You’re playing a lot of guitar in the band. Is this something you wanted to do in the Black Crowes?
“Yeah, that’s the other part of this. I played guitar in my solo incarnation, in New Earth Mud, but now I get to go deeper into it. There’s not a lot of space in the Black Crowes for me to play guitar. But as that band morphs into whatever it’s going to be, I’m still writing songs all the time, so that’s like my blind-person-crawling-across-the-floor reality.
“I work hard at the guitar, but I know my limitations. One of the lucky things for me is that I didn’t sit in my room playing Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. My influences are really different and weird, so they have nothing to do with the mechanics of the guitar. I work at the guitar and I spend time on it. The reality is, we get to play for four hours a day; you do 120 shows a year, you’re bound to get better at it. That doesn’t include sitting around backstage playing, doing stuff on the bus or in rehearsal. I won’t ever play as well as Neal, but I can still have my fever on the space station vibe.”
How do you work with Neal on divvying up guitar duties?
“I’m usually the plucky, rhythm-y person. My style is chaotic. Neal is more of the melodic, structured, Zen-like guitarist. With my playing, people have said, ‘You’re the only person who actually sounds like Syd Barrett did on his records.’ [Laughs] That’s cool with me – Syd Barrett in a folk-rock band. But you put my loose, disorganized thing with what Neal does, and it works ‘cause it’s musical. Our ears are attuned to our sound and what we’re doing.
“To me, it would be so boring and uninteresting to go out there and play the same solo the same way night after night. I know some people are proud of themselves when they can pull off that feat. I see them saying, ‘Thank you! Look at me. Worship me.’ That’s not for me. I’m fine for being a fringe element.”
The song Shore Power is set to a boogie-woogie rhythm, but there’s also some cosmic sounds that seem like they’re coming from old synths. That’s a great dichotomy.
“Cool, yeah. I think a fair amount of my writing is earthbound; there’s a dusty, wagon-wheel element to it. But we wanted to sugarcoat that in a more cosmic electronic glaze, sort of a Herbie Hancock Mwandishi-era synthed-out place, or almost a Bernie Worrell thing. That’s Adam’s thing. We’re putting our love of outer space and McCabe & Mrs. Miller in one sound.”