Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 Mar-Apr Contents 40 Rhythms
They’ve recorded with George Jones,
befriended and toured with ZZ Top,
their latest album ‘Holding All’ the
Roses debuted at number one on
Billboard’s country music charts
last year, but until now they hadn’t
conquered Australia. Blackberry
Smoke are bringing their country rock
energy to Byron Bay for Bluesfest this
year, and I caught up with lead singer
Charlie Starr to find out why we’ve had
to wait so long.
Why has it taken you so long to
come to Australia?
It’s such a long flight! This is our first
opportunity, actually. We’ve definitely
wanted to make the trip for a long
time and this just seems like a perfect
opportunity, with the festival and what
not. You know, last year we toured in
Europe with the band Massive from
Australia. They’re label mates of ours
on a European label called Earache
Records. They told us how fabulous it
is and we said “Well that’s it, that’s the
last straw, we’re going!”
We’re excited to have you here
for Bluesfest. Are you planning on
doing anything new or different for
your Australian shows?
We’ll be playing some brand new
songs. We just started a new record, so
we’ll probably play a few of those. But
the setlist kind of changes a bit from
night to night on all of our tours, so we
try and play a little from each record,
and a cover here and there as well, and
just try to keep it interesting.
New music - awesome! When do you
think we’ll hear that new album?
I don’t know – we just started so it will
be a while. The last album is not quite
a year old so it will be a little while, a
little later in the year
Your live show is often talked about,
and your fans really love you from a
live perspective. What do you think
it is about it that draws them in?
I’m not really sure what it is about
us specifically. I think, most bands,
that’s when they shine - when they’re
playing their music live. I mean, that’s
where the passion really shows. You
can’t replace the live experience.
Making a record and playing a show;
they are two completely different
things. I think tonnes of bands have
tried to capture that live energy in the
studio, and it’s just nearly impossible,
because you don’t have that give and
take with the audience and that energy
being passed back and forth. We are
a band that loves to play live, which I
would say most bands do, or at least
they say they do, but we genuinely
Is that why you released a live album
a few years ago, to try and capture
that live feel?
Yeah, and the fact that our fan base
here in the States are really loyal,
which we love, but they were begging!
What we’d done is we had released a
live DVD the year before and the audio
was not available as a stand alone
product. You know, they didn’t have a
live album they just had the DVD. We
even had some of our fans say, “I put
this thing in my CD player and it won’t
play!”, because it’s obviously a DVD.
So we said “Let’s make the good folks
a cd to play”.
You did some more shows with ZZ
Top last year. Does it freak you out
sometimes that you are now friends
with ZZ Top?
It does, it’s freaky... If you’d told me
when I was 13 that I would have Billy
Gibbons’ phone number I would have
told you, you were crazy!
D’you remember when you first met?
I do. It was in Birmingham, Alabama,
probably 2008, I think and we were
called in at the last minute to do some
tour dates with them. They were
missing an opening act and it was
literally like the day before the show
in Birmingham, our agent called and
said, “You wanna jump on the road
with ZZ Top tomorrow?” and we said
“Absolutely!” So we went down and
Billy Gibbons was omnipresent from
the very first day, always around and
going to lunch and hanging around
backstage and, you know, showing off
guitars and amps and it was just great!
It was a great experience.
You mentioned you’ve already
started work on new music. I know
it’s early days, but do you have
an idea of how things might be
different this time around?
Still early to tell. Right now there are
a couple of songs that might be the
heaviest thing we’ve ever recorded. I
said that about the last album, about
the song ‘Holding All The Roses’, but
I think there are a few on this one that
might have that out heavied.
Will you just keep going heavier and
I don’t know if we want to be Kyuss
or something. But there’s some really
dirty blues on this one, a really nasty
live sort of a blues tune, so there’s
some really interesting stuff, a couple
of really trippy songs. I think it’s going
to be more about what I really love
about the last two records - a lot of
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