Fiery Southern rockers Black Stone Cherry originally hailed from a small rural town in south central Kentucky. According to bandmembers, none of whom were born before 1983, the lack of anything to do in their hometown, coupled with a rich musical background in their community and families, led them to start playing music. Lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Robertson met drummer John Fred Young (the son of Kentucky Headhunters' Richard Young) in school, and the two played music together throughout high school. In June of 2001, Black Stone Cherry officially formed with guitarist Ben Wells and bassist Jon Lawhon. They began holding shows at clubs in the area, and after a short while, they'd gained a large all-ages following.
PRS: At what age did you first pick up the guitar?
CR: I got my first guitar at the age of 10, my grandpa built acoustic guitars and mandolins, and he built me one for Christmas that year! But it wasn't until I was 13 that I took interest and got an electric guitar for my birthday, I never looked back!
PRS: Tell us about some of your biggest musical influences
CR: My grandpa and my dad are hands down my biggest influences. Without them I would have never had a desire to play! Aside from them, Jimi Hendrix is to me the epitome of what guitarist should strive for. I still get goosebumps listening to his records. Freddie King, Allen Collins, Steve Gaines, Gary Rossington and Stevie Ray Vaughan are all high on that list as well!
PRS: How did BSC get started, and where did the name come from?
CR: We actually started the band on my 16th birthday, June 4th, 2001. John Fred and I had being playing music together since we were 13 Jon joined us a couple months before the birth of BSC! It wasn't until Ben came along that we realized we needed to really start a band! The name literally came off a cigar box! We just broke it up into three words in order to not get sued! Haha!
PRS: You guys just released your fifth studio album, Kentucky, which is self-produced. Tell us a little about the making of the new record.
CR: It was hands down the fastest and most fun record we have ever been able to make! It was so nice to have the freedom to do anything we wanted from longer guitar solos to adding female vocals and horns sections! It was an all out free for all!
PRS: There are a couple cover songs on the new record as well… tell us about those, and how they ended up on the record.
CR: "War" was literally a last minute decision. We had an original, decided to scrap it and 15 minutes later we were tracking war! It's amazing how that song fits the times all these years later! "Evil" was a song we decided to record just for the fun of it. And we loved the outcome so it ended up being a b-side! Same thing with "Love Runs Out" and "Mississippi Queen"!
PRS: You have a variety of PRS guitars in your arsenal, including several S2 and SE models. Do you have a favorite, or a “go-to”?
CR: Currently live I am using only SE models! I'm using two SE245 with a soap at neck pickup and a humbuckers in the bridge! An SE277 semi hollow with the same stated pickup configuration. An SE One that was routed for a humbucker and an SE Custom 22 semi hollow! I love these guitars. I recorded the album with a variety of core Singlecut245, S2 Starla and my gold top DGT! All are amazingly unique and add different flavors. I'd have to say the 245 is my go to and it doesn't matter if it's a SE or a Core model!
PRS: You have been using PRS amplifiers exclusively for a few years now. What does your backline rig consist of, and why the switch to PRS amps?
CR: I had been searching my entire life for the right amp, the amp that is "the one"! I finally found that in PRS amps! Currently live I am using a prototype that PRS gave me to try out and running it through a 4x12 PRS cabinet. My backup head is an original Sewell! I absolutely love these amps!
PRS: What does the rest of 2016 look like for BSC?
CR: We are staying busy with trips to Australia, South America, The UK and touring all over the USA. It's been a busy year and looks like there isn't gonna be any difference for the rest of the year haha!
PRS: In closing, I have to ask “Why PRS?”
CR: For me I want to play the equipment that gives me the best possibility to be able to play to my highest potential and get the best tones that I'm capable of. PRS guitars and amps give me exactly what I've searched so long for. And to top it off the staff are some of the most caring and invested people I've ever had the privilege of working with.