Music

CANADIAN PRODUCER AVIRA REIMAGINES LIVE’S 1994 HIT ‘LIGHTNING CRASHES’

In the past few years, AVIRA has built quite the reputation when it comes to remixing classic songs. Having already put his hand to The Alan Parsons Project’s ‘Sirius’ (with Armin van Buuren) as well as timeless dance tracks such as ‘Communication’ (by Armin van Buuren), ‘Silence’ (by Delerium), ‘Strange World’ by (M.I.K.E. Push) and ‘Saltwater’ (by Chicane), the Canadian DJ and producer has now joined forces with multi-platinum rock band LIVE for an incredible reimagining of their self-written 1994 smash hit ‘Lightning Crashes’.

Listen to LIVE x AVIRA – Lightning Crashes

Marking the multi-platinum band’s biggest single (#1 at Modern Rock radio for ten consecutive weeks) and one of the most acclaimed songs of the modern rock era, ‘Lightning Crashes’ has now been pushed into an electronic dimension. With subtle chord plucks, droning bass, freshly recorded vocals (by LIVE’s lead singer Ed Kowalczyk) and lyrics that narrate the circle of life, this brilliant take on the globally beloved rock classic will resonate with listeners across genres and stylistic preference.

“When I was growing up in Toronto, I always felt like dance music had a bad reputation”, AVIRA reminisces (please see a full Q&A below with both AVIRA and LIVE’s Ed Kowalczyk). “I knew that only small circles were into it, but almost everyone listened to rock, hip-hop and Top 40. ‘Lightning Crashes’ is one of those records that is universally understood as a masterpiece, and I immediately saw the opportunity to bring that legendary rock radio sound to the dance space, hopefully opening the eyes of many to dance music!”

“I had been getting inspired and actually talked about working or wanting to do some experimenting in the EDM/trance space when this email and scratch demo from AVIRA came in”Ed Kowalczyk says. “I was excited to hear it because of the synchronicity of how it unfolded for me personally, and my excitement only grew after I popped it up on the speakers! My initial thought was how protective AVIRA’s version was of the original; I could tell he really cared about the song and wasn’t just throwing a beat to it. My second thought was for the minimalistic but super-powerful counter melodies he composed that felt like emotional and spiritual exclamation points on my lyrics. As good as the original version is for its raw energy and rock-and-roll vitality, AVIRA’s production and its sophisticated, modern and soulful depth immediately felt like the next chapter for the song to me.”

“Ed’s performance on this new recording sent chills down my spine”AVIRA adds. “I wanted to make this feel like an epic homage to LIVE’s original and show a new generation of listeners what dance music can be all about. I’m forever grateful that Ed was involved in making my dreams come true.”

About +LIVE+

+LIVE+, the multi-platinum band from Pennsylvania–Ed Kowalczyk (vocals, guitar), Chad Taylor (guitar, backing vocals), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass) and Chad Gracey (drums, percussion)–have sold over 22 million albums worldwide and earned two number one albums (‘Throwing Copper’, ‘Secret Samadhi’). Their catalog is filled with such gems as ‘Lightning Crashes,’ ‘I Alone,’ ‘All Over You,’ and ‘Lakini’s Juice,’ which live on today as classics on rock radio. ‘Throwing Copper’—which the band celebrated in 2019 with a new deluxe 25th anniversary edition via Radioactive/Geffen/Ume along with a global tour across major festivals, amphitheaters and arenas–produced the band’s biggest single, ‘Lightning Crashes,’ which was #1 at Modern Rock radio for ten consecutive weeks. ‘Throwing Copper’ reached #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and eventually surpassed sales of 10 million albums sold, with Rolling Stone honoring the album with placement on their list, “1994: The 40 Best Records From Mainstream Alternative’s Greatest Year.” ‘Secret Samadhi’ (1997) immediately shot to #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and eventually went double platinum. The release of the platinum-selling ‘The Distance to Here’ (1999) turned +LIVE+ into an international powerhouse and moved the band from arenas into stadiums. +LIVE+ has been and remains today a global concert juggernaut. The band released an acclaimed five-song EP in 2018–LOCAL 717, their first new music in over a decade– and will be recording new music soon.

Ed Kowalcyzk + AVIRA Q&A – ‘Lightning Crashes’

ED

As the writer and singer of ‘Lightning Crashes,’ certainly one of the biggest songs of the alternative rock era, what were your initial thoughts when you heard that AVIRA created an electro remix of the song? 

I had been getting inspired and actually talked about working or wanting to do some experimenting in the EDM/trance space when this email and scratch demo from AVIRA came in. I was excited to hear it because of the synchronicity of how it unfolded for me personally, and my excitement only grew after I popped it up on the speakers! My initial thought was how protective AVIRA’s version was of the original; I could tell he really cared about the song and wasn’t just throwing a beat to it. My second thought was for the minimalistic but super-powerful counter melodies he composed that felt like emotional and spiritual exclamation points on my lyrics. As good as the original version is for its raw energy and rock-and-roll vitality, AVIRA’s production and its sophisticated, modern and soulful depth immediately felt like the next chapter for the song to me.

What inspired you to actually go into the studio and re-record the song for this new version? 

When I first heard AVIRA’s demo, he used the original vocal as a scratch to give me the idea of his direction.  It was understood that I would need to record a new lead vocal as the old one wouldn’t work for technical reasons.  It had been four years since I had been in a recording booth to sing anything let alone recreate my most famous vocal performance of a song that I wrote almost thirty years ago!  I had to step up!

Can you tell us what it was like to re-record the song for another musical genre and any challenges this may have posed for you? 

What struck me immediately as I got up to the mic to sing this new version, was how natural it felt to sing it, even at a totally different tempo.  I’m gonna say it; it was just easy…so wonderfully easy.  The vocal flowed out of me like no time had passed at all since I first uttered the lyrics to myself over an acoustic guitar all those years ago.  I had so much fun singing it again but did I get it right? Would it hold up to the original that so many people have heard and loved all this time?  After one of the takes, I got my answer when I overheard our producer, Ken Lewis, lean into his colleague Brent Kolatalo and whisper “I love my job.”

What are your thoughts about the finished version of the track?

The finished version of the track is just totally beautiful on every level.  Everyone who worked on this are high caliber pros who care deeply about music.  I was honored to be a part of it. 

“Lighting Crashes” is definitely one of LIVE’s signature songs and certainly a highlight of the band’s LIVE show. Why do you think this song initially resonated with audiences and why does it still have power when you sing it onstage? 

“Lightning Crashes” achieves that alchemy of lyric and melody that allows a particular idea to find resonance at a deeper level than usual.  To me, the lyric confronts what the melody, in turn, accepts and celebrates.  In other words, it has it all.

AVIRA:

What is it about the song “Lighting Crashes” that inspired you to do an electronic remix of it? 

When I was growing up in Toronto, I always felt like dance music had a bad reputation I knew that only small circles were into it, but almost everyone listened to rock, hip-hop and Top 40. ‘Lightning Crashes’ is one of those records that is universally understood as a masterpiece, and I immediately saw the opportunity to bring that legendary rock radio sound to the dance space, hopefully opening the eyes of many to dance music!

How did you react when you learned that ED liked the remix so much that he wanted to record new vocals for it?

I was honestly blown away by Ed’s response. Having the approval and involvement of someone like Ed gives me hope that I’m not crazy, that maybe the gap between rock and dance can be bridged in 2022.

Can you talk about how you feel ED’s new vocals kick this remix up to a whole other level? 

Ed’s performance on this new recording sent chills down my spine. I wanted to make this feel like an epic homage to LIVE’s original and show a new generation of listeners what dance music can be all about. I’m forever grateful that Ed was involved in making my dreams come true.

Was there a particular challenge in taking an alternative-rock song like “Lighting Crashes” into a completely different genre?

I think the pressure I put on myself to pay huge respect to LIVE and entice new listeners was my biggest hurdle. I didn’t allow myself to second guess what I’m doing, instead focusing on doing what came naturally.

Growing up, did you have a particular connection to “Lighting Crashes” and have you seen LIVE perform it in concert? 

Being a 90’s kid, I’d always rummage through my brother and sister’s tapes and CDs. One day I came across ‘Throwing Copper’ and to be honest it was the crazy artwork that made me pop it in! For what seemed like forever I was obsessed with it. I grew up in Egypt, where rock wasn’t really too popular, so it was quickly forgotten. Fast forward to now, one of my best friends (A&R executive Tanner Wilfong, who grew up in PA) mentioned the song to me and we both had a meltdown talking about our memories with it. Since that moment, we’ve been obsessed and that’s how this whole thing started.