Black Star Riders

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Listen to BLACK STAR RIDERS while you read.

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“I think it got to the point where… we’d been very successful and a lot of journalists were asking us when are you going to write new material,” explained Black Star Riders vocalist Ricky Warwick about the bands decision to record their debut album All Hell Breaks Loose in 2013 under that name and not Thin Lizzy as they had been playing previously. “It got to us after a while and we ended up thinking maybe that would be a good idea. Nobody seemed to want the pressure of what to write so myself and Damon Johnson – we were both songwriters from our previous bands – thought we would get the ball rolling. We wrote a few ideas and took them to the other guys to see what they thought and the guys loved them! We went in and demoed those songs and talked about recording as Thin Lizzy and I think once the recording date started looming it was like, hang on a minute, playing these great songs live that are amazing and taking them to a whole bunch of new people or people that hadn’t heard them in many years is great and that’s one thing but to put out a new Thin Lizzy album without Phil Lynott, without the man’s stamp of approval, seemed a bit contrite and a bit wrong. It was like the elephant in the room but when somebody brought it up we all felt that and myself and Damon – who were brought up with Thin Lizzy as fans – our heads were going one way thinking about new Thin Lizzy record and how it was gonna be great, but our hearts were saying no, no, no it’s the wrong thing to do so when I mentioned it we all felt it was a step too far and it wasn’t right. We were left with fifteen songs that we really believed in and it was like, what are we gonna do with all this material? That was a jumping point for Brian Downey. He decided to retire from the road and Darren Wharton decided to go back and be involved with his band Dare so it was only me, Scott, Damon and Mark that were left so we said why don’t we just change the name and give it a go and see what happens and that’s what we did.”

With the decision to retire the Thin Lizzy name and replace it with Black Star Riders made, Warwick admits the next thing was trying to establish the newer version of the band in their own right and not just be remembered by Thin Lizzy’s glories.

“What’s funny,” he laughed, “ was I think the eight or nine songs that we wrote before we decided we were going to change the name are to me the most highly influenced of the bunch because at that stage we were writing for a Thin Lizzy record. So at that point we definitely wrote to that style but once it was decided to change the name it was like different roads had opened and we didn’t have to stick to one vibe and I think that’s when we started writing for Black Star Riders as our own band. Yes, we’ll always have that energy and influence because of Scott Gorham and because of where we come from but we don’t have to stick to any rules or any particular sound or guidelines.”

With their third album Heavy Fire recently released, Warwick says that it feels as though Black Star Riders are finally beginning to shake free of comparisons to their former band and are now able to focus on carving out their own niche in the rock and roll yearbook.

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With their third album Heavy Fire recently released, Warwick says that it feels as though Black Star Riders are finally beginning to shake free of comparisons to their former band and are now able to focus on carving out their own niche in the rock and roll yearbook.

“It’s our third record,” he offered, “and the band has been together four years so we wanted to release something that would really establish the band away from the mindset of Thin Lizzy and I think we’ve done it. I feel it’s our most accomplished record to date. We always try and make the best record we can and we wanted to take this one even further and write the most dynamic songs we have written. Lyrically we like to cover what’s going on around us and our thoughts on the world, our friends and family and stuff that’s happened. I’m always a big fan of lyrics that tell a story as opposed to… I’m not a big fan of people who let you make your own interpretations. I like my lyrics to mean something. We talk about the gun laws in America and there’s a song there about love and heartbreak. There’s some dark stuff on there as well so I think we have covered a large spectrum.”

Despite doing their best to have the name Black Star Riders stand on its own merits, Warwick is also smart enough to realize that the comparisons will be lifelong, and as such has learnt to embrace the compliments for what they are rather than try to fight them.

“It’s completely flattering to be in this situation,” he gushed. “The fact that we were part of such an amazing, legendary and influential band as Thin Lizzy and we’ve managed to come out of that and pull it off is a testimony not only to myself and the guys in the band but also to everybody out there that believed and bought in to our ideals and our songs. It’s a real testimony to them that they got us to this point. We didn’t know what was going on with the first album. People might not have been interested or not liked this band but to turn it around to where we have has been wonderful. We’ll always be indebted to Thin Lizzy and we’ll always have a part of it with what we do and I don’t think we’ll ever lose that but to now be talking to you on the third record and about to go on the road and still be playing 95% Black Star Riders material is pretty huge.”

Having formed and fronted The Almighty in 1988 and then taking over vocal duties of Thin Lizzy in 2010 before now fronting Black Star Riders, Warwick has been around the music industry long enough to see many changes come and go but there is one thing that has remained a constant throughout.

“There’s always been an element of freedom in music,” he enthused. “I think that’s what liberated rock and roll when it first came out. It gave people an outlet and a chance to speak out against things they didn’t like or didn’t agree with and that is the beauty of it for me. I think it will always be there. Obviously with the internet things have changed with the way people listen to music. The way radio stations work now is a lot different but people will always want rock and roll in their life.”

Written by Kris Peters

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Written by Carl Neumann

Carl is the owner and the director of HEAVY Magazine. Carl is a music journalist and photographer for HEAVY, Rolling Stone, scenestr, Planet Rock and Kerrang!

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