The Black Crowes return to Australia to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1990 breakthrough album Shake Your Money Maker, playing the album in its entirety along with other classics from across their vast catalogue. In 1990, when journalists were lamenting the death of rock, as cheesy pop and hair metal dominated the charts, Atlanta’s Black Crowes gave the genre a swift and much needed kick in the ass with Shake Your Money Maker. Fuelled by singles Jealous Again, Twice As Hard, She Talks To Angels, and the break-through cover of Otis Redding’s Hard To Handle, the band immediately took the rock world by storm, topping Rolling Stone’s “Best New American Band Readers Poll” in late 1990.
The Black Crowes went on to release eight studio and four live albums, selling in the tens of millions along the way; they sold out shows around the world; had legendary guitarist Jimmy Page join as a member; got kicked off a tour with ZZ Top for insulting the sponsor; got screwed by bad record deals; got married and divorced, fought amongst themselves and against the rest of the world. In other words, they’ve done everything a legendary rock group should do. Rich Robinson talks to Hi Fi Way about Shake Your Money Maker and returning to Australia.
The Australian tour is literally only weeks away, you must be excited including a show with the mighty You Am I in Melbourne and playing the new festival Harvest Rock in Adelaide?
Yeah, I’m on the way to Japan. Playing with You Am I? Well that’s a good thing, isn’t it?
Absolutely, arguably one of the best bands in the country. How has the tour been going so far particularly after the last couple of years? Is the vibe a little bit different around touring?
It’s been great. We’ve been touring for two years, we started in the States last year. We were one of the first bands out. So that was cool and last year it was still really strict with Covid, so this year was a lot more like a normal tour, less restrictions and less things like that. Japan’s pretty strict right now, apparently. It’s good to get out there and play. Like everything, I think people all over the world are still a little gun shy, a little bit, you know what I mean? They’re a little cautiously optimistic to enjoy the shows just because the world’s been so weird lately.
Will there be much difference between your own headline shows and what you might play at Harvest Rock in Adelaide?
We’ll do what we do, we do what we always do, so we are excited to get down there and play. It’ll be really cool. I’ve just noticed a little trepidation with people around anything public, but it’s mellowing out, so it should be really cool.
With this tour being focused on Shake You Money Make how awesome is it to be still playing these songs that are still so impactful and mean a lot to so many people around the world?
Yeah, totally, it’s been really cool because of that, going back thirty two years celebrating this record, diving into it in a way that we’ve never done before.
Is it an interesting process playing this album start to end?
It’s been really interesting just to play it for us, because we’ve never done that before. We never really came out and just did a whole tour where we played the record from start to finish. So, it’s been an interesting journey to be able to do that, especially for us who are used to changing up our sets every night.
Looking back on the album, are you still really proud of everything that you achieve with that album?
Yeah, of course. I mean, it’s, it’s, it was the springboard for thirty-two years of doing this.
If you had your time over is there anything different you would do with the album?
I never look back. That was the best record we could have made at that time. Everyone was thrilled with it. It was pretty amazing for us at the time. That’s how I look at it. I don’t ever look back with regrets.
When the album came out in 1991 what moments stick out the most for you?
Getting the tour with Aerosmith, that was our first arena tour, so like going out with Aerosmith, who we loved growing up, touring with AC/DC was unbelievable. Playing with Robert Plant was amazing. Getting out of the US and travelling, the amount of travel all over the United States, all over Europe, we were in Europe for over three months. We went twice, once a short trip in 1990 and then three months in Europe in ‘91 doing Monsters of Rock. We went to Moscow and played with AC/DC and Metallica there in front of 600,000 people. All of those things are pretty unreal,
Experiencing the ups, the downs and the in-betweens in the band do you think you are at your happiest with where you are at with The Black Crowes?
Yeah, once you get past like the youthful horse shit that everyone goes through, you know what I mean? Like you said, going through everything we went through some, some self-inflicted and some not so self-inflicted, You kind of hope that you learn something in that time and I think we did learn a lot and I think coming back in this really positive way where we both want to do this and getting rid of the negative influences in the band, just making sure that we don’t want this to be some sort of a one off cash grab. We want this to be done well and properly. The best way to do that is to just focus on the two of us not getting triggered and not having people back that try to get in between us.
That was really what the goal was. Sven we’ve known since I was fifteen, so we’re really happy to have him. Brian’s an amazing drummer, we’re really happy with him. Erik Deutsch is an amazing keyboard player who just came on board. He’s really amazing. We have all these great players and these really positive people around and Chris and I can be in charge of our own triggers, but we can’t be in charge of someone else who comes around and tries to divide us. No one does that now. I think it’s showing in the way that there’s a lot more positivity, there’s a lot more trust and there’s a lot more room to be this band.
Interview By Rob Lyon