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Black Crowes back on

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I spoke with Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman the day he made a big announcement. No, nothing about drumming, or the band he's played with for 20-some years. This was about his long-running sports show, Steve Gorman Sports, broadcast on Nashville radio station 102.5 FM. Was broadcast, at least, until this month.

"I have things in the works," Gorman says on the phone, about his decision to leave Nashville radio. "The show will be back this fall with a few changes, all much better for me and for the show."

He's no stranger to big career shifts. After all, his Georgian rock band The Black Crowes have changed course significantly in the last 12 years, with two long hiatuses smack dab in the middle of their third decade of music-making.

"In 2001 and in 2010, at the end of those tours, I would have told you, I don't think the band's coming back," he says. "And I thought that even more so in 2010. I really didn't think the band would come back."

But the Crowes, whose hit songs "She Talks To Angels" and "Remedy" are ever-present radio tracks, even 20 years later, are back and happier together than ever.

"I've said this all year, and it still amazes me to hear it, but this is the best tour and best year the band has ever had as far as personal relationships," Gorman says. "We've had more fun in 2013, and allowed each other to have fun, and been more respectful and appreciative of each other than any time in the band's life, which is the greatest surprise of all."

That personal relationship reference is of course a nod to the often-strained, occasionally combative relationship of Crowes' members and brothers Chris and Rich Robinson, which hit its height in the '90s after the band's explosion of popularity. Coincidentally, Gorman has memories of some of that tension right here in Indianapolis.

"We always used to go to the Union Station where there was an indoor miniature golf course," Gorman says. "We would go have family-fueled angry grudge matches of miniature golf. That's what the '90s in Indianapolis were for me."

After those matches, they'd have to eat, of course.

"We used to hit St. Elmo's or Steak 'n Shake, depending on our mood," Gorman says, laughing when I tell him I wished I had served the Black Crowes when I was waitressing at Steak N' Shake years ago.

Their most recent release, 2013's four-LP Wiser for the Time, is a fairly concise musical history lesson for the Crowes, through all their stops and starts. Recorded during a five-night run in New York City just before their 2010 hiatus, Wiser for the Time is 26 tracks of Southern rock goodness, a career retrospective for a band with an uncertain future. But does Gorman like it?

"I don't like live albums!" he says. "We listen down to stuff and we know when something's good, but I rarely listen to Black Crowes records. In fact, I never do unless there's a reason to. I love our records until they're released. It's like you have this secret, and it's just yours. You're still thinking about it and living in that world. But the second that record hits the stores, the minute you share it with the buying world, it's not your record anymore. It's everybody's record."

But his feelings toward records - even live ones - doesn't have much effect on his feelings toward touring, which he sees as something completely different.

"We've never been a band that tours with the mindset of, 'We're on tour to promote an album.' Even when that was the norm, 25 years ago. Our tour was to tour," Gorman says. "That was our life; the point was to be a living, breathing, working band."

Really, it all comes back to wanting to just play the drums, which is all Gorman has wanted since he was a fourth grader playing "The Yellow Rose of Texas" on the glockenspiel.

"There was a sixth grader who played a full drum kit," Gorman says. "But that was only for sixth graders. And I was convinced I was going to be the only fourth grader to ever play the full kit. That, of course, didn't come close to happening. So, in my first act of true rock and roll defiance, I walked from the band, because it wasn't at all what I wanted. But I still took my drum and bells to school every Wednesday, because if I had told my parents I had quit after they bought those things for me, they would have killed me."

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