Publiť sur classicrockrevisited.com, mai 2001
Entrevue rťalisťe par Jeb Wright
I want to start off talking about Cinematix. I have been listening to this for two straight days. You know I want to talk about War Toad but I want to put that off for a minute. Some of the soloing blew me away.
Robby Krieger : Are you a guitar player?
I will admit that I am not on that level but I hold my own pretty good with Foghat!
Robby Krieger : (heh heh)
What number solo album is this?
Robby Krieger : Letís see, I think I have 6 or 7 of them.
Would I be wrong in saying that this has a bit of a different spin on it than the others?
Robby Krieger : It is a little more fusion. The last couple have been a little more rock.
What inspired you to go this direction with your playing?
Robby Krieger : Gee, I donít know. I have always liked fusion and I have been working towards trying to play that stuff for a long time. Recently I have gotten to the level where I can do it without being embarrassed about it.
The lead break in Skip is great. You just go crazy. Is that written out or do you just go wild?
Robby Krieger : None of it is written out. I am not a good reader. Like most guitar players, I play more by ear. You canít really write stuff like that out because it wouldnít make any sense.
Do you do a lot of improvising?
Robby Krieger : I try not to think what key I am in. I donít want to think that I have to stick with this scale or that scale. I try to be as free as possible when I am doing a solo like that. I say, ďHow would Coletrain do this?Ē
You like the horn players.
Robby Krieger : I like to copy horn players. A guitar player doesnít really think like a horn player so I like to approach it like they would. I like to play Charlie Parker solos and stuff like that.
I recently interviewed someone who listed you as an influence of his. Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult said that his solos were influenced by jazz guys and you.
Robby Krieger : Blue Oyster Cult is influenced by the Doors but I didnít realize that Buck was that much into my guitar playing. Thatís great.
On the songs Psycodelica you have another classic rock legend playing with you, namely Edgar Winter.
Robby Krieger : What happened was that the guys in my band were in a band in LA called Jazz Is Dead. They were playing Grateful Dead stuff with a jazz flavor. They were all in town so I grabbed them and asked them to play on the song. Later I got Edgar to play a solo on it. He was never satisfied. Heíd go, ďMan, thatís no good!Ē Iíd go, ďEdgar, thatís genius!Ē He always wanted to do better. I had to make him stop. I love how he plays.
On your album you really have a flavor to your playing.
Robby Krieger : You canít try to have a style but I figure if your Mom canít recognize you then you ainít worth nothing!
You can sit down with a guitar 100 times and you get nothing but then the 101st time something comes out. The key is to get to the 101st time!
Robby Krieger : (laughs) Yeah, every time!
How much work goes into a guitar jazz fusion album where you work on something and then listen to it and go, ďMan, that just isnít it.Ē
Robby Krieger : You would not believe it. That is the problem with having your studio at home. You are never satisfied. Youíre not under the clock so you know that you can do better. You just keep doing it over and over. It is a never ending thing sometimes. You have to harness yourself. You have to realize when the peak is and stop at that point.
Your Robby Krieger and I have spent most of my life listening to the Doors. I mean, your Robby Krieger you donít have to continue to grow. You can do whatever you want. What is it that inspires you to grow as a musician?
Robby Krieger : I donít know! I wouldnít do it if I wasnít growing as a musician. If I just stayed at the same level like some people I know, I would just be to bored to do it. The fun part is to get better and to grow.
You have some cool song titles. How do name instrumentals? I like The Missionary Jam.
Robby Krieger : The way that we got that one was that we were recording in San Bernadino. The studio is down by this chain of missions that run up and down the coast of California (laughter). That was a true jam by the way. We turned the tape recorder on and played. We didnít talk about it and nobody talked about what key we were in. It came out pretty good.
That is going back to the jazz days!
Robby Krieger : (chuckles) Well, yeah. I guess that is the purest form of jazz. It is just improvisation, taking it all off of the top of your head.
Are you playing any of this live? Will you take it on the road?
Robby Krieger : We have been for the last six months. I do some of my stuff and a lot of Doors stuff. It seams like we are doing more and more in fact.
Do you just like playing it?
Robby Krieger : I like playing it and I realize that the audience wants to hear the Doors stuff. They are always into my stuff too. I love it when people come back after the show and they always mention how much they like my original stuff.
Where did you come up with the idea for War Toad?
Robby Krieger : Electra Records had hired some remixes to do some dance mixes on Peace Frog. They tried three or four different ones and they were bad. I thought, ďI could do better than that.Ē I needed an extra track for my album and Danny Sugerman, our Doors record company consultant recommended it to me. He said, ďYou know you hate these remixes so why donít you do one and stick some guitar on it and use it as your extra stuff.
The first time I listen to an album for review I donít even look at the tracks. I donít want to be influenced by a lyric or by a name of a song. I want to hear it all for the first time. It just seems that I pick up on everything that way. I didnít even see that one coming. I just freaked out and said, ďWhat the hell is this?Ē It was so cool!
Robby Krieger : It is different than anything else on the album. I did feel a little weird about that but that is why I put it last so it would kind of surprise you.
I love the play on words. You made Peace Frog into War Toad. Who came up with the play on words?
Robby Krieger : I did. I played it for Jim Ladd at KLOS. He started playing it every night and he told me that he got a great response from people calling in and wanting to know where to get it. I am going to be doing a promotional thing on there and trying to get it on the radio. It is not easy to get on the radio these days. Judging from the response he got I think it might have a chance to do something.
I have turned a couple of people onto it myself. I just tell them to check this out. You gotta hear it!
Robby Krieger : That is how it starts out. Little grass roots things like that can make it happen.
The Doors started out grassroots.
Robby Krieger : We always considered ourselves a total underground band. When Light My Fire came out it kind of blew the whole underground thing out of the water for a while. But after that song, we kind of went back to being an underground band. People kind of thought of us as a pop group for a while but we thought of ourselves as underground.
I am 34 years old and I had to experience the Doors second hand. You guys were getting big when I was really small (laughter). To use a bad pun, each album that I discovered was like opening a new door for me musically. You have really kind of got the whole Wayneís World ďWeíre not worthyĒ thing going for you. I mean you were a Door for god sakes! Do you realize today what a huge band the Doors were?
Robby Krieger : I believe that people have not realized how good our albums are yet. Everyone has something on it that people have not discovered. Most people think that the Doors are all about Light My Fire or Riders On The Storm but there is a lot more on the albums that people have not really discovered.
How did the Doors come together?
Robby Krieger : Ray and Jim were at UCLA film school. I was at UCLA also. John was at Valley State. He and I and Ray happened to be in this meditation class together. Ray had a group with his brothers called Rick & The Ravens. Jim was going to sing them but they didnít get along very well. Ray and Jim decided to form the Doors. Pretty quick, they got a hold of John and myself. That is how it started.
When did you know that you had something very unique?
Robby Krieger : I want to say from the first rehearsal but I donít think we really realized how unique we were until we played at the Whiskey. The crowd went nuts. That was the place to play in those days. It was the hot spot in LA.
Did your first album take off right away?
Robby Krieger : It was really slow. The first single was Break On Through and that really didnít do much. It was kind of bubbling under for a while. In those days, you needed a single to sell an album. FM was just starting to happen. The album was out for about 8 months before we decided to cut down Light My Fire to try to get us on the radio.
Compared to your solo stuff you never really got to break out with the Doors. Did the Doors keep you from stepping out front to play solos?
Robby Krieger : I never thought of it that way. I was just learning how to play at that point. I had only played electric guitar for about six months when I got into the Doors. I was learning as I went. The guitar solo on Light My Fire was the longest solo that I had done up until then. It would get longer every night!
One song that has always stuck with me is Soul Kitchen. What a beat! Of course on the first record you have The End.
Robby Krieger : That is kind of a weird song. A lot of people donít realize that The End is what it is. It is definitely one of the most different songs of all time. Half the time people donít realize it.
You guys were just kids!
Robby Krieger : Ray was a little older. He was 28. I was 19 and Jim was 21.
How did you deal with the change in your life?
Robby Krieger : There is nothing you can do but just go on. We tried to go on as the Doors. We did two albums. We just couldnít get along anymore because the circle had been broken.
Your talking at the end of your career with the Doors.
Robby Krieger : Yeah, when Jim died.
Oh, I meant how did you go from a kid hanging out at UCLA and then all of the sudden you are playing to more people than go to that school.
Robby Krieger : It built up to that. It was not overnight. It wasnít traumatic or anything. We went from the Whiskey then on to other clubs. We played larger auditoriums and we played school dances and we played big halls.
When did you notice that your music was going to be remembered differently than other peoples?
Robby Krieger : When the first album came out and all these writers started talking about it is when it started. We knew that the stuff was great and that the words were unlike anything that had been done. Stuff like Jimís words in The End. I had written a couple on the first album but I was just trying to do something that would fit in with Jimís words. That is how I came up with Light My Fire and Love Me Two Times.
Most people write the music first and the words later. With Morrisonís poetry did you have to do the opposite?
Robby Krieger : Yeah, we did that on American Prayer. That is exactly what we did. Usually when Jim would come up with words he would have a melody in mind and he would give you some idea. This was totally different because all we had was Jim reciting his poetry. We had to envision the rest. It was hard to do but it was fun.
Was it hard to do emotionally as well?
Robby Krieger : Yeah it was a little weird but it was great. It was like being in the studio with Jim again. We just didnít have the body there.
Was he really as horrible in the studio as the movies make him out to be?
Robby Krieger : He could be difficult. He was a very impatient type guy and the studio can be kind of boring. It takes forever to get a fucking drum sound. He would get bored and he would get drunk and blow the whole session. It was difficult but then he would make it all worth it when he laid down that great vocal. Our producer, Paul Rothchild worked pretty good with Jim as far as getting good vocals and stuff. He could have made matters easier by speeding up the process a little more and not letting Jim get so crazed and bored. Looking back, it is easy to say that. What we should have done was not even have Jim come down there until we had all the sounds and everything ready. We should have waited until then and then gave him a call. That would have saved a lot of boredom and problems.
There seemed to be songs that went from being phsycodelic to being more statement oriented.
Robby Krieger : I guess you could say that. Jim wanted to do that. We tried to be apolitical. We didnít want to preach politics. We tried to be totally universal in our words.
Did you find that fame along with your life on the road helped or hurt the Doors?
Robby Krieger : It probably hurt. Jim was easily distracted. There were more hangers on. The more there were the worse it got. Everybody loved Jim and everybody thought that they were his best buddy. He would just make you feel that way. It didnít make for good working relationship. The last album was great because we produced it ourselves. We did it in a little studio and we had no pressure and it was truly great.
How did you avoid some of the same pitfalls that Jim had?
Robby Krieger : Probably from seeing how Jim had to deal with it, we were able to avoid it. He was the target for all that stuff so we were lucky on that regard.
Was there any feeling that Jim was getting out of hand?
Robby Krieger : Always! Jim was always on the verge of being out of hand. We had to be on the verge of collapse or on the edge in order to be us. No matter what great things would happen, Jim would do his best to try and destroy it as quickly as possible. At least he did that subconsciously.
There has to be an incredible stress from living on the edge.
Robby Krieger : Most definitely.
You got to live through one of the greatest time periods but I wonder was the drug influence too much. Did it end up destroying too many people?
Robby Krieger : I would say definitely. I donít know how many is too many. One was too many. It just wasnít necessary. Nobody realized how harmful the stuff was at the time. We just thought we could go on forever doing that. We found out later that it wasnít the case.
Did you ever get to a point where you thought, ďWe have made it! This is it!Ē
Robby Krieger : We never felt that way. We never felt like we were huge. Jim wanted to be huge. He wanted to be like the Beatles. We were underground. We didnít really sell that many records. We never sold more than 200,000 to 300,000. That was good in those days but it wasnít like the goldmine that it is today. We probably sell more records today then we did in those days. I really wish that Jim was around to see it.
That is ironic. After his death he became what he always wanted to be.
Robby Krieger : As each generation becomes aware of the Doors it keeps building.
How did you deal with the fact that Jim had passed away?
Robby Krieger : It was difficult but we sort of expected it. We knew that he wanted it. He would always talk about it. He was just so interested in death. It took a long time to deal with it. It is tough. We could have still been playing today if he hadnít blown his wad. In a way you are pissed at him and in another way you miss him. There was always something exciting when Jim was around. I miss him a lot.
What music do you think that you will have played at your funeral?
Robby Krieger : Light My Fire for sure. Maybe This Is The End.
What do you think the Doors would be doing if Jim was alive today?
Robby Krieger : Jim was very much into film so I am sure that we would be doing videos or something new in film. That was his first love.
If you could take any musicians dead or alive and put together a band, who would you choose?
Robby Krieger : Jim Morrison. Maybe Coletrain, Miles Davis and Gene Crupa.
How does it feel to have a Hollywood movie with one of the characters being you?
Robby Krieger : It is weird to have your life portrayed in an Oliver Stone film. It is pretty neat. The movie could have been better. I thought Val Kilmer was great. The music was great as well.
What songs really portray who you are musically?
Robby Krieger : When The Musicís Over. I like the solo in that.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Robby Krieger : I would love to play with Bob Dylan. Maybe David Bowie. Dylan has been my hero since I was 13 years old. I think that I would relate good with Bowie musically.
Last question, did Jim really whip it out in Florida?
Robby Krieger : (laughing) If he really did it then somebody would have snapped a shot of it!
We all know about Jimís wild stuff on stage. What is the wildest thing that you ever did?
Robby Krieger : That is a good question! Geez! It would probably be the time that I jumped of off the stage. I had a really bad back and I almost broke my neck!
Robby, thank you so much for meeting with me. It has been my pleasure to speak with you. If I can ever do anything for you donít hesitate to get a hold of me.
Robby Krieger : All right. Cool man. Thanks Jeb, it was cool talking to you. I will see you later.