Interview Blackberry Smoke by John Molet,
traduction : Y. Philippot-Degand (March 2009 )
Hi Charlie !
We are french and we have a great passion for Southern Rock Music, we promote a web site: www.roadtojacksonville.com to talk again and again about our favorite music.
In the beginning of this year 2009, with some of french friends, we took part to the Simple Man Cruise and we appreciated very much the Blackberry Smoke shows ! So, as soon as
I came back in France, I had in mind to ask you some questions in order to let the band
know to Southern Rock fans in France and in Europe !
RTJ : First, can you sum up for us the Blackberry Smoke story since its setting up, and can you introduce to us the other musicians ?
Blackberry Smoke : We played in different bands, in and around Atlanta. Until, as fate would have it, we fired everyone in our bands until we were the only four left. Brit Turner on drums, and his brother Richard Turner on bass guitar have been here since the beginning. Paul Jackson was added on guitar and vocals shortly thereafter. That was in 2001. The rest, as they say, is history.
RTJ : You are quite young but you seem to be very steeped in the southern culture, can you give us the way you feel about this observation ?
Blackberry Smoke : Southern culture is thick and omnipresent for middle and lower middle class families in our neck of the woods. I think, for the most part, that it is a beautiful thing, and we take it everywhere we go.
RTJ : When you were on stage (Lido deck), I looked at people in the audience and I saw almost everyone singing your songs' lyrics, did they know you well that much ?
Blackberry Smoke : It is such an honor and a great feeling to see that happen. I don't think one can ever get tired of the way that makes you feel. We love the people that enjoy our music.
RTJ : Beside me, I even saw Dale Rossington et Carol Chase dancing on your music,
it's pleasant, isn't it ?
Blackberry Smoke : VERY! God bless you, Dale and Carol!
RTJ : Is there a message to catch in the Blackberry Smoke lyrics ?
Blackberry Smoke : Honesty. And the occasional dirty thoughts...
Good times, bad times and everything in between.
RTJ : Can you explain how you compose ?
Blackberry Smoke : I (Charlie) write most of the lyrics. We all contribute musically to take the songs from ideas to finished songs. It is a pleasure to work with my buddies!
RTJ : Did you ever think to a keyboard player in Blackberry Smoke ?
Blackberry Smoke : We've had our good friend Joey Huffman play with us from time to time,
but he stays pretty busy in Hank Williams Jr.'s Bama Band.
RTJ : On many songs, I noticed a magnificent vocal work with Paul and Richard, do you work a lot those sequences ?
Blackberry Smoke : We do work on them, but it comes pretty naturally after being together
for 9 years. Hopefully we don't sound like the drunk cats singing atop the fence on "Tom n' Jerry".
RTJ : On the whole, how would you specify the Blackberry Smoke's style ?
Blackberry Smoke : I'd say it's honest and natural. Laid back, yet fired-up.
Southern as a pecan, but broad in it's musical spectrum.
RTJ : What are your main influences as a guitarist-singer ?
Blackberry Smoke : Too many to mention. From Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Jimmy Martin, to Mick and Keith, the Allmans and Skynyrd. Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff, Little Feat, Gram Parsons, the Crowes... oh, and Mr. Hank Williams.
RTJ : Did you get in touch with people like Skynyrd, 38 Special, Molly Hatchet,
Marshall Tucker Band, etc...?
Blackberry Smoke : We are lucky enough to have friends in all those bands.
We love and respect them so much.
RTJ : Did you already tour with some great names of the Southern Rock ?
Blackberry Smoke : Yes. All of those mentioned above, plus, the Outlaws (R.I.P. Hughie)
RTJ : How do you feel the actual financial situation in the United States, in particular with the presidency change ?
Blackberry Smoke : We talked a little on the boat, and it turns out that a lot of people are wondering about the country's future !
We'll be fine. We've been thru worse. When the goin gets tough...
RTJ : If I believe in your schedule, you don't really have problems to tour regularly, but I suppose that it's not the same thing for all the bands at your place ?
Blackberry Smoke : We never take that for granted.
We love to work and are lucky to be able to travel and do what do.
RTJ : We learned your possible coming in Europe at the end of the year (great !), what does it musically mean for you to come in Europe ?
Blackberry Smoke : I hope Europe loves us. We're just coming to simply do what we do.
We can't wait!
RTJ : Some days after the Simple Man Cruise, we learned the passing of Billy Powell. So, with Ean Evans' health, all the fans are devastated and are wonderinfg if that's not the end of Lynyrd Skynyrd, what do you think of that ? (Lynyrd Skynyrd without Billy, is it possible ?)
Blackberry Smoke : What a loss...Billy left an amazing musical legacy behind and we are all poorer for not being able to see him smile and blow our minds with his fantastic playing. We love him dearly, as do so many. R.I.P. Billy. All this must be unbelievably difficult for Ean and his family. God bless them. All of his friends, fans and family will continue to pray for him and try to help out in any way possible! We love you too, Ean!
RTJ : The Lynyrd's European tour is planned from the 20th of May to the 6th of June
(5th of June in Paris). We actually don't know what they will decide, but from the human
point of view, many people think that they should stop, don't you think so ?
Blackberry Smoke : We think Lynyrd Skynyrd should do whatever they think is best.
We're behind them either way, 100 percent.
RTJ : In France we have several groups that like the Southern Rock www.myspace.com/httpwwwmyspacecomnatchez
they like Blackberry Smoke very much. They would like to play with you in December!
Blackberry Smoke : Can't wait to meet them!
RTJ : To finish, we always ask this classical little question : if you had to end your life on a desert island taking only 5 albums with you, whitch one would you take ?
Blackberry Smoke : How about one? Exile on Main Street.
RTJ : So, I won't take you more time, but if you want to conclude this interview
speaking to the European fans coming on our site, it would be nice.
Blackberry Smoke : Hey ya'll. Get ready, cause Blackberry Smoke is comin' across the water to boogie with you! See ya'll in December 09'. Check our myspace or website for more details.
Too bad it'll probably be too cold to swim in the cement pond...
RTJ : For Road to Jacksonville, I thank you !
Keep on Rockin'