After taking a year off for its frontman and keyboardist to fly with the Black Crowes, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood is back in action and particularly excited about its upcoming third studio album, “Phosphorescent Harvest,” according to its namesake.
“We took a year off and it’s strong and it’s different,” Robinson tells Billboard. “Everybody’s very proud of this record. We all see (the band) as something that’s alive and organic; that’s part of the psychedelic heart of the whole philosophy of the thing. The musical and personal camaraderie is very special.”
“Phosphorescent Harvest” follows the CRB’s pair of 2012 albums, “Big Moon Ritual” and “The Magic Door,” as well as last year’s live set “Betty’s S.F. Blends, Vol. 1.” Robinson and guitarist Neal Casal wrote nine of the 11 songs with Robinson writing two himself, while the group performed several of the tracks — including “Badlands Here We Come,” “Meanwhile In the Gods…” and “Jump the Turnstiles” — live before taking them into the studio. And Robinson notes that “Tornado” “is an old song I had written years and years and years ago, which the Black Crowes thumbed their noses at.”
The primary difference on “Phosphorescent Harvest,” however, is that Robinson and company were “a lot more focused on production. The first set of records we recorded live off the floor; we just went in and set up our road gear and played the set. It was a handmade house. This time we wanted to explore, and we made the record unlike any I’ve ever made. We track all we could for 10 days to two weeks in January of (2013), then the Crowes started and everyone was busy. Then when anyone would be home, whoever was around and wanted to work, we’d go over to (producer Thom Monahan’s studio) and put stuff down and go paint on it whatever they wanted. A great friend of mine said, ‘Who’s telling everyone what to do?’ I said, ‘It doesn’t work that way, man.’ At the end of the year we got together, did some more sessions and some editing and we were there.”
The CRB is already back on the road, with dates currently announced into June, including Atlanta’s Sweetwater 420 Festival” on April 20, the Mountain Jam Festival in upstate New York on June 8 and the Snowmass Mammoth Festival in Colorado on June 15. Robinson says the quintet has plans stretching into 2015, which means the Black Crowes latest hiatus remains indefinite — although 2015 also marks the 25th anniversary of the group’s debut album, “Shake Your Money Maker.”
“Y’know, we went out and had a good time, and that was as far as my obligation goes,” Robinson says. “I don’t think we’re going to be out on the road next year but… I don’t know. That is something that will present itself like anything else; if it comes up and it’s a positive thing and looks and feels good, then so be it. Right now my focus is on the CRB and where we can go with this thing.”