Rich Robinson may have left the Black Crowes behind him, but he's teamed up with some of the same musicians to form a new band - The Magpie Salute. We caught up with Rich to find out some more about his new album and found out about his views on modern music.
PG: HI RICH, CONGRATULATIONS ON A GREAT NEW ALBUM
RR: Thank you, we had a blast making it.
PG: YOU'VE JUST PERFORMED AN ACOUSTIC SHOW IN LONDON, HOW DID THAT GO?
RR: It was great. We did five shows in Europe and the UK just to touch down in each of these markets before the record comes out and do some press. It was really cool, we played Norway, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin and London.
PG: YOU'RE ON TOUR WITH GOVERNMENT MULE IN THE US, HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THAT?
RR: We've been touring with them since June and the Avett Brothers. We did a bunch of headline shows, some festivals and a couple of shows with Blackberry Smoke. Then we took a break and did the EU shows and then we're back with Govt Mule. It's a pretty busy schedule. It's tiring, but I'm used to it now, I've been doing this for thirty years. It's kind of in my DNA. The traveling can get tiring, but its very cool and rewarding.
PG: SO, LETS TALK ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM, YOU'VE PLAYED WITH ALL THE BAND MEMBERS BEFORE, WHAT WAS IT LIKE GETTING BACK TOGETHER TO RECORD THE NEW MATERIAL?
RR: The coolest thing about it was getting back in the studio and having John play with Marc. Joe play with Sven, Matt play with Eddie. The drummer Joe was on all my solo work and John Hogg were in a band called Hookah Brown, so we'd written a bunch of songs for that band. And Mark and Sven were in the Crowes with me and in the studio multiple times. What I liked about it was all these different contexts getting together and playing and having all these inner workings. It was beautiful.
PG: YOU CAN TELL THAT YOU ALL HAVE A SYNERGY BETWEEN YOU
RR: It's very agile and that's what's cool about it. As a unit we can go anywhere. We all have different backgrounds and to have all these people show up and play is amazing.
PG: THE MAGPIE SALUTE ORIGINALLY PERFOMED AS A 10 PIECE BAND, HOW DID YOU COME TO FINALISE THE LINE UP?
RR: The core of the band was always the same. Everyone else was just filling in. I took the ten piece out last year because I looked at it as a review. It was more about including everyone. When it came to the time to be the band I went back to the core of the band.
PG: THERE'S QUITE A ROOTSY/ AMERICANA FEEL TO THE ALBUM IN PLACES. DID YOU CONSCIOUSLY WANT TO MOVE AWAY FROM A TYPICAL ROCK SOUND?
RR: I don't consciously do anything (laughs). I think that the songs dictate what the record will sound like. We recorded twenty nine songs in twenty one days, so we recorded High Water I and II at the same time. We laid all the songs on the table and decided which songs would go on the first record and the second, that's what dictated what path the record would take. I'm looking at each album as a whole piece, so when High Water II comes out it's going to make a lot of sense.
PG: DID YOU RECORD YOUR PARTS SEPERATELY OR ALL TOGETHER TO KEEP THE ENERGY FLOWING?
RR: Well we recorded the basics together, but because of the limitations of the studio – it was great but there wasn't a big tracking room – Joe and I would always record together. Sometimes it would be me Joe and Mark. The keyboards could never record at the same time and some of John's vocals were one take scratch vocals. Sister Moon in particular was what he did in one take. Most of the songs were one or two takes so that we could complete our goal of recording a song and a half a day.
PG: IT MUST HAVE BEEN CHALLANGEING TO RECORD SO MANY SONGS IN THAT TIME?
RR: If you have to do something you just have do it and if you don't have to you can waffle. You just get it done.
PG: THERE'S A BIT OF A RETRO FEEL TO THE ALBUM TOO ISN'T THERE?
I don't look at music in a time line, I look at it as the proper way to make records. People don't make records the proper way any more, they funnel everything into a computer and it sounds like shit. It sounds like there are zero human elements to it. Like they'll put the drummer into a grid and make the computer play what it thinks a drummer will play so it's perfectly in time. There's no playing going on, nobody is really killing it and there's no subtlety. So I don't think of things in time lines, I just think of it as a proper way for a band to make a record. You send a band in, they do it live, or mostly live. Sometimes we'll speed up going into a chorus. The pitch is relative, there's no such thing as perfect pitch which is why perfect pitch generated though a computer sounds so creepy. You let everything be airy and organic. That's what we're doing here, we are trying to write songs that mean something rather than these trite, meaningless pop songs that mean nothing.
PG: YOU'RE A BIG FAN OF PETER GREEN AND THE ALLMAN BROTHERS - ALL ARTISTS WHO MADE RECORDS THE TRADITIONAL WAY, THAT MUST HAVE AN IMPACT ON YOUR MUSIC?
RR: The thing about those guys was that there wasn't this massive corporate mechanism in place to just rake in cash at the expense of artists and people. There was a genuine reverence for artists and the platform. People would go to shows and have absolute respect for what the musicians were doing and the songs they were writing. People talk about playlists and Spotify and all this horse shit. There's a reason why AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd out sell pretty much everyone every year. There's a reason why people constantly go back to buy those records. Why is that? Did anyone really ask that question? They [record companies] keep putting out the lowest common denominator stuff that is just low hanging fruit. But the records that keep selling are the ones that actually mean something.
PG: MARY THE GYPSY TALKS ABOUT HAVING A POP AT THE CORPORATES, YOU DO LOSE SOMETHING WHEN PEOPLE WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND MUSIC TRY AND TELL MUSICIANS WHAT TO DO.
RR: Exactly. It's cynical. It's like some crappy toaster that is made out of plastic and will break, it's a hassle to take it back so you throw it away and buy another one. It's that kind of mentality. If you give music and creativity the impermanence that you do these products, it loses its importance.