RICKY WARWICK (singer of Black Star Riders)
`We are not those guys who used to be in Thin Lizzy’
Since the formation in 1969, Thin Lizzy has been one of the most highly respected (Irish) rock bands in rock history, known for their different eras of success, in different line-ups. But when is it time to stop? Well, late 2012 seemed to be the right time to slow things down with Thin Lizzy and move on by forming a new band under the name Black Star Riders, to record and release new, original songs. Although BSR features familiar faces, guitarist Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy), drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Y&T, Megadeth, Alice Cooper), bass player Robbie Crane (Vince Neil Band, Tuff, Ratt, Adler’s Appetite, Lynch Mob), guitarist Damon Johnson (Brother Cane, Alice Cooper, Thin Lizzy) and singer, guitarist Ricky Warwick (The Almighty, Thin Lizzy), it took some time to convince the audience with their debut `All Hell Breaks Loose’ (2013) and its successor `The Killer Instinct’ (2015). The brand new, third CD `Heavy Fire’ proves BSR isn’t just a phase but a confirmation BSR is here to stay for a long time. HeadBangers LifeStyle spoke with frontman Ricky Warwick about the who’s and the why’s.
(Ricky Warwick, Photo taken from BSR website)
Do you expect `Heavy Fire’ to become a hit?
,,I hope so! I think we have made a really good record. I really believe in it and that is all we can do. It is up to everybody else now, you know.’’
What is `Heavy Fire’ for you all about?
,,It is the most accomplished record of BSR and the most representative of what BSR is about. After four years being together and having our third album now, we have divined our sound and divined who we are. People might now realize this is a band on its own, doing its own thing, having its own identity and that we are not those guys who used to be in Thin Lizzy, only playing Thin Lizzy songs. To me that is a sense of achievement.’’
Were there any concessions made to get the album done or was it a piece of cake?
,,Actually, no, it was really easy, for all of us. I like to think I am very productive because I write music all the time. I have a lot of ideas going into this record as I did with the two previous records. It didn’t feel contrived; there was no blood, sweat and tears. We had a lot of ideas and really good fun making this album. Yeah, I really enjoyed it.’’
Are you actually sitting down to write music or do ideas pop up in any circumstances in your daily life?
,,Damon Johnson, my guitarist and co-writer, and I did a few acoustic shows in Europe earlier last year. We were touring around in a car with our tour manager and I wrote many lyrics for this album in the back of that car. So ideas can come anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Getting inspired and writing music is not always easy but it is certainly what I love doing and I can get very inspired to do it. I write a lot of the music as well, a lot of the guitar riffs. When I have an idea, a guitar riff for instance, I show it to Damon, to hear what he thinks of it. Then we start working on the music, together with Scott and I also start working on the melody and write the lyrics. But sometimes I have a finished lyrical idea and we write the music to it.’’
Are you an easy musician to work with or are you stubborn and a pain in the ass to write and record the best songs you can?
,,[Laughing]. Nah, I think I am easy but I expect high standards and I expect of the people that I work with to work hard, because I work hard. I expect them to be together, to be focused and professional and give everything they’ve got when they are in the studio and making an album. To me that should be normal. If you create something that everybody is going to hear, something that is lasting, you need to be focused and to be together. As an artist you owe it to the people, your fans who buy your records and give their support to what you do.’’
How important has been the role of producer Nick Raskulinecz (Rush, The Foo Fighters, Mastodon) and the fact you record the album in the Nashville area?
,,I don’t think Nashville had any influence on the vibe of the album. It just happens to be that Nick has his studio there and he lives there too, just like Damon does. We recorded our last album `The Killer Instinct’ with Nick and we just got along so well with him. He brought so much to the band. We loved how that record sounds, we had a great time recording it so there wasn’t any reason to change that. We decided to just do it again, because the last time was fun and we felt we were working with somebody we trust and respect greatly. It made sense to go back to Nashville and make this record with Nick.’’
How would you mark `Heavy Fire’ in the career of BSR?
,,I think there are a lot of records left in us. We are not finished or near the end yet of what we can achieve as a band. Of course, they say a third album is an important one in a band’s career but I believe every album you put out is important. But it is nice to be able to do a third record, because so many bands don’t get that chance anymore. It is sad how the music industry works these days.’’
Why did you choose ,,Testify Or Say Goodbye’’ to be the new, second single?
,,We felt it is a great and very strong song and it would be very good for radio. Hopefully it gets in the head of people who haven’t heard the band before and make them check us out. ,,When The Night Comes In’’ was the first single and chosen for the same reason.’’
ROCK ‘N ROLLER
What has Black Star Riders done for you so far?
,,BSR is my whole life! It is my job and it is what I do. It’s been great. It’s been great to be a part of it and to be in a band with such fine musicians. It makes my life very easy to be a frontman, to be around those guys. It’s been great for me to be able to write so many songs and for the guys to believe in the songs and the ideas. It has been wonderful and it is a very, very, very cool thing to be part of.’’
Is this the live you always pictured for yourself and dreamed about when you started as a musician?
,,I am a professional musician for thirty years now, since I started back in 1987 with New Model Army. It was the first professional band I was ever in. I always wanted to be a rock ‘n roller. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be in a band, make music, tour and play. I got to live my dreams so I am very lucky. Like everything else, if you want something bad enough and you work hard enough at it, you’ll get there, and I always believed in myself, that I could be a success out of it. I believe it is about learning your craft and learning from other people. Reading, practicing, writing songs and listen to other great song writers. I did all that. I didn’t really do anything else when I decided I wanted to be a musician and write songs. That’s where I spent all my time on doing and still doing and concentrating on. In the back of your mind you always worry about what if it doesn’t work out. What am I going to do? But it was always very far in the back of my mind.’’
What do you consider as the downside of your career?
,,Later in your life, when you have a family and children, it is tough to be away from home for a long period of time. But of course that can be said of a lot jobs where guys are away from home, working a lot more dangerous jobs than me. Like being in the military. Those guys are the real heroes. My job is just going away and entertaining people. That is pretty easy to do. But it is hard to leave your family and your little ones. That to me is the only downside of it all.’’
What advice do you have for starting musicians/bands?
,,Keep writing, keep rehearsing and keep working hard and pushing. It is great to have a great image and be rebellious and everything else but by the end of the day you got to have great ideas and great songs. And get an attorney. Get them to read the contracts and understand where you are getting into and why you are getting into it. Understand how long a contract is, what it exactly means for you and what it will mean for you in the future, because like everybody else when you are twenty, it all doesn’t matter. Ten years seems so far away, but suddenly you’ll get 30 and somebody else owns your songs. So be careful!’’
Where would you like to see BSR in let’s say 5 years?
,,I like the band to continue and would like to think we have six albums by then, all being well. I also like the band to be very well established and just be able to continue to do what we do and keeps spreading the word to keep being as relevant as we can possibly be. And I don’t think there is a band like BSR out there. I think we are quite unique in our sound, our style and our attitude. We are not a classic rock band. We are a rock ‘n roll band. What we sing about is relevant and I think we still put on a show that would put a lot of the younger bands to shame. I am very, very proud of what we do.’’
Do you have a life motto?
,,I just believe in what you put in to something is what you get back out of it. I think that’s really what it is.’’
What would you like to say to your fans?
,,Thank you! Without you none of this would be happening. It is as simple as that. You make it happen. We can make it rock but you guys make it roll. Thank you for your support, your love and your believe! And please check out the new record and come see us play and meet us after the show.’’
Follow Black Star Riders on Facebook and visit the Website.
You can read the review of `Heavy Fire’ here