John Fred Young of Black Stone Cherry
TWRY sat down with drummer John Fred Young to talk about touring with legends, their never-ending run in support of their latest disc Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and how their lives have changed over the past few years.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
How is the tour with Chickenfoot going so far?
Good man, really Good. They are just a killer lineup. They are without question the best band we have ever toured with. It’s an honor to get to play with these guys. They are such happy dudes. For instance..Chad Smith did the first tour with these guys but then he had a commitment with The Red Hot Chill Peppers and they have Kenny Aronoff come in to drum on this tour and there is no drop off. I get to sit and watch him play and we talk almost every day. It’s just insane that we get to share the stage with these guys.
I was such a huge Chili Peppers fan when I was in high school and I just watched Chad soundcheck for tonight’s gig in Boston! Same thing with Van Halen who I was been exposed to at an even younger age. My dad (for instance) was a huge Montrose fan so he’s beyond pumped for me and the band for this experience. We are truly gaining a whole new fan base that maybe never heard of us but will now go out and a buy a cd or two. This has been the most professional ass whooping any of us have ever had!
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea has been out for nearly one year now. Did you anticipate being out on the road for this long supporting it and what are the touring plans for the remainder of 2012?
When we recorded the album it was actually 2010. We took an entire year off to write and record. We started touring in April last year with Alter Bridge. Then we did the Carnival of Madness tour last summer with Alter Bridge, Theory of a Deadman, Emphatic and Adelitas Way..boy that was fun. Then we went to Europe and played the festival circuit including the Download festival, Rock in the Rock. Came back and did some headlining dates in North America and then went back to the UK and did a co-headlining tour with Alter Bridge. I was a huge Creed fan so to play those dates that was such a thrill. They are some of the nicest most humble cats I have ever come across in this industry.
I just recently saw Myles (Kennedy) do a gig with Slash and we got to hang out afterwards and catch up. We are just really good friends with those guys and it was cool to see him in another environment. They busted out some classic Guns tunes. “Nightrain”, “Paradise City”, and some Velvet Revolver stuff.
After Chickenfoot (last show is June 10 in L.A.) we are going home for like 10 days and then head to Italy for the Gods of Metal in Milan and then back to the UK for “The Isle of Wright” show with Bruce Springsteen. Then more shows in England and throughout Europe. I know we are doing the Shiprocked cruise in November So there is no end in sight!
So you’re still in major support mode of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea?
We actually just dropped our latest single “Like I Roll” to all the radio stations throughout the US. To have four singles off this record has been truly eye opening to all of us. A band is lucky to get two singles off a record these days. We have been riding the wave of our third single “In My Blood” and the video which accompanied it. That was shot by our good friend Andrew Bennett and it showcased a soldier named Randy who is originally from Florida and now lives in Georgia. He was in Afghanistan for a bit and then ended up in Germany before returning home and our goal was to capture somebody who had gone through what he did before coming home. We get homesick. Anyone traveling will miss their family but anyone who is in the service no matter what country they are from, that is the supreme sacrifice. Randy was just so cool to allow us to film him in his barracks in Germany and Andrew had to follow him around for roughly two weeks. It shows no actual battle footage but it does show Randy talking to his wife he just had a newborn child and was just catching up via Skype. Every time we say we are homesick I think that video always reminds us that compared to Randy what we do is easy.
Shortly after we sent the finished record to Roadrunner they predicted that this album had the potential for 7-8 singles. We were floored..we took it with a grain of salt because stuff changes. After one year and we are already at four singles..that’s a solid indication that we have a shot at it. In Germany for instance while we released “In My Blood” throughout North America they released “Won’t Let Go” so the album is really doing well in Germany. For as many “metal” bands there are that have come out of Germany it’s amazing how different radio is there. They have like 3 main rock stations and they are more pop orientated. That’s why I think our ballad for “Won’t Let Go” was so well received. We play the metal festivals yet get played on pop German radio. It’s an odd dynamic but it’s all good because we get to please more fans this way.
I loved the video for “White Trash Millionare” where was that shot and did you have a favorite car from it?
That was shot at a scrap yard in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The cars came from a stunt house in Nashville, TN and all of those cars have been used in different films and TV shows over the years. I refused to drive any of the cars, although I desperately wanted to!! I just saw myself locking the brakes and smashing right into a pile of junk cars. Chris used to own a Trans Am and we all love Smokey and the Bandit! The song was sort of loosely based upon that premise of Chris always wanting to work on that car and us always being at the rehearsal studio with our shitty beat up old couch..just simple country living!
What’s the story behind the origin of the name Black Stone Cherry?
Honestly when we were in high school we would often sneak out and smoke cigars and cigarettes but hide this from our parents. One night John (who was the oldest at 18 at the time) went out and bought some Blackstone Cherry cigars. We called ourselves by that name that night for a goof and it just stuck!
In the video for “Hell and High Water” it shows the band on the tour bus and having breakfast at a local diner and partying in your hometown. I take it you guys are pretty much what you see is what you get? I don’t see many nights of top hats and tails and ordering squab for dinner right??
Ha-Ha-Ha. That video was shot in 2006 and some of it was at small theater where I performed in plays as a younger dude. That was the coolest video we ever got to make because we had a ton of family and friends in it. We also went to a park in Edmonton, KY where we had a cook out and pretty much invited the whole town out to shoot some more footage.
What’s the toughest part about touring? Do you feel as you get older it gets easier or more difficult?
It gets easier on one hand because you learn more about how to deal with people. Meeting your idols as you tour for instance gets to be pretty much old hat after awhile. The first like 8 months you’re just taking pictures like crazy and running around like a demon trying to save things and then it becomes more like part of the business. Sleeping is the toughest part of touring. I go to bed late and get up late yet I consider myself a morning type person. When I’m home I like to get up early, have my coffee and just “be up”. It’s hard on the bus because everybody is listening to different music, playing X-Box 360 and other video games. Our tour bus used to be called the “Bible Bus” because it was so boring. We ended prohibition on the road and we do have an occasional cocktail every now and then. As we age we do look at things differently for sure. Chris has a baby on the way. John has a little girl already. Everybody’s making babies, getting married, I’m starting to grow facial hair and then one day you just start to take care of yourself better like every day. Because I want to be doing this as long as the guys in Chickenfoot have lasted! Kenny A. is just a rock!
What does the future hold for Stone Cold Cherry?
We need to have a live DVD out. We have been filming for awhile but I think for the next album and tour we should have a full crew of like eight different camera angles and really capture us in a live setting for the fans. Fill it with our videos and some extras. I know we are not doing a Greatest Hits because we have never had one! I hate those records because it seems like the end in a sense. Now with iTunes people make their own greatest hits anyway. Years ago if a band had a record that was out of print it made sense to put one together.
Watch Black Stone Cherry’s Latest Video For “In My Blood”: