Black Stone Cherry are kicking off a headlining US tour tomorrow in Rockford, Illinois, and we got frontman Chris Robertson on the phone to find out what fans can expect from the band this time around. (Check out the exclusive video above, from the band's recent, sold-out UK tour.)
You guys are launching a headlining tour; have you noticed your audiences growing more rapidly on this album?
Yeah, man. We’ve been successful in Europe and especially the UK, but it seems like finally, with this album, we’ve broadened our horizons enough and gotten a bigger fan base—and a different fan base—than what we used to have. There’s actually girls showing up to our shows, which is awesome. I mean, playing to a sausagefest every night, it doesn’t really get your mojo flowin’. [laughs]
What can fans expect on this tour—are you putting new songs into the set, or doing any surprise covers?
We’ll be doing stuff off all three albums. We’ve been doing a cover of “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh since way before Godsmack ever recorded it, so we still do that sometimes, and we do some Muddy Waters stuff—if we’re gonna do a cover, most of the time…we’ve done a few contemporary covers, but for the most part, we tend to do older stuff that people may or may not recognize. “Rocky Mountain Way” is probably the first song we’ve ever covered live, other than “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band, which we did on the last record, where people know the song. Because not that many people in our age demographic and our fan base demographic know the words to old Muddy Waters songs. So when you play a Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf song, they’re like, “I don’t know what this is, but it’s kinda cool.” So you never know what to expect, and we haven’t rehearsed for the tour or anything; what happens is, the first day we get out we’ll end up making the set list and going over a couple of songs, and that’ll be what we do for the whole tour, pretty much.
You must be able to see the impact of “In My Blood”—did you know that song was going to be big even as you were working on it?
Man, that’s a funny story. We were doing pre-production in L.A., and Zac Maloy, who we wrote “White Trash Millionaire” with, sent us a song called “In My Blood,” and we loved the title immediately, being good ol’ Southern boys, but the song was almost like someone had written a song about us, rather than us writing a song called “In My Blood.” So what we did is took the title and just kinda ran with it, rewrote the music and the lyrics, literally rewrote the entire song in about 15-20 minutes. And everybody could feel that it had something about it from the minute we played it. I remember Ron Burman, our old A&R guy, he wanted to hear the song so badly that I had to sing and play it to him over speakerphone. But he was blown away when he heard it. It’s our most successful song to date, so we’re really happy that we wrote that song and every other song on the record as well.
You guys changed your working methods on this last album, and kinda got out of your comfort zone. Do you think that’ll influence what you do next?
You gotta take chances. You gotta learn from everything. We got to write with co-writers like Dave Bassett, who’s written the majority of the last two Shinedown albums with Brent [Name] and the other guys in the band, and Marti Frederiksen, who’s worked with Aerosmith, or Rick Wiseman, who’s written mainly country songs in his career—we’re very lucky, and we’ll take the experiences we had on this last cycle and know or have a good idea of how to structure songs, but I think we want to get back to basics when we start writing again. Back to just the four of us in the practice house and not really having to worry too much about anything. Just going in there and playing the songs that we write, and that’s pretty much it, man.
You recently completed a sold-out UK tour—why do you think Southern rock is so popular there?
You know, I think the biggest thing is that all the media for rock ’n’ roll hasn’t gone away over there. You still have TV stations that are strictly rock ’n’ roll music videos, you still have print magazines that cover everything from soft rock to heavy metal, and I think rock ’n’ roll is in some ways still more alive over there. The biggest thing is, people still come out to concerts there. It doesn’t matter what night of the week it is, people are still gonna come out, night after night. We did 14 shows in the UK and they all sold out, over 36,000 tickets sold, in one small area.