Chris Robertson speaks to Luke Balzan
After many years of creating music, relentless touring and really honing their craft, change was in the air for southern US hard rock band Black Stone Cherry. They had recently switched record labels, and suddenly they were afforded the freedoms to do exactly as they wanted with their music. To celebrate, the band headed to their home state of Kentucky, and set about creating a new collection of music, taking things in their own direction.
The fruit of their efforts, their new album Kentucky, was recently released and has already been doing amazing things for the guys in their homeland and abroad. The album is energetic and punchy, with raw and gritty tunes that feel familiar and all new at the same time. Just as the album had dropped worldwide, singer and lead guitarist Chris Robertson called up from his home, in between playing with his three-year-old, to have a chat about the journey to get to here…
“Everything’s been good so far,” Chris enthuses in his beautiful southern drawl.
“We finished recording the album in the end of October, early November, so we’ve been sitting and living with it since the beginning of December, and we’ve been pitching for everyone to hear it, cos we self-produced this time, we did the whole record on our own. But so far man, it’s been a hundred percent positive reactions to the record.”
There was no deviation from that perfect record from this keen music fan either!
“Thanks man,” Chris chortles. “We had a change in record labels, and we were set in the way we wanted to do things from here on out… basically we just wanted to be able to make whatever music we wanted to make without anyone trying to sway it to go a different direction or to have a different sound. Cos here’s the thing man, our previous record label always, the higher up in the label, kind of were hoping we would be the next Nickelback or whatever, and they tried to make a successful radio band, but that’s not what we are. We’re a live band, and luckily at Mascot, they understand that and they did that. They’ve got a great history with live bands, and hopefully they continue to be awesome” he continued.
“It’s been a truly remarkable and freeing experience. We’ve worked with some of the greatest producers in rock’n’roll, and they’ve worked with some of the biggest artists, and we’ve learned from every one of those producers, but for us it was like, we’ve been doing things for 10 years now, and if we don’t know what we need to do, we’ve got bigger problems than needing a producer.”
Clearly, the band had no problems when it came to creating Kentucky, and freed from any other opinions, they put it all together in record time!
“Man, we recorded this entire record in like, 22 days. It was the fastest record we’ve ever made”, Chris chuckles. “There are bands that spend three months on one song, and we spent three weeks on a whole record!”
Having a good work ethic helped to bring things together for the new album, with a cohesiveness that translates very nicely for the listener.
“We record all together,” Chris explains, “and get the drum track, and if there’s a magical moment or guitar or vocals or bass, we try to keep that, but generally once we get the drum track that everybody’s happy with, then we go ahead and re-do everything, but it’s all hands on deck all the time. It’s cool, cos we’re actually a band: we write all the songs together, split everything equally, it’s all four of our names on the contract, so we figure why bother with being a band if you’re not going to be a band. We all get ideas for John on drums, he’ll give us ideas for bass, and everyone is very hands on with everything.”
As the album’s title suggests, Kentucky was recorded in the band’s home state, which was also a blast for the guys.
“Man, I’d say the biggest thing that I liked about it was that I got to leave the studio every night and within 25 minutes, be home to hang out with my wife and my kid,” Chris recalls. “They’re my whole existence, and to be able to get with them and see them every single night, was truly amazing. It was so awesome! We could take off for the weekend, as we only worked Monday through Friday, it was really awesome.”
Kind of like having a normal job!
“It kept everyone from burning out,” Chris continues. “People do this shit for seven days a week, 12 hours a day, and at the end say I’m miserable, and you start becoming a nuisance rather than prospering.”
In addition to having an awesome new album under their belts, the band is also looking forward to a journey to Australia, where they’ll be joining Steel Panther in an Aussie tour, including a spot here in Adelaide on Wed, Jun 22.
“Yes sir,” Chris explains excitedly. “We originally booked our own tour there, but we’ve known the Steel Panther guys for a long time but never toured together, and they’re awesome dudes and incredible musicians, and it was a great opportunity for us. I think the fans are going to appreciate being able to see both bands together, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Those dudes are a trip!”
Black Stone Cherry’s latest album Kentucky is available now.
When: 22 Jun
Where: Thebarton Theatre