Rock Ridge Music
We caught the band's frontman, Ken Block, in a most appropriate situation -- just before rehearsal for the band's closing show on the Rock Boat -- the monster music party cruise that he helped create more than a decade ago.
AOL: What are you looking forward to in 2011?
Ken Block: Musically speaking, I think it has been really great that all of the guys in the band have gotten more into their craft of writing. So for us, the evolution of the band has been really exciting. Whereas the first few records I wrote a lion's share of what was going on, and then [singer/guitarist] Drew [Copeland] started writing more, now we've been a band for 15, 16 years and everyone is really bringing in A-game material and our last couple of records have had songs from everybody. So as far as growth, musically speaking, I'm really looking forward to seeing what the others guys bring in -- and I've been on a writing tear -- so, it kind of waxes and wanes a little bit. Right now I'm on fire, so I'm excited to get some of that stuff on tape.
AOL: What would you say has been the biggest accomplishment in your career?
KB: I think two things -- one is being able to keep my family intact and try to be a good dad and a good husband, and for all of us, you know, if our family lives aren't working well, nothing works well. The fact that all of us take that really seriously is important. The other thing is my other marriage -- to the other four guys in this band -- is stronger than ever. We really are friends, we're brothers, and we've been through an awful lot in our fifteen years together. Everyone has been back on their heels at one time or another. We made it through a lot of the things that a lot of bands sort of implode or explode because of. Creatively, we get along well, and we all have a brutal sense of humor, and we enjoy each other's company. So, I'm really proud of the way we're able to be a democratic five-piece band and make it last this long.
AOL: What inspires you?
KB: You know what inspires me? I love wisdom and humor. If people can make me laugh and situations can make me laugh, that triggers me a little bit. If people can make me think -- pause and stop in my tracks a little bit -- I really grab hold of those things and take those little nuggets and try to build on them. If someone has a little wise nugget to drop in there too, I'm really always inspired by that kind of stuff. I'll pick up just a line that people say and jump on that, or you know, just those relationships. I'm inspired by healthy relationships and seeing people make life work.
AOL: Sixthman asked that Rock Boat patrons answer the question, 'What is your Rock Boat?' With you guys, Sister Hazel is Rock Boat -- you started this thing. So, what is your Rock Boat?
KB: My Rock Boat goes all the way back to the birth. It's like having a child, it's like having a baby -- and our baby is knocking on a dozen years here! It's an extension of collective personalities between the five guys in this band and Andy Levine. Sixthman started because Andy was the sixth man of our band, he was our manager for a decade, and we all had a similar mentality about the way we respected music, the way we respected the other artists that we've known and been inspired by, the way we thought taking care of the fans was an important thing, and creating fertile ground for those relationships to happen. For that community to grow and blossom, and us being able to nurture that, and us being able to set the tone where there's a culture of camaraderie, of community, of the love of music. I mean, look, with this many people knocking them back all weekend, and you don't see any problems, no trouble, and people look forward to seeing each other -- each boat is consistently amazing from a camaraderie standpoint, a musical standpoint, but each one has its own personality too, which is always fun.
We make a living by being away from our families sometimes -- missing birthdays or anniversaries -- by being on the road. This is not like playing a gig in a town and passing through town. This gives an opportunity for people to stop me and say 'Hey, guess what, I was at this thing that you created and met someone, and my life has been changed.' I get that from time to time on this boat, and it's remarkable for me to think that when we threw a pebble in the pond those ripples went way beyond anywhere we could have ever imagined. It's quite an honor to be associated with that.
Watch Sister Hazel perform 'All for You' on the Rock Boat XI.