As much of a fever dream as the Black Crowes reunion has been, the Atlanta band were really excited about another renewed bond, thanks to Aerosmith's Peace Out farewell tour which began last September.

The Crowes nabbed the coveted opening slot on the outing, which reunited the two groups for the first time since the Atlanta-bred band handled similar duties as they were starting to promote 1990's Shake Your Money Maker.

As Rich Robinson tells UCR now, it was a "full circle" moment that they were deeply grateful for. Even though the trek was postponed after only three concerts due to Steven Tyler's unexpected vocal injury, the guitarist has warm feelings when it comes to the long relationship between the two camps.

The new year has added another chapter to their legacy. Happiness Bastards, the first Black Crowes studio album in 15 years, was released this month. Longtime fans will discover that the Southern rockers have delivered a tight set of 10 songs, produced by Jay Joyce, that wouldn't sound out of place alongside their first three records.

During an appearance on Ultimate Classic Rock Nights, Robinson shared some highlights with host Matt Wardlaw regarding the experience of working on Happiness Bastards and how their own influences factored into the process.

Chris [Robinson] has spoken about how you guys wanted to write a rock and roll record. He doesn't live that lifestyle anymore, but he can still access it. That's an interesting dynamic to navigate.
Yeah. I mean, look — I’ve always believed that music and any kind of creative endeavor comes from life. Not only whatever creative endeavor you’re choosing to live in, not only what you see in other people’s work, but also, your life experience. In my opinion, it always sort of creates this filter. I’ve always visualized it as like a stained glass window — something that every little thing you hear, see, read and live — death, life, divorce, marriage. Dogs, travel, whatever it is. [Laughs] It all kind of goes into this filter. But it’s always still there. So that stained glass is kind of permanent, but it’s just added to. So as far as being able to access that, of course, we kind of live the way we live. Chris lives the way he lives, so of course he can access that. I think it would be weird not to be able to, in that sense.

We've spoken about the band's various influences in the past and you really put a lot of different ones into "Cross Your Fingers."
It has its thing. You know, I write in open tunings and I like to make up my own sometimes. That was a song that had this sort of open C [tuning] that I made up. The way the guitar handles the tuning, the way the guitar handles the strings, the way the strings ring out changes with every tuning that you use. The structure of the chord is always different and that’s what I like about it. There’s just little, very detailed sonic differences in how you to choose to do it. When I wrote that song, I was totally thinking of something like “Mr. Big” by Free. [Robinson imitates the melodic section]

It’s always sort of the overarching approach of a song, I’m always thinking about that. “Oh, shit, this reminds me of this” or “This reminds me of that.” So that’s always really cool. I send it out to Chris and he gets what he gets out of it and adds what he adds to it. Then, you bring in [album producer] Jay [Joyce], who took the chorus to a place that I was like, “Wow, that’s really cool.” I wouldn’t have thought of that. Then, you have this really cool song. What I like about it is that it’s kind of a journey in three minutes. It starts out with this acoustic bit, Chris is singing his thing and then it goes into this riff. It’s actually really cool. There’s a trip that you take within three and a half minutes.

Listen to the Black Crowes' 'Cross Your Fingers'

Where did you find your love for open tunings?
Some of my earliest musical memories, my dad was listening to Deja Vu, like “Carry On,” the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young record. I was literally like two or three years old. Dad loved [Stephen] Stills. There was always Crosby, Stills & Nash or that record. I remember that Stephen always played in some open tunings. Sometimes, some more far-out tunings, drop D and stuff like that. Which Neil [Young] did as well. So from my earliest memories, not knowing the basics of guitar or what it meant — it was just music at the time.

I found myself throughout life, always being drawn to that sound. You can really only get that sound through open tunings. When I was introduced to Nick Drake, [he] uses some crazy tunings and it’s the most beautiful, stunning guitar work that I’d ever heard. It just grabbed a hold of me. I guess the easiest, most general way to describe it is that I’ve always kind of been the type of person to try to merge Keith Richards and Nick Drake. [Laughs] Which is kind of an odd pairing, but it kind of works in a weird way.

I loved reading the press materials for this album, your comments in regards to realizing how much AC/DC influence there was in the band's sound early on.
The interesting thing about it, you know, Johnny [Colt] is rockin’ the Cliff [Williams] bass parts pretty much. [Laughs] The drum parts were very groove-oriented. Very Phil Rudd, not a ton of fills. And a lot of the guitar parts were just doubled. It was minimalist in that approach. But also, obviously, there was Rolling Stones, the Faces — everything and in between that you could imagine. But there was a lot more of that [AC/DC] and listening to Shake Your Money Maker really brought that back. I was like, “Oh, I forgot.” We were way into that rhythm section and the interplay between the guitars and what’s happening between Cliff and Phil Rudd. So it was eye-opening to look back.

We were all bummed when the Aerosmith tour was postponed last year after only a few shows, but it was a cool full circle moment for you guys, just getting to do that. What did it mean to you and Chris?
You know, when you say “full circle moment,” it literally was. When we put out Shake Your Money Maker, we did a six week tour with Junkyard in clubs. It was our first tour ever. We were in a van and we did the whole thing. It was cool. The next tour, I think it was a little bit shorter, with a band called MSG, again, in clubs. And the next tour was opening for Aerosmith. It was our first time in arenas, ever. They were great. Brad Whitford used to wear the Black Crowes t-shirt on stage.

I remember Joe [Perry] would play “Twice as Hard” in a jam he was doing every night. Like, he would really play that riff, because he loved that song. They were so supportive and so cool. We were like, “Man, this is amazing.” Because we’d grown up listening to AC/DC, Aerosmith, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, all of these bands, on top of all of the punk rock and alternative bands that we grew up with as well. We were just fans of music. So it was one of those things. When they announced this was the last tour and it came our way, we were like, “Fuck, man, what a cool thing to be able to do.” You know what I mean? Just to see this thing out. It is a full circle moment. It’s an honor to be a part of it.

Watch the Black Crowes' Video for 'Wanting and Waiting'

The Black Crowes Albums Ranked

From their lightning-bolt introduction to their reunion LP more than three decades later, they've rarely strayed from form.

Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

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