Inner tensions fuel the Black Crowes’ bombast. They’ll be at the Balboa Theatre downtown on December 11.
“We learned that less is more for us.” Steve Gorman, drummer for the Black Crowes, calls the Reader from Kentucky. As the only band member who, aside from founding brothers Chris and Rich Robinson, has not been changed out, he should know. “It’s a necessary thing for us to get away from each other,” he says of the band’s often mercurial disposition. “And it’s been a long time since any of us have felt this good. We’re getting along now — why blow it?”
- Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 8:30 p.m.
868 Fourth Avenue,
This last comment is made in response to my reaction to the announcement that the Black Crowes, who have recently come back from a two-year hiatus, are calling this their last tour. In a press release dated October 24, the band announced their imminent retirement: “The Black Crowes have no future plans for touring, as band members will focus in 2014 on solo releases and projects.” The Crowes play Balboa Theatre downtown on December 11; their final concert is December 14 in San Francisco...maybe.
“Is the band finished? No. I’d sense that,” Gorman says. “If I were to place a wager, I’d say we’ll be back in a couple of years.”
The Black Crowes have gone on hiatus more than once during their 24 years in business. They broke out in 1990 on the strength of their cover of Otis Redding gem “Hard to Handle.” That success got the band a tour-opener slot with ZZ Top from which they were fired after Chris Robinson bashed the tour sponsor, Miller Beer. They revived the look of the ’70s. They sounded like a stoned Small Faces or Rolling Stones, take your pick. Friction between the Robinson brothers became band legend, and the membership was subject to change. Gorman agrees that those inner tensions, though, are what fueled the Crowes’ bombast. “That’s been a 360-degree battle for this band. But since 2007,” he says, “it’s been easier.”
Post tour, Gorman says he will return to a project he started a few years ago in Nashville, where he now lives — sports-talk radio. “It’s musicians talking sports. I’m hardly an expert, but I am a fan.” Expect to hear his show coast-to-coast soon. Gorman won’t let me say who, but he informs me that a major syndicator has picked up the show for distribution.
“Whenever we played in San Diego, we never had a lot of time to hang around. Four of our members lived in L.A., so we’d just go up there after a show. I’m sorry to say I don’t have more memories than that, because it’s always beautiful there. That time we played Humphreys by the Bay? It was another one of those days. You people are spoiled.”