Southern-rock band Blackberry Smoke released their newest album, Like An Arrow on October 14. We asked lead singer and guitar player Charlie Starr about the self-produced project, which includes 12 new songs and features Gregg Allman on the closing track.
This album was self-produced. What led you to make that decision? Did you consider other producers or know from the start that you wanted to do it yourselves?
In January of this year, we had a month off and I had written about fifteen new songs that we started to rehearse because we knew that we’d eventually make a new album. We started to rehearse these new songs and it really felt right, so I said to our drummer, “Let’s book a studio now.” So we started recording and we hadn’t even discussed a producer. Our engineer from Holding All the Roses was available, so we said let’s do it, and if we run into a problem or if it sucks, we’ll call a producer.
We sort of just made decisions on the fly – we didn’t have time for pre-production. We just addressed issues when we came to them. We were pretty sure about things with this record. Even if it flops, I’m really proud of it. What you do in that case, as far as self production, is just apply what you’ve learned about making records. Everybody always has production ideas.
How did you decide to use “Like An Arrow” as the title track?
The lyrics to the song sort of deal with how people choose to live their lives and what their trajectory might be. And as far as the album title goes, I thought of it being straight ahead and really defining our direction.
How did the Gregg Allman collaboration come about? What was it like to work with him?
We’ve become friendly with Gregg over the years. He’s such a gracious man, he’s just such a great guy. We’ve played a couple of shows with Gregg and/or with the Allman Brothers – we had just done a show with him in chicago, also another in Atlanta. We tracked “Free On the Wing,” and in the studio I just remember thinking it’s such a Georgia type of song, so we asked him and he said sure.
If you had to narrow album down to three or four songs, which would you choose?
I really hear it as a complete piece. I think “Waiting for the Thunder” is a great place to start, but then “Free On the Wing” is a perfect closer – and there’s a lot that goes on in between those two, so I think it’s a nice ride all the way through.
Which songs are you excited to be playing live? Have any garnered a special reaction from the crowds?
We’ve been sprinkling them in, playing four or five new ones in our set. People really reacted to “Waiting in the Thunder” from the beginning, and one really funky song “Believe You Me.” We’re really excited to play “Like An Arrow,” which is probably the heaviest song on the record, but we’re looking forward to people being able to hear all of them.”
Read our full review of Like An Arrow here, and find Blackberry Smoke’s upcoming tour dates here.