If you’re anything like me, tributes band are not for you; the very idea of a carbon copy of Bono complete with plastic sunglasses makes my blood run cold.
 
However, CASH are the exception to the rule; they are less about replicating country music legend, Johnny Cash and more about bringing his extensive and essential back catalogue to as many people as possible. According to CASH, there are two types of people in this world; those who like Johnny Cash and those who don’t know a damn thing about music, they are dedicated to educating the latter.
 
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Ahead of the band’s gig at Glasgow’s 02 ABC tomorrow night, I spoke exclusively to Ben Welburn, aka CASH about payin’ respect to The Man In Black.
 
How did CASH come together?
CASH came together when I moved from Yorkshire to London. Before I moved south, I’d always played in bars around Scarborough, playing anything from Hank 3 to Johnny Cash, either just by myself or with a good friend of mine. I was predominantly a drummer in Scarborough though but when I moved to London I couldn’t afford to run a car, and after some ‘coaxing’ from family and friends, I decided that carrying a guitar round London was a hell of a lot easier than carrying a drum kit. The band came together pretty quick, about 2 years ago now, and I feel lucky as hell that I have the guys I do in the band.
 
Of all the bands, why pay tribute to Johnny Cash?
Being classed as a ‘tribute’ is something I didn’t set out to be. When we started taking this seriously I wanted to be seen more of someone who was payin’ my respects to the man and the music that I have related to in more ways than one since I was a kid. I was brought up on country music but when I heard Johnny Cash’s voice, I would have been around 5 years old when I first heard “A Boy Named Sue”, his voice and the way he told a story just brought me to a standstill.  After listening more and more, and reading up on him, I realised it wasn’t just Cash’s musicality that appealed to me. The way Cash stood up prolifically for the working class, and wasn’t some clean cut musical ideal, only served to heighten my appreciation of the man. JR has always been rough around the edges and I don’t know why but I always felt I was born with an outlaw’s approach to life. Not that I was out there robbing trains or anything, but it was more of a mentality; just something inside of me really. People were continuously telling me I had to do something with the Johnny Cash songs, so I decided I would start taking it more seriously. I would pay my respects to the man by getting his stuff out there again; reaching out to established and new fans, but in no way would I try to be him.
 
Is your act a carbon copy of Cash or your own interpretation?
I would say it’s a bit of both. We worked hard on getting the sound as authentic as possible, which helped with the vibe we wanted to create. I’ve always sung with an American accent and always had a kinda low voice, but I’m always myself on stage, as are the other members. I never think, “Right, tonight I’m gonna be Johnny Cash”, in my eyes it ain’t do-able, because I ain’t him! I just feel honoured that we can go on stage and play his songs!
 
Do you think your act has had a part to play in introducing a younger audience to the music of Johnny Cash?

I don’t know if we have directly got a younger generation into his music; most gig’s that we do there’s a wide range of ages in the audience, and there has been from the start. Johnny Cash has always appealed to most people; from country fans to punk fans, both young and old. When we do a show and you see all of them there, it’s extremely humbling that they’re listening to us too. I remember doing a gig once, and right at the front leaning on the pit barrier were 2 young lads, no older than 15, singing every word to every song we did! I think Johnny Cash’s legacy had more to do with that than us!

 
What is your favourite song to play live?
Tough one! I really love playing the whole set. I stress about the order of songs and which new ones we should do and how we should do them. This time round we’ve made a few changes, thrown in a couple of new ones and I hope they go down well! I love playing each one as much as the other; I love how “Cocaine Blues” gets everyone dancing, “Jackson” makes everyone smile, and “Sunday Morning Coming Down” usually puts a tear in my eye, I don’t know,  all of them!
 
CASH are live at Glasgow’s 02 ABC (Sauchiehall Street) tomorrow night (Saturday 9th February 2013).
 
 

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