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    Crowe's Band Breaks Up

    Russell Crowe is not a grunt anymore.

    The Oscar winner, who loves being a musician when he's not unleashing hell on the big screen, has announced his rock band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, is officially calling it quits. But the good news? Crowe's still crooning.

    "What you possibly won't be pleased about, nor understand fully until you hear this record, is that tofog would seem to have dissolved/evolved," Crowe announced in a missive on the group's Website.

    While he didn't cite a reason the sextet parted company after 13 years together, Crowe noted that the break up pales "in comparison to the joy of writing unrestricted."

    Hence, the thespian says he plans to release a solo disc sometime in the near future that will enable him to talk "from my heart and mind simultaneously about things that are important to me now, right now, in this time of my life, not when I was younger or dare I say it less world weary/wary, but now, as a 41 year old father/husband/lover/man."

    30 Odd Foot of Grunts, which formed in 1992 with Crowe on vocals and guitar, wasn't exactly a stalwart success by music industry standards.

    Despite making six albums, the rockers never caught fire with the record-buying public, never landed on the charts, nor had a hit single. In fact, their 2002 release sold an embarrassing 156 copies in its first week in stores in Great Britain.

    Such little respect didn't seem to bother the Gladiator star who said he remains dedicated to mastering and commanding a side career as a budding singer-songwriter. With his latest film, Eucalyptus, which was to have costarred Nicole Kidman, indefinitely postponed, Crowe had time to work on some new material.

    He described his forthcoming solo effort, titled My Hand/My Heart, as "fresh, revelatory and graceful." It explores a variety of subjects in the 40-year-old actor's life including "my beautiful wife, past relationships, my son, people I know, family tragedy" as well as, appropriately enough, "my contribution to the genre of drinking songs."

    "It is without doubt the most satisfying record I've ever made, and I know when you hear it you will be seduced by its beauty," he said.

    Crowe expressed disappointment with the Grunts' relationship with their label, Artemis Records, but hoped to find another company with a wide distribution net that would be willing to champion his music. To tide fans over until then, he'll release a song he cowrote with partner Alan Doyle, "Raewyn," as an iTunes single on Apr. 19.

    "It is the only song I've every written that has made both men and women cry, think, and call their parents, usually in that order," Crowe bragged.

    And for those who doubt his ability, the burly New Zealander has obtained votes of confidence from a pair of music icons.

    "I have e-mails from Sting and Billy Bragg, two of my songwriting heroes that give testament to the quiet power of the song," he added.

    In any case, Crowe stressed that "there's no master plan for world domination" (or even to open for Sting) with the songwriting. But if people like what they hear, he hinted he and his mates--who still include Grunts Dave Kelly and Stewart Kirwan--might hit the road this summer.

    "For me, music is its own reward," he wrote. "Anyone else's enjoyment of it is purely an extension of the experience I've already had as a writer. I'm not out to foist my music on anyone."

    Except maybe George Clooney, whom Crowe harshly criticized last month along with Harrison Ford and Robert De Niro for making money by appearing in foreign TV commercials.

    The Ocean's Eleven star promptly fired back, mocking Crowe's music pursuits.

    Said Clooney: "I'm glad he set us straight. Because Harrison, Bob and I were putting a band together called Grunting For 30 Feet, and that would also fall under the heading of 'bad use of celebrity.' Thanks for the heads up."

    The Clooney-Crowe fued has yet to escalate into gunfire, but if they learned anything from the Game-50 Cent tiff, they'll wait until the week Crowe's album drops.

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