An Interview with
John Fred Young
Drummer of Black Stone Cherry that took place on their Tour Bus outside O2 Academy, Sheffield on Saturday, 17th March 2012. Interviewed by Geno D.
Geno: How you doin' Bud?
John: I'm doing great, doing great.
Geno D: So I've been here 16 years but you've probably been touring that long - it seems that long.
John: Well I tell ya man, we started touring here in 2007 and we kept coming back man and just kept trying to get people to listen to us and it really worked out good for us and here we are.
Geno D: Do you remember your first gig in Sheffield?
John: Our first gig acidentally it was with Whitesnake. I don't think we ever did a headline show there. The Whitesnake and Def Leppard Tour 2008.
Geno D: Well Sheffield loves you so it's good to see you guys back here. You got the big room.
John: Yeah it's crazy.
Geno D: Well you guys did the Alter Bridge thing and you came over and you did that and then you did Hard Rock Hell. It was like, are these guys pushing out too much, too soon and couldn't they really sell out another headline tour 3 months after the fact. It's been absolutely amazing because every one of your shows in the UK is sold out.
Geno D: How's the rest of the European Tour?
John: Its really good. We actually flew into Dusseldorf and we started touring and we had a gig in Osborg in Germany and we did Paris and went through... let's see we did Munich, we did Berlin and then we actually had to cancel Hamburg and Bochum because Chris's voice shout out on him. We were doing like 4 in a row, an hour and a half sets, we hadn't done those for a while and we kinda had to take a couple of days off but we're resceduling those shows for the Summer so that'll be fun. So yeah man, it was good. Every show we did there was sold out too. I think the one in Berlin lacked about 150 tickets from selling out. Not a bad deal I mean it was a packed room.
Geno D: For you guys, it's just been a hard 5 years for you guys. I mean out of that 5 years you probably took about 10 months off to record the last album...
Geno D: ...but the rest of the time has just been every chance and opportunity that you got -you were there. So when are you gonna take time out to record the new stuff?
John: Man I tell you what, I really hope that when we do take the next time off that it's not ten months - I hope it's like 6. I mean, I love my family man just like everybody else does in the band but you get so like.. you know when you're touring it's bitter sweet man because you miss your family and you wanna be home, you wanna see all your friends at home and stuff but then when you get home you start missing this. It's bitter sweet man - you get torn between the two. The best thing for us to do is tour for like a month and take 2 weeks off and that really kind of relation. It's hard man, it's hard. I think if we didn't maybe if we were far spread out, you know we lived in different cities it wouldn't be so bad really because we're all so close. Our families are close and we're from a very small town. It really is hard when you don't go home and see all your friends because all our friends are the same people.
Geno D: Is that why 'In My Blood' is such a.. I wouldn't say a sentimental track but a hard track in respect that that's exactly what it's about?
John: It is.
Geno D: It's about that time period of being there, being away, being there, being away - that kind of, I wouldn't say inner-struggle but trying to keep the balance right on that?
John: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
Geno D: And it's amazing the airplay that that seems to be getting. Your fans have done you proud on that one.
John: They really have man. I tell you what - it's truly amazing to see the American radio charts for our songs. I think you know, right now it's 11 on active rock so that's really good. It's really good and we've had some really good radio exposure in America but we've never had it to the point where it's like they're paying full attention to our album. Over here we basically build our band by word of mouth and opening for bigger bands like Whitesnake, Def Leppard and Nickelback to doing all these festivala - Download and doing obviously the stuff throughout Europe - all the festivals. But I mean, it is amazing that we are selling this tour out, we're doin' great in America so it's just fabulous.
Geno D: I think the accolades that are in America are long overdue...
John: Oh thanks.
Geno D: ...because I've been watching you guys since you were little nippers. I remember the 1st time we met and you were clean shaven..
John: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Geno D: ...and Ben not even beginning to know what facial hair...
John: Yeah yeah - we couldn't even grow it right.
Geno D: I look at that and I see how you guys have matured and I see you guys just going from strength to strength and I'm just like going, "What the hell are these guys gonna pull out next?" because nowadays for a band to come down 3 albums out, most of them have just gone "Adios Amigos" - they've come and they've done it and that's it and yet you guys are in there for the long call. It's great to see because are you guys still this close as you were 11 years ago when you guys started this thing off?
John: Yeah we are. It's funny cos we still have fights man an still get into it. It's like everybody is growing and it's funny because everybody is getting older but we have different opinions on things. We have different views because when you're young, like when we first started doing this we were 16 years old and it was like we have to put this band together - we can go 'we all wanna rock', you know..
Geno D: Yes.
John: ...And when you get older you obviously start getting bills - you gotta pay for this, you got kids doing whatever. But like it's funny because we still fight like we're like brothers and that's cos we are. I just read a thing - Mick (Jagger) and Keith Richards - like their 20 year argument and it was funny. There's.. Ben and I were just talking about it.. the paper, I guess it's the Sheffield paper was talking about Keith and Mick have kind of.. I guess Keith came out with the book and like talking about Mick and it's funny man as I guess they kinda finally put... they got their problems resolved and stuff and they're gonna do the next tour I guess next year. Well it's funny because, you know, in the interview it said 'at the end of the day we're still little boys like we were on platform 3 where we first met' and Micks like 'Platform 1'. (They laugh) It's funny you know cos that's cool man to see that and we were just amazed at just how cool it is because we are, I truly think we are one of the bands that are out that still have the same mentality we did when we were younger.
Geno D: Yeah.
John: We definately are different because we have different ideas about things but, you know so what, it's still 'Black Stone Cherry'.
Geno D: It's called, 'At the end of the day it works.' So what does the future hold, are we talking a.. because you are starting to get mature to that level where people... any discussions of a "Well I need to do some solo stuff" and you know, energy driving, anything like that, that people go start as a lot of band do a lot of side projects as well as 'Black Stone Cherry' or is everybody so dedicated to it at that right now it's 'Black Stone Cherry' and nothing else?
John: Honestly, I mean, it's part just me personally like I don't really.. I'm probably always just gonna be playing music with this band because I just.. I don't think it would be... I mean I don't know what the other guys kinda where their heads are at you know? it might be that next year somebody comes out with a solo record. It may be ten years from now. It many never happen but as far as I'm conscerned, I don't really care to play with anybody else. In the fact of like, "I'm gonna play drums for Black Stone Cherry' because that's where I started and I think man, like solo records and things are cool because you get to like go out on a limb and put what it is you bring to the band. But as far as like, you know, I think, I don't think anyone in our band that puts a solo album out will ever capture the full thing that 'Black Stone Cherry' is - the full magic because they can't because they are just one fourth of it, you know?
Geno D: Yeah.
John: That's why I, like myself - the guy.. I would just tell you that I wouldn't be strong enough to do a solo record. I wouldn't want to either because it's like jesus, 1 fourth - you know what I'm sayin'?
Geno D: (Like) How many sycopated drum solos can you get out there at the end of the day.
John: Yeah, yeah that's right.
Geno D: But I still think you ought to bring your protege - the guy who taught you drums. I think you should bring him over here and the two of you should have a drum-off in the middle of the shows.
John: Oh man, listen, we actually tried to bring ' Headhunters' over this time but we couldn't. On a couple of occasions - "oh we need the 'Rival Sons", "oh alright cool". Then, you know, so we're gonna... I think next time we come back hopefully we'll be doing some arena stuff.
Geno D: Yeah maybe.
John: I pray to God. Hopefully it happens. Then we can bring Headhunters to open up.
Geno D: I would absolutely love to see that over here because in America you guys get together all the time.
Geno D: They're family but it's when you look at some of the videos. I looked at one of his drum solos and I looked at yours..
Geno D: ...And I thought,'God, I know where John Fred learned to play drums', you know because...
John: Oh yeah, I know.
Geno D: I just thought to myself, 'I would love to see just a head to head - them two drum kits up there and the family and just have everybody goin' at it because...
John: Oh I know, wouldn't that be great?
Geno D: That would be absolutely brilliant.
John next to Fred - The Kentucky Headhunters with 2 BSC members! (Pic by Ray Waddell)
John: We're actaully doing a drum show together in Chicago coming up in two months - in May so it's gonna be cool.
Geno: I was gonna say that what I find interesting is that your unique in both of your techniques - it's the simplicity of the set. It's not the big massive drum kit with 15 mammoth toms - it's not Neil Peart and all the rest of it..
John: Yeah, yeah.
Geno D: It's that you take a very simple kit and what you do with it is absolutely amazing and how you are able to power that. It must be something in the 'Young blood'.
John: Oh man, hey I appreciate that. Yeah Fred taught me a lot man.
Geno D: Yeah.
John: Yeah a lot and I think that. You know, I always see my dad and him both. You know my dad, Richard taught us all about the music business and songwriting and Fred taught us all like, you know, how to be cool. Fred's very cool.
(Richard Young is 1st on left)
Geno D: You never tried to do with sideburns like that did you?
John: I can't do it.
Geno D: But no it'd be absolutely fabulous if you got the Headhunters over here. I mean I spoke to Ricky Lee about 6 or 7 years ago when he was doing his solo stuff and it's nice to see that the brotherly love thing is coming back into play on that.
John: Oh yeah, yeah.
Geno D: So yeah, it'd be nice to get the original Headhunters all back together on the same stage opening up for you guys. That would be a dream come true.
John: Well his brother Doug's obviously been singing for the band for, oh gosh, more than.. he came in 96. So he's been singing for you know, way more than if Rick came back. It's like, you know, it would be cool man. It would be cool to see the original line-up cos obviously they are a four piece now. I think it's that keith and Mick thing dude - it's like when you start, you know, you just gotta put the past behind you sometimes man and get on with it.
Geno D: Anyway it'd be good. So from here you guys have got another week in the UK don't you?
John: Yes we do. We got Manchester tomorrow and then London. We're going to Scotland - we're going to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and so we got a lot of cool stuff coming up.
Geno D: That's cool and then obviously the continent (of Europe) again?
John: Yes then it's back home. We're back home for a month. We got like 4 shows in the middle of April in Tennessee and Illinois. Then we start 'Chickenfoot'.
Geno D: Yeah. I was gonna say how did that one come about because when Chickenfoot played Manchester I was lucky enough to get back and have a little discussion with Sammy and he's just an absolute saint. The fun that you guys have on tour and the fun that those guys have on tour, I would love to be a fly on the wall and see what these two bands get up to when you're touring together.
John: It'll be fun. I'm really looking forward to that tour.
Geno D: Was it somebody or was it management that turned around and pulled you guys into it?
John: We'd always wanted to play with those guys man because I mean, you know, you got such great players in that band and they're definately... I mean, I remember my dad turning us onto Sammy when it was like Montrose and it was like.. I think that one of our.. Vinnie who works our Management Company was like, "Hey man, we got an offer from Chickenfoot, you guys wanna do it?", and we're like, "Dude Yeah of course". Of course man, we wanna do that. It's just funny cos you start... we actually had to pass up some dates man. You try to do the biggest dates where you'll get the most people out and most radio exposure and all this stuff. It's that you can't do it all. You gotta like pick and choose and Chickenfoot was definately one of our things that we wanted to do.
They're gonna have a really great crowd because it's a musicians crowd too. I mean, it's kinda in the same sense as like 'Alter Bridge' in a way and for us to get to the musician crowd. I think that Chickenfoot will have probably a little bit of a middle-aged audience just because of the great.. just because of I think Montrose, just because obviously Van Halen and it's like it'll be cool. They get a lot of.. I mean I'm sure they have younger fans too but I think that our fans are pretty, pretty un-genic and I'm sure there's will be the same. It'll be a good mix of people. Looking forward to it.
But I mean, it's crazy right now because we are on this tour now and it's sold out and I was thinking like, 'Man we came over here in a little airport shuttle van and it didn't have a bathroom on it - we were having to like pee in bottles' and it's just like dude, if you just keep working hard and keep doing what you are doing, just don't give up. You can achieve a lot of cool great things.
Geno D: And that's the best advice anybody can give a young band trying to get into the business.
John: Yeah absolutely man. Don't give up. If you are doing something that you believe is the next coolest thing in the world and it's genuine, you believe in it and you're in a band with guys you love and you to got real love who you're playing with man. Not just, "Oh he's a great guitar player, he's a great singer". You gotta be in love with those guys to be brothers and that's the thing man. Just stick with it and do it because, I mean, to back to when we were 16 years old - I'm 27 now and that's going on 11 years or so. Just thinkin', 'Oh man'. It's truly amazing. It's truly amazing what four young dudes from Kentucky - a small town of like 25 hundred people can do. Anybody can do anything they wanna do so I should put your mind to it and your hearts in and don't let anybody get in your way.
Geno D: And there we go and all I can say is that we're gonna have one hell of a good time tonight aren't we?
John: We will.
Geno D: Thank you again.
John: Ta Brother.
Geno D: All the best and we'll see you later on.
John: Thanks for that. I appreciate it. Thanks guys.
A big thank you to Danielle @ Roadrunner Records for setting up the Interview and to all the guys in Black Stone Cherry for being so co-operative and making it such a great afternoon and pleasurable rockin' night!
All Live Shots of Black Stone Cherry taken at the gig that night by Glenn Milligan