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Graham Colton: Band leaves Crows nest, joins 'circus'
By CHRIS WELCH
Times Entertainment Writer

Graham Colton ticked off the stats without even thinking. "Four trailers, two vans, 200,000 miles and 28 flat tires," Colton said during a phone call somewhere outside Athens, Ga., in the midst of what he described as another "500-mile road trip."

"It's been three years of nonstop touring. It's been an ongoing circus," Colton said.

Nobody ever said it would be easy being in a pop/rock 'n' roll band, but the lead singer of the Graham Colton Band certainly isn't complaining. The group's debut album on Universal Records, "Drive," made several "Best of 2004" album lists, and the band was also nominated as one of the top bands of 2004 by several groups.

It all started in late 2002 when Colton and his bandmates, who were getting a lot of buzz in Dallas, got a call from the Counting Crows. Would Colton and his buds like to take the opening slot on the Crows' upcoming tour?

"I was in college at SMU in Dallas, and we didn't really know if we wanted to be a band," Colton said. "We had kinda started playing and generating some interest as the Graham Colton Band when Adam Durwitz of the Counting Crows called. They were doing a
college tour out east for universities and needed somebody quick and easy. "So, I called my professors and parents, and they told me I've got to take this opportunity."

His professors? "Yeah, they were fans, too," Colton said. "It was one of those things * I know it sounds corny * but once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I remember the Counting Crows were the first CD in my car. I was such a huge, huge fan. So, it was quite flattering when they called. "Counting Crows took us under their wing," guitarist Drew Nichols said. "Every
night was an experience. We got to see how they react with the audience, come up with segues between tunes and how they use dynamics. Our live show is developing because of those experiences."

In the middle of the tour with the Counting Crows, after playing three straight sold-out shows at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, Graham Colton and his band had a Thursday night free and headed to the Mercury Lounge, the famous Soho club where the Strokes
had played. Representatives from all the labels came out, and Universal ended up signing the band. "We were in the middle of the tour and had generated an Internet buzz," Colton said. "We weren't looking for a record deal * we didn't feel like we needed it * but lots of kids had e-mailed us, and we weren't going to fight it. We were just going to hope for the best and team up with somebody."

After signing with Universal, a stint with the Wallflowers followed. Then John Mayer. Then Guster. For the last three years, the five-man band has remained on the road, writing songs and discovering influences new and old. The first single from the album was "Don't Give Up on Me" and the second single, "Cigarette," is due out soon.

last year, the Graham Colton Band got rave reviews after opening for Train at Redstone Arsenal. "I think we're at the stage of our careers where we're still learning how to be headliners and having a blast as openers," Colton said. "I'm 23 years old and a work
in progress. I'm learning how to live this lifestyle, and a lot of it comes through with this album."