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Reunited Live hopes festival shows inspire new music

Written by Abbey Zelko/York Daily Record | Feb 21, 2017 12:23 PM
live_ed_ Kowalczyk.jpg

FILE PHOTO: Ed Kowalczyk from the band Live performs during Nelson Mandela's 46664 World AIDS Day Concert in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2007. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

(York) -- There was no way to foresee it happening, Live guitarist Chad Taylor said.

No way to contrive York's best known rock band getting back together.

Not after the messy split with lead singer Ed Kowalczyk in 2009 that led to nasty accusations, disagreements and lawsuits.

The only thing that could bring Live back together was the universe, Taylor said in a recent interview. And everything aligned just right about a year ago over a beer at the White Rose Bar & Grill in York.

"It was like we basically looked at each other and said, 'How did we get here?'" Taylor said.

Kowalczyk said allowing each other space to pursue their own projects over the last seven years -- he started a solo career and the rest of the band regrouped with a new lead singer -- helped them to heal old wounds.

"There's definitely a glow that has re-emerged from the space and the break," Kowalczyk said. "You can't help but feel it."

But it was the fans, he said, that really helped the band take its first steps toward making music together again.

For years, family, friends and even teachers who knew the four friends when they formed Live at age 13 told them they needed to make amends. And as social media became more popular, their fans joined in on the conversation as well.

"The reminders of how much of a difference we made in people's lives and what an impact our music had over the years -- just to be reminded of that, a little bit of space happens and here we are," Kowalczyk said.

Kowalczyk, Taylor and bandmates Patrick Dahlheimer and Chad Gracey started playing together soon after they met at the White Rose. But they kept it a secret until New Year's Eve when they rang in 2017 with a surprise reunion show at the Valencia Ballroom in York -- their first performance together in about seven years.

"It was pretty magical," Kowalczyk said. "It was this weird combo of this is like riding a bike ... It's a routine, something you're used to. But there was this new aspect. There was this freshness to it that I know came from, of course, the long break we had."

Looking back, Taylor said the seven-year separation not only gave the band space and time to clear the air, but it also made them better musicians.

"In Ed's experience, playing with other musicians, and Chad, Patrick and I having our experience playing with other musicians, those other musicians also taught us new tricks," Taylor said. "We actually returned to the band empowered with that. It's very refreshing."

Chris Shinn, who replaced Kowalczyk after the split, is no longer with the band, Taylor confirmed.

"Live is really about the four boys that started at the age of 13, and there's no changing that ever," he said.

But he does credit Shinn with helping him fall in love with Live's music again.

This tour will be the first time the York-based rock band's original lineup has performed together since 2009. Abbey Zelko, York Daily Record

Since the reunion, Live has announced a few festival appearances for 2017. And there's still much more to come, Kowalczyk said.

"We're really focusing on the festivals this year -- mostly in the states, a little internationally -- which is really exciting," Kowalczyk said. Next year, they'll focus more on touring.

"I can't wait to hear the songs we write after playing a few shows," Taylor said. "Live is a band that we congeal. We come together in front of people. It's where we do our thing."

Once they get a few performances under their belt, Taylor said they'll bring that energy into the studio and allow themselves to get inspired.

Fans can expect new music in some form before the end of the year, Taylor said.

"One of the things we're excited about is the immediacy of the internet, meaning we could write a song today and literally release it later on that evening," he said.

Live doesn't currently have plans to perform in York in the near future. But locals can see the band at the MMRBQ Music Festival in Philadelphia on May 20.

However, Kowalczyk suggests fans keep a close eye on their social media accounts in the coming months.

"Stay tuned because you never know," Kowalczyk said. "We're keeping it loose and keeping it fun and we could pop up (anywhere)."

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