The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world



BLACK STONE CHERRY are on their way to Australia for the first time and are also about to release what we think is their best album to date - KENTUCKY. We caught up with guitarist Ben Wells to talk all about that album and tour and how it was Elvis that made him first get up on stage




KENTUCKY is BLACK STONE CHERRY's Best album so far, the band went all the way back to their roots to put together a searing slab of Southern-tinged rock. It may just be the album to take them all the way to the major leagues. we caught up wth guitsrist Ben Wells, currently in the middle of the band's European tour to get the low down...

Mark: Hi Ben, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit. How are you this evening?


Ben: I’m doing great how are you doing?


Mark: I’m doing great thank you Ben. ‘KENTUCKY’ the new album is out worldwide on APRIL 1st – it’s named after you home State – how’s the feeling with the band in the lead up to the release?


Ben: Everything’s going really good, we’re in Switzerland right now on the European tour, everything’s going great and we’re really excited about playing the new album.


Mark: That’s wonderful. You went back to the studio where you recorded your first album for this one – was the aim to get back to the roots of the band and reconnect with the feeling you had in the early days after ten very busy chaotic years?


Ben: Yeah we were trying to kind of get back to the spirit of where it all started; you know we recorded all of our first music there in our hometown. This is our first album and the first we’ve self-produced so we’re trying to get that feeling.


Mark: There’s a massive groove and huge sound to the album from opening track THE WAY OF THE FUTURE and IN OUR DREAMS that follows is just as huge – it’s a pretty heavy aggressive album – loads of huge riffs and fist pumping choruses! And of course there are some great guitars.


Ben: Thank you, we were thrilled with the sound, we’re so excited about that and the vibe, and it’s something we’re super proud of.


Mark: Some of the songs on there are wonderful; it has the best ever opening in my opinion of any Black Stone Cherry release. Is there a sense that this is the next big step for the band, I mean you’re already dominating places like the UK, packing out stadiums; and you’re heading down to Australia for the first time. Is there that expectation that you are ready now for the major leagues?


Ben: You know we hope so, we hope to continue to grow, see new places and gain new fans and with the every new album and tour we do we hope to build on that; and so far it’s so good.


Mark: Of all the tracks on the new album I think my favourite is ‘Rescue Me’; I mean everything is pretty wonderful on there but ‘Rescue Me’ just has everything: a great riff, catchy chorus and that lightness pitched in against the heaviness. I hope we get to hear it live; do you have any favourites to play?


Ben: That’s actually one of my favourite songs too, right now we’re doing the first single and a song called ‘The Rambler’ and both are going well and getting a great reaction.


Mark: ‘The Rambler’ is a great song, taking it all down to the basics, simple, powerful and acoustic. Is that the way the band writes? Do the songs get created on the acoustic?


Ben: No, it’s mostly all electric, always full band electric, music first and lyrics come second. But that song was great just to capture that sound and that vibe.


Mark: There are plenty of other great songs too, what made you choose to do the cover of ‘War’ (the song made famous by Edwin Starr) it really, really suits the band with the heaviness against the Motown groove?


Ben: Well we were going to do a cover song and that was one that came about and when we played it, it was the only one to do. We thought we could do a great job of making it a little heavier and it came out so great we had to put it on the album. We’re so excited about it, it might not be an obvious choice but we’re so happy with it.


Mark: It came out wonderful – you hear plenty of covers but few that connect like that one does. The big news for AUSTRALIAN fans is that you will be hitting our shores for the first time in JUNE starting in Sydney on 24th and ending in our hometown of Perth on 29th – are you excited about getting Downunder for the first time?


Ben: Oh absolutely! We’ve wanted to get down to Australia for years now and to finally get the opportunity is something we’re very excited about. We know we’ve got loads of fans down there that haven’t got to see us yet so we can’t wait.




Mark: I’ve been lucky enough to see you a couple of times now, most recently at Rocklahoma in 2012, but I first saw you at the RIVERBEND MUSIC CENTRE in Cincinnati in 2009 with LYNYRD SKYNYRD and KID ROCK!


Ben: Oh cool, that was a long time ago!


Mark: It was and I remember it was a really stormy, rainy night and the crowd was crazy! And what stuck in my mind most was that you all stuck around in the rain to sign things for the fans – you have a great connection with them. In the UK there seems to be an even more dedicated following – what do you put that down to?


Ben: I really don’t know I think they just appreciate real music and what we do. We don’t question it too much we’re just so thankful that they like us!


Mark: You recorded you first live DVD ‘Thank You, Living Live’ in the UK and released it last year, how good did that feel to put out that show?


Ben: It felt great, we’ve always wanted to do one and our fans have always wanted one, we just had to find the right time and place. It’s so cool to be able to watch it now; it’s something we’re so proud of.


Mark: Taking it all the way back can you remember the moment when you knew you were going to be a musician? Was there a gradual realisation or something that really triggered that desire?


Ben: My biggest influence is Elvis and I remember the first time I saw Elvis on a movie or something and I knew then that was what I wanted to do, even now he’s still my biggest influence.


Mark: What about as a guitarist? Where do your influences come from there?


Ben: I love Aerosmith! I love Joe Perry, Brad Whitford. I love Hendrix, I love Brian Setzer, I have a wide array of guitarists that I’m influenced by.


Mark: What about closer to home any local influences growing up?


Ben: Really when I was little I listened to so much Elvis and Aerosmith I didn’t have time for much else!


Mark: That’s so cool! Mark: It’s got to that time in the night when we ask out two favourite questions! If you could have been a fly on the wall for the creation of any great album just to see how the magic came together – what would that album be for you and why?


Ben: I’d love to have seen Elvis’ first album being recorded and his gospel album, I’d love to have seen that and probably Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic, I loved that when I was little.


Mark: That would have been great to have seen that first Elvis, it makes you wonder if they felt what they were doing would change the world.


Ben: Yeah in Sun Studios in Memphis where they used to make ‘em.


Mark: He changed the world as far as music was concerned.


Ben: He absolutely did.


Mark: Black Stone Cherry are on your European Tour, you mentioned that you were in Switzerland. How is Zurich treating you so far?


Ben: It’s great we had a great show here last night; it’s been kinda rainy so we’ve just been hanging out on the bus, but it’s all good.


Mark: Any highlights from the UK shows?


Ben: Every show is a highlight to play in an arena is such a wonderful thing to see so many people coming to hear your music, it’s a dream and it’s been pretty amazing so far. Pretty special.


Mark: We can’t wait to see you down here; I know you’re really going to get a warm welcome from the Aussie crowds. One final question before we leave you: ‘What is the meaning of life?’


Ben: For me it’s God, Family and career, that’s the order of the meaning of life for me.


Mark: That’s a wonderful sentiment to leave us with. Thank you for your time tonight Ben, best of luck with the rest of the tour. This new album Kentucky is the best thing you’ve done so far, have a safe trip to see us.


Ben: I really appreciate that. Thank you, goodbye.



Ben Wells spoke to Mark Rockpit - February 2016  


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