Black Stone Cherry: '˜There's so many magical memories from the UK'

Black Stone Cherry drummer John Fred Young can't quite believe that the band has almost been going for two decades.

Black Stone Cherry. Picture: Harry Reese
Black Stone Cherry. Picture: Harry Reese

Formed in 2001, the Edmonton hard rockers have been plugging away for virtually all of this century – and their warmly effacing sticksman doesn’t know where the time has gone.

“When you say 20 years, it hurts so good, you know?” he laughs on a cold Halloween afternoon, when chatting over a preview for the group’s December arena tour on British shores. “It’s crazy though; I mean, we started our band together when we were just kids, in high school. We’re like brothers now. It’s really hard for a band to be together for all that time without losing any members along the way, though. I think we’re the only band in our circle of cohorts who are still going strong with the original line-up. We’ve been very fortunate.”

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The band put out their sixth record Family Tree earlier this year, notching up a third Top Ten album in a row. With such a stocked back catalogue to choose from now though for the road, Young admits that it is a balancing act between keeping the audience on their toes and paying tribute to their history.

Black Stone Cherry. Picture: Will Ireland

“We were actually making our setlists for the upcoming tour the other day,” he notes, “and what we’ve been doing over in the States is switching it all up. For people coming to see the show, they don’t know what they’re going to get. It’s something that we’d wanted to start doing for a long time because, you know, all the greats never played the same set twice. They were always throwing in these oddball songs, at the last minute.”

How do the group view their past LPs now they’re seasoned veterans? “It’s crazy, thinking back about all these different records we’ve made in different places. Each one of them holds so much magic and memory for us, from the process of recording to touring them live. They’re all important in their own little ways.”

Though they may be playing to some of the biggest venues on British shores, Young feels it’s only natural given the embrace given to them on this side of the Atlantic, one they are eternally grateful for.

“When we came to the UK for the very first time in 2007 we came across to the UK for the very first time, that was crazy; we were rolling around in a little van, to these little clubs and the promoters didn’t even know if we were meant to be playing. But that’s the point that we started seeing people freak out to the music.

“We came back in the summertime to open for Aerosmith in Hyde Park and that was when it started to take off. There’s so many magical memories from the UK; they’ve always been so welcoming to us, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we love if it weren’t for you guys.”

Black Stone Cherry play at First Direct Arena, Leeds on December 13. www.blackstonecherry.com