Check these guys out! Black Star Riders are a killer rock act are back with their third album HEAVY FIRE which is out now through Nuclear Blast Entertainment. The band features Ricky Warwick (The Almighty, Thin Lizzy), Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy), Damon Johnson (Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, Brother Cane), Robbie Crane (Vince Neil, Ratt, Lynch Mob) and Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth, Ozzy, Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth). Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles had the privilege of talking to Ricky Warwick about the album.
It must be great kicking off 2017 with a new album?
It is indeed, very excited about it coming out.
As a band do you work out a plan with all your goals and objectives for what you want to achieve with the album?
It is an album cycle, when you do records two to three months out from the release you start doing the promo and the videos, getting the artwork together and that goes right up to the album release date. We plan for the year ahead with our touring schedule and you know that the next fourteen or fifteen months you’ll be focusing on the album you’ve just made. It is nice to know that you’re going to be busy though.
You been quoted as saying that this is the best album that the Black Star Riders have made. Did you have a lot of fun making it?
Yeah it has been every time, the thing is being in Black Star Riders is that they are a great group of guys and well get on really well. There is a great chemistry and comradery between us and we like hanging out with each other. Everyone knows their role in the band and we’re all committed to making the best record possible when we hit the studio. It is always a good time and we look forward to it.
Three albums in fairly quick succession seems as if the Black Star Riders is a well-oiled machine?
There is a great work ethic in the band and like you said three albums in four years for us is about making hay while the sun shines. We don’t see any reason to take a year or two years between albums or even longer. We don’t see the point of that and we are lucky that we are quite prolific and that there’s a lot of ideas being bandied about. The band never struggles to come up with something new as there is always something going on.
Do you usually write enough for an album or do the leftovers make their way on to something else?
There is always stuff left over as we are writing all of the time plus we never throw anything away. We don’t go specifically we have an album coming out, let’s take two months and write it, we’re writing constantly so there is always material on the go. We are already eight or nine songs in for ideas for the next record. The guys have all been in bands before and with the well gone dry you get caught out when you try to write a record. Everyone is looking at each other saying I don’t have anything. We don’t want to be in that situation so we are always writing continually and when it gets near to record the album again we push things up a bit and start writing as much as we can but even harder.
Having collectively so much experience between each other are you tougher on yourselves with the music you are writing and recording?
I think so! We usually go in to any recording process with about twenty songs or ideas and we go in with an open mind. The guys have been in the business for a long time and we’re committed to the song. There’s no egos, there’s no I want my drums to sound louder or my bass needs to feature in this part. There’s none of that and it’s about what will make the song work. There is a lot of work done on pre-production and we spend two weeks pulling everything apart and putting it all back together to see what songs are going to make it and what the flow of the record is going to be. To us, all that stuff is just as important as being in the studio.
Do you think that’s where a lot of bands come unstuck by not spending enough time on pre-production?
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, you have to have it all together before you hit the studios. It makes it so much easier and a lot more fun. If you don’t have your shit together when you hit the studio that’s when the pressure and anxiety kicks in. I think it’s all about the songs, you need to have great songs and that is the most important thing. If you don’t have that you don’t have anything as far as I’m concerned. We always put great emphasis on that. Do we have fifteen killer songs that represents the band and fulfills its potential and songs that we love that we feel people out there are going to dig as well There’s all that to take in to consideration.
Do you feel being Black Star Riders as opposed to the touring version of Thin Lizzy gives you the scope to be whatever you want it to be or push your music in whatever direction without any constraints or expectations?
Absolutely, they are two different things and I don’t think of them as being the same thing. Black Star Riders is not Thin Lizzy and we are our own identity. I think on this record we have established that more building on the success of the other two. There’s no limitations and if we feel it is right and we like it and we’re in to it, it will get worked on and used. There’s no rules or regulations that we have to adhere to.
The packaging on all the albums and bonus content is really well done. Is that a focus for the band working on delivering that sort of thing?
Thanks for saying that, it is important to us and let’s be honest. The way things are happening and people not buying albums the way they used to you have to offer something up that is going to make people want to buy a record and you have to make that attractive whether that is the artwork or bonus material. You have to give someone a reason to go out and buy the record. That is something we are quite conscious of as we quite like the vinyl and albums covers. There’s a little bit of that in there.
Are you happy with how PledgeMusic campaign has gone and surprised this is becoming more of the norm compared to the traditional way of buying albums?
I think this was inevitable the way the industry is going and had to happen. I’m glad that it did and I’ve used it twice for my solo records. I funded the whole record on the Pledge campaign and was able to make a double album on the back of the fans investment. With the Black Star Riders we are still signed to Nuclear Blast who are still our record label and distribute the album but we were able to offer incentives and VIP stuff which we wouldn’t be able to do through the record company which was really great. The money goes back in to the band which we can then use for touring or make videos or stuff like that. Record company budgets are tighter than they used to be so you need to exploit these things if you want to be a full time touring band.
Are there any plans to bring Black Star Riders to Australia?
I would love to and that would be great and obviously Thin Lizzy was there in 2013 with Kiss and Motley Crue. We would love to get Black Star Riders down there for the first time which will be amazing.
Black Star Riders album Heavy Fire is out now through Nuclear Blast Entertainment.