What’s My Scene chats to BLACK STONE CHERRY’s singer and lead guitarist, Chris Robinson, about the band’s sixth studio album, Family Tree, released on April 20 via Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group.
Chris, who were your influences growing up?
The reason I wanted to play guitar at all was because of my dad and my grandpa! They were both always playin. My dad played mostly country and southern rock and my grandpa was a bluegrass man! My grandpa built acoustic guitars and mandolins by hand!
Having survived so many years as a band, and a successful one at that, what advice would you give to up-and-coming bands?
We have always been friends/family first and a band second. My advice would be to find people you have a bond with outside the music. And always, always have fun and not take yourself or the critic too seriously.
What music do you listen to now?
Most of the time I’m listening to whatever my son wants to hear. Haha! But when I get to control the radio it’s a lot of classic rock, blues and older country music. I still love the heavy stuff as well and I listen to a lot of band from back home!
How does your latest release, Family Tree, compare to your previous releases?
It’s still 100% black stone cherry, but it’s more to the heart and soul of who we were when we start and letting our influences shine through more than some of our previous albums. We wanted to make a timeless record people could sing and dance to!
You mixed this one – why? Elaborate on your most rewarding moment in this role.
When it came time to mix the record we sent a song to a mixer and the guys also asked me to run a mix, in the end they hose me to mix the record! The most rewarding moment would be the other three guys in the band having the confidence in me to take on mixing an entire album!
Are you able to describe your song-writing and recording process for the readers?
We are all four very hands on in all aspects of the music from writing to recording to setting up microphones and preamps in the studio. To me that’s what a band should be, a cohesive unit where each part pushes the other to work harder for a better product in the end.
Do you ever go into the studio with something already worked out or is it all a matter of jamming on the day?
We wrote the new record while touring so it was demos on the back of the bus, we chose not to rehearse these songs before recording them to keep the spontaneity alive. We would ask John Fred which song he wanted to record and then listen to the demo once or twice and then hit record and let the music take us where it should go!
I love that your son sings backup on “You Got The Blues” ~ how did that come about?
We were working on some stuff at the studio and my wife and son came by, for the hell of it I thought, I’ll get him to sing that part and it was pure magic. He had been walking around the house singing the song for a couple months after hearing the demo.
And how did Warren Haynes make a cameo on “Dancing In The Rain.”
Warren is an absolute legend and a gentleman! Ben and I went to see Gov’t Mule and Blackberry Smoke in Nashville and talked to Warren after the show. We talked about how both bands would like to tour together and left it there. While in the studio we had the idea to reach out to see if he would want to be a part of the song and sure enough he loved the song and absolutely nailed his parts on it! It was an absolute honor to have one of our heroes on one of our songs!
Are the lyrics reflective of your life?
We all wrote together, but yes, the lyrics are about our lives, whether it be a fun song or a serious one, we sing about what we know!
Do you think music has a role in political and social issues?
Music has a role in life, period. Songs touch people for different reasons and that’s the beauty of it.
How do you feel about touring?
It’s bittersweet, having a child is the hardest part of touring. Your wife, and family that have watched it all unfold from day one understand what we do. My son is 5 soon to be 6 and understands it’s my job and passion but he still wants Daddy at home. But, we are a live band always have been always will be. I’ll just be glad when he’s old enough to come with me for a summer.
What were your impressions/favourite moments in Australia?
We absolutely love Australia. It’s a beautiful place full of amazing people who love rock n roll! We can’t wait to come back. Just keep the damn snakes away. Haha!
When are you coming back?
As soon as we possibly can. It is something we 100% talk about on a weekly basis.
What’s next for you?
Touring, touring and more touring! It’s who we are and what we do.
How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
Biscuits and gravy, it’s a sweet southern classic!
What’s your scene?
My scene is all about peace, love and positivity. I went through an incredibly dark period in my life before my son was born. I was fortunate to have an incredible support system and it got me through. Now I just want people to smile, and I want my son to see how beautiful the world can really be when peace and love come before all else!
[pullquote]“This is an important Rock album, not just the best by these Kentucky rockers so far.” – THE ROCKPIT[/pullquote]
While it doesn’t look like Black Stone Cherry will have time for a repeat visit to Australia in 2018, due largely to a huge run of dates in the US and Europe – including Download UK and Nova Rock Vienna with more to be announced, the band are definitely keen for a return in 2019. Until then, add Family Tree to your aural landscape.
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