Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces recently conducted an interview with BLACK STAR RIDERS vocalist Ricky Warwick. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On writing songs for new album, “The Killer Instinct”:
“Writing for ‘The Killer Instinct’ was pretty similar to ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’. I wrote mostly all of the lyrics, and a lot of the music. Damon [Johnson, guitarist] writes a lot of the music with me; him and I write constantly, and we have a lot of ideas. We just really didn’t let up writing from the first album — we just continued working on ideas and songs. We had about 20 songs together when we got together; we sort of went to pre-production and went through them all. We write all the time, though. We write while we’re on tour, when we’re off the road, when we’re in hotel rooms — you name it. There’s just always ideas coming, and that’s how we like to work.
“Scott [Gorham, guitarist] came in with three or four killer riffs that are on there, as well. Scott walks in, and he’ll play – like with ‘Soldierstown’, which is a Scott Gorham guitar riff. He walked in, said ‘I’ve got this idea’, and played it for me. Your jaw hits the floor. It’s great that he has enough belief in Damon and I that he’ll come in, play this riff, and then we’ll take it away and kick it into a song. We make a song out of it. Obviously, we keep him in the loop the whole way through the process, like ‘What do you think of this melody?’ That’s great to have, a guy like Scott Gorham — who’s a legend — contributing in that way. When he does come up with stuff, it’s phenomenal.”
On opting not to record as THIN LIZZY:
“The realization just hit us, I think. Suddenly it’s time you let your heart rule your head. In your head, you’re going, ‘Oh, It’s gonna be great. We’re gonna make a THIN LIZZY record. I’m gonna get my name on a THIN LIZZY record.’ As a fan and in my heart though, I’m going ‘This is wrong. This isn’t the right thing to do. It’s been 30 years to make an album and put it out as THIN LIZZY. A studio album without Phil [Lynott] just isn’t right.’ I think we suddenly all just came to that realization. There were a few things going on at that point, as well. That’s when Brian [Downey, THIN LIZZY drummer] and Darren [Wharton, THIN LIZZY keyboardist] decided that the amount of touring that we were doing was too much for them as well, so taking all of that onboard, we just all got a wake-up call. Somebody just mentioned it in a room, and it was kind of like ‘I’m really glad you said that, because that’s what I was thinking as well.’
“It was absolutely the right thing to do, it really was. A lot of people as well said that it could’ve been commercial suicide, because we knew for a fact that putting it out under the THIN LIZZY name would guarantee us a certain amount of sales no matter what the record sounded like, anyway. To suddenly turn around and change the name completely — the whole thing — we knew that we were taking a big risk, but I guess once we decided that we were gonna do that, it was a weight off of my shoulders. I felt that it was absolutely the right decision, and I know that everybody else did. We stuck to our guns, and the people out there proved us right. They supported us, they bought the record, they came to the shows, and here I am talking to you about the second record because of all that.”
On his vocal contributions being similar to late THIN LIZZY vocalist Phil Lynott:
“I’ve been singing Phil‘s songs for almost five years now, and I completely immersed myself in the role. When I was given the job, I wanted to do it justice. I wanted to sing the songs as close to the way that Phil sang them as I possibly could, because let’s face it. If you’re gonna go and see THIN LIZZY, you wanna hear the songs the way they sounded. They’ll never be the way that Phil sang them, of course, but I want to try to get them as close as I could to that.
“I studied the man’s lyrics, I studied his poetry. I’ve learnt so much from Phil over the last few years; I think it’s made me a better performer, a better writer and a better musician, just from studying the great man’s work. That’s rubbed off on me, and so that’s part of who I am now. It’s ingrained in me, that influence, so it’s just a part of it now. I don’t even really think about it. I don’t try to sound like him, but I have the vibe. I think I’ve found the right line to sort of walk down the middle of it and keep the LIZZY fans happy, but also put enough Ricky Warwick in there as well to make it my own.
“Once you’re writing and you know it’s not a THIN LIZZY album… Obviously there are certain roads that we had to go down, and we’re very aware of making it appealing by trying to make it sound like a LIZZY record. That’s not so much the case now. Like I said, we’ll always still have that vibe and that feel because of what we do. It’s just there, but I think we can try anything. You’ve got a song like ‘Finest Hour’ on the new record, which I think is very far away from that THIN LIZZY sound. You’ve obviously got ‘The Killer Instinct’ which does sound a little bit like THIN LIZZY, so every avenue is open and everything you can explore. I think ‘You Little Liar’ has even got elements of THE ALMIGHTY in it – the last track on the album. It goes back to my ALMIGHTY days, so I think there’s a good ALMIGHTY influence on there as well. I can just be me, and that’s what I enjoy about it.”
Read the entire interview at Metal Forces.