With the Crowes rising into the upper echelon of American rock 'n' roll, is it surreal to have kids and other drummers look to your style as an influence?
I'm aware of that, but the truth is that's something I'm not going to spend a lot of time thinking about.
A humbling feeling, perhaps?
Totally humbling. As a musician, all you can ever hope is you inspire more people. When a kid comes up to me and says I'm his favorite drummer, there is nothing anyone is going to tell me about The Black Crowes that will make me happier. This isn't some kid that wants to play Rock Band, he wants to sit down and play the drums. Yes, those things are great, but I don't spend that much time thinking about it. I didn't become "that" because I felt that about it.
And that humble nature is what I have enjoyed about it. You don't hold the listener at arm's length. It's a very embracing band.
You know, we are really impatient people. We can be moody and snobby. But, in the big picture, where we are at, we don't think about what the fans want from us, because we assume what they want is for us to keep being us. But, on a personal level, nobody is star-tripping out here, no one ever has been. On the first record, as things started to progress, we sold so many copies. We weren't the bands moving to LA and working the malls. We literally were the guys on the bus, listening to Led Zeppelin bootlegs, going "man, check that out." We always thought we have a long way to go. And, I'm not a jazz drummer on any level. I will never even attempt it. It's a different instrument from what I play, in my mind. But, we were the geeks who would sit around and listen to Miles Davis albums. Not when other people were around, but when it was just us, on the bus. We just were always inspired and always chasing the greats, trying to be the kind of band that can interact and communicate with each other onstage the way those artists could.
When you're behind the kit, during the show, when the band is hitting their stride, where do you go to in your mind?
It's hard to say, because when the show's done, it goes out of my mind immediately. You know, on a good night, it's the feeling of almost like floating. You are present and in the moment. I know when something happens, in the middle of the song, when you might be hit be a coin or a bottle cap or lighter or t-shirt, it can feel like you've been snapped out of a trance. It can clearly be jarring. You find yourself in a state of complete focus and complete relaxation at the same time. And, it's not because of what I'm playing, it's listening to what everybody else is doing and we'll hit these strides. We can all feel it. A lot of the things most exciting to us, the audience might not immediately get it. They're hearing a song they like, and they're happy, but there are things within that, this look will go through the band like, "Man, check this out, where are we right now?" Those moments, they are the best. But you can't think about it either, because of the momentum. In the old days, we would try to steer it, now we try to hold on for dear life.
"Wiser Time" is a song that resonates deeply within me. It's a staple of The Black Crowes catalogue and a melody that only seems to get better with age. Ironically, it seems, the lyrics apply more and more to the group as time passes. What does that song conjure within the band? How did it come about?
It means a lot to me now. I don't think your wrong with that sentiment. It's obvious when we play it now. That's a song that when it kicks in, there's always this feeling in the audience. That's a song that has worn the years well. I think it's a much bigger deal now than in 1994, when that record came out. I don't have any specific memories of putting it together other than it was the first song I ever played a cowbell on. I was just messing around with some different beats and patterns. I didn't know what I was trying to get to. I had something else in mind. And Chris looked at me and said, "Wait, wait, what is that?" He looked at Rich and said, "Put those changes you were doing over that." We completely pasted that whole thing together in five minutes.
If you were never to play together after this tour, is this the creative peak of the band?
I would like to think that people see it as that. One of the biggest reasons I came back in 2005 was because I couldn't stand the way it ended before. I didn't think we had another big future ahead of us. I just wanted to come back and straighten up the mess we left behind. I didn't like the record we had put out at the end. It was a chance to come in and sweep us the mess. If you had told me in 2005 that this was going to be a three album burst in three straight years, at the end of a six year run, I wouldn't have believed you at all. I would have thought you were nuts.
What's the legacy of the Black Crowes?
That's your job, man. I don't have to think about it this time. We're just doing what we do and everybody else can worry about those things.
So, let the music speak for itself?
Absolutely. We didn't change other things, we just kept doing what we're doing. That was simply the focus. We lost track of some stuff and we got it back. The key is not to lose it again.