The guiding principle for Nashville's Trigger Hippy during the past few years has been "we're not in a rush," according to co-founder and drummer Steve Gorman. That's why it took five years between its debut album and the new Full Circle and Then Some, out Oct. 11 and premiering exclusively below.
The 12-track set represents a new era for the band, which Gorman and bassist Nick Govrik first put together a decade ago. Its first incarnation featured Joan Osborne and Jackie Green, who left during the interim between albums. "There's genuinely no ill will," insists Gorman, who also co-founded the Black Crowes and recently published a book about his time in the band. "Jackie and Joan are such long-established solo artists, so in the context of a band we were just never on the same page. Because everybody's nice people, that was never a problem, and there was never a fight, like in my other band. But the first (Trigger Hippy) felt like a project, if you will, and it was fun, but this (lineup) feels like everybody's really on the same page and it's built to last."
Gorman and Govrik acknowledge they weren't certain Trigger Hippy would continue but also hadn't given up on it. But a meet-up with guitarist Ed Jurdi during 2016 put a little boot into the idea, Gorman says. "(Jurdi) said, 'If you and Nick do decide to do something, gimme a call. I would love to jam with you,' and I was thrilled 'cause he's such a great talent," the drummer recalls. "The first time we got together with him it was pretty immediate; We put together a few songs over the weekend and we were immediately in lockstep." Govrik, Trigger Hippy's chief songwriter, adds that, "There was a little apprehension, maybe, 'cause it's just so much work, and you feel like, 'Can I do this again?' But once we started, there was no question. Steve and I were, 'Alright, we're doing this. This is awesome.'"
Singer Amber Woodhouse completed Trigger Hippy's new lineup, and as the songs for Full Circle and Then Some came together at Govrik's home studio outside Nashville, the quartet's enthusiasm put its "no rush" mantra to the test. "Once Amber got involved I had this desire to go against everything I said — suddenly I was impatient," Gorman says. "Suddenly I was like, 'This is it. Let's go!' We got really excited again, and I liked that."
Full Circle comes from the same blend of rock, Americana, soul and blues with occasional gospel overtones that have been part of Trigger Hippy from the start. The songs are melodically tight, but with a looseness in the arrangements that clearly can clearly accommodate lengthy improvisation — which is exactly the case on "Born to Be Blue," a trippy eight-and-a-half-minute opus whose studio origins were completely organic. "We had this communal 'Let's ride this vibe for a long time' moment," Gorman recalls. "The shape of that song fell into place really quickly. When we first started playing it was, like, 12 minutes long. We just loved it, and it was very different from anything on the first record." Govrik, meanwhile, is heartened by the kind of cohesion he feels within the quartet now.
"Nobody is looking to be pigeonholed into one thing or painted into a corner, musically," he says. "Somebody just comes in and has something that's off the wall and we'll try it and see what we can make out of it. Things come together so much easier. We loved the old (lineup), but it's just a different feeling now working in a band where people understand that it's a band and they know how to operate within it. It's a lot easier."
Trigger Hippy celebrates Full Circle's release on Oct. 11 with a show at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, then plays a run of dates during November and December. The group is looking toward more touring and festivals during 2020, as well as making up for lost time with more new music — with enough already around for another album, Gorman says. "I'm thrilled to have a backlog of songs — a ton of songs we've worked up but haven't recorded yet," he says. "In a perfect world our vision of success would be we're constantly recording in between playing shows, just to have stuff in the pipeline at all times. We all enjoyed this process and we've talked a lot about the idea of 'by next summer, let's have the next batch already recorded.' It just gives me great hope that there really is something to do next."
Besides Trigger Hippy, Gorman has been busy with the newly published Hard to Handle: The Life and Death of the Black Crowes — A Memoir. The 343-page book is a frank and revealing look at the group's turbulent run from 1984-2015 — interpersonal conflicts, drug issues and all — with Gorman lamenting opportunities squandered and potential unfulfilled.
"I'm not angry or bitter — I know that because I used to be," says Gorman who's also launched a new syndicated radio show, Steve Gorman Rocks, that airs weeknights via Westwood One/Cumulus Media Networks. "To me it's a sad story. That band was always going to be a sad story, always an 80-yard sprint on a 100-yard field. I'm not riding in on a white horse in this (book); I was as much of a mess as anybody else was some of the time. But I'm always going to be sad for what that band could've been and knowing that we actually did operate as a unit, as a collective for two albums and two tours, and then it never really happened again. The waste of that opportunity is always going to bum me out."