May The Rock Be With You recently conducted an interview with Scott Gorham and Ricky Warwick of THIN LIZZY and BLACK STAR RIDERS. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
May The Rock Be With You: So what was the decision behind changing the name of the band to BLACK STAR RIDERS and how hard a decision was it for you to take that step forward? Was there any hesitation or worry in doing that?
Ricky: The hesitation and worry was the other way round; it was more to do if we were going to put the record out under the THIN LIZZY moniker which was what we originally planned to do. It's just such a unique situation. The whole thing with LIZZY is that Phil's [Lynott] obviously been gone for 25 years. The gap between albums would be almost 30 years if it were to come out as THIN LIZZY, and that's just so unique and it's not as if Phil had passed away for a couple of years and we got a new singer and put an album out, but there's such a big gap. Phil has become so revered and become such an iconic legend that we wrote the songs, we felt great about them, but the more we got closer to the starting date, you're obviously thinking about what the fans think, what friends and family think, what we thought maybe this is just a little bit of a step too far to record under the THIN LIZZY name as Phil is so loved and well respected. So last minute, we just had a soul searching and we had a change of heart and decided that, no, we wanted to make almost a fresh start with a new name. A lot of things, we sat down and the amount of promo and touring and press that comes with a new album, Brian Downey and Darren [Wharton] just didn't want to do it anymore, they didn't want to be away from home 200 days a year. I can completely respect that, whereas the rest of us did; we want to go for it. So taking that into consideration, we changed the name to BLACK STAR RIDERS and we'd go ahead and record the songs we've written. Everyone knows it would've been the THIN LIZZY album, but it's now BLACK STAR RIDERS, and to me, that was a big sense of relief, because it appeased all the people were not really sure we should be doing this and there were people that were behind it. We're still going to play the records, we're still going to go out there and play LIZZY songs along with the BLACK STAR RIDERS songs, so I think it's a win-win, you know?
Scott: Well, I'll tell you what happened… it became kind of a journalistic, band-driven thing and we told everyone as the number one question over the past few years was, "When are you going to write and record new material?" I just waited for that one every time. I think everyone just assumed it was going to be the next record for THIN LIZZY, and to be quite honest, we kinda did, too, as everybody expected it so much. Then I always felt uncomfortable about it, Brian Downey felt uncomfortable about it and when it got right down to the crunch it was really, do we want to do this as THIN LIZZY. Brian and I talked it out with the guys and we just figured that history is as history was and we're just going to leave it, leave that alone. If Phil was still here, it would be a whole other ballgame, obviously, but now we've got these seventeen songs that we've written and we think they're kick-ass songs, so we've got to record these things. That's why we said we'll end THIN LIZZY for a while and we'll start this new thing with a couple of new guys in the band.
May The Rock Be With You: Is it fair to say that BLACK STAR RIDERS is a continuation of THIN LIZZY musically but essentially a totally new and fresh variation of it?
Scott: Well, it kinda is, because at first in our minds it was going to be a THIN LIZZY album so it's going to sound like a THIN LIZZY album by default just because I'm in there because of the way I write and play and all that. Then you've got Ricky Warwick and the lyrics on this are just unbelievably good, Damon [Johnson] and his take on things, but he's a giant in this band and his writing leans towards the LIZZY side, so what you're going to hear is, yeah, there will be shades of THIN LIZZY, absolutely. There's a lot of harmony guitars and riffs and all that but it's got its on sound all at the same time. It's a different producer in Kevin Shirley and he's got his take on it and I was constantly trying to drag everyone away from the LIZZY thing, just because I'm figuring if we're going to do a new album new band, new sound, new everything, but you couldn't help it. It's kind of a mish-mash of LIZZY and brand new at the same time.
May The Rock Be With You: For you personally, to now be able to be out the front of essentially a new band and not have to now fill Phil's shoes must be a sense of relief?
Ricky: Yeah. People always say those are big shoes to fill and you can't fill them. All I can say is that you stand beside them and hope some of the man's greatness rubs off on your performance, but I can get back to being me a little more with BLACK STAR RIDERS, and I'm not stupid and I realize this myself as a THIN LIZZY fan, that when I play these songs, people want them played the way and sung the way they know them and love them, they almost want to close their eyes and almost sound like its Phil doing them. That's what I would want if I was a fan going to the show, so I try my best to do that, whereas with BLACK STAR RIDERS, I'm still very influenced now by Phil, as I always have been as a songwriter and lyricist and the way he phrases stuff, so we want to retain what's great about THIN LIZZY and move it over to BLACK STAR RIDERS. I can be myself a little bit more now, which is nice, I've got nothing to really prove anymore because of BLACK STAR RIDERS too, I can just go back to being Ricky Warwick instead of having to stand up and deliver the songs the way we all know and love them, which I'll continue to do.
Read the entire interview from May The Rock Be With You.
Photo credit: Robert John