Rich Robinson In a State of Flux

By Jeb Wright

Rich Robinson had been in a state of limbo with his band The Black Crowes… that is until a hiatus became a permanent vacation!  Although the band that sold over 35 million albums is no more, Rich is still vibrant and extremely creative.  While he has other expressive outlets, such as his artwork, music is his calling.  It was no surprise then that Robinson signed up with Eagle Rock Entertainment to release his solo back catalog and then get busy in the studio to write and record a new album.

Since The Crowes are no longer in a state of flux, Robinson moved on… most notably with the release of his new album, titled Flux.  More ‘jam band’ than happy-rocker, this album is a testament to both his songwriting ability and guitar prowess.  Neither skill is ultra-flashy, yet both are thoughtful and deep, leaving an impression on the listener’s soul.

Rich has created a collection of music that will beckon to his fans, as well as fans of jam bands like Phish, Dave Matthews and 1970s era Grateful Dead.  Like one would expect, Rich has done this in his own way… and his way is damn good!

Read on to discover what Robinson thinks about spending the summer as a touring guitar player for Bad Company as well as his take on vocalist Paul Rodgers.  We also discuss the new album, the state of the music industry, Facebook, alphabetization, and what it was like to share the stage with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.

Jeb: I will just begin our chat right here with the album Flux.  I have been playing this disc over and over it is not a Black Crowe’s record… it’s not even like any solo record you have done before; this is more rootsy, man.

Rich: Yeah, definitely… it’s merged into something else, which is really cool. The music that comes out always dictates where the record’s going to be.  So that’s how I always see it, while we were recording it I felt it was pretty different.

Jeb: You’ve been doing this a long time, you’re talented, and it’s your craft. You’re not going to go around saying ‘oh man this really sucks.’ At the same time, are you too close to the music to be objective, to kind of know this is pretty good stuff?

Rich: I don’t know, sometimes I can’t tell… I just enjoy the process so much that I can’t tell.  There’s always a process that I go through, as far as “This is kind of cool.” You kind of run the whole gamut, that’s how it’s always been for me.

Jeb: Was it weird playing with Bad Co? 

Rich: It’s pretty surreal. It is something that I never thought I would be doing.

Jeb: How did you get the gig?

Rich: How it came about is I met Paul and I met Cynthia [Paul’s wife] in Seattle, in November. There was an Experience Music Project tribute to Jimmy Page, so I flew out there and played with Duff McKagan, and Kim Thayil from Soundgarden. Rick Nielsen was there, as was Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains.

Everyone got up and did a couple of songs for Jimmy and then Paul came out and played a couple of Firm songs, so I learned them at sound check and played.  It was cool, and that was it.

Paul was really sweet and that was basically the extent of it.  A couple of months later, I was actually preparing for my art show in New York and I got a call.  They said that Mick [Ralphs] couldn’t do the tour.  They asked if I would be willing to fill in for a leg or two. I was like, “Yeah man, that would be really cool.”

I grew up loving Free, it was one of my all-time favorite bands. As a kid, Bad Company was everywhere, you know what I mean? They were on every possible radio station, every song. I was so familiar with those songs and it was so cool. It really put me into a place to have a total different perspective.

Jeb: I think so too, man… I’m a big fan of Paul… and before I ever knew who they were, I was a Bad Company fan like you were… and a Free fan. His vocals… he’s a testament to the work ethic. If you have the goods and treat yourself right and you do what you need to do, this level of success -as long as the body’s willing- you can go on forever.

Rich: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Jeb: There are nights when you hear him and it’s like holy shit, he might be better now!

Rich: Yeah, I mean that is what was really apparent in Seattle.

Jeb: I know Howard Leese is a big Free guy, too.

Rich: A lot of musician friends I know are way into Free.

Jeb: You obviously would have been like me with Free because we’re pretty close to the same age… those guys would have been done and gone… I mean Bad Co would have been the band around at that time and on the airwaves…

Rich: Yeah, Bad Company was current when I was growing up as I was born in ’69.

Jeb: Okay, I popped on to the scene in ’66.

Rich: Yeah, so yes, growing up I heard their songs all the time, especially “Oh Atlanta,” because living in Atlanta you couldn’t get it off the radio.

Jeb: You brought a little something to the current show.  You did it quietly, as you’re the quiet brother.

Rich: That’s just the way I am. My goal is to get out there and play the songs the best I can. This was not my thing, it’s Paul’s thing. I wanted to be as respectful as possible.

Jeb: Cool… now, the word ‘flux’ must have had meaning to title the record as that…

Rich: Yeah, absolutely.  I was 19 when I made my first record, Shake Your Money Maker. I was in that band my entire adult life. It was just a delight. I’ve now gone through a divorce and had ups and downs like losing my dad. All of these things that have culminated and now, all of a sudden, the band officially breaks up… it’s not a hiatus, we’ve broken up and all of a sudden there’s a shift, there’s some energy, there’s change, there’s all of these things.  This record really represents that and it represents this time in my life, you know that there’s change… and flux is coming, and that’s really where that came from.

Jeb: I know you got very involved with Eagle Rock Entertainment with the reissues.  Were you thinking of doing a new album too, or did that just come from diving back into that solo stuff?

Rich: No, I was always going to make a record and the other stuff kind of came after that.

Jeb: Oh, really...

Rich: Yeah, I was going to make a record. I signed with Eagle, we delivered, we got all the masters and while I was in the studio making this record is when I mixed and re-sang Paper and did all of these things.

Jeb: That was a great thing, too… I think as a solo artist. Not to get away from the new release too much… I don’t know if you got the company push like the Crowe’s got.

Rich: No, absolutely I didn’t. It’s tough, I mean, A- they were all Indie labels, they were small Indie labels and B- I’m the guitar player, as you said, the quiet guitar player in a famous band and you know that’s just how it was.

At the end of the day, you know realistically being that guy, or this quiet guitar player, I was never really up there trying to get attention… I just love playing.  A lot of times people are like who or what the hell’s going on, you know what I mean? Today, where guitar is meaning less and less, there’s a problem there. It really does make it difficult.

People aren’t exposed to that anymore, there’s a lot of rap or electronic music or this or that. So to be a guitar player is actually, I don’t know… it’s a really interesting time, but it’s a difficult time.  With that being said, it was tough, but that was the whole purpose of bringing my entire catalog under one roof and really putting it out this way and focusing, and saying ‘this is what this is’.

Jeb: Had you been collecting songs, or was this kind of…?

Rich: You know, I always write, so I’m constantly writing parts. I’m really always writing songs and parts throughout the year. When I have a collection of these things, I’m ready to make a record, and I’m like, “Hey let’s make a record.” That’s how it is.

Jeb: There’s kind of a 70’s Dead feel to some of this stuff.

Rich: Yeah, I’m sure.  That’s my thing, I love acoustic guitars mixed with piano and big drums, not unlike Led Zeppelin III.

Jeb: Oh, good point.

Rich:  And I love the tonality of those two things together… even Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, or Crosby Stills & Nash… those big acoustic guitars. You had that rhythm section that was so cool, and it was great. That was conceptually what I wanted to touch on.

Songs like ‘Everything’s All Right’ has a lot of piano, and really atmospheric things, so yeah, I was really able to delve into a lot of different things like that.

Jeb: Tell me about that song with Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr “Music That Will Lift me Up.”

Rich: Charlie and I had been friends for a long time, because they were an Atlanta based band. We knew them 20 years ago. They are really cool people.

That song I wrote on tour in Europe after my album was done… it stuck with me, and I thought it was a cool song.  I had to go in and finish a couple of vocals for my record and I’m like “Wow, fuck it, I’m just going to record this.” It was really cool to be able to flush that song out and I thought Charlie would sound great on this.

Jeb: If there is such a thing as an underrated band in this day and age, Blackberry Smoke is one of them. I just love that band.

Rich: Yeah, they’re a really good band, man… but they’re getting a lot of notoriety now.

Jeb: I’m gonna bring up a couple of tunes -just to hit you up on- that are my favorites. The first song that I just love going back to, cause I’m a guitarist, too… So this is just a real cool sounding song, is ‘Which Way Your Wind Blows’.

Rich: Yeah man, yeah… It’s kind of like, you know, a Band of Gypsy’s kind of deal.

Jeb: Uh huh.

Rich: The chorus… when it almost sounds like a Steven Tyler background thing… That’s what I was going for. When I finished that song it was great, I was way into it.

Jeb: Now you recorded this, if I’m correct, in the same place that’s all over your solo stuff, Applehead Studios.

Rich: Yeah, Applehead.

Jeb: What is it about that place?

Rich: Well, I mean… I like the people; I like Woodstock, because it’s just quiet. It’s like really quiet. I just really tap into something up there.  I really like it. It’s just very, very peaceful and for whatever reason, musically and creatively, I seem to tap into that.

Jeb: Throughout your career, does the vibe of the studio really kind of affect the performance?

Rich: Oh, absolutely. There have been studios that don’t feel right and it’s not that cool, and there have been studios that really bring you to a place where you want to feel really creative.  

Jeb: I know you’re kind of a studio nerd, right?

Rich: Yeah, yeah.

Jeb: I know Chris Bittner is your engineer on Flux, who gets the final say with regards to the mix on your solo albums?

Rich: I produce all of them.

Jeb: That’s what I thought. When you are so intimately involved with the creation and final touches, is it hard to just finish the song, and walk away from it all? Don’t you want to stick around and keep tinkering with it?

Rich: No, because to me, a lot of times there’s a finite budget and finite amount of time. I gave myself a month for the last three records. I go for a month and I record with the band for two weeks and record all the songs. I record all of the music first, to the point where everything is recorded… it’s not mixed properly yet.  It’s just a rough mix. Then the next thing I do is I sit with each song and I write lyrics and melodies according to what the music and the song pulls out of me.

Jeb: That’s cool.

Rich: And that’s what I do every record, so I take a week to do vocals and then re-mix it and that’s it. There’s urgency to having to make decisions because you don’t have time not to.

Jeb: Is there a theme to this album?

Rich: If there’s a theme to this record, it’s really about humanity. It’s really about ‘human experience’.

The humanity of it is when you go in and you have a human experience recording these things. You look back at your heroes, like Simon Kirke and Paul with Free, and you hear these songs and the discipline in “Mr. Big” or something.  There is that kick drum and Paul’s singing… man, no one sounds like that band and that’s why I like them, because they don’t sound like anyone else.

No one sounds like Jimmy Page, no one sounds like Neil Young. His vocals are incredibly unique, his guitar playing is incredibly unique and his songwriting is very unique and personal.  I celebrate my favorite artists, from the Beatles to Grizzly Bear, or whoever it is nowadays, because of their uniqueness. That uniqueness is their humanity.  There is an ebb and a flow… there’s a breath in, and a breath out… those are the human qualities. 

Once computers get involved they suck that out, they quantize everything. Now everything is perfectly in time, everything is perfectly in key, but that’s not human. When that happens everything becomes less human and therefore less desirable to me because it’s just that pursuit of perfection. It actually sucks all the perfection out of it, because for me personally, it’s really more about that human quality, it’s more about the uniqueness, it’s more about the mistake.

Jeb: Yeah.

Rich: For instance “Since I’ve Been Loving You” you get John Bonham’s kick drum and it’s squeaking away…

Jeb: ha ha ha ha ha…

Rich: People would get rid of that today, but by listening to that you hear that squeaky kick drum, and you’re transported into that studio.

I think that being such a literal society like we are now, we’re missing out on the metaphor, you know. There’s a larger picture that we’re really missing out on because the little squeaky kick drum is far more real and important.

Can you imagine like Paul McCartney holding up and taking a selfie, while making Sgt. Pepper’s? It would cheapen it. The reason Sgt. Pepper’s is what it is… the reason Pet Sounds, or fucking Sticky Fingers or the reason Exile on Main Street is what it is, is because there’s the romanticism… there’s humanity to that and we as humans we’re designed to associate with that sort of abstract concept. That brings us deeper into that experience and that seems to be what we’re missing right now.

Jeb: I have a question here now to ask that I was going to ask way back at the beginning of our talk, but I forgot… With regard to your involvement in Bad Co, everyone talks about Paul’s vocals. You got to see him as a musician and as a person. What is Paul like? He’s never tried to be ‘out there’ overtly, like a celebrity.

Rich: Yeah, he’s not trying to be, yeah absolutely.

Jeb: Because I’m kind of curious what your personal take is of him...

Rich: Oh man, I mean he still cares, you know what I mean?  He changes the set list.  He listens to the sets and says, “Oh man, we need to change this song around.” That’s someone who still cares.  That’s someone who is still out there and trying to be viable and someone out there who believes in what he is doing.

He’s not cynical about just collecting a check, he really cares and that shows. He’s doing it in the best way he knows how, he’s doing it and it’s really pretty and it’s amazing to see.

Jeb: Yeah, just to kiss your butt a little with Flux, I could say the same thing about you, man.

Rich: Well, I’m just trying to write and that’s what I’ve always done. When I was 17 I wrote “She Talks to Angels.” Did I think it was going to be that big of a song? I had no fucking idea. “Jealous Again” or “Remedy” or any of these songs, I just wrote them because that’s what I felt like writing at that time and those are the lyrics that my brother felt like writing at the time. And so as time goes on, I just write what moves me and that’s all I can do. One hopes that people like it and can connect on that human level and it’s great. I believe that that’s all one can do. For anyone to sit down and say they are going to write a hit song, to me nowadays, it means you’re going to write the shittiest song out there…

Jeb: ha ha ha ha!

Rich: It’s created to be dumbed-down and sold and bought, not unlike some Target lamp or something at Walmart, it’s the lowest of the low. It’s just for mass consumption and it’s for mass disposal.

I believe that music is more important than that. As a species, we’re so drawn to this… It’s almost immaculate that this thing that you can’t touch, you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, you can’t feel it, it seeps into your ears and can elicit such emotions, it elicits such emotions that a religion was created around it…

Jeb: Wow, yeah.

Rich: You know what I’m saying? If you think about it there’s only one medium that really exists on that, so why is it so important? Why does it mean that much? That’s what’s fascinating about music, that’s what’s always fascinated me about it.

Jeb: Oh, we’re in the same boat; we could sit down over a drink and talk about this. I’m the same way man. We’re the only animal -some whales have song and some things might howl at the moon- but we actually take other objects and make music out of it, and why? You know what I mean?

Rich: Yeah, yeah… exactly. Absolutely, and it’s in our DNA. It’s always been there, because you hear that music and you’re drawn to it, unlike any other species on earth.

Jeb: Now one song that is like what we’re talking about is called “Astral.”

Rich: To me, that’s a day in the life, lyrically.  We were in the middle of that song last year when I went on tour. I was doing like a solo acoustic tour and I took my family with me. We just rented a car, rented an SUV, we all packed it up and we drove across country a couple of times.  We just literally lived a nomadic life for that whole three or four months.  We even went into Europe and did that.

That song in particular, was about that. We’d stop at the side of the road and I’d see my son playing in the grass. That was my home for that day. That’s what that feels like because home is where your family is, you know. So that’s where that song came from.

Jeb: Another one is “Sleepwalker.” That could have led the album off man, but you stuck it on the end of this release. 

Rich: I kind of felt it was more powerful at the end from a sequencing stand point. I always view records as a whole piece. This is a piece of music that has a meaning and it’s supposed to take you on a journey. As you listen to one song and then another, you move through these places and it takes you somewhere.
Sequencing really helps you do that. The industry considers the artist that creates the contents that the industry is built upon with contempt.  Really, the industry has contempt for the musician and the artist and the person that actually creates the music, you know what I’m saying? So you look at it like this, someone takes the time to make the record, someone takes the time to record it, someone takes the time to write and bring musicians in and bring in an engineer, and someone took the time to build the board, and someone took the time to build these microphones, and all of these things all down the line. You make this record, you’re proud of it, someone does the artwork, someone writes the liner notes, you write all these lyrics, you do this, you do that… You have a manager working, you have a label behind you, the people manufacturing the vinyl, manufacturing cd’s and manufacturing all these things and everyone is working and doing these things and it’s great, and everyone is moving towards something with this creation… There are so many people involved, so many collaborations involved, and when you get to the point when you sequence your record, it means something, it’s got your stamp on it.

You stamped it and it has the songs you wrote, it has the sequence you wrote ‘cause that’s how you wanted your record to be presented with the artwork and the sequence of songs.

You send it out into the world to be sold and hopefully people will like it, so that you can try to make money, to make a living, but also so that you can connect with people.  You can be part of that experience because when you’re in a venue and you and the audience are sharing this experience… So it’s really cool, and then you put your shit up on iTunes and they alphabetize everything.

Jeb: ha ha ha ha ha ha…

Rich: And there’s no artwork.

Jeb: Wow!

Rich: It doesn’t mean shit, and you can buy one song, and who fucking cares; and so the point is, that it’s not cynical, like the creation is not cynical. It’s like going to buy a car and saying I don’t really want that tire.

Jeb: Yeah.

Rich: It is such a bazaar thing. Could you imagine going to see Star Wars in the fucking movie theatre and then iTunes decides to change the scenes?  They decide to start with the middle first.

Jeb: Exactly

Rich: And so it’s a really bizarre sort of contentious relationship that we have with musicians and music in general, nowadays.  Hopefully, eventually, people will start working at it and think about it a little bit deeper.

Jeb: Do you have hope for the future? Not for you personally, you got the crowd already… but, say if you were 19 now, it’s a whole different ball game...

Rich: Yeah, I mean I have hope and I also have fear, you know I have 5 children, I have 5 boys…

Jeb: Oh my gosh. Ha ha ha ha…

Rich: My older guys are 20 & 16, my younger are 6, 4 and 6 months old.

Jeb: Wow

Rich: My 20 year old is off in college and my 16 year old is with his mom. I worry about the lack of humanity in their lives. Everything is filtered through a computer screen. All of their social interactions, 90% of it is done on the computer and it’s a really weird thing. They’ll either sit on their phones or text each other or Facebook each other or do these things. You look at it, and you’re like, man… what about actual humans? What about being in the presence of your friends instead of sitting on your computer in your house, on Facebook, pretending to hang out? And they would even say, “Oh, we’re hanging out.”

Jeb: Yeah

Rich: And ultimately, I feel bad about that human experience that they’re missing out on. I feel bad about the sincerity and the inability to look at what sincerity may be. There’s not much that is given to them in that scenario, you know, and most of the media that they’re exposed to nowadays is a lot of the newer stuff that is really insincere trite shit, on a pop culture level.

I really do feel bad for them because I think that there’s a fraction of people that are really stepping away from humanity and I really think it’s a big deal.

Jeb: You’re getting ready to take this solo thing out on the road- let’s get positive for a few minutes…

Rich: About 10 days after I get home from this tour with Bad Company, I start rehearsals for my tour and then I jump right into it. I’ll do four weeks on the first leg.  I’ll do the Midwest and the East Coast and the South. Then I will do another three weeks in September.

Jeb: Are you doing mostly your solo material and throwing in a few tunes from The Crowes?

Rich: Yeah, I mean I do mostly my stuff and I’ll do covers and I’ll play Crowes songs, a couple of Crowes songs.

Jeb: Are you kind of a set list guy or kind of a change it up as you go?

Rich: I change it every night.

Jeb: I figured you did that. It makes it fun for the fans, but I’ll bet it makes it fun and more interesting for the musicians, too.

Rich: Yeah it does, I mean it keeps us on our toes and it’s definitely more fun… and it’s cool.

Jeb: Have you ever… this is a weird one, okay? This question just comes to me because of the way you play, and I am probably looking more at stuff like you did with the Crowes than your solo material here. I’ve always waited for you to do something solo where you just rock the fuck out, but you haven’t done it yet. Do you ever get tempted?

Rich: You mean solo?

Jeb: Yeah, well I don’t want to say more of a hard rock riffage, not like a heavy metal shred, but just really go balls to the wall… on eleven… Rich, I think you’re a better player than most people think, I’ll put it that way.

Rich: Well yeah, I was always focused on writing songs…

Jeb: Yeah.

Rich: That was my thing, and I’ve always related more to the song than to just getting up there and playing a bunch of solos.  On my solo stuff I do play a lot of guitar, and I do play a lot of solos.  People are coming around to see what I did this time out.

The Black Crowes songs are very complicated songs.  We use like 15 different tunings, a lot of like different rhythms and time signatures.  There’s a lot of movement on there and the cool thing about it is sometimes it’ll come across as a simple tune, but as you delve in, it’s pretty complicated shit.

I’ve talked to people that have joined our band and they are like, “Fuck man, I thought it was kind of easy, but this is hard.”  It’s interesting and it’s subtle and I love the subtlety of it.  I’m not just up there playing 3 chords.  There’s a lot going on and that’s where my focus is, between writing those songs, playing my part and then directing the band on stage.

That was kind of what I do, so, it’s cool to be able to get out of that and play a couple of solos with Bad Company you know, but when I do my own thing, it’s a lot of guitar playing on my part and I can stretch out and do what I need to do.

Jeb: Actually, I noticed it first on the Hendrix tour when I saw you and I was like damn… this boy can play!

Rich: That was really fun to do… how cool was that trip, and play with Billy Cox… that was really cool, and Chris Layton on drums.

Jeb: I think it’s cool that you’re a musician, but you’re not a rock star… does that make sense?

Rich: Being a rock star is not interesting to me. It would be more exhausting than anything. Having to run around and dress like a douche bag 24/7… you know, that constant craving of attention… to me it’s like playing music, I just like playing music, that’s my passion, that’s my love.

Jeb: On the solo album, how many different tunings do you use?

Rich: The solo record, this record in particular isn’t that many. There’s open F, open G, open E, dropped D and Standard, so there’s 5 tunings between 13 songs, but you know on my past albums there’s been a lot others… Open B, Open B flat, Open A, there’s Open C tuning that I’ve used a lot, and there’s an Open D7 tuning that I kind of threw in there a couple of times and just a lot of times I’ll get in there mess around and do some stuff.

Jeb: You said there were not many and then listed like five… there’s not many people, Rich, using five different tunings on an album these days.

Rich: Yeah, I guess not. I just meant for me I’ve done some records where I’ve gone pretty deep.  For me, each tuning pulls out something different, and that’s what moves me.

Jeb:  Let’s take a step outside of Flux, outside of everything… you have another side to you which I thought was cool. I really didn’t even know about it until I did a little research about you on the internet. My mom’s an artist, so that was pretty cool to see the art you’ve done.  It’s impressive.

Rich: Oh, thank you. Yeah. Umm, I’ve been doing it for about 20 some odd years and I credit Johnny Colt for getting me into it.

Johnny was the Crowes’ original bass player and at the end of Shake Your Money Maker we ended up selling seven million albums. We went on tour for 22 months and did 350 shows and came back home.

I remember we landed, and two days before Halloween we went in and made Southern Harmony immediately. Chris and I had written these songs, we actually went in for a weekend and then finalized everything, and went into the studio and made this record. It took us eight days to make Southern Harmony, ‘cause it was all pretty much live.

Jeb: That’s unbelievable.

Rich: By that time it was Christmas and we all had money for the first time in our lives and we all had gone through this experience together and we were all so close. We were like, “Well, we’ve got a lot of money so everyone buys everyone great Christmas presents.” Johnny was getting into photography, so I ordered him like a really nice camera. He knew I was into art, ‘cause when I was travelling I’d be into art books and checking them out, so he bought me an easel, about five canvases, 20 paints, you know turpenoid and a drop cloth and brushes. He was like, “There’s no excuse for you not to do this now.”

Jeb: Ha ha!

Rich: And so he bought it for me and it was such a generous gift… but it was also pretty intimidating at first. I was like, “Oh man, I don’t want to disrespect the process by sucking.” I really didn’t want to ruin the canvas by sucking. So one day I bought some paper. I was like, “I’ll try it on paper first so I don’t ruin anything.”  It was such a process that really spoke to me and it really brought peace. It can be a very peaceful process for me.

Jeb: I can imagine.

Rich: And from then on I’ve being doing it, and that was 24 years ago.

Jeb: Is it more nerve-racking displaying your guitar wares on stage in front of people, or standing there while people are examining your paintings?

Rich: Um, you know… the thing is any kind of creative expression is subjective, you know what I mean?

Jeb: Uh uh.

Rich: And so you know, I’m not a trained artist.  I taught myself how to play music and I taught myself how to paint. I paint the way I choose to paint; it’s all subjective. People are going to like it or they’re not going to like it, but I don’t need the validation of anyone to tell me I’m good or tell me I’m shitty. I don’t listen either way. It’s an expression I’m sharing with the people. If they like it, cool.
My only thing is: don’t be a dick. If you don’t like it, that’s totally cool. You can’t be forced to like something. I’ve seen some other shows, where people are like, “My five year old can do better than that.”

I remember standing in the Met and I was looking at like a Jackson Pollock and this woman was in there with her kid and she’s like, “Oh, you can probably do a better job than that.”  I’m like, wow that’s really ignorant of you, but good for you.

It’s not just about painting a pretty picture of a tree.  There’s a concept there and there’s an image there that should elicit a feeling from what you get out of seeing that shape, or that color; it’s not a literal thing. It’s the opposite of a literal thing and so that’s what that is about. You can either walk up to it and be moved by it or not be moved by it, but there’s no need to trash someone’s creation.

Jeb: I agree. So, do you miss The Crowes, the past life that was or are you cool the way it is?

Rich: Um, I mean the Crowes, it was very complicated… so the Crowes, one in particular, weren’t pleasant to be around a lot of times. It is really because of my brother that no one felt that it was a pleasant place to be… it was because of him, really.
I hate to say it, but it was hard.  There’s was a lot of anger, and a lot of bullying… a lot of weird shit that went on.

We should have been celebrating instead of fighting. How many bands are playing to as many people now, as they did 25 years ago? How many people can say they toured with AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan and Neil Young and even played with the Grateful Dead before Jerry died?

Jeb: Impressive, indeed.

Rich: The answer is: not many. And how many people can say that they were in a band for 25 years that their songs make people weep at shows? Weep of joy, or weep of sadness, or weep of connections… not many bands can say that. That’s what the rest of us never understood. Why the fuck can’t Chris see that?  Why can’t he see the positivity of that? Ultimately, it’s more of a shame for him and it’s really sad for him.  What we accomplished as a band… mark my words, we all accomplished it. It wasn’t just Chris, it wasn’t just me. It wasn’t just the two of us; it was everyone involved.

It was our Manager, it was Steve Gorman, it was Eddie Harsch, who was in our band for a long time. It was Johnny Colt and it was Stan who joined later. It was all of these people who were part of this thing to celebrate.

The music that Chris and I created… the fans came and had a huge connection with us, and had a huge love for it.  That was the biggest gift that any musician could ask for.  It was just a shame, and I feel like we kind of… all of that stuff has really bummed me out. It’s not around, and it was a great band that had great songs.

Chris is incredibly talented when he does what he’s best at, which is singing.  On the flipside, I do enjoy what I’m doing now.  I’m really proud of my records. I love the band that I’m in and there’s no drama and there’s no stress. People need to give us a shot.  They need to come see us.  They’ll hear some familiar things and they’ll hear some non-familiar things.  They need to get out of their house, though.  You have to come out and really support musicians because if you don’t, then it all goes away.

Jeb: Yup!  That’s great, I love your honesty.

Rich: Cool, man. I appreciate it.

Jeb: Final question and I’m going to hit you up with this one just because it’s selfish and I’m the guy interviewing you. So, I would have probably peed myself if I played next to Jimmy Page. I want to know what it was like jammin’ with that dude…

Rich: The Crowes got to the point where we were a really good band that knew what we were doing. One of our first tours was opening for Robert Plant.

We became really good friends with them and the Jimmy thing came about in a really organic way. It was cool. It wasn’t like Jimmy called and said he wanted to meet us. We met Jimmy, he talked about music, ‘cause Robert brought him down to the Royal Albert Hall where we were playing for three nights.

Robert brought him and Robert was cool and Jimmy was cool.  It was just great and then we talked about music and we really hit it off on that level. We began to know Jimmy and Robert, so a few years later when we went on tour with The Stones, it was right around the time that Page and Plant got back together.

In-between playing with the Stones, we would go play with Jimmy and Robert. I remember we played three nights at Wembley Stadium.  We had one show or two shows and a day off, or two shows, two days off, or something like that. On those two days off we played with Jimmy and Robert.

We were playing festivals with them, so it was like we were going between Zeppelin and the Stones, all fucking summer which was unbelievable… Through that, we became close to Jimmy and felt very comfortable with him.

When it came to being in a band with him, we just looked at it like our job was to pay as much respect to the music and be the best we can be to give Jimmy the platform he needs to be whom he is. I really think we did a great job at that.

Jeb: Oh, without a doubt, man.  Do you stay in touch with these guys?

Rich:  I talk to Jimmy every once in awhile. I spoke to Robert a few years ago, but I haven’t talked to him in awhile.

Jeb: Amazing story, man… it’s an amazing story.

Rich: Yeah, absolutely.

Jeb: And with Flux, I’ll give you the final word. The story is still continuing, that’s the cool thing… I mean, despite the business, despite the fucking society, despite it all, it’s still genuine and it’s still continuing…

Rich: Yeah, absolutely, you know, I wouldn’t do it any other way.