How the Black Crowes recorded their first new album in 15 years

Music news

Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes takes us into the making of “ Happiness Bastards », their first studio album since 2009.

It’s hard to imagine when you know that there was a time when Chris and Rich Robinson weren’t even speaking to each other, but the Black Crowes managed to write and record their first studio album of new songs in 15 years. Happiness Bastards will be released on March 15, and the first single, “ Wanting and Waiting ”, is already available.

For the two brothers, who reconciled in 2019 after what seemed like a permanent split in 2015, creating new music together has been the easy part. “ We didn’t need to repair our relationship in writing, because it was never a problem, explains guitarist Rich Robinson. It was always the only natural thing, with very little volatility. For the rest, it was just about making the decision to be adults and not fall back into those kinds of old patterns. But the fact of finding ourselves and getting to this point changed everything. »

Since the beginning, when they broke onto MTV in 1990 with a muscular cover of ” Hard to Handle » by Otis Redding, then they released their second album, Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, In the midst of the explosion of alternative rock, the Black Crowes were proudly out of step with the times. “ As the world kept shifting and changing, we just made our records and did what we did…I write the way I write, whether I like it or not. I think Chris is the same way… We’ve always followed our hearts, followed our ears where we wanted. Sometimes to our commercial detriment. »

It is therefore not surprising that Happiness Bastards does not seem to be an album from 2024. The Robinson brothers, bassist Sven Pipien and drummer Brian Griffin deliver a series of energetic and impressive songs, in a pure revivalist rock style. Producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage the Elephant) focused on a live, natural sound. “ We knew we were going to have a producer and we made a conscious decision to allow him to tell us a little bit about what to doexplains Rich. We hadn’t really worked with someone who, quote unquote, had been producing for us for years, since Southern Harmony. Jay really handled Chris and I’s dynamic in the studio better than I could have imagined.. »

From the ambition of Led Zeppelin III on ” Cross Your Fingers » to the funkitude of “ Dirty Cold Sun » passing through the nostalgia of “ Kindred Friend “, all of this would go down even better on 1970s rock radio than, say, Hackney Diamonds of the Rolling Stones. “ I feel like I’ve grown over the years, brought all these different textures and musical styles to our preferred form of expression, which is rock & roll music.says Robinson. Rock & roll has always been the broadest form of music, because it has always encompassed black music, white music, folk music, Celtic music, jazz – rock & roll has always incorporated everything. That’s why Chris and I have always been drawn to this music. Because Sly Stone was as rock & roll as Keith Richards, who was as rock & roll as Joni Mitchell. »

The only guest on the album is famed Nashville singer and songwriter Lainey Wilson, who sings with Chris on one of the album’s best tracks, ” Wilted Rose », ballad with gospel accents. The brothers met Wilson, a longtime fan, when they performed at the CMT Awards last year with Darius Rucker.

Today, the brothers are both in their fifties and, as the album’s title suggests, middle age seems to suit them. “ Chris sounds better than ever, in my opinion ” says Rich.

Happiness Bastards tracklist:

“Bedside Manners”
“Rats and Clowns”
“Cross Your Fingers”
“Wanting and Waiting”
“Wilted Rose” (feat. Lainey Wilson)
“Dirty Cold Sun”
“Bleed It Dry”
“Flesh Wound”
“Follow the Moon”
“Kindred Friend”


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.