Band gears up for LA
It is often said that if you want to âmake itâ in the music industry, you need to live in entertainment capitals, such as Los Angeles, New York City or even Nashville.
But a couple of natives from Edmonton, Ky. â which sports only a population of 1,607 people â proves that saying wrong.
This small town is known for two things: The Kentucky Headhunters, a country rock band that gained fame in the early â90s, and Black Stone Cherry, a newer Southern rock band with soul. Both bands are in the same family business.
âMy dad and uncle are in The Kentucky Headhunters, and they actually produced our first record for us. Weâve had a lot of help from our families and friends. We can never forget that, you know?â drummer John Fred Young said.
For Young, the word âfamilyâ encompassed more than just his immediate kin.
âWe all went to kindergarten together,â Young said about his bandmates Chris Robertson, Ben Wells and Jon Lawhon. âWe were crazy friends, and itâs amazing to play anywhere because weâre from such a small town.â
Black Stone Cherry was formed on lead singer Robertsonâs birthday â June 4 â and after eleven years, the band is still going strong. The intimacy that was formed through the band membersâ long friendship shines through their soulful, hard-hitting songs.
The bandâs latest record, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, released May 31 last year, delivers a nice balance between heavy riff-driven songs such as âWhite Trash Millionaireâ and âBlame It On the Boom Boomâ and heartfelt ballads such as âAll Iâm Dreaminâ Of.â
Though Black Stone Cherryâs songwriting process hasnât changed, the bandâs production style had to change because of the record labelâs pressures and changes in popular rock radio.
âThe American music system runs on radio, and especially for rock bands, thatâs how we get heard. Our label pressured us to make a record that appealed to American rock stations,â Young said.
Howard Benson, who has produced for Gavin DeGraw, 3 Doors Down, Relient K and countless more, was brought in to take the band in a more commercial route.
âI think after every album we learn something new. Itâs a building process. No band starts off and says we know everything there is to know about music and recording. You meet people that changes your outlook on music,â Young said.
Since the release of its eponymous debut album in 2006, Black Stone Cherry has been on the road supporting big acts like Nickelback and Def Leppard as well as headlining on its own.
âWeâve been on the road for six or seven years, and our forte is playing live,â Young said. âAlso, our live shows and musicianship builds on our fans. Thatâs just how we make fans.â
And even though Young and the rest of the band are from the U.S., they have a much bigger fanbase in Europe, especially in the U.K.
âThe fans in Europe and U.K. rock because theyâve had the rock festival circuit for so many years,â Young said. âSometimes fans in the U.S. look left and right and ask âCan we have a good time?â But still, I think U.S. is catching up.â
Going off this, it would seem that the response from fans overseas would trump those from back home, but Young says thatâs not true in all cases.
âRecently, I got a letter from a fan back home saying âI havenât talked to my dad for probably eight years. And if I hadnât heard your songs, I would have never talked to my dad,ââ Young said proudly. âItâs something that means more to my heart. It means more than selling eight million records or even getting a Grammy.â
For many bands, earning platinum plaques and accolades would be its main aim or indicator of success. But for Black Stone Cherry, its direct relationship with the bandâs fans is what defines success.
âWhen we write songs, we ask âWhatâs the most real things we can say?â Young said. âIt doesnât matter how old you are, where youâre from, or what color you are. Honest to God, everybody loves music, especially heartfelt music.â
Black Stone Cherry has been on the road with rock supergroup Chickenfoot, which has former and active band members from Van Halen and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Its last stop will be in Los Angeles, but Black Stone Cherry will continue to tour throughout 2012 in Europe.
âWeâre always going to be playing, but hopefully we can take six months off and write our new record,â Young said.
Black Stone Cherry will perform at the Greek Theatre on Sunday.