banner ad
banner ad
banner ad


| 24 October 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Black Stone Cherry have announced a livestream event that will broadcast on October 30th, timed to the album release date of the band’s new studio record THE HUMAN CONDITION. Titled “LIVE FROM THE SKY,” the event will be staged at SkyPac in Bowling Green, KY.  The band will be performing repertoire from the new studio album for the first time, along with hits, deep cuts and fan favorites.  Tickets and assorted bundles are available here for those in North America here: For all fans in the U.K. and across Europe click here:  Fans can create their own bundles from a list of a la carte items that will be hosted at point of purchase.  All “Live From The Sky” dedicated merchandise will only be available while the show is streaming.  Ticketing is priced at $10 / £ 10 per territory where the broadcast is available.” We were able to grab some phone time with guitarist Ben to discuss new music and more…

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Toddstar: Ben, thank you so much for taking time out for us once again. We really appreciate it.

Ben: Hey, no problem. Glad to do it, man.

Toddstar: Well, it’s been a few years since I talked to you. Last time I talked to you, you’re sitting in the trailer behind The Machine Shop. You guys were out supporting Magic Mountain.

Ben: Yeah.

Toddstar: I’m glad to catch up after a few years, and talk about The Human Condition and everything else going on.

Ben: Thanks, man. Yeah, well, it’s exciting, and it’s kind of been a weird year, but at least we have a new release to be excited and look forward to.

Toddstar: I mentioned The Human Condition. It’s out in about 10 days, I think October 30th, that one’s going to hit the world. And I’ve been able to enjoy, along with the rest of the world, “Ringing In My Head,” which, if memory serves, you guys actually started that track about three or four years ago. What made it right to revisit that now?

Ben: Well, yeah, we wrote that song originally for the Family Tree album, and the original demo version, had a different second verse on it and a different bridge, and by the time it was time to go in the studio, we weren’t all a 100% sold on it. But we loved it, so when it came time to do this album, we were looking at it, and we decided to rewrite the bridge on it and do some different things. But ironically enough, the words that we liked from the original are the ones that talk about the new disease creeping up and all this stuff, and people, your attention. And it’s so ironic that those lyrics mean so much more now than they would have, had we had released this song three years ago. So I’m glad we didn’t.

Toddstar: Well, let’s talk about the album itself, The Human Condition. What can you tell us about this album that your fans might or might not grab the first or second time they listen through the collection as a whole?

Ben: I’m trying to think. The mixing on this album is something that we were super proud of. Our monitor engineer, Jordan Westfall, who tours with us and does our monitors, and he also engineered the record in the studio. He mixed this and just did a phenomenal job. Everything’s pretty much a front, in your face. I don’t think there’s any hidden things, so to speak, that people would not expect, but I’m trying to think. Yeah, I don’t know. I think everything’s pretty mixed right up front in your face. I think one thing, I know this happened to me, is that certain songs, when you listen to the album in a whole, you’ll come back to a song maybe later that’ll hit you in a different way and become your favorite, kind of creep up on you. And that really happened with me with a couple of songs on this album that, of course I loved them, but I maybe had other ones that I was listening to more often. And then now, these other songs, I find myself listening to more often. I liked how that kind of works out.

Toddstar: Well, you’ve kind of brought up an interesting point because you guys are so close to these songs for so long, and then once you turn them over and they get mixed and then you send them off to the label and everything else, you get to step away. Were there any songs that once you stepped back to them again, after submitting them, that you thought, “Oh, we should have done this different?” Or do you really think you guys delivered these songs the way that they should have been delivered?

Ben: I really think the delivery of the songs is exactly how we wanted them. And really that’s a testament to the way that we recorded this record, because we made sure to push everybody as hard as we could for everybody’s performances. Meaning, we wanted to make sure that each performance on each person was going to be the absolute best it could be. And each song had to be the best it could be. Otherwise, it wasn’t going to make the album, and that’s the responsibility we put on ourselves self-producing a record that… it comes with the territory and we were never going to release something that we thought that couldn’t be the best it could be at the current time. And looking back, I’m still very proud of everything.

Toddstar: You mentioned self-producing. When you get yourself, Jon, Chris and John Fred in a room, does anybody step up and say, “I’ll take the lead on this one. I’ll take the lead on that one”? Or do you guys really do this as a collective?

Ben: It’s really a collective. We all have to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we all know each other’s parts, and what we can each bring to the table. Just like with each song we’ve ever done, we just know what that person’s going to do. And that’s something we’ve always done, we’ve always worked that way. And it’s worked out really well for us, because we are so hands-on creatively, and with everything that we do, that it just works out really naturally like that.

Toddstar: That said, I’ve been able to see you guys live. I want to get back to one of my favorite venues and one of your guys’ as well, but watching you guys on stage, you’re such a magnificent performers, not only as a collective, but as individuals. Do you guys kind of step back in the studio, let each other shine, when you know it is the strength?? For example, Chris may take a lead, even though you want the lead, but you know that he’s going to nail it. Are you guys able to trade those things off for the better good of the band as a whole?

Ben: Oh, for sure. Yeah. We’ve always been like that. There’s been times where, a lead is supposed to be… Chris has normally done the lead on the demo. We get to the studio, he’s like, “Man, you do it.” And then I’ll put one on there and we’ll go back and forth. And that’s just the way we always have to be with everything. You know what I’m saying? We’re all on the same team, we’re all going for the same end result, so if somebody else can do something better, or we think it sounds better, then that person’s going to do it. And that’s just the way we’ve always been.

Toddstar: Well, you guys have a very definitive sound. Especially over the last four or five releases, you’ve really kind of honed into this is the Black Stone Cherry sound, and it’s unmistakable. How different is that sound, in your opinion, from when you guys originally cut the first demo back in 2003, Rock and Roll Tape?

Ben: Well, I think you grow as songwriters and musicians and as people, and a lot of that stuff, the early, early stuff, we were singing… Now, we sing about topics that we couldn’t relate to back then and vice versa. It’s hard to create something that you did when you were 15, 16 years old. However, there is an element of that spirit that I think that we have brought back with this new album, because, for example, there’s a song on the new album called “Ride” that we wrote back in 2003, maybe. And all we did was change the title and update some of the lyrics. And now thankfully we’re able to put it on a record. That’s just a testament of saying also just because songs are older songs, doesn’t mean they can’t still see the light of day almost 15 years later.

Toddstar: If you could go back and revisit some of those songs, would you change anything from the first albums? One of my favorites, it still sits in my collection spins on probably a weekly basis, Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea. Would you ever want to go back and revisit those songs and tweak them? Or do you want them to be as they were, stamped in time and just move on?

Ben: You always listen back sometimes and then you can critique yourself, sometimes too much. I think there might be something, if we wanted to change something on an older song and we did, then all of a sudden it’s not as special or it doesn’t impact people the way that it did originally. I don’t know if I would want to go back necessarily and change anything. Nothing is that bad that I would say, “Oh, I would love to do that again? You know what I mean?

Toddstar: Sure. We’ve discussed in the past some of your influences and what have not, but who still inspires you to be the songwriter you are and the guitar player you are? Who still pushes you and drives you to excel at your game?

Ben: Well, obviously, my biggest inspiration is Elvis and then a lot of Aerosmith as well. And I think that those artists are always going to be a huge, huge part of me that continue to push me and drive me to be the best I can be. But there’s also… there’s always new stuff coming that you listen to, you get inspired by, and you go, “Man, I can listen Brian Setzer all the time.” And go, “God, I’m just so inspired to play guitar like that, and I want to do that.” There’s new stuff that’s coming up all the time. You just got to look for it. At the end of the day, the things that brought me into wanting to play music will always be first and foremost, things that I always go back to.

Toddstar: You guys have been able to open for and/or headline shows with a lot of your contemporaries and also a lot of your idols and influences. Who is the one band that you went out with that you think you learned the most from in the live environment?

Ben: I would probably say either Def Leppard or Alice Cooper. With Def Leppard, that was one of our first big tours and they are just, in our eyes, still the kings of cool. And the way they treated us on that tour was amazing. We were still so new, our new album, our second album had just come out, so we were still brand new and finding our way. And they were just so gracious to us and so polite. And you’re talking about icons, and they didn’t have to be that way, but they were, because they’re so cool. They have nothing to prove. And they were so great to us, and we learned a lot on that tour about… Well, we tried to copy all their backstage stuff, but their dressing rooms were just absolutely insane. And they burnt nag champa and sage every day backstage, and oh, it smelled good. We tried to do that too. But we learned a lot about just the way they handle themselves. You could tell they’re a big family. They were together just like us, since they were like 15 or younger, so they’ve always… they’ve had this bond and they had together and that was very inspiring to see. And then Alice Cooper is another guy, and his whole camp is just so amazing and kind and humble. And you watch him on stage every night and you go, “This guy in his 70s and he still owns every crowd he plays for.” Just like Aerosmith, who has Steven Tyler. It’s like you watch these icons and you go, “There’s a reason why people are still showing up to these shows, because they know that at the end of the day, they’re giving the fans what they want and they want a good show.” And that’s what Alice told us. He said, “At the end of the day, it’s always good to grow and explore and do new things musically and all this stuff,” he said, “but don’t stray too far from giving the fans what they want.”

Toddstar: Words to live by.

Ben: That’s right.

Toddstar: On that note, and you mentioned shows and everything else, and we’ve all been dying for shows, at least I have. I’m sure you guys have been chomping at the bit.

Ben: Oh, absolutely.

Toddstar: I kept watching the date get changed for The Machine Shop in Flint, MI, which I mentioned at the front end of our chat. There’s something about you guys and The Machine Shop, and what is it about that venue that really just speaks to you guys and who you are as musicians, performers, and music lovers?

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Ben: I don’t know if there’s anything that I can say about it that some other band hasn’t said, because everybody loves The Machine Shop. Every single person loves that venue. And when we see it on a tour schedule, we get so excited, and it’s just an honor to go play there. Number one, the crowds that come there are excellent, excellent people. It’s in such a cool area too. They have the Big John’s next door, which everybody loves, and then the Dort Mall across the street, which is awesome. But then the people that run The Machine Shop, also, that plays a huge part, Kevin and his entire staff. That plays a huge part in the character and the vibe of that venue. I think if that venue was owned by anybody else or ran by anybody else, it would not have the charisma that it does. And that’s a testament to Kevin and his team. And I can’t say enough good things about them. They’ve always supported us from the beginning, and brought us in there and had us play every tour. Every album cycle, they’ve always got us, and we just absolutely love it. And we liked the intimacy of it too. They’ve got great production, but you’re right there in people’s faces, and you can’t beat that.

Toddstar: Absolutely. As a photographer, it’s so much fun; that pit is so close, it’s like I’m sitting on stage with you guys when I’m there, so it’s a lot of fun. That said, and I know you’re busy, so I’m going to wrap this up for you, but I want to hit the combination of the live shows and The Human Condition. What are the couple songs from the new album that you are just chomping at the bit to rip into live when you guys can finally get out there and tour?

Ben: We have a thing coming up on the album release day called Live From The Sky. It’s essentially our version of one of these live broadcasts. However, it’s not live, it’s like a paper view. Meaning, we’re calling it a broadcast concert, because it was filmed last week and it’s being edited and mixed as we speak, actually, and it will be available to the world on October 30th, on the album release date. But we were able to play a few songs off the new album that are going to be on that concert. And it felt so good to play some of those new tunes. And I can tell you, I listened to all of them, and every time I listen to them, I’m just like, “Man, I cannot wait to play that live. That’s going to be great live.” The song “Ride” is going to be… It’s so much fun to play. We’ve played that for years. And then “The Chain” I’m looking forward to, “Push Down & Turn.” But then “If My Heart Had Wings,” that’s just one of my favorite ballads on there. And I think that’s going to be one of those great… Just a live concert song. I don’t know. I’m pretty much looking for… Some stories is another one that I think will be fun live. Almost all of them. We always try to write with the live atmosphere in mind, because we are a live band and that’s very important. You want to make the songs the best they can be, but whatever you’re going to record, you want to be able to reproduce that live as well.

Toddstar: Which you guys do very well.

Ben: Thank you.

Toddstar: Once again Ben, I appreciate the time and I cannot wait to see you guys up in Flint, Michigan, and doing what you guys do best, killing it in front of a live audience and delivering some of the best rock and roll out there.

Ben: Oh, thank you very much. I tell you, we can’t wait to get back on the road. And just to see happy smiling faces at a concert is something that I don’t think anybody could ever take for granted anymore. We cannot wait to get back out there to it.

Toddstar: Awesome. Well, we’ll see you next time around in Flint then. Thanks again.

Ben: Absolutely. Thank you buddy.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad