Chris Robinson on New Radio Show, Why Black Crowes Will Never Play Again
Chris Robinson has always been a heavy record-crate digger, reviving cuts by acts from the Band to Buck Owens in concert during his years with the Black Crowes and listening to vinyl compulsively on the road with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. The singer will mine his record collection with a focus on psychedelia for his new radio show, Chris Robinson’s Gurus Galore, to air on Sirius XM’s Jam On channel beginning Monday, April 4th, at 5 p.m. ET.
Robinson has ramped up work with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood since the Black Crowes completed what they say was their final tour in 2013. His brother Rich wrote a note last year announcing their breakup, with a series of accusations against his brother. “I love my brother and respect his talent, but his present demand that I must give up my equal share of the band, and that our drummer for 28 years and original partner, Steve Gorman, relinquish 100% of his share, reducing him to a salaried employee, is not something I could agree to,” Rich Robinson wrote.
Here, Chris Robinson responds to those allegations, and explains why the Crowes will never play again. “It’s just gross now,” he says. “I think everyone’s laid down their cards. If you’re a child and you’ve been hurt and someone took your toy, you have a temper tantrum, you know? You’re allowed to just want the money. You’re allowed to just want to be in that kind of band where you go out and play your hits and you don’t have anything else to say or offer anyone. In the same way, I’m allowed to not want to be a part of that.” He also discusses his passion for playing with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and how psychedelic drugs affected his music.
What’s it been like to become a radio DJ?
We’ve taped the first six episodes. The show’s called Gurus Galore, which is an extension of when I was living in New York — the last time I was living in New York, a few years ago, must’ve been eight years ago, when my wife and I had kept her apartment before I made her a permanent Californian. We used to DJ a lot. My friend Michael Klausman, from Other Music, here in New York — we used to DJ a lot of parties, and stuff, and we were called Gurus Galore.
I kind of kept that moniker. I’m an obsessive music fan. I listen to a lot of stuff that’s probably not played on the radio too much, as well. The last time I was there a few months ago, I had the opportunity to do, like, a guest DJ thing, and I was like, “Dude, why don’t I have my own radio show?” So that’s kind of how it got started. And you know, my initial idea was, I really liked the idea of those old, like, FM late-night DJ’s, someone that would come on once a week and play you, not just the Who, not just, you know, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Not just the the stuff that you constantly hear on AM or rock radio. Longer tracks, and then for me, like, again, I can get into New Age music. I can play BBC Radiophonic Workshop stuff. But I can also play obscure psych bands. And if I want, I can play Syd Barrett. I can play Skip Spence. I can play Gabor Szabo. I can play, you know, really, he said, “Whatever you want, whatever you feel like that sort of set would be,” or whatever. So, super exciting, you know? And for me, you know, if I can be a miniature Johnny Hempseed for psychedelic music, then so be it.
If you had to pick a couple of your favorite psychedelic records, what would they be?
I can’t even imagine what life would have been like if I hadn’t got The Madcap Laughs in 1986, or whatever. And I would say, probably “Dark Star” from Live/Dead is a quintessential LSD recording. I’m a huge Deadhead and there’s millions of better versions, people can argue, but this is a record that came out that was blowing minds, you know?
I would say, too, if I had to put something on the very top of the list though, I would probably say Gong, Daevid Allen’s Gong, and their record Angel’s Egg is an incredible dose of psychedelic genius. You can also throw anything that George Clinton did from 1970 to about 1978. Parliament/Funkadelic. The one thing about George that’s always been important to me, and our music and his influence on me, is he’s really one of the only R&B or black artists whose, you know… LSD really changed the game for them.
How do you define psychedelic music?
Well, psychedelic usually for me is music and people and the culture that revolves around the creative process being involved with psychedelic drugs. It’s not a haircut; it’s not a lot of reverb on your guitar, or whatever. I don’t think it’s just about the psychedelic, sort of infusion-driven experience, although that’s the basis of it. I think that’s that’s the catalyst for all this other sort of progressive and positive stuff. Again, it’s a doorway to enter through, and you leave behind a lot of the same old stuff, a lot of the same old dimensional realities that everyone’s involved with. The other thing about real psychedelic music, to me, is a lot of people wanted to make music and create beautiful things. It didn’t necessarily have anything to do with being “driven rock stars.” Not everyone was going to be Pink Floyd, you know what I mean? It was expression for expression’s sake, as opposed to, you know, kind of manipulating who you are and what you have to say.