Black Star Riders' Ricky Warwick
By Jay Oakley
How's the tour going so far?
It's been fun. It's like a mini-tour because we just did the Monsters of Rock cruise. We literally jumped ship and started in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. We've played about 4 or five shows and then we're off to Europe. So it's been fun, a nice little trip.
You just had you're new album come out The Killer Instinct, how was the recording for that?
That was awesome. We did it in Nashville with Nick Raskulinecz. Nick's whole pedigree is huge, he's worked with everybody. We just had the best time ever making that record, it was great fun. It was a beautiful studio, a beautiful part of the world and very laid back. Nick's just a complete guru, he really is, he just brought so much out of us. He put so much effort in and brought so much out of us that it was so wonderful working with him.
How did the writing process go for all the new tunes? Did that go well for you?
Ya know we have ideas going all the time and it's just a matter of finding the time. Myself and Damon (Johnson, guitarist) will look at where we're at and what we have and what we think is going to work. You start putting it together and we'll throw it to the guys in the band and take it from there. Scott (Gorham, guitarist) will bring in some riffs and some ideas that Damon and I will take away and work on those. It's always an on going thing.
We're not the type of band that has a writing period per say where we decide to take two months to write a record and then we don't write again. We've always got ideas on the boiler. You've got a songwriter in Damon and a songwriter in myself and we both love to write so we've always got something on the boiler.
Do you find yourself periodically writing just through time? Are you the constantly writing-type of person?
Constantly. I was coming up with ideas the other day and stuff like that, ya know, lyrically and building up little books and that kind of stuff. Sometimes you get some time and you go sit down thinking about what you've got but I like to think it's an ongoing thing.
I loved the first Black Star Riders record (All Hell Breaks Loose) and I loved this one as well. I thought they were both very quality records but how does it feel putting out this work under the overall Thin Lizzy banner? How does that feel for you?
It's an honor. It's a strange and wonderful situation in the end to have that Thin Lizzy legacy as part of who we are and what we are. Ya know Scott's in the band and he's a part of the Thin Lizzy sound so he's going to be a part of the Black Star Riders sound. That's the reason, Scott Gorham. Then you through in myself and Damon who were in Lizzy for a few years and Lizzy fanatics when we were kids.
We're certainly not trying to be a revival or reinvent that sound because why would you want to because it's damn near perfect anyway? But when you take that with all the other influences that we've got, as people, as artists, culturally and musically and throwing that all into Black Star Riders.You're always going to have a hint of Lizzy but a lot of other stuff as well.
You were in Thin Lizzy when it was still Thin Lizzy. When it came to recording new music you all decided that using the name wasn't the way to go. How did that decision come about? Was it relatively easy for you guys to decide to drop the Thin Lizzy name?
It was definitely letting your heart go to your head. That's what won the day for that decision. It was a question of waiting a minute and thinking about this. Let's think about how we'll be perceived, let's think about what we're doing and really everybody thought maybe this wasn't the right time to call this Thin Lizzy. We're playing the songs and bring it to people live and a lot of people never got to see Lizzy.
Keeping those great songs alive and playing them live is one thing but to go ahead and record, certainly for Scott and Brain (Downey), it was scary for them. It would be their first album in thirty years and certainly their first album they've made without Phil (Lynott) and I think the reality of that hit them pretty hard as we were recording it. Don't give anybody any doubt, the material was great and we all certainly believed in that but what we were about to do and what we were about to undertake just didn't sit right. I can't put one defining moment on it but it just didn't feel right.
A few other things had come in to play at that point as well, Brian Downey decided he really didn't want to do much road work anymore. Obviously, a new album undertakes an immense amount of road work and promotions and videos and all that kind of stuff. So that was a bit of a factor as well. So we decided what we were going to do. We were going to change the name of the band and Brian decided that he had to step aside and he wished everyone the best and likewise so it was very amicable and it kind of just happened very organically as well.
How did you decide on the new name? Who came up with that?
I have to take the credit for that, unfortunately. [Laughs.]
Names are very difficult to come up with. Everything always just sounds shitty, it just does, until the band establish that name and you recognize that name as being part of that band. We couldn't really think of anything. Everybody was throwing ideas in, me included and they were still crap. Nothing was really making anybody go, "That's it!"
It was a last ditch desperation of mine. I think we launched the new band on Monday and by Friday we still didn't have a name and everybody's panicing. I threw on Tombstone and started writing down words from the cool script that was in that movie and I was looking at a page and Black Star Riders kind of jumped out at me. It was just one of those things, the words jumped out at me and I thought it was cool so I called up the guys and everybody dug it. That was it, the band was born. We wanted something that had kind of a gang hint to it because we wanted to do really strong merch, we wanted a really strong logo but we wanted it to mean something though.
Now that the album's been released, how do you feel about it's reception and the support you've gotten?
It's been amazing and we've just been blown away. By the reviews and the support and the people's reaction to it. It's just been phenomenal, it really is, we couldn't have asked for a bigger reaction.
When it comes to your overall body of work and really having Lizzy on your sleeve, did you every get the opportunity to meet Phil or see Lizzy?
Unfortunately, I never got to see Lizzy live, I was a little to young but I did see Phil Lynott play live at the Grand Slam in Glasgow in late 1984. So I did get to see the great man on stage but unfortunately it wasn't with Lizzy but I'll still take it.
Are there any particular goals that you have for this record or anything that you hope to achieve?
The fact that it's come out and has already been a success is great but we need to keep playing. We want this band to be able to play bigger places and keep touring and keep spreading the word because a lot of people still don't know about Black Star Riders so we need to make them aware of that.
And, you guys always keep Lizzy alive with the classic tunes as well don't you?
Absolutely, it's 70-30 percentage on the set list. It's great, it's more Black Star Riders stuff and we don't have people shouting out for more Lizzy. The Black Star Riders stuff is received just as well as the Lizzy stuff. I'm sure we're always gonna play Lizzy songs but of course the more albums we make the amount will shrink.
Ricky, I really appreciate you taking the time to give me a call and talking about Thin Lizzy history and what you have coming for Black Star Riders.
No prob, bro. Of course, thank you.