Black Stone Cherry
Set To Release
Rockin' New LP
October 23, 2020
Black Stone Cherry is set to release their seventh studio album titled The Human Condition on October 30th. It is a straight ahead, in your face, kick-ass rock and roll record.
The band completed the thirteen track album just days before COVID-19 lockdown was imposed. The results are the most solid record, start to finish, that the band has ever released.
We had the chance to speak with lead singer and lead guitarist Chris Robertson to discuss the new album, his career and playing live shows in a pandemic world.
Greg Drugan: Hey Chris, congratulations on your new album The Human Condition. I had the chance to listen to it and it is a great, kick ass rock and roll record.
Chris Robertson: Thank you sir, I appreciate that. We’ve got several records and EP’s out and we tried to never repeat ourselves. It’’s hard not to do stuff that sounds typical of your band. With the new record, if you put on Family Tree and the new record, back to back, you can hear that we did not repeat ourselves.
GD: For sure! Your last two albums have been Back 2 The Blues, where you covered a lot of your blues influences. So it was more of a conscious decision to go away from that this time and make more of a rock record.
CR: We did the Kentucky record, then we did Back 2 Blues volume 1, then we did the Family Tree, then Back 2 Blues volume 2. Dude, those records were so much fun, I hope we do more of those. The only thing we knew, is that we wanted to make a more aggressive record this time. A little more modern sounding and a little more aggressive. Family Tree and the Back 2 Blues records there not throw back, but they are more classic rock sounding.
GD: What’s your favorite track on the album? I really like “I’m In Love With The Pain” and “Ride.”
CR: Man, that’s hard! It’s like your kids. “Push Down and Turn” is one that I really, really like. It’s just really heavy, not just musically but lyrically too. “Ringing In My Head” too, but I could say that about every song on the record.
GD: You guys did a great version of ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” How did you choose that song to cover?
CR: We were looking to do a cover, because we always do one cover when we go into the studio. We thought about doing a Fleetwood Mac tune or a Bob Seger tune. We were going through a list of songs we all liked, and I had my phone plugged in and I pulled up “Don’t Bring Me Down” and everyone turned around and was like, that’s the one we’re gonna do. It’s one of those songs that we all always loved and one that we always wanted to cover, but it’s never been brought up. It just fits and it nestle’s its way onto the record nicely.
GD: It does for sure. It was a great choice. The album has everything. It has rockers, there’s a ballad, a cover song, but the thing I like the most is that it ends on a positive note with the song “Keep On Keepin’ On.” Was that a conscious decision to put that at the end of the record?
CR: Absolutely! All the songs on the record, even the darker songs, we still talk about a positive thing coming out of it. Once we finished the record and the pandemic, COVID-19 officially took over, we were like, “what’s the last thing we want the people to hear?” Originally we had “Don’t Bring Me Down” last. Then we decided to change it, because lyrically it should be our anthem, in my opinion.
GD: So was the album finished when the pandemic hit?
CR: We were almost finished. I remember my son’s school got let out about two weeks before we were finished with the record. What we had on our side was the four of us, that we hadn’t gone anywhere. We went from home to the studio, studio to home. Ultimately, we had a record to finish. Those last few days, we went totally crazy and were able to finish it up.
GD: It seems so fitting that that song, “Keep On Keeping On” was written during the pandemic. It’s actually prophetic that it was writing beforehand.
CR: We wrote that song in 2010 or 2011. We just never had the right record for it. It’s amazing. Word of the wise for songwriters, if there’s something you think might be cool, always hold on to it because you never know when it could turn into something really cool.
GD: Great advice for sure! With the passing of Eddie Van Halen, since you are a guitar player, what kind of impact did Eddie Van Halen have on you and did you ever get to see him live?
CR: I never did get to see him perform live. Eddie was the guy. Hearing the guitar solo on “Ain’t Talkin’ About Love” was the moment that I had a light go off in my head that maybe I could learn that guitar solo. It made we want to become not just a guitar player, but a lead guitar player. He was responsible for that. I don’t cite him or credit him enough. If it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know if I would have ever learned guitar solos.
GD: Who were some other musical influences on you growing up?
CR: My dad and my grandpa were my two biggest influences. They just played around here locally. Then obviously The Headhunters with John Fred’s dad. Then Hendrix, Skynyrd and Van Halen. It sucks that I never gave him credit. An artist that I got into recently was Tom Petty. I went back and started listening to the records and not just the hits. That stuff is amazing, man!
GD: He’s one of my top five artists, ever. Who was the first artist that you got to see live? Was it The Kentucky Headhunters or was it somebody else?
CR: Charlie Daniels. We were on a family vacation and Charlie was playing at Dollywood. We got to see him and he was amazing.
GD: When did you know that you wanted to become a guitarist and singer?
CR: I never wanted to sing. At 13 I started playing the guitar. I learned how to play one riff and right then I was like, I’m going to play guitar the rest of my life. I don’t know why, but that was just ingrained in my head. I was going to practice because I was going to play guitar for the rest of my life. We started the band when I was sixteen and we couldn’t find a singer. I was the only guy who didn’t…. I sounded different. I didn’t sound like other people. I could remember all the words so here I am, 20 years later.
GD: You have a great voice and it fits the band well.
CR: Well, I appreciate that.
GD: You had the opportunity to open for some iconic, Hall of Fame bands like Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Chickenfoot with Sammy. Did any of those bands take you under their wing, and who did you enjoy working with the most?
CR: Anytime that we got to tour with the big boys, bands like Skynyrd, Whitesnake, Def Leppard and even Nickleback. When you are going out doing massive production tours or bands that have been doing it a long time, those are the ones that are the most sincere and the most care bands on tour. I remember watching Rick Allen of Def Leppard walk in the middle of arena floor because we were having trouble with our PA during sound check. He was having them hold doors for our stage time while they were fixing the PA’s for us. That’s Rick Allen from Def Leppard and we were just a bunch of kids back in 2008. We had never met until that tour, but he saw something cool there.
I always have a big soft spot for Skynyrd. Johnny is like the uncle you see at the family reunion that you pick right back up with. Every time I see him, he’s been that way. Johnny’s just been a super positive light in my life.
GD: Were you guys able to play any shows this summer? I know a few bands played some drive-in shows and things like that.
CR: The first thing we did was film the broadcast concert the other day. No joke. We last played February 15th in west Texas for the PBR thing. We came home, we started making a record and the world got shut down. We didn’t play a full song together until a couple of days ago. The crew were there, we set up everything and we rehearsed for an hour and a half. Then we went over the new songs that we were going to play and then we went out and filmed a show. We hadn’t done it in eight months. We were all texting each other saying how sore we were, our voices are shot, I’m still trying to recover. It was incredible to play live music with those guys.
GD: When do you think you guys will be back on the road?
CR: They’re doing a pod event in Glasgow, KY and then were doing a drive in show in Cincinnati on November 6th. That’s all we have on the books. It’s the great unknown!
GD: I have been missing live music. I’ve been to two drive in shows this summer and that’s been it! I’m sure as a musician, it has to be tough on you guys as well.
CR: Oh yeah, dude. I’ve been in the studio a lot, just going down and working ideas out and just for something to do. It’s not the same. My life has been built around being a live, touring musician. I’m ready to have that again.
GD: Well, make sure you guys put Cleveland on your schedule. We love you here and we look forward to seeing you again.
CR: It’s been so long since we’ve been to Cleveland. The last time we played, I am a Steelers fan, (laughs). I’ve been a Steelers fan since I was a kid. We’re playing the show and these two guys in the front row were wearing Browns jerseys. They were doing it just to mess with me. We were going back and forth and I had people get pissed off and leave. They were showing me their Browns tattoos. I was like, I’m just messing with you. But I found out the hard way you don’t mess with the Browns and Steelers in Cleveland.
GD: Chris, I wish you the best of luck with your new album. I think it’s your best one yet and I’m gonna encourage everyone to check it out!
CR: Yes sir. Be well, man!
Be sure to check out Black Stone Cherry’s The Human Condition when it drops on October 30th. It is a kick-ass rock and roll record. You can check out their latest single here.