Trigger Hippy

An interview with Steve Gorman, founding member of The Black Crowes, and drummer for Trigger Hippy
by Mike Huberty
November 2019

Trigger Hippy

Trigger Hippy

As a founding member of THE BLACK CROWES, Steve Gorman was the drummer on some of the biggest rock hits of the early 90s. In fact, it was him you first heard banging out the unforgettable drum intro to the band’s immortal cover of OTIS REDDING‘s “Hard To Handle”. And that’s the title of his recently released autobiography, *Hard To Handle: The Life and Death of The Black Crowes - A Memoir*, and that’s just the first of his big projects this Fall. He also began a nationally syndicated radio show called *Steve Gorman Rocks!* in September and has also just put out a new album *Full Circle and Then Some* with his roots-rock band, TRIGGER HIPPY. After originally forming in 2009 with a revolving cast of singers and guitarists (including JOAN OSBOURNE of “One Of Us” fame and former CROWES guitarist JACKIE GREENE) they’ve solidified a new lineup with vocalist and sax player Amber Woodhouse and guitarist and singer Ed Jurdi. 

TRIGGER HIPPY basically started when the bassist Nick and I started jamming together.”, Gorman says. “The first time we ever played together we felt like an actual rhythm section, it wasn’t a drummer and bass player jamming, we were like locked in and connected immediately. And that doesn’t happen that often, to that level, where we both felt that.”

And it’s that connection that lead Steve and Nick to reform the band with Woodhouse and Jurvi and he says that they knew they were on to something right away. “‘Born To Be Blue’ was one of the first things we wrote for the new record. When we were demoing it, which was just acoustic guitars and me keeping time with my fingers on a speaker into an iPhone… it’s the same arrangement but much longer, we have versions that are thirteen or fifteen minutes because we all just loved holding that intro groove for so long… That was the song that told us that we were on the right path to something really cool. I think it serves as the spine of the album. It’s the first thing we put together that really showed us ‘Okay, let’s go do this, this is gonna be great.’”

Gorman says that they wanted to make an album that “If it’s on in the background at a party, everyone’s kinda moving to it without realizing it. Like LITTLE FEAT records or WAR. There’s these records that people know that they don’t know that they know. There’s certain records that always have that feel. We spelled Hippy H-I-P-P-Y, the duality of the words just sounds good to me, but it’s also like ‘get your hips moving’, you gotta have a groove.”

Even the title Full Circle And Then Some implies it’s about a group of people who’ve been around. And because the group were all music industry vets, it came naturally. “Lyrically, most of the content is all about being the ages we are.” Gorman continues, “‘Full Circle and Then Some’ and ‘Strung Out On The Pain’ those are songs about relationships that are weathered and lengthy, that are very strong but have been through their ups and downs. Everybody in the band can relate to that. Nick wrote those lyrics and to me they’re self-explanatory, but they’re not the typical ‘I’ve got a crush on this girl’ lyric. It’s more like ‘Now that we’re twenty years in, what the fuck now?’”

Gorman knows that he’s not going to get away from the legacy of his most famous band, even as the rumor mills swirl about a reunion tour that won’t be including him. But he’s said what he has to say in his book. “It’s a very personal story and there’s a lot of my emotions on every page.”, he describes. “It’s all about my continuing to be in a situation that’s very unhealthy. It’s an absurdist comedy with a lot of sadness punctuated by moments of great highs. As opposed to a band full of great moments and every now and again things went sideways, we were sort of backwards. The whole thing was veering side to side and every now and again we hit some alchemy that made it magical. It’s absurd the things that we put ourselves through chasing this dream well after we should have woken up and realized we didn’t need to chase the dream, we were living it, let’s be responsible to it. And we were never able to do that.”

“People talk about ‘you were in the eye of the hurricane’, no I was the eye of the hurricane. The credit and the blame in a band, is shared for creating that environment. It’s funny to be the drummer in a band and recognize that the public perception eventually becomes the band’s own perception. The guy who’s famous suddenly thinks that because he’s talking the most his words carry more weight. And the truth is, the rest of the band, after a few years and this happens in most bands, goes ‘Dude, you’re just famous, you’re not smart. You didn’t make the decisions that got us here and now that you’re the face of the band you’re not about to start making all the decisions.’ That was the struggle with my singer and it’s the struggle with many singers. It’s very hard to become famous and not ascribe weight to the fact.” He laughs, “Dude, Wink Martendale is famous. Kato Kaelin is famous!”

So with the Crowes, Gorman was playing festivals and stadiums but on this tour, TRIGGER HIPPY will be playing mostly clubs and small theaters, including their stop at The High Noon Saloon in Madison on November 13th. Steve explains the difference. “There’s no rules in a club, you just build a vibe every night that’s pretty unique.”, he says. “All things equal, those are the most fun shows for musicians. You’re getting immediate feedback and not just in the applause but you’re seeing it in people’s eyes.”

“It’s funny because every musician’s goal is to get to a bigger place,” he continues. “But the bigger places you do lose a little bit of that magic and you lose a lot of that connection. It’s like you use the same muscles in a different exercise and it’s all cool and it’s all good. And any musician will tell you this if they’re honest. There’s nothing like playing a club gig where the people are right there in front of you, there’s no faking it.”

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Trigger Hippy
CD: Full Circle And Then Some Record Label: Turkey Grass Records
Purchase Full Circle And Then Some on Amazon