Rich Robinson crows about new solo project

Kevin C. Johnson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MCT)

ST. LOUIS — Black Crowes rocker Rich Robinson doesn’t sit idly by when the band goes on hiatus.

He keeps it moving with solo projects such as his latest, “Through a Crooked Sun,” his second solo album.

But in forging ahead with material that’s all his own, new challenges surface, challenges revolving around “figuring out who I am as a person and an artist on my own, away from my other band,” Robinson says.

“It was a different thing where my brother (Chris Robinson) is the singer,” he says of the Black Crowes, known for albums including “Shake Your Money Maker,” “Amorica” and “Three Snakes and One Charm.”

“When I wrote for the Crowes, it’s more his voice than mine. It’s definitely more tailored to understanding these different musicians I’ve been playing with all these years.”

With his solo projects, “it’s more me,” Robinson says. “I’m playing bass and guitar on the record, and keyboards, and I’m singing. It’s not this whole group thing going into record with me. It’s definitely more personal.”

“Through a Crooked Sun” came about at the end of the most recent Black Crowes’ tour, when Robinson decided it was time to start looking at another solo venture.

“I was just kind of writing these songs and putting them together and thinking about my voice instead of somebody else’s voice and really just going from there,” he says. “And the record came together really well.”

Rock and blues guitarist Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band is featured on the album.

“I’ve known them forever, and we gave Gov’t Mule (Haynes’ other band) their big tour in the early ‘90s. He’s really great, really cool.”

Other players on the album include John Medeski and Larry Campbell.

“Everybody was just right on,” he says.

Robinson’s debut solo release was 2004’s “Paper,” which came out of what was at the time a Black Crowes split.

“I was trying to figure out what to do,” Robinson says. “I’d been doing this (the group) for 12 years and had to ask, ‘Now what do I do?’ That’s where I was. … I liked ‘Paper,’ it was a great steppingstone for me to get to this, and it was a great learning experience.”

On his solo tour, Robinson is focusing on “Through a Crooked Sun” and “Paper.” He says he won’t be doing Black Crowes material, but cautions not to take that to mean he feels any ill will toward his main group.

“I like both,” he says of his solo and group projects. “Both are cool, and both are fulfilling in different ways. The Crowes have a rich history and have done a lot of amazing things and played with great people. But my stuff is great because it’s new and different and not ordinary. It’s like a start over.”

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