Sverigevännerna från den amerikanska södern, Black Stone Cherry, är på väg tillbaka till våra breddgrader. Med sig i bagaget har de den senaste given “Magic mountain”, varifrån flera låtar luftats under nyss avslutade USA-turnén. Rocksverige ringde upp sångaren Chris Robertson, på tillfälligt besök hos sin krasslige farfar, och snackade bl a om depression, om att se men inte röra och det där med att röka på:
“I would be lying if I said there´s never been a song written by Black Stone Cherry while that was happening. (laughs) I would be lying if I said there haven´t been songs that were directly influenced by that. It´s not something I do every day, but there are a couple of songs written after I´ve smoked or whatever. I´m not gonna lie about it.”
How do you feel about the album ”Magic mountain”, now that it´s been out for a couple of months? Is it your best one so far?
Chris: I honestly believe that it is. I think it is the most honest album we´ve ever done and the songs are a lot of fun to play live. We´re doing “Magic mountain”, “Holding on to letting go”, “Remember me”, “Hollywood in Kentucky” and “Fiesta del fuego”. We´re doing quite a few off the new album.
The song “Hollywood in Kentucky” was written together with The Warren Brothers, who are into writing country songs.
Chris: It´s funny because that song is more of a country song, but when we play it live every night, it´s one of the biggest crowd reactions we get. We´re only 90 miles from Nashville, where we live, and country music is a big part of who we are and what we do and I think that´s one of the things that separates us from a lot of other rock bands. I´m not a hundred percent sure how it happened, because originally John Fred (drums) and Ben (guitar) wrote the song with those guys and then it got changed here and there and made into what it is now.
As I understand it, on the other albums you were more pushed into writing with outside song writers and you were also pushed into singing in a different style, right?
Chris: Yeah, with the first three albums, we were really trying to get played on the radio and the radio in America sucks, man! It is what it is, but with this record and working with Joe Barresi, we had all the songs written before hand and we just decided that we´re gonna write songs that we like and not really care if they make it on the radio or not. We played the songs the way we play them live and recorded everything to tape and we didn´t hold anything back and we just recorded a record like we played it live. That´s what we did and everything was done on 2 inch tape. It´s a raw rock and roll record, man, that we needed to make for ourselves instead of making a record for the record label and radio. We wanted to make it for us.
I guess you can see yourselves working with Joe Barresi again?
Chris: Man, I´m pretty sure that if we have our way with it, we´ll always be working with Joe.
You´ve just finished a US tour. Do you write a lot out on the road?
Chris: Yeah, we always have a Pro Tools rig with us and if someone has a riff for a vocal melody or something, we´ll lay it down and work on it for a while. Sometimes we´ll finish it and other times come back to it a couple of days later. We write on the road quite a bit.
A song like “Me and Mary Jane”? How much smoking is going on on the tour bus?
Chris: (laughs) Actually nothing on the tour bus. We have to keep it clean, you know what I mean?
Smoking marijuana is a big part of the US culture in a way and over here, it´s not quite the same.
Chris: I´m not sure why that is? We have a lot of states in America that are starting to legalize it for just recreational use, which is awesome. I´m all for it, but I don´t know? It´s just something people enjoy doing, I guess.
While smoking, do you come up with stuff for songs?
Chris: I would be lying if I said there´s never been a song written by Black Stone Cherry while that was happening. (laughs) I would be lying if I said there haven´t been songs that were directly influenced by that. It´s not something I do every day, but there are a couple of songs written after I´ve smoked or whatever. I´m not gonna lie about it.
You´ve been very open about your struggles with depression?
Chris: I had my struggles for sure, man, and it was brought on by a lot of stuff and there are addiction problems in there, but I´m doing good now. Every day is another day and I can´t worry about tomorrow or worry about yesterday, yesterday´s gone and tomorrow is always a day away. You´ve got to live in the now and put all of that stuff behind you and not think about that shit, man! You just have to let it go. I had a great doctor that helped me and I was on some medicine for a while and then I got myself off the medicine and I´ve had a great support system with my doctor and my family and friends and people I didn´t even know. People that came to the shows would say stuff and then I found God and everything changed after that. My life has a whole different meaning now.
Didn´t you guys already have a religious upbringing in a way?
Chris: Yes and no. For me personally, my grandmother was very religious and she went to church every Sunday, but as far as my parents go, my mom and dad and me, we never really went to church and I had my struggles for a long time, but all that changed last year. I don´t go to church every Sunday and I don´t read the Bible every single day, but I have a really strong relationship with God and that´s what I needed. I needed something to hold on to.
So you actually feel you get strength from your faith?
Chris: Absolutely! It completely changed my life.
And there was the tragic death of Robin Williams, who also suffered from depression, and I guess it made a lot of people understand that it is very common.
Chris: Yeah, depression and all that stuff is more than what people think it is. People say “Oh, you´ll be fine!” or “You´ll get better!”, but the reality of it is that if you don´t do something about it, it never gets better. You gotta find what makes life good for you and you can´t just sit around and think “Well, things will change and I´ll be fine.” It´s not that way. It´s not the way it goes. It´s totally different than that.
You´ve been with the same girl since you were 16, so out on the road, there´s never gonna be any damsels in distress that you can write a song about?
Chris: You know, we can write songs about anything, you know what I mean? It doesn´t necessarily have to be a true story for me. If you´re with somebody, that´s whom you´re with and you don´t need to concern about anything else. It doesn´t mean you can´t look, you just can´t touch!
What was it like becoming a father?
Chris: I´ll tell you what dude, that was the most amazing experience in my life! Another one of them things that completely changed my life for the better. I found out my wife was pregnant while I was going through the depression and it was like, the first time I had a shimmer of hope of God being real, was when I saw my son! It was under really crazy circumstances when he was born. My wife had to be flown by helicopter, three hours away to a hospital to do an emergency delivery. I got there and he was really, really early. He was seven and a half weeks early and he was completely healthy, just really small. To have a baby be able to be born completely healthy and with my wife having so many complications, the pregnancy was pretty amazing.
Have you found yourself getting a lot more softer since your son´s birth?
Chris: Are you kidding me? I can see an animal and I cry. Even though I do hunt and eat the food that I kill. I can cry about anything now that I have a kid. (laughs)
You´ve toured with some really cool bands, such as Motörhead and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Do you learn from those bands?
Chris: When you get to play with bands like that, you just kinda sit back and take it in. Those are the bands that you grew up with and read about in magazines and saw on TV. Especially Lynyrd Skynyrd for me. To become friends with them and be able to talk about music, guitars and songs and stuff like that, is absolutely amazing! We never got to talk to Lemmy much though. He was kinda on his bus or in his dressing room, but I talked some with Phil and Mikkey.
And now you´re heading over to Europe and you kick it off in Stockholm (October 3rd).
Chris: Yeah, we´re gonna come play in Stockholm! We´re doing Europe and we´re all over the UK and it´s gonna be awesome, man! We´re super excited about this tour and it´s gonna be the first actual tour off of the “Magic mountain” album, so it´s gonna be a lot of fun. After that we´re going home and we take a break, we take the rest of November off and then we´re doing a country music cruise in the States and then just stay home for the rest of the year pretty much.
What can the Swedish fans expect? Swedes really seem to like you guys.
Chris: It´s gonna be a party, man! On this tour we have a lot of new songs and John Fred´s doing something a little different with his drums, which is gonna be awesome. It´s just gonna be a lot of fun! You guys speak English really good and probably a lot better than we do. It´s easy. If you get lost in the street, you can actually ask somebody where you´re going and they will tell you, which is always a plus when you´re travelling. It seems like southern bands do well in Europe and thank God we do, because it´s hard to get arrested in some places in the States. It´s awesome to have a fan base outside of America!
Is there a major difference in the States, playing the southern parts compared to other places?
Chris: There is a difference between playing somewhere in Alabama and then going to play in New York City. The people cut loose a little more in Alabama, but then some places up north are crazier than it is in the south. It just depends on what city it is and how much radio actually play us.
Is Kentucky gonna be your home base forever?
Chris: Absolutely! My wife and I actually bought my grandparents farm and that´s where we´re gonna build a house early next year and we´re gonna live out here for the rest of our lives. We´re gonna have a big, nice yard. We´ve got about 12 acres out here, so I´m gonna have a lot of fun with it! And that´s a small farm from where I´m coming! (laughs)
Av: Niclas Müller-Hansen
Bilder: Therés Stephansdotter Björk