. You blog on and you are active on Twitter- how important are these new vehicles of communication?

Eddie Kowalczyk: It is so much fun.  I am always watching my TweetDeck because I am hopelessly addicted to it, but in a good way.  I love connecting with my fans because I will put new music up there and you get an instantaneous reaction. It is great for musicians, because the music industry has changed so much recently, in terms of sales and that sort of thing.  But so many more opportunities have opened up via the web, it is hard to mourn it.  It is really more exciting to embrace these new vehicles through which you are directly connected with your fans, which we never had before.  I am just having a blast with all of this, on and on my Twitter.  It is just really fun. What would you say is your greatest musical accomplishment?

Eddie Kowalczyk: There have been so many moments.  I look back at all of the things you can count up in terms of numbers and commercial success and you know, the most gratifying thing as a song writer is to get those messages from people, either written or on the internet, that say “this song got me through a time in my life.”  That is the greatest thing for a songwriter that you can imagine, because you really feel like you are being utilized out there.  You feel like what you are doing is making a difference.  That is really where I have the most fun, the little accomplishments that add up to the feeling that wow, I am really making a difference in LIVE. That’s what makes it all worth it. Before the Kings take the ice, they like a pump-up song, something to get them into the game.  Of the songs that you have written and recorded, is there a song in your repertoire that the team should consider to get the blood flowing before a big game?

Eddie Kowalczyk: Oh yeah man, the chorus of “Lightning Crashes” is a good one, because “I feel it coming back again” is an especially good line if you are down.  If you are down a couple, that’s a good song .  That is the song that gets it coming back around for you.  I would have to recommend the chorus of “Lightning Crashes” for just about everyone that needs a little something, a little comeback. Everyone has a favorite movie, TV show or song.  What is your favorite song of all time?

Eddie Kowalczyk: That is a tough one.  I always say, “Imagine” by John Lennon.  It is one of those songs that even though you have heard it before it always sounds brand new.  You never fast forward that song, even though you have probably heard it more than any other song.  It is that good, that timeless.  It is always a benchmark for me when I sit down to write an acoustic song, because I think, “hey, I want to write a song that people are singing 20 years from now.”  So “Imagine” by John Lennon is probably one of my all-time favorite songs. You mentioned technology and appreciating the changing landscape of music, but we have to ask, do you miss videos on MTV?

Eddie Kowalczyk: I do actually.  I remember from the mid-nineties.  But I grew up even earlier than that watching “120 Minutes,” every Sunday night where you got the early R.E.M. videos and all of the videos where people were just taking big chances and big risks.  They were doing really cool things.  I do miss that, I get some nostalgia for the spirit and energy of those videos.  So yes, I pine for the old MTV days where they actually played videos; that was cool. How did you feel when you heard Beavis and Butthead talking about your video?

Eddie Kowalczyk: I felt like we had made it. If you could have center stage at STAPLES Center with the ability to play with any musicians, past or present, what would that lineup look like?

Eddie Kowalczyk: Well, Jimmy Page on lead guitar, Bob Dylan up there, Van Morrison.  I would throw Bono in there just because, you know, he’s the man. I would stand somewhere up there too and we would all sing “I shall be released” or something humongous.  Then we would all go out for a beer afterwards. Hockey is very popular in Canada.  Do you have a favorite band, or singer, songwriter who hails from our neighbor to the north?

Eddie Kowalczyk: Well I am an Alanis Morissette fan. I think that she has a fantastic voice and I would love to sing with her someday. I gotta give a shout out to our Canadian sister. You are going to take the stage at L.A. Live for Hockey Fest ’09 at the end of August.  What should fans more or less expect from the set and from you that night?

Eddie Kowalczyk: Well I will be coming out as a solo troubadour with my acoustic guitar, just banging on it. I try to break songs down and people are surprised that the songs that they heard in a big rock context can actually be broken down and rock at the acoustic level. I have a friend, Jen, who is coming with me to play the cajon drum, which is this big thing that, if you haven’t seen it is really cool, it looks like a drum set but it’s a box. She bangs on it, we have a great time and it rocks. I will be doing a set that spans my whole songwriting career and maybe even some new songs.


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