An interview with Ken Block of Sister Hazel

kenblocknewDealing with loss and accomplishing over addictions, clean and sober Ken Block does an interview for his debut release away from his other band mates in Sister Hazel sort of… well read on to find out…

From going solo what was so terrifying when making this solo release when actually you got some help from your bands mates from Sister Hazel?
I’ve been in a band for a lot of years and there are a ton of challenges that come from that democratic process but there’s also support and safety in the collaboration. Doing this record on my own was quite liberating and I could move quite quickly in some ways but I was a little nervous with this being the first time putting my music out there completely on my own. With regards to help with band mates; Drew Copeland did harmonies and Jett Beres did harmonies and bass to one track and Ryan Newell did guitar on two songs so 90% + I was flying solo.

You have been involved with helping AIDS non-profit groups but since your brothers passing from Cancer which inspired you to write this record finally have you started giving your time to help with Cancer victims and raise money, awareness and such now besides working with HIV/AIDS?
We’ve been involved in a myriad of different causes but my primary cause is raising money for child cancer research and programs for families through our charity lyricsforlife.org

“Completely Wasted” You talk about Drugs and drinking and is this what you used to get through your pain of dealing with your brothers passing or has this album relinquished that pain for enabling you to move on?
There were a lot of reasons that I chose to be altered and dealing with the loss of my brother was certainly one of them. I’ve been clean and sober for a few years now and I’ve processed a lot of those demons in a way that dulls that blade enough to get me through the day.

Why not a solo or an acoustic tour for Drift?
The two most important things in my life are my family and Sister Hazel, which I consider the mother ship. Between those two things, Lyrics For Life, the events we do like the Rock Boat, Hazelnut Hang and promo for my solo CD hasn’t left big enough windows for a full-on tour. That said, I will be picking several dates throughout the year for special events and shows. One thing I’m doing is performing on this year’s Cayamo cruise with other singer songwriters like Lyle Lovett, Patti Griffin, Indigo Girls and a bunch of others. I’m really looking forward to that.

33,059 Days is a song about what exactly?
Sylvia was my grandmother and that’s how many days she lived.

You added and worked with a Female vocalist in your background for your opening track Blue To A Blind Man. So what was it like to hear that against your voice and is this something you might blend into Sister Hazel sound too or was this just an experiment? Or would the song have worked also without the female vocals too?
The first time I used a female vocalist was on a Sister Hazel song, Champagne High.  Emily Saliers from Indigo Girls came in and just killed it. I’ve always heard Blue To A Blind Man with a sad introspective female voice. The reason I started the record with that track is that I wanted to come right out to the listener, “Hey, this isn’t necessarily going to be another Sister Hazel record.” Would the song have worked without a female vocal? Sure but it might not have been as powerful.

With this “Ride” of an intimate introspective of a record, what on this ride did you want us to see and do you think you covered the whole spectrum of that picture with this solo release of Drift?
If I understand the question correctly, I’d say it pulls from a lot of things I want to share but I’m just scratching the surface.

You choose Rock Ridge records for this solo release. Do you feel it conflicts with the releases of Sister Hazels releases on Rock Ridge or why didn’t you separate from off of Rock Ridge to release this album away from your band mates as an complete solo release on a independent record label?
I was very conscious having it drop in between Hazel things so there wouldn’t be any issues. Since Sister Hazel is the mother ship, I think trying to put it out anywhere else didn’t make any sense. Rock Ridge Music has done a great job with the Hazel releases and it made sense to have everything under one roof – to maximize opportunities and not to create any confusion. Everyone in the band feels the success we have individually can only help us all

You have grown up a lot now with having your own children and family. Will you now treat them differently since you have now combated your true feelings? How with this growing up and emotional release affect your work with your band mates in Sister Hazel?
All I try to do is keep moving forward and keep doing the next right thing. I’m fortunate to have a phenomenal family and to be surrounded by fantastic guys in the band and our entire organization.   (Interview by Jonathan D. Wright)

Ken Block on Myspace

Sister Hazel on Myspace

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