RUSHONROCK: Can you take us through the recording process of The Ceaseless Sight?
RICH ROBINSON: We went up to the recording studio for about a month. The way I record these records is it’s just my drummer and me. We’ll lay the guitar down and then dub the bass. Then we’ll add any percussion and whatever else we need. There are a couple of acoustic things that we did. But it’s only after we finish the songs that we write the lyrics. I wanted the music to be first – for my solo albums that’s always the way I’ve worked. For the Crowes the lyrics were never my focus but of course it’s different with this record. I also like to be inspired by what I’ve heard in order to write the right words. I always try to write mainly on the acoustic guitar and so that’s where we start. Taking One Road Hill as an example – I’d written it on this little old guitar and I had a special thing in mind. As we were recording in Woodstock Amy Helm was working right next door and I asked her to sing the melody. She knew instantly what I was talking about and for that song it was the perfect way to wrap it up. It was the same with The Unfortunate Show – Katrine Ottosen is my drummer’s girlfriend and she added a really unusual vocal to that song which just finished it off perfectly.
RUSHONROCK: With two critically acclaimed solo albums in two years under your belt now is this the direction you’ll be going in long term?
RR: I like to write songs and I like to make music. With the Crowes who knows what the hell is going on with that? My solo work is much more creatively fulfilling – I don’t have any baggage to deal with. But I like the Crowes and I like that sound – that’s been my body of work for 25 years. But with that band things get in the way due to different personalities and it becomes a bit of a pain in the ass. I’m just happy to be able to have this outlet in order to release my music. And with this project I really look forward to getting out touring.
RUSHONROCK: Do feel a greater pressure and/or responsibility touring as a solo artists rather than as part of another band?
RR: To me this is a band. Joe [Magistro, drums] and I have played together since 2003 and it’s got to the point where we almost finish each other’s music. I know what he’s going to do and vice versa. The other guys that we’ve brought on board are perfect for what we’re trying to do. One’s from Atlanta and one’s from Birmingham, Alabama. Musically and geographically they’ve come from the same place as we have and it’s a nice fit. This band is a really cool place to be right now. And it is a band, despite the name. I did think hard about the band name and I’m not entirely comfortable about my name being out there. It’s not a big deal but it made sense.
RUSHONROCK: Do you feel the American music scene is healthy right now despite what Gene Simmons says about rock being dead?
RR: Gene Simmons is like a heavy Taylor Swift and always has been. Who really gives a shit about that? I prefer to look at someone like Tom Petty – he’s still making great records. Take a new band like RivalSons – they’re really cool and their singer is great! There are a lot of great bands touring the US right now. Blackberry Smoke are good friends of mine and they’re great people and it’s a great band. I think it’s more important now than it ever has been to get out there and pay live because people need to see what you really have to offer.
RUSHONROCK: Is music still relevant to the masses?
RR: I think pop music has been dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. There’s nothing that’s authentic any more and pop is the worst of the worst where new music is concerned. Music and life are a bit more serious than shopping or whatever these people are singing about. I live a human experience and a human experience is far more interesting than what these people are singing about. Listen to Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin and think about how the music makes you feel. Or consider The Who – Tommy or Quadrophenia. What they did was bring the human concept into their shows and their music moved us. They showed that different people take a different angle on life and that’s surely what art, music and literature should be all about? It’s supposed to make us strive for something greater than what we are. Compare that with the shit that’s going on in pop music today. I take music very seriously indeed. It’s shaped my view of humanity and it’s too important to throw away.
RUSHONROCK: After U2 released their latest album via iTunes what is your view of the music business right now?
RR: U2? Wow. When you’re billionaires you can afford to do that and good for you but what about the all those little bands who need to sell a few hundred records to make a living? I know Radiohead allowed people to pay what they felt it was worth to own a copy of their last album and that’s an interesting concept. It’s like ‘let’s give away our record’. To me records matter and if you don’t feel like that then don’t make any more records. It’s just adding to the problem that’s at the heart of the music business right now. The problem is that, for whatever reason, a certain section of young people don’t feel that music is worth paying for. But it still costs money for bands to go into studios and record their songs. So how does that add up? If they have day jobs and they cannot concentrate on their god given talent because people are taking their music for free how is that fair or just?
RUSHONROCK: How excited are you to be playing another run of live shows in the UK?
RR: I came over to London earlier in the year and played some shows – the reaction to those gigs was great. The band sounds tighter every night and that’s what so amazing about the guys I play with. I don’t know their potential. We change our setlist every might and add different arrangements to different songs. But the guys adapt so well. In the smaller venues we’re right there in front of people and you can really sense their joy and feel their experience. The thing is we’re having the same experiences as the people in the audience and it’s an amazing thing. For me that’s why lie music can still be so vibrant. It’s a cool, unique experience for the people who are actually there on the night.
RUSHONROCK: Are there any plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Shake Your Moneymaker?
RR: I don’t think so. We should have thought about doing something to celebrate that album but Chris had other plans. It is what it is with the Crowes!