Ben Wells from Black Stone Cherry takes time out of his busy schedule to speak with NRR.
Next week, the Carnival of Madness rock n’ roll touring package makes its debut visit to the UK on January 28 in Cardiff. Ben Wells, of tour headliner, Black Stone Cherry, discusses the soon to be released their new album, Kentucky, and the band’s special relationship with the UK audiences.
NRR: Hi Ben, can you please outline the history of the Carnival of Madness concept in the United States?
Ben: I think its inaugural year in the US was 2010, and it was normally headlined by Shinedown. From then on, different bands have headlined it; different American bands. So now, it’s just like a big package festival with four or five bands playing different rooms. It usually happens in the summertime in America. They decided that they wanted to bring it to the UK and introduce the tour there. Basically, put all these bands on a package bill like a mini festival in some way.We are just honoured to be a part of it in its first year and it’s going to be amazing.
NRR: As the band are shortly going to be releasing a new album Kentucky will there be any new material played on these UK dates?
Ben: We will be. Right now we are planning on playing, at least, three new songs in the set. We are excited about that because this will be the first time that we have ever played these songs live. So very excited and anxious to get out there and play them.
NRR: The new album will also be coming out on a different label. What prompted the move away from your long-standing relationship with Roadrunner Records?
Ben: It was just something; we had been with Roadrunner for a while and we were very thankful for everything that they had offered us and did for us. Basically, it just came to a time where I think both parties were at a crossroads. We were wanting to go to new places and do some new stuff. Basically, it felt that Mascot were the right home. After meeting with several different labels, Mascot seemed the most passionate and they have really proven that so far.
NRR: I think Mascot would be more in sync with Bsc as they primarily work with blues based artists.
Ben: Well that’s the thing,their roster was very eclectic.and that made us feel good because we could spread our wings a little bit with the new stuff.
NRR: I have read that with “Kentucky”that the songs were mostly recorded on the road.Is that a different approach for Black Stone Cherry to record that way?
Ben: Well, we wrote a bunch of songs at home, at our practise house, but then we started touring. We just continued to write when we were on the road. There were several of them written while touring. We went home and recorded them in our hometown of Kentucky where we recorded our first album.
There was really a need to go back to our very first recordings and relive that excitement again. That’s what made us so excited about this album is that it was just an opportunity where we were able to produce it and call a lot of the shots. It just felt really good.
NRR: Do you feel then that this album has rejuvenated and reinvigorated the band?
Ben: I think so,in many ways it feels like we are just getting started in some ways. This is the first album that we have produced 100% ourselves and it’s been really cool. I think we are going to gain a lot of new fans and a lot of our current fans are going to be really proud of this because it’s a heavy Black Stone Cherry album. They have been wanting that from us for a long time.
NRR: The album features a song where the band collaborate with Jasin Todd Ex Shinedown, “The Rambler.” Is Jasin somebody that the band has known for quite some time.
Ben: Yeah we have known him since 2003/2004 he had a lot to do with who we are managed by. He used to be in the band Shinedown and we played a show when they were just starting and we were still at high school. They came out and watched us and we had a little independent CD that we had done like a demo. He sent it off to their manager and their manager now manages us. So he had a big hand in introducing us to a lot of people. It’s been really good and he is a special guy and we are so honoured that we got to have a song with him on this album.
NRR: The band have also recently announced a small show in London which sold out rapidly. These tickets are now selling at extortionate prices.Do you have any view on how we can combat or prevent ticket touting.?
Ben: Trust me, we have tried that so much and believe me that there is nothing more annoying than those people that buy tickets and resell them. It is not fair, I hate it and we all hate it. We have contacted our management and our booking agent and there is not a lot that we can do as a band.At this point in time anyway.
NRR: You have touched on your long-standing relationship with Shinedown. With regard to the other bands on the tour package, did Black Stone Cherry have any direct input into their selection. Or, was that something that was out of their hands?
Ben: Kind of a combination of both.We have been able to pick bands that have toured with us before. A lot of times bands can be suggested to us, and most of the time we are pretty easygoing. We don’t mind who tours with us, as long as they make sense and they are good guys. All of the bands on the Carnival of Madness are just very respectable bands so it should make for a great time.
NRR: Are a hard working band but when you do get some”downtime”how do you spend it?
Ben: I like playing golf,and I like collecting old toys especially Star Wars. I love playing guitar, you know. I guess in my downtime, if it’s nice outside, I like to play golf. Like I say, I love Star Wars and I love vintage toys, or hanging out with my wife and my dog.
NRR: You recorded the Live album in Birmingham, UK. Does this country have a particular or special place in the band’s heart? What prompted that decision to do the live recording there?
Ben: Yeah. I mean there is definitely a special relationship we have with the UK. Basically, because the UK has given us some major legs to stand on as a band and their respect and their loyalty has not gone unnoticed.
When it came time to do a DVD, there was no other place to do it than in the UK. We wanted to do Birmingham just because when we first played there in a small club years ago that was one of our first times going, “wow, this is pretty amazing.” These fans here are just insane for music! The history of music that comes from that town… that’s why we decided to do the DVD there. We are honoured to have their support. It really means everything to us.
NRR: You are also returning to headline one of the nights of the relatively new Ramblin Man Fair Festival. Given that the London show sold out quickly in record time will Black Stone Cherry be scheduling any other UK dates around that time?
Ben: I don’t think so, I think Ramblin Man will be our only UK date this summer. Usually, those festivals contract you in like that. We want to space it out too, even if we had been given the opportunity to play more shows I am not sure that we would. We don’t want to over-saturate the market.
NRR: I always finish up with this question. If the roles were reversed who would you yourself like to interview?
Ben: Well I would love to interview Jesus Christ. I am obviously a follower of his but other than that I would love to interview Elvis. He is probably my biggest inspiration of all time. I would love to ask him a few questions and pick his brain for sure.
NRR: Thanks for talking to me Ben, looking forward to catching Black Stone Cherry at both of those Uk dates and good luck with the album release.
Ben: Thanks very much for taking time to talk to me.
You can pre-order your copy of â€˜Kentuckyâ€™ now at iTunes and get new album track, “The Way of The Future,” right away.
Pre-orders for physical CDs and special vinyl packages are available over on the BSC web store.