Black Stone Cherry

author PP date 22/01/12

On a cold November evening Rockfreaks.net met with lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Robertson of Black Stone Cherry at the Vega backstage area prior to their support slot to Alter Bridge. University work, Christmas and New Years festivities unnecessarily delayed this interview all the way 'til today, but better late than never. Read on to find out what kind of bands influence their songwriting, what he thinks of their band's success in Britain, and much more.

RF.net: Hi Chris - how's the tour going?
Chris: It's going great so far. We've been touring with Alter Bridge all years. We've become great friends with those guys, so any time we get to share the stage with them, it's awesome. They're fucking awesome people, man.

RF.net: You have a new album out called "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea". How do you think it compares to your previous records?
Chris: I think it's different from either one of the first two records. The first record was kind of rambunctious, really loud, raw kind of record. The second record was almost like a concept album, where we had this idea of what we wanted. And with this record, we just went in and said we're gonna make a rock'n'roll record and not worry about anything else.

RF.net: Which style do you prefer then, of the three?

Chris: The new one.

RF.net: So do you reckon that's the future style of Black Stone Cherry?

Chris: I don't know if it's the future. I know it's the now. The future could be anything. But as far as right now, the new album is where we are.

RF.net: The record charted #1 in the UK just like the one before. Why do you think you guys have so much success in Britain?
Chris: Man, I have no idea. That's the honest to God truth. I really have no idea, I'm very glad we do. We're going there in a little over a week, it's going to be awesome, and we'll have eleven days there. It's gonna be awesome, it's going to be a great time. We love touring in all of Europe, but in the UK, it's amazing. For a band from Kentucky to get to come over and do this, we're very pleased and fortunate.

RF.net: What do you think about the reception of the new album?
Chris: Everybody seems to like it. We're doing several songs off of it live, and people really seem to like it a lot.

RF.net: I saw that the record was released early on a torrent site by accident. Can you tell me a little bit about how that happened and how did it affect you as a band?
Chris: I don't know how it happens. I mean, basically, any record that comes out, if you go to a BitTorrent site, it's going to be out before it comes out. And I think the way it happens most times is that someone at the plant where they press the records, takes a copy home, and they put it on their computer, and their friends get it, and so forth and so forth. I mean, BitTorrent and any kind of file-sharing sites have hurt the record industry. But they haven't hurt the touring industry at all. The touring side of it, you can't go to a website and download a live concert, and actually feel like what it feels like when you are there. You can watch it, but as far as being a part of it, you can't take that illegally.

RF.net: So do you reckon it was actually advantageous to you that it leaked early or not?

Chris: I don't know. It could be either way, man. People could have loved it. It didn't seem to matter in the UK, because it still debuted number one there. We debuted nine overall. We had the highest debuts in every country that we've ever had. So if anything, maybe it was a good thing that people got to hear it before it came out, so they actually wanted to go buy the whole record.

RF.net: One question about the song "Such A Shame". That's all about a poor stripper who sort of ends up dead in the end, right?
Chris: Well, not necessarily a stripper. It's just, uhm, we were parked in Germany, and prostitution is the oldest profession in Germany. It was out of the normal for us. This was on our very first trip over here. To see that, and we actually wrote that song four years ago, and we didn't use it for the second album, and it came around. It's an outside view of looking into if those women chose that life, or if they had a bad upbringing, bad parents or something that forced them into that life.

RF.net: Then later on you have another song, "Blame It On The Boom Boom", and that one is sort of more about strippers. So there seems to be a little bit of a contradiction there between the songs?

Chris: Yeah. We wrote that song just about partying and having fun.

RF.net: So like you mentioned earlier, you've been touring a lot with Alter Bridge lately. Are they your favorite band to tour with? You guys must get along really well?
Chris: We've toured with a lot of bands, and they are one of my favorites to tour with. They really are. They're fun to be around, you know, I was just out there hanging out with Mark [Tremonti], while we were waiting for Ben to be finished with his interview. It's a friendly environment out here.

RF.net: Do you guys get up to any goofy stuff? Do you guys do pranks on each other?

Chris: Not yet, but it'll happen. It's coming [laughs]

RF.net: I saw you guys when you played here in 2009 in Loppen. I took notice of how when you play the guitar solos, you just sort of seem to live through the guitar, like your facial expressions and the way you appear on stage. So I just wanted to ask: what's going on in your head during these moments, what do you feel?
Chris: I have no idea. I sing obviously for the band, but my first thing was guitar. I never wanted to sing, I just wanted to be a guitar player. I think Carlos Santana said it best: for a guitar player, a guitar is an extension of their soul and their body. And for me, when I play guitar solos, that's just what happens. The guitar and me become one thing. I don't know what's going through my head, just whatever feels right, I play.

RF.net: Right. So how do you come up with the guitar solos. How do you compose them?

Chris: Literally on the new record, they would say "are you ready to play a solo?", and I'd say "yeah", and they'd hit record and I would play one until I found one that I liked. I don't sit down and write them out, I don't tab them out, any of that stuff, because I don't know music theory whatsoever. So I just play everything by feel.

RF.net: So would you say you prefer singing or guitar?

Chris: Both, really. It's hard to pick between one, but if something were to ever happen to our band, I would rather be a guitar player than a singer.

RF.net: It sounds like Lynyrd Skynyrd has been a great influence on your music, especially on this record but also the older ones. But you also have some modern elements in your sound. Who else would you say has made Black Stone Cherry sound the way that you guys do.
Chris: I don't know, man. There aren't that many modern bands that we've taken influence from. I mean, there are a few, you got Sevendust, who were one of the last bands who really influenced us. Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots. But other than that, we just took our older influences, played those songs, and found ways to write our own songs. Literally from day one we started our own songs.

RF.net: Would you resist comparisons to more mainstream rock bands? I know you guys have toured with Nickelback and stuff like that. Is that too commercial for you guys?

Chris: I don't think so. We toured with Nickelback and had a great time. Their fans seem to really like us. And then we toured with Lynyrd Skynyrd and their fans seemed to like us. We're somewhere in the middle, and it's confusing, because I'm not sure where we fit exactly.

RF.net: What are your plans for the future?
Chris: Right now, we're obviously on tour here. We go home for Christmas, I'm getting married on December 17th. And then we'll have a big new years party of our own, and then we're planning some touring in the States for next year right now, and we're planning a headlining tour for a year right now. So just keep an eye on Facebook, and our blackstonecherry.com website for any upcoming tour dates.

RF.net: Before we finish, just one more question. Have you had the chance to check out Denmark at all, either now or the last time you were here?
Chris: Man, every time we've been to Denmark we've played Loppen, which is in Christiania. And all I saw was walking from the bus to the venue, through the little village that Christiania is with the burning barrels and stuff like that. That's really all I've gotten to see. Because we get to the venue, then we have to play, and we have interviews and stuff, so we don't have time to get out and explore very much. We have to be in Sweden in the morning.

RF.net: Thanks for the interview. Do you have anything to add?
Chris: Thanks to the fans for supporting the music and coming to live concerts!

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