Why Chris Robinson traded the music industry for artistic freedom
Ex-Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson is back with a new band and album - he tells us why he’s ditched the music industry in favour of creative freedom and 10-minute cosmic jam sessions
It’s pouring down in downtown Knoxville. Sheets of rain are running down the large windows of the Prevost USA Coach tour bus, creating an instant Monet of the Bijou Theatre, the early-1900s former vaudeville house that tonight plays host to the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Sitting on the bus’s worn leather fold-down couches, talking with band members Neal Casal, Adam MacDougall, Jeff Hill and Tony Leone amid burbling water sounds, there’s a feeling of being in a submarine – albeit one in which the air is tinged with a pungent herbal aroma. And suddenly, here comes their cosmic captain, bounding aboard out of the rain.
Wearing jeans and a blue-and-yellow striped T-shirt, Chris Robinson looks like a hirsute Beach Boy. At 49 he still has the spidery build and slightly manic air he had in his days fronting the Black Crowes, but the bushy beard and soft lines around his pale blue eyes give him the look of a beatific guru, as drawn by Mad magazine’s Don Martin.
Glancing at my tape recorder, Robinson says with a grin, “This is being recorded for quality-control training purposes, to make sure my employees are all doing their jobs!”