“This band has been around for four months,” says Chris Buck of Cardinal Black, “or ten years, depending on how you look at it.” Indeed, this hot Welsh quartet seemed to appear out of the blue and fully formed in May with the single Tell me what it feels like.
Featuring the rich, powerful voice of Tom Hollister and a jaw-dropping, thrilling solo from modern guitar hero Buck, this cool, soul-steeped slice of mid-tempo rock has reached the top of the iTunes rock chart. But, as Buck puts it, this “overnight success” had been in the works for a decade.
He, Hollister, and drummer Adam Roberts once formed the Tom Hollister Trio – a much-loved band led by former Guns N ‘Roses manager Alan Niven – with label deals on the table when that meant something. But reluctant singer and bassist Hollister felt stifled by the trio format, the bass weighing heavily on him, compromising his vocal performance.
The then 19-year-old Buck was the star, a guitarist in the SRV / Clapton mold whose individual praise eclipsed that of the group. They split in 2011, acrimoniously at first, but have remained friends and have been dating regularly since.
“We were young,” says Buck (he’s 30 now), “and we’ve all been around the sun several times since then. The trio didn’t slow down or come to a natural conclusion, so it always felt like an unfinished business.
In the years that followed, Hollister pursued a solo career and Buck’s reputation evolved around the world thanks to his growing presence on YouTube and his work with Buck And Evans, the group he co-founded with singer / pianist Sally Ann Evans. This group was emerging from a series of dates in early 2020 when the pandemic put the handbrake on the world.
With the lockdown to complete, Buck, Hollister and Roberts reconnected to the gear still in their locker and, with the crucial addition of talented bassist Sam Williams, Cardinal Black was born.
“We got together to revamp the old stuff,” Buck said, “but inevitably the creative juices flowed, and before we knew it, we had written six new songs.”
They kept the project under wraps, so when that first single came out it was no surprise. Buck knew that if Cardinal Black could engage even a fraction of his 137,000 YouTube subscribers, then they would get through.
On the first day of its release, their self-titled EP reached No.1 on the iTunes rock chart and No.8 on the Albums chart. Their first album proper is scheduled for early 22.
“We had a reunion over a pint,” Buck explains, “and decided to establish ourselves with an EP and then release something more complete later. As it stands, it would be crazy for a new band to release a new album.
“It would be a shame if a ten year manufacturing record were lost. We released a few songs that people enjoyed, but the best is yet to come.”
The EP Cardinal Black is available on the band’s website.