Five Min­utes Alone: Rich Robin­son

The for­mer Black Crowe turned Mag­pie Salute wing­man pon­ders narc night­mares, di­vorc­ing his gear and the wis­dom of Neil Young

Total Guitar - - CONTENTS -

Got my first real six-string…

“My dad was a mu­si­cian and he had two re­ally beau­ti­ful gui­tars around the house. One was a 1953 Martin D-28 and the other was a cus­tom­made gui­tar by these broth­ers in Ten­nessee. As we started to get more in­ter­ested, my dad was like, ‘Enough of this! Leave my shit alone!’ He bought me a Lo­tus Strat copy in black and white.”

This old gui­tar

“I think it was Neil Young who said, ‘Ev­ery gui­tar has a song in it’ and I feel that. I’ve had times where I would get a gui­tar and I would be able to write some great stuff on it and some gui­tars would just sit there and I couldn’t con­nect with it. [In re­cent years] I got these re­ally cool Martins that were de­signed by this guy Ge­orge Gruhn. He had got­ten these two Martin gui­tars made that were based on two 40s mod­els that he had. They’re great gui­tars and I was able to write songs on those.”

Like a hurricane

“All of my gear was de­stroyed in Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I lost 70 gui­tars, all of my amps, my sitar. I got di­vorced and I lost gui­tars in the di­vorce. But you go through life and you have to deal with life. Those were great, but they’re wood with pieces of string on them. Some­times I feel like my re­la­tion­ship with the in­stru­ment ran its course and now it’s time to move on. It gave me an at­ti­tude where I can be like, ‘You know what? There are a mil­lion great Te­les and 335s and Les Pauls out there.’ So, I’m al­right!”

Break on through to the other side

“I was never the type to sit in a room and prac­tise scales. I kind of forged my own way with writ­ing, to open up these tun­ings that I’ve played with and trans­late that into a song. Through that, ev­ery time I would write a song, my abil­ity would grow. To me, the end of ev­ery­thing is a great song and that’s the rea­son I play gui­tar. It’s cool to add ac­cou­trement to a song and play so­los, but the ul­ti­mate goal is for a song. All of my leaps that I would go through were from push­ing my­self as a song­writer.”

Blue Moon Of Ken­tucky

“One of the worst shows we ever played was in Ken­tucky on South­ern­har­mony. We were in this arena and it was sold-out. It was one of the big­gest head­line shows that we’d done to date. We were tour­ing with this big ban­ner that said, ‘Free us! No narcs!’ And it had a big pot leaf on it. When we played, these [guys] busted back­stage and beat the shit out of ev­ery­one. [We think] they were un­der­cover cops. They wouldn’t show their badges. Our se­cu­rity guards went up to them and said, ‘Hey man, you can’t be back here…’ and they were beaten by these guys. We had to can­cel the show and a riot broke out and peo­ple ran out­side and turned over cars. That was pretty fucked up.”

Hard to han­dle…

“The tough­est time I had was pretty much the whole time I was in the Black Crowes! It was just so neg­a­tive. [To be able to] make these records and play these songs was amaz­ing. We had vir­tu­osic peo­ple in the band: Marc Ford, Ed­die Harsch and my brother was a great singer. But it was so bogged down with mis­ery and in-fight­ing and pet­ti­ness that I don’t look back on it with fond mem­o­ries. Luck­ily, with The Mag­pie Salute, ev­ery­body’s been through that. We’re pretty vig­i­lant about not fall­ing into those traps!”

“i think it was neil young who said, ‘ev­ery gui­tar has a song in it’ and i feel that’”

The Mag­pie Salute’s new al­bum High­wa­teri is out now via Provogue/mas­cot

Rich Robin­son: takes a philo­soph­i­cal view on life, love and loss

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