Liminal States - Robbie Krieger talks about reopening The Doors
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
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
[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
[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
[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.