A quick scan of your radio dial would reveal there is a very real dearth of Southern guitar driven bands catching airplay. That could all change with the hard work being turned in by the members of Kentucky’s Black Stone Cherry. Their second release, ”Folklore and Superstition” is presently climbing the sales charts. Before a show in Texas, I called guitarist Ben Wells, and tried to get a sense of the band.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I grew up in a small Kentucky town, Glasgow. It’s a small deal, everybody knows everybody. It’s a dry county, no alcohol. But that didn’t stop people from finding stuff to drink. Oh, it has a Wal-Mart.
Q. Tell us a little about growing up in your town.
A. When I was in school, I tried to be a good student. My mom is a teacher, so I really didn’t have much of a choice. I don’t remember how old I was when I became interested in music, but I definitely know it was because of Elvis. He was always a big part of my background and what was going on in our house.
Q. Staying with the Kentucky theme, do you ever want to get away from your small town roots?
A. I could never see any of us moving from our town, because we are our town and vice versa. That is what made us what we are, and continues to. We love to incorporate local stories, characters and legends in our songs because we find it so fascinating. Also, we respect those people and their journey.
Q. Describe how Black Stone Cherry was formed.
A. All the other members went to school together in Edmonton, a small town not far from mine. I was looking for some guys to play with, and it came together really easily. We were really serious at an early age, and both parties never thought that they would find the missing link. We were so serious, and so dedicated, and all from a really small area. It really is miraculous how it all worked out. It truly is a Cinderella story that started in a small town in 2001. We were so young, there was absolutely no one else around that could have made up this band. We grew up in each other’s houses, and consider ourselves brothers. That attitude carries over into our songwriting, because all four of us share equally in the creation of the music.
Q. “Please Come In’ has been a hit for you. What went into the process for that one?
A. That song wasn’t really about one particular person, but more of a collection of universal, but still personal ideas that have happened to everybody. It was our attempt at making something that anybody could relate to.
Q. That brings up a good point, because at first glance, I expected BCS to be just guitars and energetic good times. But after listening to the lyrics, you guys have a gift for imagery and good Southern storytelling.
A. Thanks, I appreciate that. We put a lot of time into the lyrics, because we feel that while the music and riffs are important, they also aren’t as hard as writing meaningful lyrics. We want these songs to last and mean something for a long time. For instance, “Things My Father Said”, is not about any of us, but it comes from watching friends and their relationships with their dads. It’s really for guys and girls, at any age. Even the tough guys like that one, it touches everybody.
Q. What are your plans for 2009?
A. We’re going to tour the rest of the year. We’re going back to Europe two more times, and working our new single. Things are great for us, and so far, Roadrunner Records has treated us really well. They’re very supportive. We are focusing on playing live, and not doing much writing right now. We’re having a great time on the road, and my cousin is my guitar tech, he’s the funniest guy to have around. We’re going out with Hinder in April, and then back overseas. We’re doing really well over there
Q. In the CD booklet, who is the gentleman with the cane on the last page?
A. That’ John Fred’s grandfather. He doesn’t signify anything, we just felt that picture fit in with the voodoo vibe on the rest of the album artwork.