Full Circles
Black Crowes Co-Founder Rocks His Roots with Trigger Hippy

By Lee Valentine Smith

While Chris and Rich Robinson plan a massive summer Black Crowes tour with newly hired hands, co-founder Steve Gorman is happy to play clubs and theaters with his own band. Along with bassist Nick Govrik, guitarist Ed Jurdi and Amber Woodhouse on vocals and sax, Trigger Hippy has issued an engaging new roots-rock album called Full Circle and Then Some.

The title mirrors Gorman's own musical journey from clubs to arenas to festivals as drummer in The Black Crowes. Currently headlining a small venue tour, the band arrives in Atlanta this month for a show at Vinyl in the Center Stage complex.

Gorman chatted with INsite by phone from his home in Nashville.

How did Trigger Hippy come together? You and Nick go way back at this point.

It started just from jamming with Nick here in Nashville. After we played, we sat and drank beer until two in the morning. It was like, 'Holy shit, we're a real rhythm section.' We felt like we'd really recognized each other.

After living in Atlanta for so long, how did it feel to move to Nashville?

I grew up about an hour from here and Nashville was the first place I'd go to see bands in clubs, so it had always been kind of an auxiliary home. I left Atlanta twenty years ago because my life had become an existence within a three-mile block because anything else wasn't worth trying to get around to. Then I lived in L.A., so in comparison to both, Nashville seems pretty easy to me.

Fast forward to the Trigger Hippy timeline. The first official show was 2009, right?

Well Trigger Hippy has been used for a variety of things. If it had Nick and I in it, we called it that. People say this is now Trigger Hippy 2.0, but really it's more like Trigger Hippy 9.0. There's been a whole lot of people involved. In 2012, we found a band that clicked and we made a record. Rounder put it out but the band at the time was something we all had varying degrees of passion for. Nick and I wanted to put all our musical eggs into this basket. We wanted to be a full-time band. But everybody was busy and I was still in the Black Crowes.

Naturally it took a while to retool the band.

Yeah, we said if we want to continue, we need to find people who want to do it the way we want it to be. So this album was basically slowly built over time, with the notion that it's becoming a full-time thing.

With Joan [Osborne] and Jackie [Greene] on board, Trigger Hippy became a low-key supergroup for a little while.

Yeah but that was never by design and again, everyone was busy. This time around we don't have a hard-wired plan, we haven't all gone out and gotten tattoos to seal the deal but it's much more of an agreement to the goal. For us that goal is simple, we just want to be a band that can play shows and continue to write music. So we're just a few weeks into kicking this thing off. We're building it into something that finally feels like a real band.

It's no longer on the side-project backburner.

No, it's the only thing I want to do musically at this point. Having been in bands that changed lineups over the years, when you find the right chemistry, you should do all you can to protect and maintain it.

As you know, a good band is often a much closer bond that marriage or family.

To me the Black Crowes are the perfect example of a band that had a whole laundry list of incredible, inherent strengths but just couldn't figure out what they were - or couldn't admit it. The strongest version of that band was those six people, playing those songs. It wasn't just the songs, it was who was playing the music.

The Crowes are often compared to Oasis because of the whole brother-aspect, but that's not an accurate example, is it?

Yeah, because Oasis was the kind of band that had one guy primarily writing the songs from start to finish and you had a band that wasn't really putting their own personal stamps on the parts. It was all Noel's masterplan and they did very well with it. But that wasn't who the Black Crowes were. With us, it was all about who was in that room.

It must be nice to finally do whatever you want and play the venues you choose.

Yeah, Nick and I took our time with this because of that. We made this record in our own studio on our own dime and we aren't answering to anybody but ourselves.

Artistic freedom always feels good.

It really does! I'm not saying this is the best album I've ever played on, that's a ludicrous concept either way. But I have had the least amount of second-guessing on this record. There was never a Black Crowes album where, on the day it was released, I didn't go, 'Man, I wish I'd done that differently.' But with this album, I didn't have a single one of those moments.

Trigger Hippy plays Friday, December 13 at Vinyl. For more information, please visit triggerhippy.com.



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