Deep inside a fortified bunker in the mountains near Arco, Idaho, the Black Crowes have convened to rehearse for their upcoming world tour. Chris Robinson is seething.
"I wanna tear that guy's head off," he screams, "and shit down his fucking throat!"
Chugging the remnants of his fourth Zima, the normally über-Zen, 41-year-old frontman grabs a gold-plated Tuatahi throwing ax and hurls it across the room, the blade sinking deep into the floor-to-wall-to-ceiling Astroturf. Four Peruvian alpacas scamper away, bleating in fear, as Penderecki's Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima blares from the bunker's hi-fi stereo system. With recent reports that ex-wife Kate Hudson has rekindled the fire with former flame Owen Wilson, you might expect Robinson's rage to be focused on the "Butterscotch Stallion." Given the singer's volatile relationship with brother and bandmate Rich Robinson, the ax could just be the latest salvo in their long-running feud. Or Robinson could simply be venting about the sudden departure of long-time Crowes Marc Ford and Eddie Harsch from the group last year.
Stalking across the bunker, Robinson denies the notion that his anger has anything to do with romantic rejection, bickering brothers, or splitting bandmates. Pulling the axe from the turf, he holds up the true source of his fury: a mangled copy of Maxim, the tits-and-ass mag that recently confessed to writing a negative review of the Crowes' new album, Warpaint, without having heard a single note from the record.
"This shit is fraud," Robinson yells. "These guys are worse than Jayson Blair and Milli Vanilli combined, dude. They're fakes. If they had bothered to listen to the fucking record, they would have realized that this is our masterpiece, our "Oops, I Did It Again" crossed with the raw emotion and sexual energy of Lindsay Lohan's A Little More Personal. It's like Strawberry Alarm Clock and Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra packed into a monster chalice of sticky, heady geniusosity."
Robinson is obviously incensed, but his lofty comparisons are a bit off-base. If Maxim reviewer David Peisner had actually bothered to listen to Warpaint, he would have found that the album's eleven tracks channel the primal urgency of British industrial metalists Throbbing Gristle mixed with the dulcet tones of Christopher Cross' "Sailing." Tunes like "Secretion (A Movement in Three Parts)" and "Are You Sure Gary Coleman Did It This Way?" mark a return to form for the Crowes in this, their first album in more than four years. Expansive, cinematic, and vertigo-inducing, Warpaint is the groundbreaking tour de force Crowes fans have been waiting for, an album that transcends place and time like Blanche Devereaux of The Golden Girls.
Enraged, Robinson waves off any additional questions and points me in the direction of his bandmates. In the corner of the bunker, the murder of Crowes — Rich Robinson, Steve Gorman, Sven Pipien, and new members Adam MacDougal and Luther Dickinson — play Parcheesi and sip piña coladas, waiting for the elder Robinson to tend to his trembling alpacas.
"I just wish these damn journalists would learn a thing or two from respectable journalists like Ryan Seacrest or Geraldo," the bearded singer rants, tossing some hay into the llamas' stalls. "You can't write about something you know nothing about."
Editor's note: Much like some of the recent press the Black Crowes have received, none of this is actually true.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly called Marc Ford and Eddie Harsch original members of the Black Crowes.