Keeping it in the family: how Black Stone Cherry play together and stay together

Kentucky rockers speak about their Irish tour and their new album

Kentucky rockers Black Stone Cherry have build up a huge and loyal following since bursting on to the scene with their eponymous debut album in 2006.

Here guitarist Ben Wells speaks to Ronan McGreevy about their new album Family Tree, their Irish tour and being second on the bill at the Download Festival to Guns N'Roses.

Your latest album is called Family Tree. What was the inspiration for the title and for the album?

The album named itself in a way. We had the song Family Tree written first, and after it was finished we looked at each other and all agreed that we would name the album that. It worked perfectly and we are very much a family band.


You have taken a very DIY approach to the album. You recorded it and produced it yourself. Is this in response to the economics of making records nowadays in the digital era, or is it that you just prefer it because it gets you better results?

We honestly just prefer to do it ourselves. All of us are very hands on in everything we do. From the writing, recording, mixing, and even the sleeve artwork and design. We just know how we want to sound and are more comfortable in our own element.

You brought out a blues EP last year. How did that project come about and did it influence Family Tree in any way?

We love the blues, it’s in our DNA. We had been playing some of those songs live and people loved them. So the idea came up to record an EP of six of our favourite blues songs! We are so pleased with how it came out and how it was received by everyone.

How important are your roots in Kentucky to your music?

Very! We’ve always said if we had been from anywhere else, we wouldn’t sound the same. We didn’t have a real “scene” to be a part of back where we came from. We listened to everything and played everything!

Your music is often associated with what might roughly be called Southern rock. Is that label a help or a hindrance?

We very much embrace the fact the we are Southern. We are also blues, soul, funk, and so many other things. But the bones of BSC is very much Southern rock.

You have been together for 17 years as a band. What has kept you together?

We are friends first and a band second. That’s been our mentality, and it has kept us grounded and together. Simply put, we all love each other and we truly love playing music together.

How do you assess the current state of American rock music?

There’s a lot of great music out there. Unfortunately a lot of it hasn’t been heard or heard on a mass level yet. Hopefully some of these artists or bands out there playing real music writing great songs will see the light of day.

You are second on the bill at the Download Festival behind Guns N’Roses. Will this be one of the highlights of your career?

It most definitely will! We are very excited and cannot wait to hit the stage.

Is there anything you would like to say to your Irish fans?

We love you! Our Irish fans are proud and passionate, and we appreciate and respect that very much! Thank you and we look forward to seeing you all really soon. Come out and spend the evening with us, we can assure you of a great time.

Black Stone Cherry play Dolans Warehouse on Tuesday night, The Academy on Wednesday night and The Telegraph building Belfast on Thursday night.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times