Black Stone Cherry

An interview with lead guitarist Ben Wells of Black Stone Cherry
by Aaron Manogue
July 2011

Black Stone Cherry by Travis Shinn - photo by Travis Shinn

Black Stone Cherry by Travis Shinn
photo by Travis Shinn

When anyone says the words “southern rock,” most people think of the days back in the ‘70’s when The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd reigned as the kings of rock n’ roll with their legendary guitar riffs and serene vocals. In their day, they were pioneers in the type of sound that they brought to the music scene in combining rock, country and blues into a new breed of music. Although southern rock definitely has it’s place in the rock n’ roll scene today, the band Black Stone Cherry has to be the most intriguing of the bunch. The band’s new record “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” is nothing short of kick ass. The boys from Kentucky have made their own musical concoction, just as their southern rock predecessors did. There’s definitely still that distinctive southern rock ring to the entire album, but they’ve sprinkled feels of nu metal and mainstream hook throughout. The result is one of the funnest albums to listen to this year. Maximum Ink’s Aaron Manogue spoke with lead guitarist Ben Wells about their incredibly unique sound, the eclectic sound on their new record, and their upcoming performance August 13 in Twin Lakes, WI for the WIIL Rock the Ranch show.

Maximum Ink: What do you think it is that really gives your band the incredibly unique sound that you have built your reputation off of?
Ben Wells: I think the fact that we are from a small town in Kentucky and the fact that we didn’t have a music scene to fit into growing up has a lot to do with the way we sound. We grew up fans of blues, country, classic rock, folk, etc. and wanted to have pieces of that in our music!

MI: “White Trash Millionaire” has blown up across the country and on the charts. Tell me what that song means to you and what you’re saying to your fans through that song.
BW: It’s just a fun song. It means be happy with what you have. It means feeling like a “millionaire” doesn’t mean you have to have a million bucks in your pocket, you can have simple things and feel like a King as long as you’re happy!

MI: You guys have a very eclectic sound throughout “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” You go from almost a John Mellencamp type sound in “Like I Roll” to almost a Nu Metal sound in “Killing Floor.” Is that something you guys intended with this record?
BW: One hundred percent! I mean we never set out to sound like anyone in particular but we don’t want to limit ourselves. An album is supposed to be a story book of songs, a listening experience. If every song sounded the same or had the same vibe we think it would get boring!

MI: What was the inspiration or story behind covering “Cant You See” originally by the Marshall Tucker Band on the new record?
BW: We started doing that on our headline tour of Europe in 2009. It was just a fun thing to do live at the time. We were doing it more traditional and true to the original then, too. We ended up recording it as a demo for the album and everyone flipped over it so we had to spice it up and rock it out a little more to make it our own thing!

MI: Your band has a sound that holds itself well for both large arenas as well as small venues. What do you like about the two and which do you prefer?
BW: We get asked that a lot. Both are good and bad at times. Honestly, there’s few things bad with playing an arena except for the distance between the band and the audience. We prefer the fans to be real close and in our face; makes it more personal. But small rooms can suck too at times; no showers, small PA, you just have to deal with those things. We don’t let them really get to us, as long as the people are rocking out, we’re happy!

MI: You guys are set to play WIIL Rock the Ranch in Twin Lakes, WI in August as part of your Carnival of Madness Tour. You’ll be playing alongside some great bands including Theory of a Deadman, Alterbridge, Hinder, 10 Years, Soil, Saliva, Five Finger Death Punch, Nonpoint, Dope, Powerman 5000 and more. Is there anyone on the bill that you’re looking forward to playing with for the first time or maybe someone you’re looking forward to playing with again?
BW: Most of the bands on the bill we have at one point shared the stage with. It’s full of great bands and I’m sure it will be like a reunion for many! Hopefully we can catch as many shows as possible!

Check out Black Stone Cherry’s new album “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” and go see them August 13 in Twin Lakes, WI playing with Alterbridge, Theory of a Deadman, Nonpoint, Powerman 5000 and many more!

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