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Liminal States - Robbie Krieger talks about reopening The Doors
By Matthew S. Robinson
(more articles from this author)
2001-03-19
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Thirty years after they were recorded, a tour's worth of Doors shows has emerged from the proverbial (and, in many cases, actual) vaults.

In celebration of these discoveries, the remaining members of the legendary LA band, along with Producer Bruce Botnick and Manager Danny Sugerman, have put together a new label, Bright Midnight Records, which will soon begin releasing the concert tapes via the band's official website (www.thedoors.com).

I recently had a moment to talk to the band's guitarist Robbie Krieger to see what the man who penned "Light My Fire" thought about this latest development in the band's still-burgeoning career and to check in on what else he was up to.

[Matthew] How did you come upon this new material?

[Robbie] Well, the sampler that just came out is a smattering from all of the upcoming albums. Each cut is from a different show in a different city. Each of the shows will come out by themselves one by one- Actually three by three - three albums every six months. We found about 20 shows from our 1970 tour. We recorded that whole tour on eight-track tapes. Our producers Paul Rothschild and Bruce Botnick had come on the road and recorded the whole thing. But there's other stuff too. One album will be interviews of Jim- some of which you've never heard before - hopefully. There will also be a tape of Jim Ladd's show. He's a DJ from KLOS in LA who interviewed us a lot. There will also be a collection of Jac Holzman, who owned Elektra Records, interviewing people about us and playing our songs, on a radio show he put together a while ago. That will probably be the last one. But we keep finding stuff, so you never know.

[Matthew] How did you chose which songs to put on the sampler?

[Robbie] I dunno. Danny Sugerman and I figured it out. We just chose the ones we liked and could agree on liking.

[Matthew] How has the legacy and the sound of the Doors stood up over time?

[Robbie] Well, I guess its held up pretty good, considering that we sell more records today than we did back then. It's amazing, the people who come to my shows- how many young people who come. Especially when I play where kids under 21 can come, we get kids as young as ten. I think they hear the stuff on the radio and they like it. I don't think their folks are forcing them to listen.

[Matthew] Who do you think you have influenced?

[Robbie] The tribute album we just did says a lot. We picked band who were influenced by us, like Smashmouth and Creed. They all were very interested in jamming with us. They were picking my brain like mad! The Smashmouth sound is obviously drawn from The Doors- not so much vocally, but the keyboard sound and how the sounds go together. Scott Stapp from Creed told me he moved to Melbourne Florida because he heard Jim had lived there.

[Matthew] Is the legacy of The Doors ever something you have wanted to get away from?

[Robbie] I used to shy away from it. Back when I first was doing solo albums, I wouldn't play any Doors stuff. I used to think 'How am I going to get out from under this?' But then I realized that you only get one chance to do something like The Doors and to try to separate yourself is impossible. When I saw these Doors tribute bands, like Soft Parade, and I saw how much fun they were having, I ended up playing more and more Doors stuff in my band.

[Matthew] Tell me about your new solo project, Cinematix

[Robbie] I have been trying to get into the movie soundtrack thing, so hopefully directors will see the name and get the hint. The other reason I call it that is that I believe that good instrumental music should make you visualize something. That's what happens to me. I see something. It's not like a hallucination, but I think visually - I think we all do - and the best kind of music makes you visualize something.

[Matthew] Where did the idea come from to produce an extended remix of "Peace Frog"

[Robbie] I needed another song for the European release and Elektra had hired these remixer guys to do one in England. We heard them, and they were just terrible! So I told Danny Sugerman that I needed an extra cut and he suggested that I do my own remix. He figured I could do it better, so I did. When I play, especially out East, "Peace Frog" is always the most requested song. I guess because it's so danceable. Not many Doors songs are, you know.

[Matthew] How did you chose your band?

[Robbie] It just keeps evolving. My son Waylon has played with me for the last ten years or so. For a while I had Barry Oakley Jr, who was Waylon's friend. Part of the reason I wanted to play was to give them exposure. I met Wah Wah Watson through Eric Burdon (The Animals), and we had a funny little band for a while. We found our drummer, Dale Alexander, from the Prince tour * fresh of the bus from Minnesota - and he was with me for a while, but now we have Andy Crosby, who's dad is Norm Crosby. But he may be gone soon because he is also playing with Quincy Jones' grandson.

[Matthew] What other projects are you working on?

[Robbie] We're re-releasing "The Doors" movie on DVD and doing a 'how they made it' with Oliver Stone, so I will do some music for that. We will go back on tour in a month or two, when my album starts hitting more stores. We're talking bout doing some Doors stuff. There was an album which came out called "The Doors Concerto" by Jaz Coleman with Nigel Kennedy on violin playing lead lines, so we may tour with them.

[Matthew] What does "bright midnight" refer to?

[Robbie] It's a lyric from "End of the Night." It was Danny's idea. I think it's a good title.

[Matthew] Will other bands be on the label, or is it just for the Doors releases?

[Robbie] You never know, but right now, it's just for this.

[Matthew] Will all releases be web-only?

[Robbie] At least at first.

[Matthew] What do you think of the music scene these days and the role of technology in it?

[Robbie] I think it's great! I don't know about the Napster deal, but I think it's great that new bands can get heard all over the world. But do you think any bands have broken thanks to the Internet? I don't know, but it would be neat if they had. I like the idea of circumventing the record companies and doing your own thing. They don't make 'em like Jac Holzman any more! He was a self-made guy and he was like family to us.

[Matthew] How was it for you coming up? Was the scene supportive of a young musician? How about your family?

[Robbie] My family wasn't into it off the bat, but once they saw what it was, they got into it. My folks used to follow us all over and my dad is now my biggest fan. They were into it- more than most parents, I think. In fact, they loaned us $300 for a piano base so Ray could play. My dad wanted 25% of the band in exchange, but he relented a couple of months later. He was trying to teach us values.

[Matthew] You were recently profiled in Guy Oseary's Jews Who Rock. Does your faith play a major role in your life?

[Robbie] I wish I could say it was, but no. My parents rebelled against that whole thing. Me and my brother might have gone to Sunday School about twice. That was about it.

[Matthew] Who or what were your biggest influences as a musician?

[Robbie] When I first started getting interested in music and playing guitar, there were some guys at my school from New York who had brought records that were Elektra records produced by Paul Rothschild, who later produced us. There was one called "The Blues Project" which had the young, white Blues players from the Lower East Side like John Hammond, Jr. and Koerner, Ray and Glover and Jeff and Maria Muldahr and Paul Butterfield, and I really got into that. And I started playing coffee houses with my guitar and harmonica holder like Bob Dylan. But the guy who really got me into Rock and Roll was Chuck Berry. I saw him on a good night - before he got pissed off - and that was the best show I have ever seen - before or since. So I got me an electric guitar and six months later, I joined the Doors.


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