The Black Crowes were set to embark on a massive tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their debut album Shake Your Money Maker. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
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Chris and Rich Robinson joined us for a RADIO.COM LIVE Check In and told Ryan Castle why their initial plans haven’t been derailed “I do think it is funny for the first time in what The Black Crowes could be, we had a great plan,” Chris said. “We’re surrounded by people who really care about Rich and I. Not just something to make money, but something as people and what we’ve all been through together.”
“All the things leading up to this, it wouldn’t be a normal cycle, it was very special,” he added.
“I still think it’s going to be very special, but because of that, I don’t think there would be any reason to deviate from any plan that we had in terms of what Rich and [my] world looks like putting our band back together and taking it a bit at a time which we never had the luxury.”
Their reunion came on the heels of the 30th anniversary of their debut album Shake Your Money Maker. A newly announced 30th Anniversary Super Deluxe edition of the record features a remastered version of the album, three never-before-heard studio recordings, two unreleased demos from the band’s early days as Mr. Crowe’s Garden, B-sides, and a 14-song live concert that took place in their hometown of Atlanta in 1990.
For the brothers, compiling material for this edition served as an exciting project in quarantine that allowed them to revisit a ton of material in their archive.
“We do have piles of stuff over piles of years that’s pretty amazing,” Rich said. “We were always going into [the] studio. I think we went into the studio several times between Shake Your Money Maker and Southern Harmony, Southern Harmony and Amorica, and so on.”
As they began to dig through archived Black Crowes material, they uncovered a bunch of old demo recordings they made throughout the years. One recording stood out that had to be included, a demo version of their hit song “She Talks To Angels.”
“Chris and I used to write these songs and we would record them on this old boombox,” Rich said.
“We’d sent George [Drakoulias, the album’s producer] a version of ‘She Talks To Angels’ it was just the first sort of draft and it was without an intro or a bridge or anything and I was really shocked that he’d found that.”
Perhaps lost in the shuffle of the madness of 2020 was the fact the brothers not only made the decision to reunite the band, but simply to talk with one another. They hadn’t spoken to one another in several years. “Number one, not calling each other was good,” Chris exclaimed.
“Not the estranged element of that, but when we both found ourselves at a place where we were available.”
After Castle asked how the whole process of even getting connected came about, Chris elaborated, “Not talking about all the little stuff that led us to being able to say let’s do it was good. Our liaison, Rich and I were agreeing on every single thing, every single issue that came up before [the reunion]. And then we didn’t really even talk on the phone and we talked when we saw each other in New York at a hotel lobby, which we didn’t even know we were staying in the same hotel [laughs].”
He added: “I think we live in a place where in a media sense or a cultural sense, family and things look like they’re supposed to be laid out in some episodic fashion. If we know anything, families are just strange. Our family is weird, I’m weird, Rich is weird, our life together in rock n roll is nothing like it what it would seem to someone that has a normal way of going about their life.”
"And by the way I’m not talking about anything superficial like fame or rich things, I’m just talking about weird stuff,” Chris added. “For Rich and I to fall into place to have this protocol before we saw each other is just kind of normal.”
The tension between the brothers has been well documented, but you have to remember they were a young band that broke in a hurry. This created an environment that wasn’t conducive to emotional success. “Rock ‘n’ Roll, especially in those first ten years was mean” Chris said.
“You have to be tough. Rock ‘n’ Roll bands are like, you leave your dead by the side of the road and keep on going. It wasn’t a sensitive place. It wasn’t a nurturing place.”