Interview with Ricky Warwick of Black Star Riders


MR’s Mark Lloyd caught up with Black Star Riders’ Ricky Warwick for a chat before their show at Birmingham’s Asylum. Find out what it’s like joining a band you used to watch on Top Of The Pops and why nowadays its more about tea and running rather than drugs and parties.

Hi Ricky, thanks for talking to us. You’re a busy man sixty dates in to your summer tour.

Yeah we started in May in the States and we’ve only had a two week break.

The eight dates you’ve played in the UK have been quite intimate really. Was there a reason to play some smaller venues?

We did a few major festivals last year and obviously we’ve got the new album coming out next year, so we didn’t want to play all the festivals before the new record comes out. We got offered a few festivals and with them being at weekends we just wanted to throw a few UK dates in and play some places we haven’t played before.

How have these shows compared to the arena sized shows?

To me, as long as people are there I don’t care where we play. If it’s a small room or if it’s a stadium, a show’s a show and I’ll always put just as much into it and I think the rest of the band would agree. These shows are great because you can really see people’s faces and vibe off that but knowing there are thousands of people at an arena too is pretty great!

Did Marco’s departure come as a shock to the band?

No (laughs) not at all. He’d been making rumblings about it for a while and he informed us about two or three weeks before the US dates that this was going to be his last tour. Fair play to the guy, he said “look I’m gonna do this, I’m giving you plenty of warning, I’ll help you find a replacement and bring somebody along to sound checks and walk them through the songs”. He really couldn’t have been more accommodating and upfront about it. Marco’s a great guy. We love him but he had his reasons and we respect that. The time was right. He was looking to move away from what we were looking to do and he certainly had his own ideas about what he wanted and where he wanted to go with his own stuff and The Dead Daisies but it worked out great.

So how did Robbie Crane come into the picture?

He’s phenomenal! Jimmy (DeGrasso) knew Robbie quite well and the time was just right. He’d just finished with Ratt & wasn’t in a band. He was off the road just chilling out and looking to get back into something. He came down to a sound check and played a couple of songs with us and blew us all away. He’s got a great personality, is great on stage and he really has bought a lot to this band. We’re delighted to have him on board.

Ricky Warwick
Ricky Warwick can’t resist stocking up with MR’s finest tailoring

Do you feel that Black Star Riders have attracted a different type of fan from the Thin Lizzy crowds?

I think we’re starting to. We got a lot of the Lizzy faithfuls coming along but now we’re attracting people that are just more or less Black Star Riders fans. We were blown away by the reaction that we got when we changed the name and the fact that a lot of the die hard Lizzy fans have stuck with us is just testimony to them and obviously something that we’re incredibly happy about.

Did you ever think as a young lad in County Down that you’d get that call?

(Laughing hysterically) No! Never! Never, ever in a million years! I dreamed of it when I used to watch them on Top of the Pops. I’ve got two older sisters who are rockers which is how I got into Thin Lizzy and obviously when I discovered the Irish connection it made it that bit more special. I was always fascinated by them and I still can’t get my head around it. It’s a dream come true.

Has growing up in Ireland inspired the music that you write now?

Absolutely. You’re a product of your culture and you write what you know. I’m an East Belfast boy from County Down, Northern Ireland and I tend to write about what I know and that’s been engrained on me. A lot of the Irish music growing up was about what was happening at the time.

Do you manage to get back to Ireland much?

I do, at least two or three times a year. As much as I can to be honest with you.

Do you still get to see Glentoran FC?

I do! The mighty Glentoran! I’ll always try to schedule a visit around a game. They’re my team and I’m actually doing a charity gig for the football club before Christmas this year raising funds for the kids’ team. I’ve got a great circle of friends I meet up with and go to the games with and they don’t give a toss what band I’m in. I’m just Ricky who goes to the football with them. I get slagged off along with everybody else and that’s why I love it.

So what can we expect from the new album?

Well I think we’re going to have a little bit longer to record it this time (laughs).

Not going for twelve tracks in twelve days this time?

Jesus, no! I don’t think Scott (Gorham) has recovered yet. Actually, I haven’t recovered! No, it was great and Kevin (Shirley) has that way of working. It was really fast and we made a great album that’s done really well for us but this time we want to take a bit more time. We want to spend more time on the songs and I think that some of the stuff we’ve got is stronger.

Who are you working with on this album?

We’re working with a guy called Nick Raskulinecz who’s worked with Alice in Chains, Rush, Foo Fighters and Mastodon and we start in Nashville on September 2nd.

The rest of this year looks pretty full on then.

Sunday night is our last show, we do the album in September and we’ve got a couple of one offs in October. We work you know. None of us are getting any younger and we’re just grateful to be in this position where we can work and play and make a living out of doing what we love. In this day and age it’s just a great position to be in and we don’t take it for granted. We enjoy playing and being on the road. I don’t see the point in taking a year off. You have no idea what’s coming around that corner and we’re all of the same mind with a good work ethic.

Do you find it harder working and touring these days than you did a few years back with The Almighty?

Yeah it’s really different. Obviously when you’re young you’re indestructible and you drink and party and take drugs. When you’re young you have the energy to do it all. When you get closer to fifty its more about tea and running and all that kind of stuff. I don’t really drink that much these days and I haven’t done drugs in years but that’s because I want to go on. You see people like Springstein who’s 64 years old and in incredible shape performing for 3 hours and I want to do that! There’s nothing glamorous about seeing a middle aged man wasted on drink and drugs giving a half assed performance on stage. I want to put on the best show that I can and I know to do that I have to be in good shape. We all look after ourselves and you’ll see tonight that’s it’s a high energy rock and roll show.

Thanks for your time Ricky. We can’t wait for the show. Good luck with the album and look forward to hearing the new tracks

Cheers guys, great to meet you.