Rich Robinson on the Magpie Salute’s debut album, gear and teaming back up with Marc Ford.
To say Rich Robinson has been around the block a few times would be an understatement, from his days with the Black Crowes, off-and-on hiatuses, solo projects, and a stint with Bad Company, all the way to his current band The Magpie Salute, he has quite the resume when it comes to Rock n Roll.
With the Magpie Salute’s debut album “High Water I” fresh on their heels, Robinson, along with former Black Crowes band mates Marc Ford and Sven Pipien, as well as John Hogg, Matt Slocum & Joe Magistro are taking the new tunes to the stage for the first time on a US and European tour. Robinson had a chance to call into the AMS offices before heading from Cleveland to New York City.
“They translate really well,” he began in response to bringing the new songs to the live setting. “Being in the studio is cool, but it’s almost like it’s the seed, once you take them out on tour they can really grow into something else and that’s what’s really cool about these songs and the band, we’re really capable of taking them to a lot of places.”
While they are indeed new songs, Robinson hasn’t made a conscious effort over the years to alter the way he writes, describing a more natural approach in the studio and how he lets the music guide itself.
“I write the way that I write and I believe it’s slightly insincere to change it, or not change it, for the purpose of sounding some way,” he explained. Going on to say, “I think music naturally moves forward that way, every time I have an experience, hear new music, or work with something I think that it moves forward just by nature.
“I look at it almost like a stained glass filter,” he described, “you add yet another color to the myriad of what’s happening and then that kind of shifts things a little bit.”
According to Robinson he was never the sort of artist to overly obsess about a certain part, or ever feel one thing had to be a certain way; citing a loss of authenticity in doing so.
“For me,” he said, “I let the movement and the flow dictate. Having these great musicians in this band able to jump from their gut feeling is the most important thing to me.”
Moving on to reference Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Zeppelin, and the Beatles – Robinson described his passion for the human quality of music, which he sees as ingrained in those artists’ work, and expressed his fear of losing that as technology becomes more and more prevalent in a studio setting.
“It’s the magic of not being there, it’s not looking into it,” he explained. “It wasn’t some a**hole holding a f***ing smartphone taking a selfie of himself while recording ‘Let it Be.’ Could you imagine?”
Robinson continued, “You think about any of the great records you grew up listening to, and it’s almost like we as humans would apply our imagination to that. You hear a John Bonham kick drum squeak or listen to Keith on ‘Exile on Main Street’ and that brings you into that place and then you create that world, and therefore you create a deeper connection with the music and bring it into yourself.”
When it comes to making great records, Robinson has a huge arsenal of guitars, amps, and cabinets to work with. He was quick to list his Gretsch White and Black Falcons, 1956 Streamliner, and his Dan Armstrong. A Les Paul ’68 which he had restored after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which he says plays even better after the restoration.
“As far as amps, there’s a small company in St Louis that made a signature amp model for me called Reason. I had one of those and a Reason combo with a little 12 in it.” He continued, “I used some Marshall’s, I had my original Silver Jubilee, and I had a 1971 50 watt JMP Marshall that I’ve had forever. A couple of Vox’s, Fender Deluxes, Blackface Bassman, a Magnitone and a couple of Satellite amps. I had one of my Harry Joyce heads as well.
“And then we just mix and matched, we took one head and ran it into one thing, took another, used the combos in another room. The Martin set up was in the piano room. We just kind of went in and did what it took. I also have three Fulltone Echoplexes and I used them a ton too.”
Robinson and Ford
The recent Magpie shows also saw the return of Robinson’s former Black Crowes band mate Marc Ford. Due to a few delays in Chicago, Ford didn’t actually get in for the first date until Robinson was already on stage playing.
“We didn’t even get a chance to go over anything,” Robinson recalled. “But the minute he got on stage it was just the way it should be, it was great, it was perfect. Perfect in the sense that it was free flying. We just have this thing when the two of us play together.”
See The Magpie Salute
Robinson, Ford and the rest of the Magpie Salute are on the road now through the end of September before heading off to Europe for a month, as well as plans in early January to tour Japan, followed by a third leg of North American appearances into the end of February. Check out their new album “High Water I” in stores and on all available streaming services. Learn more at http://themagpiesalute.com/events
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