Tristan Pratt of The Metal Tris recently conducted an interview with guitarist Ben Wells of Kentucky rockers BLACK STONE CHERRY. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the "unique aspects" of BLACK STONE CHERRY's sound:
Ben: "I don't know… that's a unique question in itself. I think we're just genuine in our music. We don't ever try to be or copy or emulate any sound or artist that we might be inspired by. Nobody wants a copycat. We may be heavily influenced by [LED] ZEPPELIN, AEROSMITH and ZZ TOP and THE ALLMAN BROTHERS and LYNYRD SKYNYRD, but we've already got those bands and those bands are terrific. We just take influence from that and try to do our thing and I think that's why people have gravitated toward our sound because they see us not trying to be a LYNYRD SKYNYRD number two or ALLMAN BROTHERS number two. They see us as being BLACK STONE CHERRY and it has elements from all of those things."
On why BLACK STONE CHERRY named their new studio album "Family Tree":
Ben: "Our band is very close. We started in 2001. We went to school together and we've always been very close. Our families at home are very close as well. So, growing up, our parents would drive us to practice and drive us to shows, give us money for guitar strings. All of us are married. Three of the other guys have kids. My wife and I have two dogs that might as well be kids. [Laughs]"
On whether he considers BLACK STONE CHERRY fans as "family" of the band:
Ben: "Absolutely. There have been so many relationships made with fans out there of our music that have met because of our band. Now, they consider themselves family to each other. I'm, like, 'That's the beautiful thing about what music can do.' It can bring so many people of so many different places all over the world together."
On whether the "happier" vibe found on "Family Tree" happened on purpose:
Ben: "It just happened naturally. We started writing and the riffs started to come out this way. We weren't drop-tuning guitars as much. We were just doing things organically. They started to take a shift. We started to get deeper into the stuff that influenced us when we first started, which was ALLMAN BROTHERS, LYNYRD SKYNYRD and bands like GOV'T MULE and THE BLACK CROWES, because we don't try to write for any one audience or any certain genre. We just want to write great songs. If anything, we've finally embraced more that we're just a Southern blues rock and roll band. It is happier and I'm glad you said that. We don't consider ourselves a dark band. 'Kentucky' was probably a little heavier, more aggressive. This is more straight-up, just rock and roll."
On whether BLACK STONE CHERRY wanted to try new things on "Family Tree":
Ben: "We always want to try and spread our wings with each album. We always want to grow musically and push ourselves. I think this album was probably more musical, has some more songs that are more musical. There's a song called 'Carry Me On Down The Road' that was heavily influenced by THE ALLMAN BROTHERS and more the jammy, Southern stuff. We had to push ourselves musically just not to do just simple things. When we went from an intro to a verse, or verse or chorus to the intro, what are the different ways we can put something in there just to challenge ourselves? This album has probably more piano and organ on it. We always try to add things, not for the sake of adding them, but for the sake of the song."
On what the "Family Tree" album title means to him:
Ben: "Family, number one, is everything to all of us. Without that, we literally would be nobodies, we'd be nothing. We always keep that number one in our mind. We take care of each other and our families and that's important to us. I'm very proud of this album. Of course, again, we self-produced it. John [Fred Young, drums] did all the artwork. Chris [Robertson, vocals/guitar] mixed it. It's basically one-hundred percent in-house. I'm very proud we were able to do something like that, especially in this day and age."
"Family Tree" was released April 20 via Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group. As was the case on 2016's "Kentucky", the BLACK STONE CHERRY members opted to produce and track the new disc at David Barrick's Barrick Recording in Glasgow, Kentucky, the same studio where the four-piece recorded its eponymous debut. BLACK STONE CHERRY also chose to not over-rehearse upfront of the album sessions, instead preferring the immediacy and spontaneity of in-the-moment takes. The band also entrusted Robertson to mix the songs, which perfectly fit the loose, creative process that birthed "Family Tree".