Trigger Hippy, the four-piece “country soul rock n’ roll” act led by former The Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman, recently ended a lengthy hiatus. The band returned to the stage for the first time in four years this summer, and a run of dates in the Northeast awaits in early November.
The new lineup features founding members Gorman and Nick Govrik (bass) alongside new additions in guitarist/vocalist Ed Jurdi and singer/saxophonist Amber Woodhouse. The band released their second album, Full Circle & Then Some, earlier this month. Five years after the first album cycle and its surrounding live shows, Gorman and Govrik weren’t certain that Trigger Hippy would continue—but they hadn’t given up, either.
A random rendezvous with guitarist Ed Jurdi a couple of years ago would put the idea back on their radar. Not long thereafter, Woodhouse completed the band’s new lineup. As the songs for Full Circle & Then Some took shape at Govrik’s home studio outside Nashville, the band coalesced with one another as well. Trigger Hippy’s sophomore album was released on October 11th, 2019, and the drummer is clearly very excited about the future of his current band.
Trigger Hippy – “Strung Out On The Pain”
[Video: Trigger Hippy]
However, Steve Gorman’s old band is never far from the news, either. Gorman has been a lightning rod for discussion with the newly-published Hard to Handle: The Life and Death of the Black Crowes – A Memoir. The lengthy memoir is a raw and revealing reflection on the group’s turbulent run from 1989-2015, replete with interpersonal drama, sibling conflicts, copious drug consumption, collaborations with members of Zeppelin, partying with the Stones, and much more.
Meanwhile, it appears Chris and Rich Robinson are gearing up for a reunion of sorts—one that Steve wants no part of. Instead, Gorman, a longtime Fox Sports Radio personality, launched a new syndicated radio show, Steve Gorman Rocks, which airs on weeknights via Westwood One/Cumulus Media Networks. As Black Crowes rumors swirl, the radio program and all things Trigger Hippy seem to be his immediate focus. You can read our full conversation with Steve Gorman below:
B. Getz: Let’s get right into it. So you’re taking Trigger Hippy back out on the road, just dropped the second album. What’s your perspective on getting back to the beginning and the basics and hitting the clubs with a new band, having already climbed that mountain once?
Steve Gorman: Well, it’s funny. If your new band is a project that you believe in, if you find people that you’re excited to be in a band with, it sort of removes the past. You just do what you do, and what bands do is they get in a van and they go do the clubs. It’s just like putting on your shoes again to go play a game, and the game’s still the same, you know? I don’t think about it in terms of what happened the first time. I’m just looking at everything in front of us, and just taking it slow. We have a band and we have a record that we believe in, and the rest will fall into place as it does.
B. Getz: Let’s talk about that record. Full Circle & Then Some is the band’s second record, but it’s kind of like a new beginning, because you have some new band members and the sound of the record is a bit of a departure from the debut.
Steve Gorman: Yeah, on the first one, Trigger Hippy wasn’t really even a band. It was just a thing, just a project… It started as me and Nick, the rhythm section, and whoever answered the phone and was available on a night. That turned into Trigger Hippy eventually, you know? The lineup on that first album, it wasn’t by accident, but it wasn’t by design either.
BG: So clearly you and Nick are the foundation, and Trigger Hippy is both of your vision, but did the band naturally and organically define itself as you put together the new album?
Steve Gorman: This is a long-winded way of saying it… it’s not science, it’s not art. It’s just some weird alchemy in the middle where you get the people in to jam, and it can be really good, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it [could] go anywhere… So we were pretty fortunate when Ed got together with us the first time. It was real obvious that we were all kind of together. That was a copacetic blending. Then, we worked with a few other people and wrote, had people in for writing and just jamming and all this. It was all good, but Ed felt like he was at home right away, and no one else did. Then, when Amber showed up, that same thing happened. Right away we went, “Hey, this is good. This is real. And she sees this the way we see it.” It’s really nice when that happens, because you can’t force those things… She was the final piece of the puzzle for sure.
[Photo: Scott Willis – Amber Woodhouse]
BG: I’m looking forward to hearing the reports on the road with Trigger Hippy and the new lineup. You are starting the tour in the Northeast. Why there?
Steve Gorman: Trigger Hippy, five and six years ago… We were in the Northeast a lot by happenstance. Then, just we found a great audience right away in New York and Boston and Philly and some of those areas, yet also in Nashville. It was just a matter of when you’re trying to put dates together, man, it’s just such a jigsaw puzzle. So, we had a chance to be in the Northeast right now. We’ll be in the Southeast in December, and hope to make it out to the west coast sometime early next year.
[Photo: Scott Willis – Ed Juri, Amber Woodhouse, Nick Govrik]
BG: Let’s pivot to some other stuff, as you are a man of many talents and interests. I know you have just launched a podcast, and I am a fan of your work in sports talk radio. How did you go from a rock drummer touring the globe to a radio station studio arguing sports with angry callers? Such opposite sides of the spectrum, if you will. How does that happen?
Steve Gorman: Well, I was a broadcasting major. My plan in my late teens and early 20s was to be a sportscaster… But it’s really just as simple as when I started doing a lot of radio stuff for the Crowes, I would go and do a lot of radio interviews, and it was always a comfortable thing. It really wasn’t until sports talk was blowing up in the late 90s and early 2000s that I found myself thinking it’d be really cool to do that—if I could do it in a weird way, like with a lot of musical content and just more lifestyle. Start with sports and veer off. Like [The Ringer founder] Bill Simmons, when he [started] writing for ESPN.com, and the way he wrote … the first few times I ever read his columns, I was like, “That guy’s writing the radio show I want to do,” you know?
BG: So it turned from an idea in your mind into a reality?
Steve Gorman: I realized I could put together a pretty interesting show, so when the opportunity to just do it more regularly came up, I just said, “Well, let’s really do this. Let’s see if we can’t make a show out of it.” It was just that simple. Plus, I’ve never had any fear of failing at anything in my life. I mean, I don’t like to fail. You want to succeed, but I’ve never allowed the fear of something not working to keep me from trying it. So, it didn’t feel like a huge thing to me to say, “Yeah, I want to do my own show.” It just seemed like the most natural thing in the world to do.
BG: A lot has been said and written about your recent book Hard to Handle: The Life and Death of the Black Crowes, which focuses exclusively on your quarter-century behind the drum kit with The Black Crowes. I was moved by the way you repeatedly—and so very fondly—remembered the late Ed Harsch, keyboardist of The Black Crowes. A couple of those passages brought tears to my eyes. “Weird Ol’ Ed,” what a character! So, instead of asking you about the omnipresent sibling drama or band conflicts, would you like to take the last few minutes of our conversation to reflect on Ed a little bit?
Steve Gorman: I mean, it’s impossible to quantify what he meant to the band. To everyone’s individual musicality and the band’s collective musicality, Ed was the connector. I looked at it like this: We were on our way to someplace that we would have found eventually, and Ed got us there a whole lot quicker.
In 1990, as we were growing and becoming a better live band, we were doing the work and we were focused on the right things, but Ed was just pouring gas on that fire. Suddenly, we had a guy on stage with us every night who was already where we were trying to get to. What’s the old adage, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear?” That’s what Ed was for us. We just needed someone to show us the way, and that was what Ed did for The Black Crowes. And then along the way, he provided endless humor and warmth and just like you said, he’s just such a unique character, and he made up a full one-sixth of the essence of that brand at its greatest. When The Black Crowes were [at] their best, it was six people all growing together and all committed with everything they had, and the best years of the band in my mind are ’91 through ’96 when Ed was [there] … It started the day he got there, and it ended the day, really, in ’97, the day Johnny [Colt] and Marc [Ford] left.
A Tribute To Eddie Harsch
[Video: Hippie Smile2]
Trigger Hippy fall tour begins on November 2nd at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. See a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates below, and find more info on their website.
Trigger Hippy Tour Dates
November 2 – Woodstock, NY – Levon Helm Studios
November 3 – Jersey City, NJ – White Eagle Hall
November 5 – New York, NY – Chelsea Music Hall
November 6 – Philadelphia, PA – Ardmore Music Hall
November 7 – Norfolk, CT – Infinity Hall
November 8 – Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
November 13 – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
November 14 – Milwaukee, WI – Shank Hall
November 15 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen
November 16 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
December 12 – Chattanooga, TN – Songbirds Guitar Museum
December 13 – Atlanta, GA – The Vinyl
December 14 – Birmingham, AL – WorkPlay Theatre
December 19 – St. Louis, MO – Blueberry Hill Duck Room
December 20 – Memphis, TN – Growlers
December 21 – Louisville, KY – Zanzabar