The Black Crowes: Say Goodnight To The Bad Guys

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Josh Cheuse
The Black Crowes need a break. Since their 2005 reformation, the group has toured incessantly (tonight's Verizon show is their fifth Houston stop), released three studio records, one live record, two DVDS and now Croweology. That double-disc effort features new, acoustic recordings of previous material to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker.

So they're going "on hiatus," but not before embarking on a tour that will find them playing an hour and a half acoustic set, followed by the same time plugged in. Rocks Off spoke with drummer and original Crowe Steve Gorman about the band, the record, and one helluva party in Houston.

Rocks Off: At what point did the band decide it was time for a break?

Steve Gorman: It was last year. We were discussing what turned into Croweology, then we realized it was the 20th anniversary, and we had to do something special, and then we got excited. We're not killing the thing, we're just pulling the plug for awhile. We don't want to drive ourselves down again.

RO: How did you decide on which songs to revisit for Croweology?

SG: Chris, Rich and I each wrote down a list of 25 songs we wanted to try, and quite a number were on all three lists. Then we went to what was on two lists, and we talked out the rest.

RO: Most of the new acoustic arrangements make the songs sound very different - "Downtown Money Waster" for one.

SG: I really liked how "Hotel Illness" came out. It was a fun vibe. That wasn't on anybody's list, but Chris suggested we do just a four-on-the-floor honky-tonk version, and we just knocked it out. It was perfect the first time we played through it.

RO: With all credit to Marc Ford, I also think that Luther Dickinson's more bluegrass and country style with the slide work really shines on the record.

SG: Oh, entirely. I spoke with a friend of ours who has known the band since 1990, and she said that [the current lineup] played like one organism. And that's about as good a compliment as I can get.

Our band has always been the sum is greater than the parts, and since Luther and [keyboardist Adam MacDougall] have been with us, it's been the most cohesive lineup we've ever had. Even though it wasn't when we started. And that's not a disparaging comment to the guys who have come before.

RO: With the exception of a short time after the 2005 reunion, you've had the seat behind Chris and Rich for the entirety of the band's existence. Is there anything about them today that you would have thought would have been impossible 20 years ago?

SG: I think the single biggest thing is not that we're all in our 40s or that we've done this so long, it's that everybody's a dad. I know there are guys that doesn't change them too much, but that's not the way with us. Everybody's changed dramatically.

Rich had his first son in 1996 when he was still young, and I didn't have mine until I was 35. I needed a reason to grow up, I think [laughs]. But it gives you an instant perspective. When you go from being the center of your universe to simply being a bridge from one generation to the next, it changes things pretty dramatically.

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