We talk to Blackberry Smoke frontman Charlie Starr ahead of the latest six-date UK tour from the Georgia-based southern rock five-piece.
**This will be Blackberry Smoke’s third visit to the UK in less than a year. **
We’re out to make up for lost time. That first show [at London’s Barfly] was so crowded and hot, it felt just like a lot of our earlier gigs in the States.
You’ve been going for a decade. You must have feared you’d never get to play over here?
No, I knew that we would. We’d toured [continental] Europe three times; it was just a case of when our booking agent could bring us to the UK.
**Your last album, The Whippoorwill, was Top 30 here, and you had radio and press support. The UK seems to have welcomed the band. **
It was a very pleasant surprise to be played on the radio, especially on rock radio, because at home classic rock radio doesn’t play new music at all.
The new live album Leave A Scar, Live In North Carolina, was pressed on clear vinyl and released in a double gatefold sleeve. Do you still collect music in that format?
I’m very much a vinyl junkie, to the dismay of my lovely wife. Playing the record that way, the music just sounds magical.
On that album you announce the song Sleeping Dogs with the words: “If you mess with someone’s woman you might just get your ass whipped.” What’s the story?
We played at a bar in Austell, Georgia, and a guy in the crowd hit on [drummer] Brit Turner’s wife. In the middle of a song Brit came out from behind the kit and wiped the floor with the guy. But the following night, right before we even played, the guy showed up with five or six of his friends. I ended up in hospital.
But you got a good song out of it.
Yeah [laughs]… but we had to change some details because we couldn’t be seen to have lost the fight.
**The band have already completed their fourth album with producer Brendan O’Brien. **
Brendan is known for records with Pearl Jam and AC/DC, but the ones we loved were by the Black Crowes, Raging Slab, Dan Baird and the Four Horsemen. Working with him was a dream come true.
- As yet untitled, the new album is due early next year. * Star describes its contents as “completely off the scale”. * Expect to hear previews of several songs on this tour.
The first of the band’s dates is in Dublin on October 15.