Black Crowes  guitarist Rich Robinson says he likes being a solo artist better the second time around.
Robinson -- who co-founded the Crowes with older brother Chris Robinson and drummer Steve Gorman during the mid-80s in Atlanta -- used the Crowes' first hiatus, from 2001-2005, to try out a new band, Hookah Brown, and then release a solo album, "Paper," in 2004. But he tells Billboard.com that with the Crowes on hiatus again, he was more prepared to make his new "Through a Crooked Sun."
"Making this record, I felt like I was much more at ease," Robinson explains. "The first time was so frantic. It was like the band split up and I was trying to find my place in the world...figure out what I do. This time, the energy was great. Working with Joe (Magistro, drummer) was great; I've known him a long time and he's a great musician. Steve (Molitz, keyboards) was good. We just went up and did it. There wasn't any stress at all around it. It just flowed. It was a flowing sort of creative experience, and that was something we haven't had for awhile."
Robinson recorded the album during January and February and says it's comprised mostly of songs he wrote within six months prior to the sessions -- save, of course, for a cover of "Station Man" from Fleetwood Mac's 1970 album "Kiln House." And besides feeling more comfortable, Robinson says he felt more confident as both a singer and lyricist this time out.
"I kind of understood a little bit more about my voice and where it needs to go," he explains. "I felt like I had more of a connection with the concept of it. Lyrically I felt like I was more capable of putting pen to paper and kind of conveying something." And, Robinson adds, there was a certain amount of positivity thanks to a happy second marriage and the birth of two young sons -- including Bleu in September. "I think that's where the flow came from -- that no matter what's going on in life or whatever, there's still love, still this family, still these things that support you," says Robinson, who has two older songs from his first marriage. "It's really about understanding where I am now with that, instead of (dwelling) more in the past. Yes, I went through all that shit; now I've started something new, and it feels like this record falls in line with that something new."
Robinson is touring to promote the album through Nov. 19 with plans to play more dates in the future. Besides his album, he's is producing other artists, including a singer named Sandi Thom. The Crowes, meanwhile, "haven't really talked about" the group's next move, so for now Robinson is happy to be following his own muse.
"There's no baggage with this band or this sort of outlet," Robinson explains. "It's much more free. The Crowes are great and what we do and whenever we figure it out and whatever we're gonna do is really cool. You go out there and it brings joy to people, and that's a gift. But on the flip side there's a lot of history, a lot of stuff, a lot of family issues wrapped into that -- there's always a good and a bad. With this it's just easy. You go in and create. It's a much more optimistic kind of place to be, so I definitely would love to be able to do this, go in and make a record and do a tour, every year or every couple of years."
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