CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD: ‘A FUN BAND’
While Chris Robinson found enormous commercial success alongside his younger brother, Rich, in The Black Crowes, personal dynamics within the band, coupled with the expectations fueled by corporate music industry interests, had the Crowes fracturing and coming back together before announcing their dissolution in 2015.
For the elder Robinson, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood was a musical backup plan that he’d been happily toiling away with since it formed in 2011.
“I think you have to be sensitive when you’ve had commercial success. How I feel in my soul has nothing to do with the thanks and gratitude to the gift I’ve been given because of that. But the other part of it is that as you get older, you start asking yourself who you’re working for. I’m still passionate about music and life, and part of music to me is if there is any spiritual practice to be found in it, it’s [got to be] a place where you’re trying to live in the present as much as you can,” he said.
“As t i me goes on, I’m super- happy and comfortable with the CRB. I’m writing all these songs that don’t sound like what I’m famous for singing. They’re not hard- rock riff- oriented songs and it’s not a band with this rigid [approach] where everybody was wanting to suck as much money out of it as possible, which was really disappointing to someone like me.”
What started out as a loose string of concert dates played on the West Coast in 2011 to test the waters for the group coalesced into the CRB.
“I had this music, and the songs were piling up. Adam MacDougall and I were on The Black Crowes tour together during those last few years, in dressing rooms and hotel rooms with guitar and piano putting together a little repertoire of songs. We did this knowing that The Black Crowes were this dysfunctional weird thing, which was nothing new,” Robinson recalled.
“So it was a pragmatic thing, too. I wanted to get out and do something new and different. I’m a different person. I wanted my presentation to be different. Luckily, we got in with a group of people and made a sound that we liked. We can exist in our little utopian music bubble, make this music and not have to be too concerned with promotional or corporate things. We’re not a corporate band. We’ve all done hundreds and hundreds of gigs and millions of hours in the studio as a collective group. This is a group of people who love music, and I think that’s our fuel.”
The CRB is currently out on the road in support of 2017’ s “Barefoot in the Head.” The tour stops in Walker Theatre tonight, Oct. 18, for an 8 p.m. show.
For Robinson, the CRB’s fifth full- length studio album was a chance to get a little rootsier with the material he was penning while on tour.
“I just had my acoustic guitar and these more folk/country tunes, and that was the idea. When we went in to make ‘ Barefoot in the Head,’ I didn’t want any instruments that we used before or anything that we played on tour,” he said. “We had different amps and guitars, and I wanted us to play a lot of acoustic instruments. But I’m very lucky because Tony [Leone] is a good mandolin player. Neal [ Casal] plays a myriad of acoustic instruments and Jeff [Hill] as well. We were able to have a lot of texture and color that way.”
The inspiration for all of this was enough that CRB has another album in the can set to drop in 2019. But for now, playing live is the band’s main concern and one that concertgoers will get to enjoy on a high level if the group’s namesake has anything to say about it.
“What I’m most proud of is that [seeing us play live is] a very positive and welcoming [experience]. CRB is a fun band,” Robinson said.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood