Last year when I asked rock legend Eric Burdon (The Animals) what turning 69 meant to him‚ he said‚ "It means I'll be turning 70 soon‚ which means that I don't really give a damn about much anymore. There's a great thing about turning 70 and it's that you don't have to pretend to care about things you don't care about anymore."
At 42‚ it seems Rich Robinson has already gotten a head start on this sound advice.
Guitarist and founding member of The Black Crowes‚ Robinson‚ like his band‚ is an ever-evolving character and perpetual force in rock 'n' roll--with proven longevity. Though his actions onstage may seem subtle to some‚ surrounded by the likes of his brother Chris and six-string ace Luther Dickinson‚ he remains a constant flow of curiosity and creativity.
With his sophomore outing‚ Through A Crooked Sun (Circle Sound/Thirty Tigers)‚ he sheds the layers of his past and delivers a striking album filled with honesty‚ passion and a sense of clarity‚ something the Crowes have always represented and presented to the listener.
Robinson recently spoke of the changes in his life that sparked this project‚ how he's truly in love for the first time and why humanity should just stop worrying and put their faith in the cosmos.
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Garret K. Woodward: I was surprised you put out a solo record. After the last five years of being constantly on the road and in the studio with the Crowes‚ putting your nose to the grindstone‚ I figured you'd want to take a break.
Rich Robinson: Well‚ I make music and that's what I do. That's what I've done for 21 years now. Sometimes you kind of feel this shift in your life and you get to lay down in whatever creative medium you work in and for me that's music. I recently got married and have two babies and having all these different takes on life. It makes you want to get in there and have this great expression. With this record‚ I got in there and felt such a flow and it came in such a positive way. I really couldn't be happier with it.
Yeah‚ I really enjoyed it. And with it‚ you use‚ in your songs and titles‚ words like "gone"‚ "away" and "lost". Are those words you're using in hindsight or are they still part of your life now?
"Gone Away" is about things that have brought me to this point in time and how priorities shifts and what's really meaningful in life and how all that other shit is gone away.
So‚ do you see a rebirth in your 40s now?
Yeah‚ I guess so. Maybe more of a shift. The world is changing so much and it seems like time and money is fast and we have this merging of the digital world and the natural world. The old way is kind of going and a lot of people keep holding onto the old way‚ which is about money and power and all sorts of bullshit that doesn't really work. If you look at the financial crisis‚ it shows that the old way doesn't work and you need to think about something new. At least for me‚ I can see it in the world‚ in personal relationships‚ on a local level‚ on a world level. I see it and I put it into my songs. "Lost and Found" is about the tide turning‚ things shifting in my life and meeting a new love and actually being in love for the first time and what that all means. Things to that effect and how that positively is really more effective by letting go of the past‚ letting go of all the bullshit.
You can feel that energy everywhere you go these days. Something's coming.
I think there is positivity and I think the negativity is because these people are freaking out and are scared shitless. People are losing control of this new world that's coming and they want to hold onto it. It's a pretty interesting time and it's a pretty volatile time. It's kind of like putting your trust in the universe and being like‚ "Hey man." So‚ when you realize you have no control and you let go of it‚ you move forward. For me‚ personally‚ to be able to let go‚ and I'm not saying I'm perfect‚ but the more I let go‚ the more my creativity comes back.
So you see humor in everyday life then?
For me‚ the song that really stood out was "I Don't Hear the Sound of You." There was something about how it starts out as this one thing and then just dissolves into this feedback‚ this organized chaos‚ then just drifts into this melodic abyss.
I had this idea for this pop song and with that I wanted the first half to be really poppy‚ hooky and short. It's about love. It's about this sound that everyone has in life and people are drawn to what they love the most and I love music and these sounds that come my way. I wrote this song thinking about touring and traveling and I don't hear that sound of you but when I see you it comes back and I'm never going to let that go‚ I'm going to keep it with me. It starts with the acoustic and then background vocals into the chaos‚ into this real peaceful kind of musical interlude that comes in. To me‚ that represents bliss.
Yeah‚ when I put it on I was driving around during this sunset and that feedback popped on‚ then into the interlude and I started drifting off into my thoughts‚ started to relax and let my mind wander.
That's what's cool is you go through this static and you're going along‚ plotting along in life and things are cool when you're young and everything is happy‚ everything is a pop song. Then‚ you hit this point in your life where the static comes‚ the shit comes‚ things start coming at you that are confusing. Once you get through it‚ once you accept it‚ you move through it and that's what I felt was the juxtaposition in the album.
What I also took away from it was how "human" the record was‚ in that you are a respected guitarist and a member of The Black Crowes and people do put you on this pedestal‚ but with this you realize you are just a human like the rest of us‚ you have bills and a wife and kids waiting at home‚ just that you're a touring musician to make your living.