With a name like Blackberry Smoke how could this Atlanta Georgia-based Southern rock band not be anything but Stuff Stoners Like? Anyhow, there is only one person in the band that smokes a LOT of cannabis and that person is me, says Richard Turner. Recently the band’s bassist has taken a hiatus from smoking—however he assures us that when it comes to Blackberry Smoke, weed doesn’t factor into the band—unless it is through the bass player.
So we got a chance to chat with Turner, who uses Orange amps exclusively, on the band’s NorCal stop near San Francisco while supporting ZZ Top. And it went a little something like this:
Tell us about the first time you smoked weed?
I walked to school most of my life. I was walking to high school during ninth grade and came across the neighborhood stoners. They were standing in the woods smoking a joint. I was always friendly with them and they were always friendly with me. I just walked right up to them and was handed a joint. (It was tiny compared to the finger thick numbers I am known to roll…) Immediately, I was given the nickname ‘loggerhead/lager-head’, I still am not sure if they meant turtle or beer, but I was happy to have gained that acceptance, haha!
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That was also the first time I got REALLY stoned, imagine that?! All I could think of as we finished up that first doobie of 1979, was the line from Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven: “In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees…” I was fucking STONED…and I loved it. Loved it enough to time my walk every day so that I wouldn’t miss out on that feeling, because I wanted to feel it EVERY DAY.
What was it like scoring weed on the road back in the day compared to the way things are now post-legalization in a few states?
Used to be a super pain in the ass, there was not even a war on drugs. I kinda gotta hand it to those douche bags who added cannabis to the class 3 scheduled drug. They really put the wizards to work. And slowly but surely, crap weed began to disappear. Used to be, you might buy stems and seeds because there was only one ‘pothead’ in town and if he was fucking up, EVERYONE paid for it. As soon as some ass in the government puts the spotlight on something, EVERY smoker with a brain develops a workaround. THANK YOU DRUG CZAR DUMBFUCK! It pushed the casual smoker into becoming a grower, pushed the growers to get more crafty, grow super buds in a smaller area, more powerful highs in more compact space. Dense buds, packed with cannabinoids, YAY US! Post legalization has it’s pluses and minuses. The plus is that cannabis possession probably won’t get you 10 years for a joint. On the other hand, all these silly strain names might make you get suckered into buying less than quality bud. I’ve been handed, because of the band name, “BLACKBERRY” that just does not do the job AT ALL. I always tell the growers, “do not name wimpy buds after this band, please.” In short, the US and CANADA are saturated in reefer—kinda like Nature intended. There are some bare spots, too. That’s ok, daily stoniness I do not endorse.
Talk to us about the difference between smoking weed for medical reasons vs recreational?
I have always felt God Almighty, the Grand Architect of the Universe, provided us with all we need right here on earth. It amazes me to watch technology be heralded as much as it is. To be sure, for every advance in synthetic medicine, every step forward in the artificial, the world takes 2 steps back in general health. It is not lost on me that physicians “practice” medicine. Lawyers “practice” law. They are keenly aware of the deplorable drawbacks and side effects of the meds they prescribe. I feel it is borderline criminal activity based deeply in greed. Don’t get me started on opportunist lawyers. Google my buddy Meredith McCoyd and Abbott Labs, these labs routinely develop drugs that are going to wind up in those commercials on TV that go something like this: “Have you or someone you love, been affected by “INSERT DRUG NAME HERE” … have you or someone you know lost your life as a result of using such drugs?” All these class action lawsuits are a result of FDA greed and the immense amount of payoff money big pharm labs generate, poisoning us all. Think about it. These idiots need to be stopped, Meredith blew the whistle on her employer because she’s a good human being—one in a million will blow the whistle on their employer—I applaud her.
The point is, cannabis and the many other holistic reliefs available are being listed as illegal, so you cannot grow your own medication as the American Indian did, for example. They flourished for millennia without a fucking nuclear device, without creating the very dangerous radioactive diagnostic machinery that will likely go in a landfill in a few years, that cannot be undone. The waste generated by big pharma, trust me, you don’t want it in the water table. Think bout all the pills thrown into the toilet, that shit is going to be our undoing.
Another point I wish to make is this, the crappiest weed I ever smoked was from a government controlled entity, they dumb it down to fit into their idea of what potency should be. Fuck them. They endorse GMO grown food for the same reason they endorse big pharma—GREED. Remember MONSANTO? They are fucking idiots. I’d rather all cannabis be grown in pure cow shit, not GMO fed cow shit, not bovine somatotropin injected cow shit… pure cow shit… or fucking clay pellets and fish heads. It tastes better and so what if it costs a tiny bit more, in the long run and the short run, your quality of life is better without the so-called science of it all. There are a lot of profiteers masquerading as scientists out there, they deserve to fill the prisons, not the folks caught with a joint. Eventually, a supreme court judge’s granny will die of the latest science and things might take more of a turn in the right direction…unfortunate.
If the medical community embraces cannabis, good. Don’t let the various and plentiful criminals in white coats start making a ridiculous profit, it is not right to profit from health care.
As for recreational use, I don’t even know what that means… I don’t recreationally play the bass, I don’t recreationally eat, I don’t recreationally make love… whatever I do, I do it because it feels right in that moment. I have my ups and downs, like everyone else, I do not grab a pipe and try and smoke myself into a better place. I tried that with no success. Success and happiness takes a clear mind and a healthy body. Constant imbibing is not a Spiritually sound practice. Smoke when the whispering voice inside you says it’s ok, that is the voice of reason, the loud voice inside you is not your friend. You gotta get in touch with your inner guidance system, it is in all of us, but you cannot have a conversation with it when you’re fucked up ALL THE TIME. Make the world a better place, not an ashtray.
How does weed factor into Blackberry Smoke?
Blackberry Smoke is a name Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes gave us. We asked him what he might rename the Crowes if he could… several hilarious names including “Richard Turner Explodes” were pitched at us. Eventually, and I think it is because there is the letter “A” and a “O” prevalent in The Black Crowes, he simply offered The Blackberry Smoke. He may have been totally fucking around, but we loved it right off the bat. The band has been playing under that name for 15 years and that was a little before the silly names for buds became so ‘normal’. There is only one person in the band that smokes a LOT of cannabis and that person is me. Short answer, weed does not factor into the band, unless it is through the bass player…
Who else in the band smokes?
Occasionally one or two other members will smoke, I will not name names, but those two do not have microphones in front of them on stage… cannabis can put the whammy on ones voice, I found out I can freaking croon with the best of them during my hiatus from daily use…
Where do you get the weed? Score on the road? Bring it with?
There was a great pickpocket movie back in 1973 called HARRY IN YOUR POCKET. A famous James Coburn line is “Harry never holds”… this band could lose a 1.5 million dollar bus, and all we have worked for if some shithead with a badge decided to make an example of us, now granted I would eat that fuckers head in the court room, I don’t wish to have to do it. It’s a waste of time. I generally like law enforcement officers, I know a shit ton of them, most are doing what I call a standup job. They get payed shit, and get their asses shot off by fuckers I’d love to run over… twice. So, all I do is this: be kind and gregarious to most people I meet in the street, I get off the bus in whatever city I am in and, thank God for the internet, I search for ‘cannabis’. You can learn a lot about the cities enforcement issues. You can also find a smoking paraphernalia shop… generally, and I am no rocket scientist, a stoner type might be frequenting that establishment. I go in and look around. Make friends, ask questions quietly. Don’t be a dick and things will happen in your favor. I’ve been playing the world long enough to know that many people associate the band name with cannabis, it’s a happy coincidence. I get handed the best presents just stepping off the bus. Very rarely will I buy, it is simply not necessary, we make people happy with the music we give them and they in turn return the favor with a bud or two. Nothing massive, that would make us a target of a green officer trying to make a name for himself—that is not going to happen.
Do ya dab?
I sure do.
What’s your favorite strain?
The strain that works—some people will try to sell you the latest crazy name—I am not interested in its name, I am interested in its effect. I only smoke sativa anyway. So if I ask, I ask for that.
Catch us up on what’s happening with Blackberry Smoke right now?
We are at the end of out ZZ TOP USA support tour—a few more days and we head to Europe to slay that joint again. You can’t imagine how incredible the response is over there. The Scots are hands down the most over the top fans in the world. Gonna have to probably throttle some bootleggers in England, but that’s what has to happen to bootleggers. You know your kicking ass when t-shirt bootleggers take notice.
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