rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth caught up with guitar hero Ben Wells to bring you another big exclusive.
rushonrock: Black Stone Cherry celebrates its 10th anniversary this year – are you still going strong?
Ben Wells: We’ve been going for a decade but I think we’re as strong as we’ve always been. I think the bond’s become stronger over the years because we’ve learnt so much more about each other. We’ve become so much closer after spending so many years on the road together. As a band we’re still in it to win it.
rushonrock: It’s rare for the original line-up to be together for so long – what’s the secret?
BW: We don’t let anything get between us. We don’t let drugs or money or all of that stupid stuff come between us. First and foremost we’re friends and we love making music together. We split everything evenly and there are no egos. No one person has ever become bigger than the rest or bigger than the band and I don’t see that changing.
rushonrock: Does the fame game cause rifts in other bands?
BW: Perhaps it’s the money and the fame game that splits bands up. But if you love your music then you don’t start a band because of that stuff. We just love to play and we feel incredibly lucky that we can make a living out of it.
rushonrock: But you must dislike something about your band mates?
BW: My biggest pet hate when it comes to being on the road with the rest of the guys is when you open a can on the bus, everyone takes a sip and then someone leaves it out and it goes warm. What a waste. Other than that I suppose we’ve just learned to accept each other’s bad habits. We’ve become so used to each other that to us the worst things that happen on the road don’t seem out of the ordinary any more. We always used to hang out at each other’s houses before BSC went on the road so it was a good grounding for the challenges to come. There’s never any awkwardness on a BSC tour.
rushonrock: Why has there never been the merest rumour of a rift within the BSC camp?
BW: I think we’re still learning from each other all of the time. The other guys are so talented and we look up to one another. There’s a huge amount of respect. We push each other to be the very best we can.
rushonrock: Just how good did you think you could be back when you started BSC?
BW: When we started off we just wanted to be the next Aerosmith. We wanted to be huge rock stars and play as many shows as we could. We wanted to write great rock songs that actually said something to people and we wanted to compete with the best of the best in the music business.
rushonrock: Have you faced much adversity along the way?
BW: When we were starting out I don’t think there were many people who believed we would make it as such. Some of the kinder people would say to us ‘are you sure this is really what you want to do?’. Some of the punks in high school would keep telling us that there was no way anyone outside our small community would ever hear our music or be interested in hearing our music. But we didn’t let any of that stand in our way and our families were always very supportive.
rushonrock: As a group of friends who grew up playing in the local neighbourhood do you ever look back on those early days with fondness?
BW: Sometimes I wish we could back to the days when life was a little simpler. Once you sign a record deal and start touring then it’s impossible to avoid the business side of things and it does get complicated. Sometimes you hark back to those carefree days when there weren’t so many things to worry about. Then again when we were 15 all we dreamed of doing what we do now and making a living from playing music. It’s a real double-edged sword. Fortunately BSC love what we do and the day we stop enjoying this is the day we’ll stop doing it. We just love being around music and that will never change.
rushonrock: You’re veterans when it comes to playing with the biggest names in rock but how’s it been going with Alter Bridge?
BW: So far the tour with Alter Bridge has been going great. Those guys are some of the best dudes we’ve ever toured with – both the band and their crew are awesome. We all hang out together on days off and have fun together.
rushonrock: And is Myles Kennedy the best rock singer in the world right now?
BW: Myles Kennedy is such a talented guy. He’s an incredible singer and he’s surrounded by great musicians. We learn from all of the bands we play with and it’s been no different on this tour. That’s another reason why we’re still here and still making music. We don’t think we’re too cool to learn.
rushonrock: Has it become more difficult identifying the perfect BSC setlist now there’s another critically acclaimed album to throw into the mix?
BW: The setlist this time out is a good mix of all three albums. It’s a good, rocking set. It’s always been tough to pick the perfect BSC setlist but with every new album that task becomes even tougher. The big songs will always be there and it’s a case of picking the best of the rest.
rushonrock: Next month you make your Hard Rock Hell debut – are you ready for Prestatyn in December?
BW: We’re very excited about playing Hard Rock Hell. It’s the first time we’ve played the festival and we’ve heard it’s a whole lot of fun. There are some great bands on the bill and we can’t wait for the whole Hard Rock Hell experience.
* Catch Ben and Black Stone Cherry at the following venues:
Wednesday 23 November Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Thursday 24 November MEN Arena Manchester
Saturday 26 November Metro Radio Arena Newcastle
Sunday 27 November SECC Glasgow
Monday 28 November Leeds Metropolitan University
Tuesday 29 November Wembley Arena London
Friday 02 December Spring and Airbrake Belfast
For tickets go here: www.livenation.co.uk/event/225935/alter-bridge-tickets