Six months into the Black Crowes hiatus, guitarist Rich Robinson is rehearsing regularly with a new group of players in his New York loft and says he no longer sets aside new songs for the Crowes. "I'm pretty sure they're going to sound similar, because I wrote all the songs for the band, but I also can branch out and do things we might not have done, more poppy things," he says. "Maybe if I have a different drummer or a different keyboard player or something like that, it will have a different flavor. I've been singing on the demos and writing lyrics, but I'm going back and forth as to whether I want to get a singer or not."
Robinson is also in the formative stages of a project with the Los Angeles Philharmonic that Disney hopes will eventually debut at the opening of a planned symphonic hall in downtown L.A. "It just stemmed from a curiosity of something I wanted to hear," he says. "I wanted to hear what a western symphony proper from Mozart, Beethoven, Bach -- something recognizable to the lay person -- sounded like established by the L.A. Philharmonic. And then fade into a world music orchestra playing instruments that weren't created for this thing -- like a chorus of digeridoos -- and try to match them as closely as you can to a tone. And have this underlying digeridoo with a sitar playing the melody."
New songs, digeridoos and the hiatus aside, Crowes news still abounds. The two-CD The Black Crows Live, which Robinson says captures one of the band's best tours in its volatile career, will be released on August 20th. "For the first time, our whole headlining tour last fall was really us working together as a band," he says. "I think it takes time. The new guys come in and the other four of us have played 2,000 shows together, so it's not fair to them. They have to hear all the nuances. We're horrible communicators, no one ever talks in our band, but we do musically and so it's hard to come in and pick up. That's only something you get by playing live."
Despite Robinson's projects and his brother, singer Chris' solo debut New Earth Mud scheduled for release in September, the Black Crowes break is still open-ended. "I think towards the end it was just so fuckin' miserable," he says. "Everyone was fighting, especially me and Chris and then Chris and Steve [drummer Gorman]. It's just not fun anymore and that's why we said, 'Look we're not going to do anything, we're not going to break up. We're going to see what we're going to do and see where it takes us and we'll always leave the door open and maybe get back and maybe we never will.' That's where we left it. I really want everyone to get along and everyone to be cool and do their thing. I just want it to be a lot easier."
The Black Crows Live track listing:
Midnight From the Inside Out
Thick and Thin
Greasy Grass River
Miracle to Me
Girl From a Pawnshop
Black Moon Creeping
Hi Head Blues
She Talks to Angels
Twice As Hard
Hard to Handle
Chris Robinson tour dates:
8/15: Seattle, Showbox
8/17: San Francisco, Bimbo's 365 Club
8/18: Santa Cruz, CA, The Catalyst
8/19: Los Angeles, El Rey Theater
8/21: Salt Lake City, X-Scape
8/22: Boulder, CO, Boulder Theater
8/24: Minneapolis, Quest Club
8/25: Chicago, Park West
8/27: Detroit, St. Andrews Hall
8/28: Toronto, Phoenix Concert Theater