Interview With Rich Robinson - 15th February 2012

Photo Of Rich Robinson © Copyright Rich RobinsonKarlie cuaght up with Rich Robinson back stage at Bristol Fleece to talk about his new solo album, current tour plans and so much more.

You are due to release your new album ‘Through A Crooked Sun’ on the 26th March;
That whole 26th of March thing doesn’t make any sense, it was supposed to be out in January then they said it was February, I think it’s February 12th, I think it’s on iTunes now. I’ve heard that March number thrown around Europe. The whole point is that we were touring while the record was out. You should ask the label when it’s out.

How have you found the whole writing and recording process of the album?
All the songs are new, within the last 6 months of making the record, there’s a couple of songs that Joe and I were working on at the end of the Crowes tour, during sound check, but other than that, I just kinda got home, rested for a bit then wrote a bunch of songs and Joe and I went to make demos in Woodstock in January. It was a really pleasant very free flowing creative period.

The album is a follow up to your previous album ‘Paper’, how did you approach everything this time compared to on ‘Paper’?
I don’t really look at it as a follow up, to me it’s worlds apart. That was a long time ago, about 7 or 8 years ago, When I made that record the band had just split up, and we were really split up, people say hiatus but we had really split up. I had all these songs, I was like 33, and I was like, what do I do? This is what I had done my whole adult life. Some I had wrote for the Crowes, some I had put together for the new band. I was like, well, y’know, I don’t want to deal with finding a new singer so I just did it myself. It was a great learning process because I had never sung lead before, I always sang back up with the Crowes. I’d never written lyrics before. On the flip side, I just took a bit out of something and went and did it. But this time, it was definitely more like, I’m going to make my record, I’m going to make my album. I had a far better understanding, about what it was like to sing lead, what it was like to write lyrics, conceptual ideas, recording demos, and I brought people in I trust, like Joe, I trust immensely musically. It was definitely way more calm. There wasn’t a frantic feeling like there was the first one.

So how was your approach different to ‘Paper’?
With paper, it was a frantic necessity. It was like, I’m either not going to do anything or sing and get on with it. This record was a much more concise vision of what I wanted to do.

What themes and stories are covered within ‘Through A Crooked Sun’?
The bio kind of touched on the negative element of it. But for me it’s more of a positive element. I went through a divorce, the split up of the band, some real shit but it’s not a ‘woe is me’ victim shit. It’s more of what wasn’t touched upon in that element, the getting through of that stuff. This is a new thing. Most of the songs are ‘I got through that shit’ and this is what’s open, and there’s lots open in front of me. I think a lot of writers tend to focus on the negative shit. But I found new love, I found a real, true love, I have 2 new babies, and I’m moving forward.

What would you say your favourite songs from ‘Through a Crooked Sun’ are and why?
I like all of them. If I don’t like a song it doesn’t go on the record and I’ve always been that way. You can write a tonne of songs and maybe 3 of them are any good. Or you can try to focus on what moves you and what is going to convey your feelings the best. On all of these I felt like what wound up on the record is what really needed to be on the record, and it’s what really created the feeling of the album.

You have a lot of guests featured on the album such as Warren Haynes, John Medeski, Larry Campbell etc, how did these come about?
I’ve known Warren and Larry for a long time. We played with Bob Dillon together. Warren’s band Government Mule opened for us. That was their first big opening tour. He’s a great player. He was up in Woodstock while we were making the record. He was doing a ramble at Levon’s place. He tours with Levon from the band. I called him up, Larry had played on the last Crowes album. I called him up, and asked him, he came on by and it was just great. Larry is the coolest guy in the world. Warren was really gracious and came down and played on the record, and John is in a band called Medeski Martin Wood, the owner of the studio knew him really well and I’m like, man, I’d love to have him come down and play some stuff, so he did. It was all very easy and mellow. The guy that played the piano is a guy called Carl Burger. He’s in his seventies. He played with Ornette Coleman in the 60’s. He started this experiment Jazz workshop, people would come and play with him, it was cool.

How do you find doing your solo material compared to when you was writing and recording with The Black Crowes?
I like it. It’s a new band, we’re out having fun, It’s different, we’re out playing clubs, it’s a good experience. We’re having fun, We’re at a level where we everyone can react. I feel like we’ve leapfrogged; It’s got to a point where we understand musically what’s going to happen. It usually takes a long time for that to happen but I think we’re there now.

You are currently towards the end of a tour across the UK, how has it been?
It’s been great. We’ve been here for almost a month, We started in Norway, went to Denmark Sweden, Germany France, Holland Belgium and here. It’s been brilliant.

Have you enjoyed certain shows on the tour more than others?
Not particularly. We just like to play. Every show is an experience, every show is different.

Have you been playing your own solo material throughout the whole tour or have you included a few Black Crowes songs as well?
Nope, just my stuff.

You are heading off for a tour across America in March, how many dates will you be doing and what places will you be visiting?
We did a 7 week tour of the States in October. When we go back it’ll only be about 3 weeks, we’re going from the South, North then to the Mid-West. Joe is playing over here with his girlfriend, she’s in a Danish band called ‘Call Me Cat’ and they’re touring Europe. So he’s going to be over here for 6 weeks.

You have been in the music industry for many years, released many albums and toured the world many times over but what would you say have been your main high and low points so far?
Playing with the Stones, Jimmy Page, Neil Young, Bob Dillon, and getting to play with all the bands we idolised as kids. It’s great to be able to create music people love and get joy out of.

Can we expect to see more action from The Black Crowes in the near future?
I don’t know. I have no idea.

What’s your opinion on the whole anti piracy laws going on at the moment and how it will affect the music industry?
Everything with technology and with the world is paradox. There is no ultimate good and ultimate bad. It always comes with a price. Everything that’s shitty can come with a silver lining and everything that’s good may come with some shitty bits. As far as the anti-piracy laws in the States go, it makes sense to try. There are a lot of artists out there that are struggling and they’re putting out their music out there for it to be, well, stolen. On the flip side, it’s part of our industry now. How are you going to crack down on it now? It seems the music industry jumped on board far too late. They didn’t embrace it, they just ignored it until it got too big and now they’re pissy about it. From an older perspective, someone taking your shit, it’s weird. It wouldn’t happen in any other industry. How would you convince someone that’s never paid for music to start paying for it? I think it’s something they dropped the ball on.

Where do you hope to see yourself in a year’s time?

One last random question that we ask every band, if you could be an animal out of a zebra or Giraffe which one would you be and why?
Either or? Really? Baby or adult? Male or female? African elephant or pigmy Indonesian giraffe? There’s a crazy half animal that’s half tiger, think it’s called a Liger… I would choose to be this animal that was in Tanzania that was discovered in the late part of the 18th century, I think it was a marsupial, but they killed it all off. I think there’s been spottings. But I would be one of them.

Thanks for your time, is there a message for your fans reading this?

Rich then asked me to stop recording, made a brilliant quote, but refused to let me write it up. He thanked the fans for reading this also.

Interview by Karlie Marland

 Band Members

Rich Robinson
 Latest Releases
Rich Robinson - Through A Crooked Sun
Release Date - 26th March 2012

1. Gone Away
2. It's Not Easy
3. Lost and Found
4. I Don't Hear the Sound of You
5. Hey Fear
6. All Along the Way
7. Follow You Forever
8. Standing On the Surface of the Sun
9. Bye Bye Baby
10. Falling Again
11. Station Man
12. Fire Around
 Band Related Links
Rich Robinson Facebook