Recently, we managed to sit down with Ricky Warwick and have a quick chat about the Warwick/Johnson acoustic summer dates.
Here's what was said..
SCR: How’s the tour going so far?
RW: Tour is going very well, thank you! We’re having a lot of fun and the attendance has been great, considering it was all put together last minute. What happened was, we were out doing stuff for Black Star Riders and there were some gaps and myself and Damon looked at the itinerary and we said, "do we really want to fly back to the states, then back again, and back again and deal with the jet lag and all that stuff y’know?" So we asked our agent to get us some acoustic gigs and we’ll stay over and make the most of the time here.
SCR: How many dates have there been on this acoustic tour?
RW: This is the tenth date, it’s the final one but we’ve got a Black Star Riders date in Holmfirth tomorrow and Download on Saturday, so we’re looking forward to that! We played Download in 2013, it was our sixth ever gig and we did it once as Thin Lizzy, as well, in 2011.
SCR: Do you find that the big festivals like Download and arena shows are where you're most comfortable?
RW: We really enjoy it just because the vastness of it and the amount of different people there. It’s nice to see the other bands and there’s always a good vibe backstage and it’s just different. Download is special because, as a kid, you grow up with Donington, so that’s always a bit special for me.
SCR: How do you find the cross over? From playing an acoustic set tonight, to playing to thousands of people at Download on the weekend with the full band?
RW: You just do it. We love to play and it doesn’t really matter too much about the setting, we just want to get up, play the songs, sing and entertain people. That’s what we love, that’s why we do it and that’s basically why we’re here. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here. If it’s 60 or 60,000 we’re just as happy because we’re still getting the music out, still playing and making people happy.
SCR: Great point. I think people want to hear Black Star Riders and both of your back catalogues in any format they possibly can.
RW: I really hope so. The great thing about this acoustic stuff is that we get to play stuff that we wouldn’t usually get to plays in a Black Star Riders set. We can do some Lizzy songs that we don’t usually get to play too!
SCR: Do you bring much of the new album into this set?
RW: Yeah! We’re both very proud of both Black Star Riders albums and Damon and I wrote the majority of the songs on the new album, so it’s just natural to carry it through, you know.
SCR: We’ve read that the band works pretty seamlessly... when one of you come up with a nice riff and melody, the other has lyrics for it and it just gels together?
RW: Yeah, we’ve all got a great work ethic and we are very aware that what you put into it is what you get out of it and it’s like anything else. If you’re lazy about it, you’ll struggle. I’m always jotting down ideas, Damon is always coming up with riffs, we’re always working on new stuff, always talking about music and we’re always comparing notes so it’s an on-going thing so we’re never caught out going “s*** we’ve got no material, we’re struggling” or anything like that. Song writing should be organic and it should be an on-going thing as far as I’m concerned - “Okay, we need to go to a cottage in the country for two months to find inspiration." If you can’t find inspiration naturally in any situation you’re in, you’re not gonna find it in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, you know?
SCR: Do you make a conscious effort to get together as a band to get the writing down?
RW: No, we can’t. We live all over the place and to get us all together is like the price equivalent of a small car! and that's before we actually start! Damon and I will get together, he’ll come to me or I’ll go to Nashville for a week but most of it is done on the road and some of it is done on Skype or FaceTime. We’ll go on FaceTime for a couple hours and see what we’ve got and we’ll get something we’re happy with and we’ll show it to the other guys in the band or Scott will give us a riff and we’ll work on that and present it back to him with lyrics and a melody and ask if we’re going in the right direction with it.
SCR: The album’s sound is pretty seamless, it doesn’t sound like you’re all based in different locations.
RW: We do all get into one space together eventually, but not until we have a strong body of work to show the other guys. The great things about the other guys is that they’re fantastic musicians and they can interpret something straight away. Robby is the kind of guy that can hear a new melody and he’ll not come up with one bass line, he’ll come in and say “here’s four bass lines", and they’re all great! “Which one do you like best?” and Jimmy is just a phenomenal drummer and he gives us options and he can fix a song. That’s the great thing about everyone being around for so long.
SCR: The Killer Instinct is great, both musically and lyrically. Even though you have that distant writing process it doesn’t just sound like Damon, Ricky or Scott - it just sounds like Black Star Riders. I imagine a lot of bands struggle with that when the band members have a lot of experience in other bands or side projects.
RW: Of Course. Everyone puts their heart and soul and influence into it and I think it shines through in the music.
SCR: We heard there were plans to move away from the authentic Lizzy sound with the latest BSR album?
RW: Not really. You know, Scott Gorham is in the band, we’re always going to have that Thin Lizzy sound so that will always be a part of who we are... which is great! But with this album, we knew we were going into it writing a Black Star Riders album whereas the last album was still “is this going to be a Thin Lizzy album?” We didn’t know if we were going to change the name so that was certainly a big difference that we went into this knowing we are writing a Black Star Riders album! We didn’t have to strictly go for that Lizzy sound.
SCR: Are there any particular songs that you particularly enjoy playing in an acoustic live setting, like this evenings show?
RW: Yeah, some of them work great. Finest Hour always sounds good and, you see, the thing is, most of them were written on acoustic guitars so they’re always gonna kind of work. The Killer Instinct sounds great acoustic, Charlie I Gotta Go sounds great… Writing on acoustic, that’s the beauty of it.
SCR > DJ: How do you find the crossover from playing onstage with a full band to being on a smaller stage in a live acoustic setting?
DJ: Oh I love it. Ricky may have mentioned this already, but he and I, individually, have done lots of acoustic stuff. Some of my most fulfilling musical experiences have been just me and an acoustic guitar, and now I’ve got something with this guy! I mean, just in the last two weeks the gigs have been amazing. There’s been moments where the crowds have been just as intense as they are at the festivals, or you could hear a pin drop because they were listening so intentively, so I think I speak for both of us when I say we love it just as much as we do with a full band.
SCR: Thank you very much for your time guys! Short but sweet!
New Autumn tour dates!
Theres plenty of incredibly tasty songs that fill this set, including Damon Johnson's 'Pontiac'