Alongside brother Chris, guitarist Rich Robinson enjoyed a rollercoaster ride of fame and fortune as a founder member of multi-million selling rockers The Black Crowes.
Hits including Hard To Handle, She Talks To Angels and Jealous Again catapulted the band into the big leagues and the Crowes shifted more than five million copies of debut album Shake Your Money Maker.
On the surface critical acclaim and commercial success made for a perfect story of two brothers in arms fighting for the future of the music they loved and shared. They were certainly fighting – but often with each other.
Fast forward to 2014 and the Robinson brothers have gone their separate ways with little prospect of a Black Crowes reunion anytime soon. An on-off relationship is very much off but Rich is using yet another hiatus to rediscover his love for music.
“I like to write songs and I like to make music,” he said. “With the Crowes who knows what the hell is going on with that? My solo work is much more creatively fulfilling – I don’t have any baggage to deal with.
“I like the Crowes and I like that sound – that’s been my body of work for 25 years. But with that band things get in the way due to different personalities and it becomes a bit of a pain in the ass. I’m just happy to be able to have this outlet in order to release my music. And with this project I really look forward to getting out touring.”
The project in question is Robinson junior’s second ‘solo’ album in three years. The Ceaseless Sight follows hot on the heels of 2011’s much admired Through A Crooked Sun and revisits a rich seam of songwriting form. Rich can’t wait to take his new songs on the road and Newcastle’s intimate Cluny should provide the perfect setting for a stripped down rock and roll show.
“I came over to London earlier in the year and played some shows – the reaction to those gigs was great,” he added. “The band sounds tighter every night and that’s what so amazing about the guys I play with. I just don’t know their potential!
“We change our setlist every night and add different arrangements to different songs. But the guys adapt so well. In the smaller venues we’re right there in front of people and you can really sense their joy and feel their experience.
“The thing is we’re having the same experiences as the people in the audience and it’s an amazing thing. For me that’s why live music can still be so vibrant. It’s a cool, unique experience for the people who are actually there on the night.”
Rich rails against the view of Kiss founder Gene Simmons who, earlier this year, insisted ‘rock is dead’. This month’s UK tour will be dedicated to proving that the exact opposite is true.
“Gene Simmons is like a heavy Taylor Swift and always has been,” added Rich. “Who really cares about that comment? I prefer to look at someone like Tom Petty – he’s still making great records.
“Or take a new band like Rival Sons – they’re really cool and their singer is great! There are a lot of great bands touring the US right now. Blackberry Smoke are good friends of mine and they’re great people and it’s a great band.
“I think it’s more important now than it ever has been to get out there and play live because people need to see what you really have to offer. Maybe Gene needs to see what we still have to offer?”
* Rich Robinson plays Newcastle’s Cluny on November 19. The Ceaseless Sight is out now.