THE BLACK CROWES Want To Keep Their Music 'Honest And Pure'

May 18, 2024

In a new interview with Pierre Robert of Philadelphia's 93.3 WMMR radio station, THE BLACK CROWES singer Chris Robinson and guitarist Rich Robinson spoke about the making of their latest album, "Happiness Bastards". The LP was recorded at producer Jay Joyce's Neon Cross Studio in East Nashville in summer 2023 after they spent most of the two previous years on the road celebrating the 30th anniversary of "Shake Your Money Maker", their 1990 quintuple-platinum debut. Asked how they managed to record "Happiness Bastards" in just two and a half weeks, Rich said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Plug in and play… We had most of the forms [of the songs], but it's a band. We go in, we play."

Chris added: "There was a lot of songs that we [said], 'Try it twice as fast.' 'Okay.' 'Try it without this part.' … We're not trying to make [PINK FLOYD's] 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. We don't need to be in there for six months. We're making a real visceral kind of music. We're making a real — hopefully — a soulful and emotional connection, spontaneous and alive.

"A lot of bands today, a lot of concerts you see, they don't even play through the amps anymore. It's all digital things through the P.A.s. And that's all cool. Whatever you have to do to get what you're hearing and what you wanna say, to me, is great for other people and whatever the audience wants. But for us, we are old school. We go in there. We play on the floor. We don't play on the grid. We don't have the click tracks. It's something different and something that no matter how much sort of trouble and strife we've created for ourselves or vice versa, the one thing, I think, that we've always liked about music is that authenticity. We're good if we keep it honest and pure like that."

When Pierre noted that a lot of artists make great records but "they're so polished and so fiddled with, for lack of a better word, that sometimes the rawness and the magic of the original tune can get lost," Rich concurred. "They make it on grid," he said. "The producer makes the record and someone will record the verse on drums, and then he'll grid it and then duplicate all the verses, and then the chorus. And it's playing video games instead of allowing the band to do what they do and to play and do their thing. I mean, that's ultimately what it's about. Let the band be the band."

Chris chimed in: "We're not clever enough either to do [that]. We want feeling — we want it to feel a certain way. I mean, honestly, I think that's what THE BLACK CROWES are. You hear the way we feel. And, by the way, growing up and rock and roll and life, if the way we felt was anger, then that's what you got. If the way we felt was frustration, then that's what you [got]. Of course, we're older and we have different tools available for us and different language available for us. And we have experience to be able to learn from, and hopefully that accumulates as some sort of wisdom. And I think you hear that. I think what Rich is saying, too, it's about craft. And I'm not interested in A.I., I'm not interested in algorithms. I'm interested in expression and I'm interested in, like I said before, authenticity."

THE BLACK CROWES' first full-length LP of new material in 15 years, "Happiness Bastards" arrived on March 15 released via the band's own record label, Silver Arrow Records.

"Happiness Bastards" contains 10 tracks, including a guest appearance by Lainey Wilson, a Grammy-nominated country singer and songwriter who rose to prominence after her music was featured on the television drama "Yellowstone". She was named the 2023 CMA Entertainer Of The Year.

THE BLACK CROWES released an acoustic collection called "Croweology" in 2010. An EP, "1972" — a collection of covers — arrived in May 2022.

Joining Chris and Rich in THE BLACK CROWES' most recent touring lineup were returning bassist Sven Pipien, who played with the band live from 1997 up until the band's hiatus in 2015, along with Brian Griffin on drums, Joel Robinow on keyboards and Isaiah Mitchell on guitar.

In celebration of the culmination of their 2021-22 reunion tour, THE BLACK CROWES released "The Black Crowes: Shake Your Money Maker Live", an ode to the band reuniting and following an epic two-year anniversary tour with over 100 dates worldwide.

A deluxe reissue of "The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion" arrived on December 1, 2023. The set included previously unreleased studio recordings, rare B-sides and a live performance from 1993 at Houston's Sam Houston Coliseum.

THE BLACK CROWES' debut album, 1990's "Shake Your Money Maker", was re-released in multi-formats sets in February 2021 through UMe/American Recordings. The album, fueled by singles "Jealous Again", "Twice As Hard", "She Talks To Angels" and a cover of fellow Georgian Otis Redding's "Hard To Handle", has sold over five million copies.

Photo credit: Ross Halfin

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