Interview with Robby Krieger

Hey Robby, what have you been up to?

I just did a show last week on the radio — on Rockline. Do you know Rockline?

Yeah, of course.

It was pretty cool. I had my son with me and we played some songs.

Nice. What did you guys play?

We played “Spanish Caravan” and I played some stuff from my new album ‘Singularity’. Then, we did one of my son’s new songs. His band is called DarkRoom and the song we played is called “DarkRoom”. We also did “Back Door Man” and “Five To One” acoustically.

How long have you been playing and listening to flamenco guitar?

Well, before I played rock ‘n’ roll I played flamenco. When I first got into guitar it’s what I wanted to do — play flamenco. But, then I kinda gave it up after a while. I started playing “Spanish Caravan” again during the past 5 years or so when I’ve been playing with Ray. We started doing “Spanish Caravan” and I would do this flamenco intro. So, I started practicing my flamenco again. You really have to keep it up.

How long were you working on your songs for your new album ‘Singularity’?

Well, it’s a long story, but the first song that’s on there is “Russian Caravan”. I started that song about 15 years ago [laughs].


My buddy and I, the guy who wrote with me on the album, Arthur Barrow — he used to play with Frank Zappa — about 15 years ago we had the idea to do this homage to Miles Davis. We wanted to do something like “Sketches Of Spain” and it would start with flamenco and it would go into this orchestral thing. Arthur was into composition. He’s real good at that. So, we started on this project and we kinda gave up after a while — it became too crazy. Then, just recently, we pulled it out of the backburner and said, “now we gotta finish this thing.”

Have you and Arthur been collaborating for a long time?

Yeah, we have. Arthur was the bass player in the first Robby Krieger band. We always jam over at his studio. We get all these great players to come over and jam. We’ve recorded a lot of cool jams over there. Eventually we’ll have to put something out.

Where was ‘Singularity’ recorded?

Mostly at Arthur’s studio and some at my studio. Arthur has a studio around Venice Boulevard here in California. And my studio is up at my place.

Everyone’s moving towards the home studio.

Yeah, it’s kinda the way of the future. It’s putting a lot of studios out of business. It’s either that or they go into film scoring.

Would you ever consider composing music for film?

I would if it was the right thing, you know? I think eventually that is what I would like to do. There’s a couple things on this record I think would be great for a movie soundtrack.

Absolutely. What guitars were you using on ‘Singularity’?

I used a lot of guitars. For slide I used this weird Harmony guitar that Arthur had over at his studio. Then, I used my Les Paul — I have a Black Beauty that I used for some slide too. I used my SG a lot and a strat for some stuff. For the flamenco, I have a ‘63 Ramirez flamenco guitar that my dad bought me back in ‘63. He paid only $200 for it!

I was worried you might play favorites with one guitar.

[laughs] Not really, but I do love that SG. This new SG that Gibson came out with for me is pretty cool. The neck is a ‘61 Les Paul Junior. It’s a really wide and flat neck that I really love. It’s got a cool wiring thing where if you pull the pot up on the treble and bass knob it puts the bridge pickup out of phase. You can then get that sound that I got on “Peace Frog”. That’s exactly how we got that sound [Robby sings the riff].

How did you conceptualize your song “Event Horizon”?

Some of the songs have astronomical-type names. I used one of my paintings as the album cover. I thought it kinda went with the music somehow. The name of the painting is ‘Singularity’. The reason for that was because the painting to me looked sort of like a black hole. And, an event horizon is the point at which in a black hole the light can no longer escape. It’s that area around the black hole where everything kinda goes into the black hole and can’t come back out.

To me “Southern Cross” could be great in a movie soundtrack. Southern Cross is one of the constellations that you can only see in South America.

How long have you been painting?

My mom was a painter. She wasn’t a professional painter but she was very good. I used to fool around with her paints when I was a kid. Then I stopped doing it for a while, but 20 years ago we had a radio station here in L.A. called KLSX and they had a benefit for AIDS. They asked a bunch of us if we would paint something for the benefit that they could auction off. So, I painted something, and it came out really well. From then on I’ve been painting.

Do you kinda run down into your basement when you’re inspired and start painting?

Yeah, exactly. It’s kinda different than music but it’s something you can do that’s artistic. You never know what’s gonna happen when you start painting — at least I don’t [laughs]. I’m not a good enough painter to know what I’m doing. But, you don’t have to be really proficient in it to do something really cool. That’s the cool thing about it. And it’s really fun.

You and Ray Manzarek are heading out on tour this month, right?

Yep. We just got back from doing the east coast. We have a new singer who’s name is Miljenko Matijevic. He was the lead singer of Steelheart. He’s got a 6-octave range and he really nails some of Jim’s screams and stuff that are really hard to do.

So you’re doing a lot of The Doors material? Any solo material from you, like a little acoustic set?

No, not on this tour, but I am going to go out and do some touring after this album. That will be in the fall. In fact, when we go to Europe we’re gonna be doing some shows with an orchestra — the London Philharmonic. Also, over in Dublin. So that’s going to be cool, to have a big ol’ 50 piece orchestra behind you.

Are you guys arranging that?

Actually my buddy Arthur, that worked on my album with me, arranged some of it, and we have a guy Brent Havens who has arranged most of it. It’s pretty neat, you know there are some Doors songs that don’t have charts like ‘Touch Me’, ‘Wishful Sinful’, so those charts are done just like the record. It’s kind of fun to hear ‘Back Door Man’ with an orchestra [laughs].

You guys should put out a DVD, that’d be great to hear.

Yeah we’re thinking about that, we just have to see how it works out first. We actually did a show with an orchestra in Phoenix not too long ago and it came out great.

We also have a video that just came out called ‘When You’re Strange’. They’re putting it out in Europe right now and it’s really taking off over there. You know, over here it’s pretty hard to get a documentary in theaters. We were lucky to get how many theaters we did, but over there it’s a different story and it’s really going well.

Last question Robby, we asked people on Facebook what they would like to ask you and one person wanted to know about your craziest night on the road. You’re not having any more of those crazy party nights, are you? [laughs]

[laughs] There’s no crazy partying now. Well, you know, I guess the difference is you can’t afford to stay up all night at this age, but we still have parties and still go crazy. I think the main difference is not having Jim Morrison and having to worry whether he’s going to show up the next day. That was a little bit tough, but then again we miss Jim a lot and being so spontaneous, that was The Doors, and it was tough sometimes but it was great other times. When you came to a Doors show you never knew what you were gonna get — it might be great or it might be horrible. Now you know it’s gonna be great every time [laughs]. It’s just not quite as spontaneous.

[laughs] Thanks so much Robby and good luck on tour!

Thanks a lot.

Pick up Robby’s new album Singularity