Rich Robinson is best known as a founding member and one of the principal songwriters from The Black Crowes. The on-again off-again status of The Black Crowes has afforded Robinson the opportunity to pursue other interests, including a solo career, a job as guitarist in Bad Company and his latest project, The Magpie Salute, which comes to the Tralf on Tuesday.
Rich took a few minutes from the road for a little question and answer session about the band’s origins and its future.
Q: I spoke to Ann Wilson of Heart on Monday and she told me her favorite song to sing on her solo show is “She Talks to Angels.” She told me to let you know when I spoke to you.
RR: That’s very nice of her, wow, thanks.
Q: Do you have any routine when you come to a certain city like Buffalo?
RR: A lot of times we are in and out, we get into town at like 2:00 a.m. and sleep and then get up and go to sound check. My guitar tech is from Buffalo so he always tells us about cool stuff to do. I remember playing at Darien Lake on the Oasis tour and I was just back there last year with Bad Company subbing for Mick Ralphs.
Q: This must be a change of pace from headlining at a large venue like Darien Lake. Do you have a preference as to whether you play a large or smaller venue?
RR: Big places, small places, it all comes down to the energy of the crowd. We just had a great show in Paris and there were 500 people there. It was amazing, to-date one of the best shows we have ever done because the crowd was so energetic. There is also nothing like walking onstage in front of 60,000 people and having them like what you do. There are some venues that are just really cool- there is this place in Scotland called Barrowland that is really cool. It holds like 2,000 people and the Crowes played there all the time.
Q: How did you come up with the name Magpie Salute?
RR: The group is members of my solo band and former members of The Crowes. I like the word magpie-I’ve always liked it. I like the connotation because it is the cousin of the crow, and if you look at the mysticism the crow is always associated with darkness. The magpie incorporates the light and the dark. When I was really digging into it, it’s an old tradition in the U.K to salute a magpie, it means you come in peace. The way you salute it is by saying “Good morning Captain” which is a Black Crowes song. I thought all those things were too big to ignore.
Q: I hear a ton of influences in Magpie Salute. It’s amazing stuff, I wonder who you see as the primary influences on the band’s music?
RR: We have created our own influences, naturally I bring The Black Crowes because I wrote all that music. What I think is really interesting is bringing John Hogg, who was with me in Hookah Brown. He is half Nigerian and half Swedish. His mom grew up in Africa and his dad in Sweden and he grew up in the U.K so he has an amazing perspective. He was exposed to the music and the culture. All of these guys come from different life experiences and together we create a unique sound. This record and band came out in a very organic way. I was out on my solo tour and I invited (former Black Crowes guitarists) Marc (Ford)and (Former Black Crowes Keyboardist) Ed (Harsch)out to play at a show I was recording. We can play anything, whether it’s a Crowes song or a Faces cover or an original it all sounds like the same band. It’s an amazing thing. (Note: Eddie Harsch was slated to be a member of Magpie Salute but he passed away in November)
Q: I agree, it all sounds great which leads me to the final question. Where do you see this band going ? It really seems like you could ride this thing out for a bit and begin playing larger venues.
RR: The point is we have done this natural thing. We did the shows in Woodstock and we sold them out and we sold out shows in New York. It has been very natural. That being said we plan on going in the studio and recording a double album of new material. We plan on paying homage to The Crowes.