RICH ROBINSON – “I Have Nothing But Respect For THE BLACK CROWES”
July 13, 2016, a year ago
Co-founding Black Crowes member/guitarist Rich Robinson returned last month with his fourth solo studio album overall, Flux, which offers up more of his trademark vintage/classic rock sounds, plus a few guest appearances (such as Blackberry Smoke singer/guitarist Charlie Starr). Robinson spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato shortly before the start of his solo tour in support of Flux, which will run through September in the US (dates are listed here).
BraveWords: How is Flux different or similar to your previous solo albums?
Rich Robinson: “It’s all kind of a work in progress. Every approach seems to be a little different. But there’s always little similarities, as well. On this record in particular, I didn’t go into the record with full songs. I just really wanted to use the energy of the studio to finish the record. So I had a bunch of parts and I gave myself basically a day per song to flesh it out and record it. The good thing about that is because of the sense of urgency that you have…because being in the studio is really finite, y’know, I was there for a month, but in that month, I had to write and record all the songs, sing them, and mix it. It forces you to make decisions to move quickly, and I just really loved the process - getting in there, trying things out, if it doesn’t work, if it flows, it needs a little attention. It’s a really cool process to me.”
BraveWords: I was reading one of your quotes in the album’s press release, and you said you really enjoy being in the studio, which I found interesting, because whenever I think of the Black Crowes, I always think of it primarily as a live band.
Rich Robinson: “Yeah. We liked being in the studio, but it’s definitely more of a means to get on tour. And with what I really love is that spontaneous creation that can happen in the studio. And then the cool thing is that you make these songs, and then you take them on tour, and then they grow. It’s almost like that is the seed and then as you’re on tour, they keep developing and changing into something else. It’s really cool to see that progression.”
BraveWords: Going into the studio with songs that aren’t fully completed, there’s no worry that you’ll have trouble finishing them?
Rich Robinson: “No. It’s going to be what it’s going to be. The songs dictate what the record is going to sound like, and if a song is not working, I won’t put it on the record. I’m definitely working with enough material to where I can get the record going.”
BraveWords: What are some of your favorite tracks on Flux?
Rich Robinson: “Really, I put them on the record because I like them all. I can’t really look at them like, ‘What’s favorite and what’s not.’ That’s not really how I work. Certain songs springboard into other songs, and there are songs that have what I would call ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ songs - things that I feel within the same realm, and from the sequence of the record, it’s really cool where they place. For me, the song ‘The Music That Will Lift Me’ fits in really nicely with the song called ‘Time To Leave.’ I kind of see those as ‘sibling songs,’ almost. And then you have a song called ‘Ides Of Nowhere’ and ‘Life,’ and those two fit really well together, too. It’s almost like sometimes I’ll work in tandem - write two songs at once, and say, ‘This part will work here better, and this part with these two,’ from a sequence standpoint. I really like to explore what’s going on and as I delve deeper into the songs, just listening to the record over these past months, a song will stick out and I’ll tend to go to it more. And then a month later, I’ll be into something else. And then the whole thing is when you get back on tour, they all change as well, because then some songs are really cool to play live and you look forward to doing that. It’s always an ongoing process and it’s a long relationship that I tend to have with the songs on my records in particular.”
BraveWords: I recently saw a cool video clip for the song "The Way Home."
Rich Robinson: “That was something that Dave Cobb set up [for Cobb’s compilation album, Southern Family]. Dave Cobb is a country music producer - although he’s done a bunch of stuff - and he called, explained the project, and said he had an idea for this thing, and these were the people he was involving, and he really wanted to see what I had. I happened to have this piece and I flew down to Nashville to do it. It was really cool. And he brought in the Settles Connection, which is this amazing vocal group that came in and was unbelievable. And my song melded into that. It was one of those things that was just really organic. It came out and was a really great idea. I think he had a great vision for the project and I think he accomplished it. And the video we shot around Thanksgiving in Nashville at a church. It was really cool.”
BraveWords: How was the tour with Bad Company that just wrapped up, where you filled in for Mick Ralphs?
Rich Robinson: “It was great. It was cool to be able to play with Paul [Rodgers] and Simon [Kirke], and the rest of the guys in the band, and also to tour with Joe Walsh [who was also on the bill] was amazing. It was really cool to see him, and Waddy Wachtel was playing with him. That was the first time I was able to meet Waddy - a great guy and such a great player. I grew up listening to Paul and Simon in Bad Company and Free. I mean, Free was one of my all-time favorite bands - everyone in that band was just perfect for it. It was incredibly unique, too. And to take that into Bad Company and to hear those songs that I heard every day on the radio growing up, it was a really cool, really fun thing to do. And to be able to just get in there and fill in for Mick - who wasn’t able to do this leg - everyone couldn’t have been more respectful and cool. It was great.”
BraveWords: Would you ever consider working with your brother, Chris, again?
Rich Robinson: “Yeah. If he had a huge attitude shift and everyone was cool, yeah. I have nothing but respect for the Black Crowes. That’s my music that I wrote, and that’s a huge [portion] of my work…my adult life’s work. And those songs that he and I wrote, I have a huge affinity for, and the fans. So, absolutely. But I really do love what I’m doing now, too. So yeah, I would never take that off the table, but things would have to change in order for it to happen. But right now, I’m really happy making my own records. I’m really proud of my records and I think they’re great. So I’m cool doing this, as well.”