With the release of their newest CD, A Little Piece of Dixie, the Southern influenced rock band Blackberry Smoke have taken things to the next level. While many bands succumb to the so called “sophomore slump” Blackberry Smoke have done just the opposite. Through constant touring and sharing the stage with the legendary Southern Rock Band Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band has honed their chops and proved they are here to stay. Their songs have been featured and licensed to many different outlets such as EA Sports’ NASCAR ’08 and the Kevin Costner political comedy ‘Swing Vote’. I had the opportunity to speak with drummer Brit Turner about the band and their newest disc, A Little Piece of Dixie.
Could you tell us where the name Blackberry Smoke comes from?
Brit: We as a band could not come up with a name that wasn’t taken by some jazz trio in Texas, so we asked some of our friends that were in bands to help out. First, Steve Gorman suggested that we call the band “Richard Turner Explodes.” We all agreed that was a better album title so we waited until Chris Robinson said… Blackberry Smoke! We were set with a name and began gigging.
How do you perceive the advances of technology and the internet changing the music industry in the future?
Brit: It will make it easier for bands to promote and succeed without the help of the suits.
What effect will it have on festivals and tours?
Brit: Maybe we can all do them via satellite shows from our living rooms.
When you compare the early days of Rock to the scene today what do you feel has changed for the better?
Brit: We don’t have to make flyers at Kinko’s at 3am.
What do you feel has become worse?
Brit: CBGB’S closed.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
Brit: Only if there isn’t anyone there.
Playing music in a recording studio must be vastly different from at one of your chaotic live shows. How did the recording process go for your new CD?
Brit: We just set up like a live show and played. But if we screwed up nobody threw anything at us, we just started over and then ordered pizzas.
Who was your number one musical idol when you were thirteen, when you were eighteen, today?
Brit: Rod Stewart.
Past or present other than Blackberry Smoke, if you could play for any other band, which band would it be?
Brit: Jamey Johnson.
How much roadwork do you expect to be doing this 2009?
Brit: We do about 200 shows a year.
Are you looking at any particular bands you will be touring with?
Brit: Lynyrd Skynyrd.
When you are on the road for a while, I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Brit: Well… I do remember driving all night to play in Wisconsin. When we arrived, there was 2 feet of snow. We looked at each other and said, “who in the hell is gonna come out to see us when there is 2 feet of snow?” Then hundreds of people pulled up on snowmobiles! Very different from the south.
When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Brit: We locked the keys in the van (which was running) during a snow storm (again in Wisconsin). We had to make a quick decision to break the window instead of freezing to death. Richard threw the rock so hard it went through one window and out the other side. I will tell you how we solved it… duct Tape!
What is next?
Brit: Continuing to do what we love. Write, record, travel & perform!