"Everything is so naked and pure" - hmv.com talks to Blackberry Smoke
Atlanta hard rockers Blackberry Smoke return today with new album Like An Arrow (which you can preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page) and we spoke to frontman Charlie Starr to find out all about how it came together...
How did writing and recording this album compare to making Holding All The Roses?
"The writing process was pretty similar to all our other records. I just write sporadically throughout the year and when I’ve got 14 or 15 good ones, we just go in and record them. The recording of this album was very relaxed. We weren’t dealing with a schedule, so it was very comfortable."
Do songs come together more quickly these days? Or do they take to write as ever they did?
"It varies, really. Some songs come to me quickly, others take a while. 'Waiting For The Thunder' took about 15 minutes to write. It kinda just fell out! The title song, 'Like An Arrow' took a while. I fiddled around with it a lot."
You produced this album yourselves, why did you decide to do that?
"Well, we were rehearsing the new songs and everything was going so well, we decided to jump in the studio and start recording right away. We had a month off the road as well. We figured if it wasn’t
going well, we’d call up a producer to come give us a hand…but it went really well, so..."
You’ve got Greg Allman on the album, how did that come about?
"We’d played a few shows with Gregg over the last few years and had become friendly with him. When we were tracking the song, 'Free On The Wing', it just seemed like a perfect song to have him sing on. We asked him and he said yes."
What was the song on the album that took the longest to get right?
"I really can’t remember having a hard time with any of them, to be honest. It was a really smooth experience. I was very particular with 'What Comes Naturally', in that I wanted it to sound as ragged as possible. So we spent a good bit of time making sure it didn’t sound clean or polished at all, but more like an old Chess record."
And which came together most quickly?
"'Ain’t Gonna Wait' was fun to record. I love breaking it all down to acoustic instruments and congas. Everything is so naked and pure. You can really hear the heart and soul of the song. I don’t think we did more than two takes of that one."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Does it have a common theme?
"I don’t hear a theme in this album. It touches on a lot of different ideas, lyrically; everything from the state of the world we live in, to women, to getting old, to old junkie friends, to good or bad advice…It’s all over the place, really!"
When did you settle on the title of Like An Arrow? And why?
"As we were listening to the final mixes, I really thought “this is a straight-ahead Blackberry Smoke album,” so it made sense to give it that particular title. The song, on the other hand speaks of life and how we choose to live it."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"At some shows, we’d like to play the album front to back maybe. I wonder if our fans will let us get away with that..."