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Interview with Ricky Warwick, Black Star Riders

Thursday 7th August 2014, and we are at The Asylum in Birmingham to talk to Ricky Warwick, a man that has been working in Hard Rock bands since the 80’s, the longest length of his career spent in Scottish band The Almighty.rick warwick

In 2009 Ricky was invited to join Thin Lizzy as lead vocalist and guitarist. Ricky played in Thin Lizzy’s 2011 European tour which commemorated 25 years since the death of original front man Phil Lynott. In December 2012, he co-founded the Thin Lizzy spin-off band, Black Star Riders. Black Star Riders’ first album ‘All Hell Breaks’ Loose was released in May 2013.

We talk to Ricky about what it’s like to step in the shoes of Phil Lynott, and how the current tour is going so far. Ricky then tells us a little about the forthcoming album, the recent line-up changes, and finally what Black Star Riders have lined up after this.

RAMzine: You stepped into some very big shoes when you joined Thin Lizzy and then carried on to the evolution of Black Star Riders. How did that make you feel?

Ricky: “I’ll always say that you’ll never step into Phil’s shoes, they can’t be filled. All I can do is stand beside him and that’s what I try to do every night, and that’s the way I look at it. I mean when I think of Thin Lizzy I think of it as Phil singing and not me singing. That’s the way it should be, and that’s the way it should always be. I’m a fan, a huge fan. I grew up in Belfast and Lizzy was the soundtrack for me and my youth – it’s what I grew up with.

Phil is an inspiration for me, so it’s a dream come true, like winning the musical lottery. To sing those songs and to be a small part of that legacy is just surreal. It’s crazy, it really, really is. I mean it’s 4 years into it now and it is just as surreal now as it was the first time I stood on stage in Aberdeen in the first show, so yes, it’s phenomenal, it really is.”

BSR IMG_9248

RAMzine: The All Hell Breaks Loose Tour is riding high in the UK. Tonight is the last night, how has the tour been received so far?

Ricky: “It’s been great, we’ve been blown away by the reaction to the album, how well it’s done and how well people have accepted the name change and how many of the Lizzy diehards have come along with us, it’s great. We can be happy with finishing the tour and we’re gonna make album number two! We couldn’t have asked for much more than this a year and a half ago.”

RAMzine: The album was released back in May 2013 and it’s still going strong! We have so many favourites like ‘Hoodoo Voodoo‘ and ‘Kingdom of the Lost’, do you feel an affinity to any particular tracks?

Ricky: “You know they are all pretty close. I was involved in writing every one of those so you get very involved with each song. I think ‘Kingdom of the Lost’ is a big song for me just through being Irish, and having the Celtic vibe and the meaning behind it. So if I had to pick one, which is not easy, I probably would go for ‘Kingdom of the Lost‘.”black star riders

RAMzine: Later this year you will be recording a new album with Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) at the helm producing. How did that come about?

Ricky: “We haven’t!  [You haven’t?]  No, Joe bailed on us the bugger [laughing – well that just ruined my question?] Aw I’m sorry, no it’s a very valid question, what was going to be a fairly quiet’ish year for Joe, he approached us and asked to do the album and we were totally blown away, then suddenly Def Leppard got really busy and they are out on tour with KISS in America right now and that’s going right through until the end of September, and they plan to make a new record and his schedule just got crazy and unfortunately he bailed about two months ago.

We are actually gonna record in Nashville now with a producer called Nick Raskulinecz. He has worked with Rush, Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Mastodon…we are delighted to be working with Nick. He would have been right up there on our list if Joe hadn’t approached us, so we have no complaints. It turned out okay, I mean it’s a shame as Joe is such a great friend, it would have been fun to work with him but we all did okay in the end.”

black star riders

RAMzine: The writing part of the up-coming album, is it a collaboration or just you?

Ricky: “It’s mainly me and Damon, yeah, we do all the bulk of it. We do all the heavy lifting, Scott will bring in some of his current guitar riffs and then we take it away and work on that stuff and I handle pretty much all the lyrics. So yeah, it’s usually me and Damon, we get together and get ideas flowing and then we will bring in the other guys and show them what we’ve got. They’ll either love it or hate it, contribute to it or not. That’s usually how it works.”

RAMzine: Is most of it now written?

Ricky: “Pretty much, we’ve got all the pieces written, just gotta put the jigsaw together now which we are actually doing at this moment in time and over the next couple of weeks before we start. We’ll be ready!”

RAMzine: It was a shock to hear that Marco was leaving and Robbie Crane has settled in very well. How soon were you able to get Robbie on board?

black star riders

Ricky: “Really quickly, I mean we had an inkling Marco was gonna go and he informed us about three weeks before wedid the American tour that he was gonna leave and you know, Marco came in and did the tour and stayed with us for two months to get us through the tour, and didn’t want to leave us in the shit as it were.

He said anybody you get in, I’ll help you find somebody, work with him and show him the songs and all that, and it was Jimmy that suggested Robbie. I didn’t really know Robbie. I knew he was in RATT and other stuff like that but I didn’t know him at all. Jimmy said he was a really good guy and everyone else I spoke to, spoke really highly of him.

He came down to a sound check when we were playing in Los Angeles on that tour and played on two songs. He just blew it away and that was it. We said the gig’s yours if you want it. He loved ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’. It was luck, good timing and he was available and kinda looking for something and we obviously needed a bass player you know, so it worked out black star ridersgreat. He is just great to watch on stage and I think he has really brought a lot to the band.”

RAMzine: What’s on the cards now for Black Star Riders?

Ricky: “It’s the album really, that’s the next big thing. To get in there and try and make the best album we can make and get that all wrapped up hopefully by the end of October, and then probably a quiet Christmas for all of us – for a change as we are usually out on the road.

We will hit the ground running in January 2015 with the promo for the album and hopefully get the new album out probably in late February, just before we start the tour in Europe and then it all starts again!”

Ricky, thanks again for taking the time out tonight, it was a pleasure meeting you and we look forward to catching up with you again in October at the Classic Rock Tour.

Photos by Lisa Billingham – www.facebook.com/BillibeeCreativeLimited

Lisa Billingham
Lisa Billingham
Lisa is a RAMzine photographer but also loves to interview and very occasionally review when she doesn't have two cameras in her hands. Lisa owns Billibee Creative with her husband Rob (also a RAMzine reviewer / interviewer)

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