Black Stone Cherry
Black Stone Cherry bridges the gap between the blue collar craftsmanship of dirty, bluesy, ballsy, pedal-to-the-metal Hard Rock steeped in the ancestral lineage of Southern Rock and the warm, broad embrace of the rock radio mainstream. Theres enough boot stomping, soulful meat-and-potatoes in the Kentucky bands stew to invigorate Middle America, with the melodic chops to conquer the worldwide stage.
The Allman Brothers and Metallica meeting up, getting drunk, raising some hell and then crashing into a big brawl together, only to have Robert Johnson break it all up? Thats essentially the sound of Black Stone Cherry.
The Black Stone Cherry sound is as timeless as a backyard barbecue, a rundown farmhouse or a worn-in pair of Levis, but as forward thinking as anything generated by the millennial crowd in the modern age. 2014s Magic Mountain carries the torch for the brightest moments of Classic Rock history, but its no throwback. The energy, enthusiasm and skill of todays best rock n rollers keeps one Black Stone Cherry boot planted in the future, even as they call upon the musical ghosts of the past.
The bands substantial catalog has given birth to a bevy of rock radio staples like White Trash Millionaire, In My Blood and Please Come In. Its all driven by the vocal charisma and vibrant lead guitar shred of Chris Robertson, the driving dynamic crunch of guitarist Ben Wells, the rhythmic pulse of bassist Jon Lawhon and the always-in-the-pocket groove of drummer John Fred Young, all of whom add their voices to Black Stone Cherrys soaring melodies and instantly accessible vibe.
Its an honor for people to throw us in the same category as Lynyrd Skynrd, Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet, or the Marshall Tucker Band, Wells concedes. But we dont act like were from the 70s. We never set out to be a Southern Rock band. It just comes naturally. We couldnt run from that if we wanted to. There is definitely heavy rock in our sound, but we can also go into something thats country, or even funk. We bring a little bit of everything to the table. We dont limit ourselves.
Black Stone Cherrys fourth full-length album arrives destined to add to Black Stone Cherrys eight triumphant victories on the mainstream rock radio charts, kicking off with lead single Me and Mary Jane, with badass barnburners like the grimy Dance Girl and the slow boiling, ultimately explosive Blow My Mind all on tap.
The band took off several months in late 2012 to decompress from the victorious but exhaustive touring cycle behind Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea (2011), the follow-up to their commercial breakthrough Folklore and Superstition (2008) which had delivered on the ambitious promise of their self-released, self-titled debut. Starting families, hanging out and being home helped recharge the BSC muse.
We got to just settle in and be the good old boys from Kentucky that we are, notes Robertson. I did a lot of deer hunting. Spending time alone in the woods will do you good, man. After they finished writing, they headed to California to record.
Black Stone Cherrys producer partnerships read like a whos-who of rock n roll hitmakers. They made their second album with Bob Marlette (Ozzy, Seether, Saliva) and the follow-up with Howard Benson (Daughtry, Creed, Three Days Grace). Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, Soundgarden) came onboard to help the band craft what will certainly be a watershed moment in their storied career.
A lot of rock music today doesnt have any soul. Its all really bland, observes Lawhon. Theres no attitude. Theres no heart. We all grew up on 70s rock, Southern Rock, country music and bluesmen like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. On this album, more so than ever, those elements are all in the forefront.
We went in feeling a real sense of freedom and confidence about what we wanted to be as a band and what we wanted this album to sound like, explains Wells. We wanted it to be something that would really go over with our fans live. Thats where we really sell ourselves. We wanted to showcase the heavy riffs and the melodies.
The universal appeal and undeniable authenticity of Black Stone Cherrys rock anthems and down-to-earth attitude has won them an increasingly diverse and international fanbase (as evidenced by the #1 debut of Folklore and Superstition on the UKs rock charts), converting unbelievers while crossing the globe alongside rock royalty like Nickelback, Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Chickenfoot (featuring ex-members of Van Halen) and Alter Bridge.
Weve made our fanbase the old school way, Wells notes. Radio has supported us and we have really appreciated that, but its when people see us live that they really fall in love with us. We wanted that to come across with the sound of this album.
Young notes that Magic Mountain represents a full circle moment for Black Stone Cherrys career, as well. His father (Kentucky Headhunters guitarist Richard Young) had helped the band get a showcase for an Atlantic Records A&R man. A deal didnt work out then, but thanks to the recent merger between Warner, Atlantic and Roadrunner, that same A&R guy is working closely with Black Stone Cherry after all.
We didnt want to make a cookie cutter record and our label team and producer were down with that vision, says Young. We wanted to come out with our balls out and blow everyone away, so thats what we did this time. Theres no holding back.
Holding On_To Letting Go opens the album with bravado. Its a stand-up-and-take-notice heavy rock song certain to get fists pumping in the air at concerts around the globe. Runaway is probably the most mainstream song the band has ever written, but it maintains the heavy bite that is their signature. Barresi encouraged the band to let loose with the Ted Nugent meets Aerosmith vibe of Fiesta Del Fuego, a personal favorite for Wells. At the end of the song, it goes into this jam thing we put together on the spot in the studio. Its one of my favorite sections of anything on the album.
Black Stone Cherry has maintained the same lineup since the band formed on Robertsons 16th birthday: June 4th, 2001. Robertson and Young have been buddies since kindergarten. Weve known Jon since we were 13, Robertson explains. We met Ben a couple of days before we started the band. A band should be more than a singer with some fill-in guys. Its a group of people with a common goal. Its like a marriage. You argue back and forth but at the end of the day, you love each other.
Its that chemistry, loyalty, brotherhood and charm their fans respond to the most.
Most of our fans werent born with a silver spoon. They understand what it takes to achieve something in life. They have goals and ambitions, just like us, says Lawhon. We have picked up a lot of fans who understand and identify with us.
Magic Mountain is about to spread that goodtime vibe even further round the globe.