Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Black Crowes drummer talks hiatus and longevity

Steve Gorman, the drummer for The Black Crowes, has survived the 20-year history of that band, having formed an early bond with the brothers Robinson, Chris and Rich.

Gorman shared some of his thoughts on the band’s longevity – and the hiatus – with Jeb Wright at Classic Rock Revisited.

Here’s some of that conversation:

CRR: This is a bittersweet interview because I love the new CD but I hate that we will be talking about another hiatus.

We have been pounding it hard for last six years. We have done this long enough that we can tell when everyone is starting to get a little frayed at the edges. We feel like we are really in synch right now but we know we would not feel like that if we worked another year.

CRR: Was Croweology more to do with the 20th anniversary of the band or more about the upcoming hiatus?

It was for the 20th anniversary. We were sitting around thinking about how we can celebrate and acknowledge the fact we made it two decades. We're not the kind of band to set off a confetti bomb and talk about how the first time we were in Topeka we got drunk at the museum. We just play music. We just thought that people probably want more music from us for the anniversary.

Twenty years is just a way that we use to mark the time period, not just about Crowes music. When we were doing this album I was actually thinking that the first time I played a particular song I had never heard of Bill Clinton, the Berlin Wall was still in place and Tiananmen Square had not yet happened. It means different things to different people but we knew that our fans would want another album and more shows from us so that is what we gave him.

CRR: The Black Crowes are a band that has always done what they wanted to do. People call you rock, jam band and this, that and the other. You are not easy to pigeonhole.

Labels tried to pigeonhole us. What labels have been good at doing are shortening careers and killing artist development. People are always going to attach labels to you. It has been very important for us to not allow people to label us and even more important for us to not label ourselves. It would be very easy to go around and say, “We are the 'Hard to Handle' band, let’s do a whole lot of songs just like that.”

In 1987, when we were unsigned, unpopular and, truth be told, not very good at all, we were still changing every month. We would write one song and get rid of another one. We were never very good at fitting in. We didn't go out and try to get a record deal. We just figured we would do it our way and eventually we would get a record deal and see what happens. Even now, if I am doing a session as a drummer in Nashville, there is usually a mindset that you wonder who you are doing this for and who will be doing this with you. We never thought about those things at all on any level. We never thought that Geffen was signing rock bands and we never even thought that MTV was playing rock videos. We just did what we did.

CRR: Is it fair to say that The Black Crowes have survived in spite of themselves?

I would say that. In a lot of ways it is crazy that we are still here. People ask us what the secret is and I really have no idea. When Rich and Chris and I started playing together I was the old man at age twenty-one. Most guys that age are in the army or they have a job or they are in college. The first experience after your home life is at that age and you set some pretty strong bonds at that time.

At a time where some kids are pledging allegiance to a frat house or other guys are asking where you want that refrigerator, we were in a band. We can't compare what we do with the army but we had each other’s back and we wanted to be a great band. We took for granted a lot of the success that we had because it was just not that important to us. Don't get me wrong, I would like to make a lot more money than I do because it would help me sleep better at night. I don't want a new car or new stuff; none of that had ever been that important to us. Chris had a very high profile marriage for a while but you didn't see him celebrating life on the red carpet at night.

We are totally the geeks who want to listen to records and play music. You can have fun along the way but nothing every became more important than the band. Even the fights were never more important than the band. After all of these years we know each other’s stories better than the guy who actually lived the story. I am the youngest of eight kids. Chris and Rich know my family very well. You get to know each other so well that you start to get in each other’s pockets and you can drive each other crazy. This break that is coming up is because we don't want to drive each other crazy. We can go away for a couple of years and make people want to come see us again. We actually have people who come to see us year after year and I think even they need a break from us for a while.

Check out the full interview at Classic Rock Revisited here.

The Black Crowes – Wiser Time
VH1 Unplugged - 2008

See also:

Black Crowes finish tour, start indefinite hiatus
Black Crowes enter Georgia Music Hall Of Fame