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Interview: Black Stone Cherry


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Southern rockers Black Stone Cherry have already had one hell of a 2016.

In just three short months, the American four-piece have headlined arena shows all over the UK, wreaked havoc on a tour that encompassed all of Europe and then, finally, released their blistering fifth studio album, Kentucky.

Yet, despite their seemingly exhausting schedule, Black Stone Cherry still found a way to make their brand new record one of their most energised and heaviest releases to date.

“I think that’s just naturally who we are,” the band’s lead guitarist Ben Wells says of their upped musical aggression.

“We self-produced this album, so the chains were lifted from us and we didn't have any outside interference. It felt good to just be the band we know we are. We wanted the record to capture the intensity of our live show as much as possible.

“We wrote several songs at home at our practice house, which is actually the house on the cover of the album. The last batch of songs we wrote while on tour in the US and Europe. All four of us collaborate together when writing, so it's always a fun thing. We just want to make the best material we can create.

“We've always been a group when it comes to writing and making demos of songs; that’s the way it’s been since the beginning. It keeps the music interesting when everyone’s personalities are coming through on it.”

Black Stone Cherry’s ideology of unity and togetherness within the band also manifests itself in the title of the new album, which they named after their home state.

“It just made sense. We are all from Kentucky and we all still live in Kentucky. We love it here!

“We recorded the album in our hometown, which we haven't done since our debut. Every musician on this album – other than the four of us – are also from Kentucky. So it was a way to sum up and come full circle. It really shows off our roots.”

Clearly, the approach has made for an album that Black Stone Cherry are proud of. The band has already released three promotional tracks from the album: ‘The Way of the Future’, ‘In Our Dreams’ and ‘Soul Machine’.

“Every song we recorded for this album is released in some shape or form, be it the main album, deluxe edition or special edition for a particular retail chain. The only official single from the album so far is ‘In Our Dreams’,” Ben clarifies.

“The other two were what the industry calls ‘instant grat’ tracks. They’re released to get people excited about the album and are available early to the folks that pre-ordered it. But they are all great songs that show the diversity of the record, for sure!

“It's still all very fresh. I have a new favourite track each time I listen to it!”

Other notable cuts from Kentucky include ‘War’, which is a cover of the Edwin Starr counterculture classic from 1969.

According to Ben, the track “wasn't really planned”:

“We were needing a song as a bonus track for the special edition of the album and came across the original version of ‘War’. We have always loved the song and thought it would sound great heavy! So we did it and ended up keeping it on the actual album’s tracklist. It surprised people, but in a good way I think.”

After Kentucky’s release at the beginning of this month, Black Stone Cherry once again set out to prove that there’s no rest for the weary by immediately embarking on a headlining US tour to promote the record.

“So far, so good! We've only done one show since the album's release on April 1st, but the new songs have been going over great. I can't wait to get out there and see more reactions!

“There'll be more touring for us first throughout the USA, plus a trip to Australia, but we'll be back over there for a Sunday night headline appearance at Ramblin’ Man Fair in July. Hopefully, we’ll be back again at the end of the year for another UK tour!”

The last time we saw Black Stone Cherry on the shores of Blighty, they were headlining arenas all over the country with Shinedown, Halestorm and Highly Suspect in tow.

“That was a really great tour! It's always great playing in the UK.  We have so much fun there, and to play those arenas with those bands was not only pretty remarkable, but humbling. We owe a lot to our UK fans!

“Any tour you do will hopefully help in gaining new exposure. I think that tour got us some new fans for sure.”

We can only hope that Black Stone Cherry’s ever-growing fanbase contributes to the success of Kentucky. An intense year of touring awaits the hard-working rockers, but their return to the UK at its end will hopefully wrap the album cycle up into a neat, little bow.

Black Stone Cherry’s brand new album, Kentucky, is available physically and digitally now via Mascot Records. Read our review of the album here.

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