Interview conducted November 1 2019
Interview published November 17 2019
"Thankfully I've never really picked up an English
Black Star Riders put out their
latest record Another State Of Grace on September 6th and as the band
came to Stockholm on the following tour, Metal Covenant got some time
to talk with the band's frontman Ricky Warwick.
Tobbe: Your new record was out in September
and as an artist that has been around for quite some time now, does it
still feel strange that record sales are counted in hits for streaming
and stuff nowadays?
Ricky: The whole industry is so strange now;
how everything works. It's not so black and white. There's so many parts
to it now, that, like you say, are taken into account for it. But it's
nice having chart places. It means something to me. Maybe 'cause I grew
up with it as a kid. If your record gets in the top 20, or top 10, it's
still a good feeling. I still like that, you know.
Tobbe: But still, as an established artist
it must feel kind of disappointing to see record sales keep diminishing
all the time?
Ricky: Yeah. I mean, it's terrible, but what
can you do? I mean, life is gonna change and technology is gonna get
better and better and better. But I'm not prepared to sit there and
moan about it and talk about how good it used to be, 'cause I think
that's terrible. I think you have to go "Okay, it's happening.
How do we embrace it? How do we use it? How can we make it work to our
advantage?". 'Cause it's happening. There's nothing you can do
about it. You just gotta go forward, right?
Don't misunderstand me now, but why isn't Another State Of Grace just
BSR's 4th record and instead something special?
Ricky: Well, there's been a lineup change. And
not just Christian [Martucci, guitar], but it's also Chad's [Szeliga]
first record he has played on. I think it has really established the
band and it seems people have now cut that connection from Thin Lizzy.
That we're very much our own band now. I personally felt that after
the first record [All Hell Breaks Loose, 2013], but obviously for some
people it takes longer.
But after 7 years and 4 albums I think we've
earned that respect and earned that right and I think this is the album
for me that has cemented that. I think it's the best album that we've
made out of the 4.
Tobbe: When you start making a record nowadays,
do you have kind of a path in your mind where you wanna go, or do things
Ricky: Things just happen, you know. You just
wanna try and write songs that you like and make you feel good. And
I think that's all you can do and then you're hoping that everybody
else loves them as well and everybody else digs them too. But obviously
this time there was a lot of changes, with just Christian coming in
and Damon Johnson leaving, who was involved in the writing. But Christian
just came in and Christian and I hit if off straight away.
You know, we started working together and we
didn't really miss a beat. We just kept this whole thing rolling. But
there's no real concept in mind. It's more of a "Let's just write
the best songs we can possibly write, that we like.".
Tobbe: And Damon quitting must have meant
some trouble in the beginning since he was one of the core writers.
Ricky: Well, yes and no. I mean, I knew Damon
was gonna leave about a year before he left. I could just tell. I knew
the guy really, really well. [Pause] I don't need anybody to write songs
with. I can write a song on my own. And I have done many, many times.
And I've done on this new record. I like writing with other people.
So when Damon left it wasn't a case of me going "Oh, my God! I'm
never gonna be able to write songs again.". That never even entered
Even if we got somebody in the band, that wasn't
a songwriter, I don't think it would have mattered that much. I still
would have written songs. Scott [Gorham, guitar] would have still been
throwing his riffs. But we got Christian who is a great songwriter,
as well as a good guitar player. So, like a said, the transition was
very smooth and I think I've even more in common with Christian 'cause
we both come from a punk rock background.
there was an instant chemistry there right away. And nothing really
changed. You know, I still handle all the lyrics and I still write a
lot of the guitar riffs. Christian did a lot of the guitar riffs as
well and did a lot of the arrangements on this stuff too.
Scott brings in his ideas, and Robbie [Crane,
bass] brought in a couple of killer ideas as well. So nothing really
changed. It wasn't even a hiccup. We knew Damon was going, he gave us
plenty of time to let us know that he was going, he went, and we just
kind of went "Away. We go on.". And we did, and there was
no, like, "Oh, man. What are we gonna do?". None of that.
I mean, just the opposite, you know. Very positive.
Tobbe: You guys are always replacing members
with already established artists. What would be the risk in taking in
someone who isn't so experienced yet?
Ricky: Well, I mean, it wouldn't matter. I think
the problem is in these days sometimes it's not enough just to be in
one band to pay the bills. Sometimes guys need to be in a couple of
bands and you find that more and more that there's people in more than
one band. We just wanted to find the right person and the fact that
Christian had an amazing pedigree and obviously came from a band as
big as Stone Sour is amazing and obviously it's a bonus. But if he hadn't,
and he'd still be the same guy, he'd still be in Black Star Riders.
Tobbe: Like you said, the more records you
make, the less people are talking about Lizzy, right? And how does that
make you feel within?
Ricky: I'm happy, and I'm really happy for Scott,
because Scott was the first one to sort of go "You know, we're
not playing any Lizzy anymore.". He's got this whole other career
now, as well as Thin Lizzy, and I think it's brilliant for him to be
doing it for as long as he has and be in another established band.
It's weird because we all love Thin Lizzy so
much and they're an amazing band, but to not have to get back into that
catalogue and stand alone as Black Star Riders and play
there's 19 songs in the set tonight; 19 Black Star Riders songs. I'm
just so happy we've reached that point. 'Cause I didn't know if we ever
would. You just didn't know. You didn't know how people were gonna react.
But, you know, we've got there, and, like I said, we haven't played
a Lizzy song so far on this tour. The plan is not to, going forwards.
Tobbe: Do you have any Lizzy shows planned
or scheduled at this point? Any thoughts about doing something next summer
Ricky: I mean, that's no, 'cause we're gonna
be busy with Black Star Riders, doing all the festivals and obviously
there's a conflict there. We did, obviously, a couple of shows last
summer. That's really a Scott thing. You know, it's his thing. I don't
know if there will ever be any more Thin Lizzy tours. There'll be maybe
a couple of shows here and there down the road at some point, but, you
know, next summer we're gonna hit it hard with Black Star Riders on
all the festivals, so.
But still, it's still kind of nice to play those old songs.
Ricky: Of course it is. It's amazing. To sing
those songs is a dream come true and it's such an honor for me to sing
those great songs, you know.
Tobbe: I guess you have been talking to
Scott about being a Hall Of Fame nominee. Maybe for me it's like "Well,
anyone can start up a Hall Of Fame.", but still, is that really important
or is it just a cool thing to you?
Ricky: I think it's a cool thing. For somebody
like Scott, and the influence that Lizzy's had over so many bands for
so many years, it's a recognition of all that work and all that time.
I think it means a lot to him because Phil [Lynott] was his best friend
and I think that's very close to his heart, you know. He's happy, I
can tell. He's really honored and he's got a little spring in his step.
And he deserves it. He really, really deserves
it, you know. And I think more than anything that's what it's all about.
Scott's a good guy and he deserves to be recognized for what Thin Lizzy
have done for generations and generations. You know, I wouldn't be sitting
here if it wasn't for Thin Lizzy. You ask anybody, pretty much any hard
rock band, and everybody loves Thin Lizzy, you know.
Tobbe: But you personally had great days
there in the '90s. You were pretty popular for a couple of albums there
with The Almighty.
Ricky: Sure, yeah, but I mean, Thin Lizzy were
one of the bands that inspired me to pick up a guitar and be a musician,
you know. Absolutely they were. So, it goes all the way back.
Tobbe: So when will I get to see an Almighty
gig once again?
Ricky: Never! Never!
Tobbe: Or Ricky Warwick featuring The Almighty?
Ricky: You might see Ricky Warwick gigs when
I put out a new solo record. But, you know, The Almighty is done. You
know, we had our time and it was great. I'm in Black Star Riders now,
who are bigger than The Almighty ever were, so why would I wanna go
backwards? There's no point going backwards to go forwards. You know,
you go forwards and you stay going forwards.
Tobbe: I get your point. But when I put
on those albums, you know. Crank  is my favorite Almighty album.
Ricky: It's my favorite Almighty album as well,
but, you know, fuck, to sing like that now would kill me. And, you know,
I'm not the same person I was when I was 27 when we made that record.
Tobbe: I understand, but I just got to ask.
Ricky: I don't mind that. People ask me about
The Almighty every day and I'm happy that people want to ask about it
and I think it's great. But nobody who was in The Almighty wants to
reform The Almighty. Everybody is very happy. You know, it's cool the
way it is. But I mean, you know, if somebody was really broke and needed
the money or whatever, something like that, that's different. Of course
everybody's in a good place in their life. Nobody hates anybody in the
band. I mean, I saw Stumpy [Monroe], the drummer, when we played Glasgow
a few weeks ago. He was at the show, we hung out, we had a beer together.
So, it's great. So let's just leave it down the road, you know what
Tobbe: Some people actually claim that rock
is dead, and my question to you is: Who will be the next moron to say
that rock is dead?
Ricky: Well, I don't know. It's not gonna be
me. I mean, maybe I'm a moron in a lot of other ways, but I'm certainly
never gonna say that. People will always want rock 'n' roll; no matter
what happens. They need it, it's part of their life. Music changes the
world, music changes how people feel, it changes their perception, it's
an integral part of the human species. It will never die.
Tobbe: What does a regular day look like
for you at home?
Ricky: A regular day at home looks like: I get
up at 6 a.m., answer emails, make myself something to eat, have sort
of 45 minutes to myself, get my youngest daughter up for school, make
her something to eat, my wife goes up and goes to work, I drop my daughter
off at school, I go to the gym for a couple of hours and come back home,
and I write. I write for 2, 3 or 4 hours every day, even if I get nothing
to save, 'cause to me it's a job.
So I write, play guitar, whatever. Pick my daughter
up at school, make dinner, chill out, usually in bed by 9/9.30. It's
as exciting as it gets. If there's a band that I wanna see, maybe we'll
go see a show, or a dinner with my wife, a movie, or something like
that. Pretty simple. It's a nice life. I like it that way. You know,
I like it simple. I don't like being complicated.
Tobbe: Do you think that you have missed
out on some stuff because of choice of career?
Ricky: Yeah, definitely. You know, certain things.
Obviously the amount of time spent with family. But then I'm a great
believer in quality of time over the quantity. I mean, you can be at
home all the time and life can still pass you by, because you don't
live it. And I think I appreciate the time that I'm at home so much
because I do travel so much for what I do.
I don't have any regrets, you know. I've made
a lot of mistakes, I've made a lot of bad choices, but I think they've
led me to the place where I'm at now in my life and I really, really
Is this touch wood? [Knocks on the table.] I really, really like my
life right now. I'm very happy with everything. You know, where I'm
at and what's going on. You know, I like the simple things. I just like
being home with my family chilling out, you know. And playing music.
Time for some bragging now. What's the best thing about being Ricky Warwick?
Ricky: The best thing with being Ricky Warwick
is being Ricky Warwick. [Laughs] I think it's just nice that I've been
able to live my dream for 30 years. You know, I've been allowed to do
that. And I think that's the most special thing, that I've been able
to live the dream that I always dreamt of when I was a kid. And, you
know, I'm still living it, I'm still successful at it, and I think that's
the nicest thing about it.
Tobbe: Like many other artists you've had
some ups and some downs, and how have you personally been able to handle
Ricky: Some of them I've handled better than
others. A lot of the downs have been my own fault of choices that I
made. Or certain people that I'm associated with that have brought me
down. Instead of walking away or not being involved with those people.
And you learn from that. Well, that's what you do. You have to learn.
Some people don't and sadly they keep making the same mistake.
I'm lucky that I've learnt quite quickly what
works for me, who I need to surround myself with and what not to do.
And I think once I figured that out, you know. That's not to say that
I still don't have days when shit happens. We all do, you know. I just
learn from my mistakes very, very quickly. I was brought up never to
complain and that I have to work hard for everything that you get in
Tobbe: Is it sometimes starting to get a
little bit rough now to be in good form vocally all the time? Both in
recording sessions and when singing live?
Ricky: Put it this way: In UK we did 16 shows
in 18 days and we did 11 acoustic in-stores where we were playing 3
songs every day. My voice has never been stronger. I've never smoked
in my life, I work out 4-5 times a week, I look after myself. This is
what works for me. Won't work for everybody. I don't drink very much
anymore, I gave up dairy a year ago. Dairy was the biggest thing. The
minute I gave up dairy I noticed a change. In about a month I noticed
a change in my voice. It got stronger, I wasn't getting as many colds.
[Knocks on the table again.] I'm very superstitious, I'm sorry.
That was a big game changer for me and I feel
as I go older my voice is getting stronger. You know, I feel good. I
feel good up on stage. I don't feel I need to do 2 shows / 1 day off.
I can do 4-5 shows; no problem with it. I look after it. I do the warm-ups
before I go on stage and all that kind of stuff. And it seems to help,
you know. I haven't canceled a show in 10 years through illness. Not
You better knock on wood again.
Ricky: Oh, good that you remind me. [Knocks on
the table a third time.] That's the Irish guilt in me coming out there,
Tobbe: But if your voice one day won't live
up to your own requirements. What will you do?
Ricky: I'll stop. I would never do this if I
thought I was selling myself short, 'cause if I'm selling myself short
I'm selling the people short, and that's not fair. I wouldn't wanna
be that guy, "Oh, we went and see Ricky Warwick last night, and
it was good to see him, but he wasn't as good as he was 10 years ago.".
I'd hate that. I don't wanna be that person. You know, [Bruce] Springsteen
is 70 and still sounds fucking amazing. [Paul] McCartney, 74 [Actually
77.], still sounds amazing, still doing it.
Those are my heroes. That's what I'm inspired
to be. I wanna be like those guys. You know, Mick Jagger, 75 [Actually
76.], still sounds amazing. I wanna be as good as those guys sound when
I'm that age. Still be able to sing well, and play well, and perform
well. And if I can't, I won't, because I don't think it's any point.
Tobbe: One final question: When you arrived
out there in the catering you had kind of an American dialect, and now
you're speaking with your, like, normal dialect. Do you listen to yourself
sometimes and notice the changes?
Ricky: I'm such a mongrel, 'cause I've lived
in so many places. You know, I left Northern Ireland when I was 14/15.
I go back there all the time. I lived in Scotland for 5 years, I lived
in England for 9 years, I lived in Dublin [Ireland] for 9 years, and
I've lived in America for 15 years. I'm a mongrel. My accent is all
over the place. You know, if I go back to Northern Ireland, within a
day it's full-on. If I go back to Scotland, in a couple of days the
Scottish words are coming out a bit more. Thankfully I've never really
picked up an English accent. I'm okay with that.
But yeah, it changes, you know. In America, when
I moved there, nobody could understand a fucking word I was saying.
So you tend to speak slower so people can understand you. But I mean,
I think I've held on to my Northern Irish accent pretty good considering
I'm 53 now and I've moved about so much, you know.
Another Black Star Riders interview, featuring bassist
Robbie Crane, that was done on the same evening will be published in a
couple of weeks.