Robin Black is feeling good! Sitting in Nottingham’s Junktion7 in the middle of July, he seems totally at home. Drinking bottled water, the Canadian singer is on a natural high as the bands second UK tour is coming to a close and once again the response has been phenomenal. A double support/headline venture, part with AOR legends Danger Danger and part out on their own, Robin Black and the Intergalactic Rockstars have brought back the feel good factor of rock and roll that has been missing for a long, long time. Yes, we can be grateful that guitar bands are back in fashion but very few contain the amount of passion and excitement that Black and his bandmates can produce. They are a kind of Rolling Stones / Poison hybrid for a new generation! Might sound strange but it’s true, with their modern glam image coupled with a classic lineup. As the tour draws to close the larger than life but highly friendly and approachable Robin Black is more than happy to indulge in speaking about his band and recent venture across UK soil.
The tour is finishing this weekend what have been some of the highlights?
It's all been good but for some reason when we got into Nottingham today I just began to feel 'real' good. It's a very strange thing but this place is beginning to feel like home to me. You recognise the streets, you see people you know, you have a beer at your favourite pub - Nottingham's definitely starting to be my second home. It's going to be like a homecoming gig, it'll be like playing Toronto tonight.
I remember being a ten year old kid who dreamed of traveling around the world, playing with my band every night, meeting cool people and making an impact on people's lives and we're doing that and it's so fucking cool. Although I feel great today I begin to feel a bit sad when I realise there's only two or three shows left because it's all so much fun and it's all I ever wanted to do with my life. The first night we were here a girl came up to us in the Tap & Tumbler in Nottingham, my favourite pub, and asked to get Ky's autograph and the next day she showed up with it tattooed on her back, which I thought was a cool way to start the trip. It puts pressure on you though, I would never, ever have my favourite band tattooed on my arm because what if their next record is so bad it doesn't move you any more? When you see someone with your name tattooed on them you have to make sure that every piece of music and show you make is so good that they're proud to wear that tattoo.
It's pretty wild to keep touring an album that's a year and a half old and feeling how much people still appreciate that record. When you make an album you don't realise that a year and a half later there'll still be people discovering it and loving it. It's a great fucking rush!
How much as the set and band developed over the last couple of weeks?
We've played a similar set every night which in someways is weird but we need some kind of structure because everything is so random and the show itself is so violent and unpredictable and the physicality of what we do and how we interact with the crowds is so different. You need some structure even though the show seems different every night. Even people who have seen us six or seven times don't even realise we play things in the same order. We've thrown in a few of the songs that are going to be on the next record which we're going to be doing with Bob Ezrin whose one of our heroes which is so exciting. He did KISS 'Destroyer', Pink Floyd 'The Wall' and did the early Alice Cooper records, he's a great man. It's great when you find a producer you really trust and can trust with the songs you've worked so hard on and are so special to you and to your fans. He's been approaching us with different ideas which you can do when you trust someone but in the end it's how the fans react to how a song turns out.
You've made England your second home, what are you going to miss and most look forward to when you come back?
It's a beautiful country and my mother's Welsh so I have some background over here. We love to come over because the people are so cool but I think the biggest thing is that we're so excited to bring the thing that was so important and passionate to us and bring it to other people all over the world. Canada we've broken and done really well, and we've started to play America but England is the second place that proved to us that what we do is special. Music seems important in peoples lives here and as a result if they keep getting fed the same kind of crap over and over they're eventually going to look for something different. Bands such as our friends The Murderdolls are doing great, I'm hearing that vibe about The Darkness all the time we've been here. We got the record and it's pretty cool but it's not as good as what we do. If you only have two great songs and a really nice tight spandex outfit, that is not the future of rock and roll! That is something that in a culture and country starved for rock stars - they'll embrace it, but The Darkness are no were near as good or as special as us. I'm happy to see guys who obviously love rock and roll doing so well because there's so much bad music out there, but they are doing well because it's a novelty to see somebody who loves Queen and dirty arena rock and roll. They aren't the greatest band in the world but it is fun to see them getting success, but you put Robin Black and The Darkness on the same bill and we will embarrass those fuckers!
The debut album has a very space age theme. What was the inspiration behind that and will it continue with the second album?
When we started the band I had this passionate vision of us just arriving and exploding as if we came from outer space! And that idea and that excitement coming from my own fascination in astronomy and life on other planets, shaped and morphed it's way into the way the record came out. We're not a concept band or obviously really from outer space and none of us are confused enough to think we are, we're a rock and roll band and I will always be proud of the way we presented that first record. Part of what we were thinking was if we were a fifteen year old kid discovering rock music for the first time, what kind of record would we like? Would we like to be steeped in beautiful rock and roll concepts and the answer was 'Yes'. When you grow up with bands like KISS and Bowie, when the album had so much more than just the single and nine other songs it's something you feel you want to do and you hope some kid feels the same kind of excitement as you did.
What kind of response did you get from the Danger Danger crowd who tend to be very AOR / straight ahead Rock based? Was there any backlash or did they seem quite open to your musical style?
It was kind of odd because I'm so confident and so fully believe that what we do is good and can move people it felt weird playing in front of some of these people that seemed so committed to liking only one kind of music. But we go out there no matter who it is and do exactly our own thing and one thing that we always believe in is that whenever someone leaves that show they should either totally love us or hate us. If somebody says 'How was that band?' and someone answers 'I guess they were okay, I didn't really pay attention.' I don't feel we did our job. There was no doubt the Danger Danger crowds were really receptive and lots of people bought our record and we managed to turn some old, weird mulleted fucks onto something new and cool and I'm proud of that!
If you could choose any of your heroes to tour with, who would it be?
I don't know because it's weird, when we open a show or go and see another band I imagine it always being about us and there a small twinge of jealousy when I'm the opening band. So I think my perfect tour would be us on the road with some of my heroes opening for us! Alice Cooper could open for us or maybe The Rolling Stones!!
How do English crowds compare to a Canadian audience?
Canada, like England, varies from area to area. In some places were people feel so isolated and there's all these individuals that are so different and they have nothing uniquely their own, when you go there they loose their minds! It's like they've been waiting five, six or seven months until this one big party led by this rock band happens and they go crazy! Even Toronto which is probably our biggest fanbase, there are lots of people who play in bands and see entertainment all the time and stand there with their arms crossed until you literally have to kick them in the face with your music but I've never honestly had an unresponsive crowd.
How did the relationship between yourselves and TB Records begin?
When 'Planet Fame' came out in Canada (Valentines Day 2002) it immediately started to do well, the press was really interested, we were different, we made a good record. Our version of MTV, Much Music, was playing our video a lot and I've always wanted to start slowly going from country to country bringing our music to people. And the first people that came along to help us do that was TB Records. I'm so glad it was them because they're driven and hungry in love with what we do. One of the owners of the company was in Toronto on holiday visiting his girlfriends family. He turned on the TV, saw our 'So Sick of You' video and immediately phoned home and said 'We need to sign this band, we need to track them down and we need to do it now!' And now whatever we do or how far we go I will always be indebted to them for giving us our first shot outside of Canada.
How hard was it doing the kind of music you do to make an impact in a time when 'glam' and 'rock' was looked down upon?
Sometimes I'm really arrogant, sometimes I'm prickish, sometimes I'm rude about stuff and sometimes I'm boastful, but the dead truth is that there's very few bands like us on the planet and there was certainly nothing like us in Canada. Nobody wanted any part of what we did or had any interest it. There were press articles about how much they wanted us to go away and internet sites that said ‘who do these guys think they are?!’ But we just kept doing what we do until really human fans, not assholes in suits, not some jackass that programmes the radio, but real people saw our shows and told others and those real people made it happen. So when we got played on Much Music (more times than N-Sync during 2002) and the radio picked up on us, it was the people who demanded that. Sheer force of will made it work in a country that nobody wanted anything to do with what we do. Now there are three or four bands that are kind of like us, and I don't care who the fuck they are or what anybody says, every fucking one of them started because we exist! There's no way any of them would have had the balls to stand up to the resistance we fought to do this. I kicked the door wide open and invited them in. I wish them good luck but they'd better fuckin' thank me!
The album ‘Planet Fame’ is out now on TB Records