Rich Robinson

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Black Crowes founder Rich Robinson chronicles his personal life on new CD

:: Rich Robinson ::
:: Twist and Shout :: November 4 (6pm) ::
:: Soiled Dove Underground ::
:: November 4 ::

By Brian F. Johnson

 

Rich Robinson’s last album Paper ended with the song “It’s Over” and a line about “traveling out of my safety balloon.” And his newest album Through A Crooked Sun, which was released just last month, starts with the song “Gone Away” and the lyric “I fell the distance of the deepest canyon drop.”

Simply put, the man has traversed some miles — figuratively and literally. The Black Crowes guitarist and songwriter seemingly had it all early in his life: wealth, a beautiful wife, a nice home — and in the blink of an eye it was all gone. A nasty divorce eliminated the wife and most of the wealth, and later on, his home; was foreclosed upon. The man, who as a kid was given a record contract and multi-platinum record sales, was broke.

Robinson’s been digging out of that mess for some time now. He’s re-married and has one child and another on the way with his new wife, and Through A Crooked Sun serves as autobiographical chronicling of his hard times, and his dedication to leave it behind and move forward with the new riches he has had bestowed upon him.

“Over the last 20 years there’s been a lot of ups and downs, of positives and negatives, of gains and losses,” Robinson said in a recent interview with The Marquee. “It’s part of life and one could say that the more you live, the more shit happens — positive and negative. Everything is a learning experience and if you can learn from it, it becomes a great asset.”

The new album is highly personal — possibly some of the most personal material that Robinson has ever penned. One such example is the album’s lead single “Hey Fear,” with the poignant lyric many can relate to: “Hey there fear, you’ve been there for me. A familiar voice, in a raging sea.”

Another track, “Bye Bye Baby,” according to Robinson, refers to his life lived backwards. In a tell-all press release that came with the new album, Robinson said, “I had everything people work hard for at age 20, and now in my early 40s, in a lot of ways, I’m starting over, like someone in their early 20s.”

Robinson expanded on that concept in our interview, saying, “These songs definitely dive into the shitty things that happened, but they kind of leave it at the end. It’s a lot to go through, these sorts of things that happen in everyday life, and to try to get through that has definitely been a cathartic process, but there’s also a positivity that comes from finding a new love and having new kids and starting a new life the right way. You know, I found this person that I love more than anything and I’m moving forward instead of always looking backwards.”

The fact that all of this personal growth came just when The Black Crowes were getting set to take a break only helps Robinson to be able to express these feelings. He explained that in the Crowes, he’s usually focused on writing material for his brother, Crowes lead vocalist Chris, to sing to. “In the Crowes, my expression has always been the music and that’s very much an esoteric expression, and not plugged right into your frontal consciousness. It always comes from this subconscious place. So this has definitely brought me to a place where I can express who I am, maybe more than I ever have,” he said.

Helping Robinson to get this material across are musicians Joe Magistro on drums (who toured with the Crowes for the past year as their percussionist) and Particle keyboardist Steve Molitz. While Robinson sings and handles guitar and bass duties on the album, for the tour, the band will also include Nashville bassist Brian Allen. Robinson said that Allen had all of two days notice to learn the material, “but he came out and he just fucking nailed it.”

Additionally, the album sees two special guests lend their talents. Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes plays slide on “Bye Bye Baby” and multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, who has also worked with the Crowes in the past, plays pedal steel on two tracks.

Robinson said that he’s excited to be playing back in smaller venues for this tour, but said that it’s not exactly the rigors of the road that some folks have to deal with. “I still have a big, nice tour bus,” he laughed. “But it’s good to be in an intimate setting again. It’s easy to separate the ‘I’m not The Black Crowes.’ That’s something else. If people come and see me it’s wonderful and I’m fortunate. That’s how I look at it.”

Rich’s brother Chris, who last month told The Marquee in a separate interview that “I refuse to not tell you what I think,” gets a lot of attention for his outspokenness and kind of guru-type ways, and like Rich explained, Chris is in that position to be more outspoken as the lyric writer for the group. But speak with Rich Robinson for a few minutes and it’s clear that he may be even more tapped into the writings of the philosophers of our time than his brother. When I mentioned that he seems to be out-guruing the guru, Robinson almost shyly laughed before adding, “Well, you know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Everyone is trying to get by and I’m trying to find peace and happiness and kind of see what’s important in life.”

:: Rich Robinson ::

:: Twist and Shout :: November 4 (6pm) ::

:: Soiled Dove Underground ::

:: November 4 ::

 

Recommended if you Like:

• The Black Crowes

• Warren Haynes

• Buffalo Killers

 

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