Interview by Robert Cavuoto
Photo by: Olivia Johnston Photography
Black Stone Cherry will be releasing Live From The Royal Albert Hall… Y’All on June 24 via Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group.
In 2021 the same year of the band’s 20th Anniversary, Black Stone Cherry realized their childhood dream of playing at the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London. During the performance, the band tore through an explosive set of their “greatest hits,” like “Me and Mary Jane,” “In Love with the Pain,” “Again,” and “Ringin’ in My Head” and their biggest hits and fan favorites “Blind Man,” “Hell and High Water,” “Blame it on the Boom Boom,” and “White Trash Millionaire.” Songs rock the building to its foundation alongside moments of tenderness, such as the touching rendition and emotional performance of “Things My Father Said.”
Chris Robertson [vocals/guitar], Ben Wells [guitar], Steve Jewell Jr [bassist], and John-Fred Young [drums] take this live recording further into the realm of rock greatness, utilizing songs from all their previous albums. Pre-orders for Live From The Royal Albert Hall… Y’All can be found here: https://lnk.to/BSC-MLG
I had the pleasure of speaking with guitarist Ben Wells about the band’s bucket list item to play at Royal Albert Hall and the importance of properly capturing the spirit and energy of their live performance while sharing insights into the events that led up to the legendary concert! Join in on the fun and check out their conversation. Remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow My Global Mind on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish daily.
Robert Cavuoto: The CD truly captures the band’s live essence and energy.
Ben Wells: Thank you! We are beyond happy with how it came out. We can’t wait for people to listen to it or to watch it so they can experience it.
Robert Cavuoto: I received the streaming audio version, but I have to believe it is a two-CD set along with a DVD?
Ben Wells: Yes, it’s also a double vinyl as well with a Blu-ray. We’ve never done something like this, so this release is really special to us. We put out a DVD in the past but never a DVD with vinyl.
Robert Cavuoto: I’m looking forward to getting the DVD to watch the entire show.
Ben Wells: The DVD is incredible. There is a lot of the behind-the-scenes footage, like following us around the first day of the tour in the UK. It is not only a concert but a mini-documentary of the tour.
Robert Cavuoto: Royal Albert Hall is such a formal-looking place for operas and symphonies. As a Rock & Roll band from America, did you feel out of place in the opulent setting?
Ben Wells: The night we played there, we made jokes about it because the night prior they had a James Bond movie premiere with Daniel Craig. Then we came rolling in. It was a little different event [laughing]. That venue has been on our lifetime bucket list because of all the legendary acts who have played there, like Led Zeppelin, Elton John, The Who, and Cream. It was incredible that we were able to put on our show there as well.
Robert Cavuoto: Were you on tour and scheduled to play there?
Ben Wells: We were on tour, and it was the last show of the UK tour. It was initially scheduled for 2020 that got pushed back because of COVID. We didn’t know if we would be able to get the venue again as there was a year to two and half year wait. Luckily our booking agent was able to swap it around. It was in the cards for us to make it happen.
Robert Cavuoto: Did you find it difficult to pick the setlists knowing the show was going to be filmed for a theatrical release in such a legendary venue?
Ben Wells: Not really, as we had been doing the same setlist the entire tour. There are songs that we tend to play more over there than in America. We tried to pick our “greatest hits” set. We knew we were recording this, so we wanted to be smart with our song selection and all the songs we released, plus the ones that go over well live.
Robert Cavuoto: What would be an example of a song that goes over better in the UK compared to the US?
Ben Wells: A song called “Yeah Man” was never officially released on an album; it was a B-side. It has gone really well over there; songs like “Things that Father Said” and “Peace if Free” are two other songs that the crowd sings every single word. Certain songs just kind of resonate differently, and they just caught on in the UK.
Robert Cavuoto: What is performing in front of a UK audience like?
Ben Wells: Some were seated in this venue, some were standing, and some were dancing. Our audience is typically on their feet, rocking, have a great time. This one was a seated venue, so there was a little of everything, but when we took the stage, everybody was up because they knew they were coming to a rock show, so they didn’t want to sit down.
Robert Cavuoto: I know in some countries, the audience can be more proper than in others.
Ben Wells: If we see them sitting down, we always try to get them up! [Laughing]
Robert Cavuoto: I went to London a few years back and had the best time touring the city with my family. As much as I thought it would be easy to understand the people in London, it was still pretty tough. Being from the Midwest, what did you make of their accents?
Ben Wells: Even though we all speak English, I think they may have had trouble understanding us with our southern accents. It is different to go to some places like Germany, France, or Italy; they may speak English, but it’s a little harder to understand. We have been going over top the UK so much that we started picking up on some of their slang words [laughing].
Robert Cavuoto: Are there any pre-show rituals the band does before the show to get yourself psyched?
Ben Wells: We just had a moment, the four of us in the dressing room. We knew we were filming in a legendary venue and not to let that take precedent other than to put on a great show and not to get too uptight about it. We then did a pre-show prayer and went out there to do it.
Robert Cavuoto: Was there a concern or nervousness within the band that the show was being filmed and everything had to go perfectly?
Ben Wells: We knew it was going to be recorded, but if we mess something up, do let it get into your head because it can stay with you the remainder of the show. Mistakes are going to happen, but own them, and they will be what it is. Luckily, we didn’t have any fixes. What everyone is hearing is 100% straight up live!
Robert Cavuoto: What do you remember special about that day of filming?
Ben Wells: It was great because my wife, Mom, sister, and brother-in-law were all there. I loved having them there and experiencing the moment with us.
Robert Cavuoto: Are there any songs that you look forward to performing live, songs that still make the hair on your arms stand up?
Ben Wells: I would say some of the ballads like “Peace Is Free” and “Things My Father Said” are just incredible songs. Every time you hear people singing them back is a wonderful experience. Also, when we do “Lonely Train,” which was on our first album and our first single, it is still fun to play and gets people excited. Every show is a new experience, so that any show can be someone’s first show so; even though we have been playing a song for so many years, you have to go into it with the mindset. What do you find most fascinating about fast playing these days?
Robert Cavuoto: What is going through your head as you play these songs live for so many years to keep the energy going?
Ben Wells: I don’t overthink it too much. We are in the zone and focused on the show. Our is to play the song as best as we can. There is so much energy in our set. If anything runs through my head, I’m thinking about what I’m going eat on the bus [laughing].
Robert Cavuoto: I spoke to Chris about your friendship and chemistry; he said the minute he played with you at 16 years old, he knew you would be a team. Was it that instantaneously to you?
Ben Wells: 100%! There was an immediate chemistry that we had, and we understood each other. As much as we play alike is as much as we play differently. We are inspired by different guitarists. He has his strong suits, and I have mine. We really complement each other. I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else. What’s important to us is the music we make, but we are best friends and brothers. We love like brothers and argue like brothers, but we always put each other first at the end of the day. The number one thing about us is we love playing music together, and we love being around each other. Since it’s been that way a majority of our lives, we don’t know it any other way.
Robert Cavuoto: What do you recall about that first meeting with Chris?
Ben Wells: It was Chris’ birthday on June 4, 2001, and a mutual friend of ours knew that Chris was jamming and wanted to put together a band. I went down, and we jammed, and the next day we formed the band. It was that simple. Our first gig was at a local talent show in Kentucky.
Robert Cavuoto: Bassist Jon Lawhon left in 2020. How is he doing?
Ben Wells: We wish him the absolute best, and sometimes life takes you in different directions. He is doing his thing, and we are able to continue. We have a new bass player, Steve Jewell Jr, who is amazing. We have known him for years, and he is from our hometown.
Robert Cavuoto: Human Condition is an incredible testament to the passion and musicianship of the band. What do your future plans hold?
Ben Wells: We are set for touring the rest of the year, and I’m sure we will have some new music end of this year beginning of next year. We are trying to get it all scheduled in with so many dates and tours we are on. The window gets smaller and smaller, so we will fit it in where we can.
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