As he talks from a Belfast hotel there’s no doubt that he and his bandmates, including Thin Lizzy’s very own Scott Gorham are refreshed, focused and ready for the many months of touring that lay ahead for the awesome ‘Another State of Grace‘ LP.
Overdrive caught up with Ricky to get the lowdown on everything…
OD – The new album ‘Another State of Grace‘ is now out and it’s becoming more apparent that the transition from the Thin Lizzy stuff to BSR has been a successful one, do you feel that things are in a very good ‘productive‘ place for the band right now?
RICKY – Yes, absolutely! We’re four albums in now and BSR is very much its own thing. We’ve progressed in a very natural way and with nothing really guaranteed in this business, to be out touring album number 4 ,with very much our own sound, is just something I’m very proud of and don’t take for granted.
OD – We saw Damon (Johnson) step out and Christian (Martucci, guitars) and Chad (Szeliga, Drums) enter the band. I know that Damon, Scott and yourself had a very solid writing chemestry and wanted to know if that very chemestry is continued with the new line up?
RICKY – Yes, obviously when there are new people coming into any situation, there’s gonna be a period of time for the dust to settle and the relationship to blossom and for all of us to get familiar with the style of how we all mix together as musicians. That’s just the way it’s been since forever with whomever I’m playing with.
Chad and Christian are both phenomenal musicians and very positive, conscientiousness and hard-working people so they fit in perfectly straight away. Has it changed the way we write? Not really as myself and Scott, would come up with the bulk of the ideas, I would have the melody and lyrics together (somewhat) and I would take them to Damon and we would work on those ideas.
It wasn’t like when Damon left, the sound and essence of Black Star Riders was gone, I write mostly on my own anyway, without sounding facetious, but I really like being in a band and working with other people.
So, it really didn’t change that much. I just brought what I had to Christian and said: “What do you think?” and it was pretty much the same with Scott. We’d work out some ideas and it would be a case of; “I have an idea for a chorus here” or “I’ve got a good bridge idea into the solo“, stuff like that.
All that really changed was Damon left and Christian came in and the writing process remained the same.
OD – You choose to record in L.A this time around rather than in Nashville. From what I’ve read and heard, this worked out better for all the band. Would that be a good assumption?
RICKY – I think it did. This time around with the line-up changes we figured we’d try to capture something different. We wanted to shake it up a little bit and it just so happens that Jay (Ruston, producer) really wanted to work with us. Also, myself and Robbie (Crane, Bass) are based in L.A, Scott is from L.A and Christian has lived there for 20+ years, so we just said: “Let just do the album in L.A” and we’re really happy with it.
OD – There was a lot of surprises on this album. There was no question that the sound was definitely being pushed.
RICKY – Yes, we experimented with a lot of different sounds and have some great musicians on the album such as Fred Mandel, who’s worked with everybody from Queen to Alice Cooper and Elton John. Is was great to have him come down and work on some tracks.
We also had a great Irish multi-instrumentalist by the name of Patrick Darcey from Dublin. Patrick came into the studio and played uilleann pipe’s on ‘Another State of Grace’, the title track. The end result is just fantastic.
OD – Did you find that from those sessions with the likes of Patrick, do you think that there could be another project that could arise from that ‘folk‘ influence? Can you see anything happening in the future with that?
RICKY – I love traditional music and grew up listening to the likes of Horselips and Planxty and of course Thin Lizzy‘, I love that stuff and you can hear it in my writing for sure. I can see it when we play tracks with more of that ‘celtic‘ feel to them.
There was one song that I brought in near the end of the recording sessions called ‘What Will It Take” which had more of a ‘folk’ almost ‘Americana‘ feel to it and I was thinking to myself: ‘This is not really a BSR track” but I played it for the boys and they loved it. I said to them; “this is a little different from what we normally do” and that was the reason why they wanted to do it.
When I’m writing I just know what’s gonna work for Black Star Riders and what songs are gonna work for my own projects and I tend to not criss-cross those creative outlets.
OD – You’re gonna be performing in Tower Records in Dublin on Wednesday, October 16th for a very intimate show which Overdrive put together with Nuclear Blast and Tower Records. What can fans expect from this very special performance?
RICKY – This is us in the raw, in your face and as real as it’s gonna get [laughing]. A lot of our stuff is written first in an acoustic form so we figured that it would be great to present the songs to the fans in their purest form in a very intimate surrounding.
It’s also a great way to connect with the people that have taken the time to invest in our records. We get to meet them face-to-face hang out and chat which is just as important as us playing the shows.
We really love doing stuff like this. It’s a lot of fun and I think that it really pushes us to become more focused, not to mention that it’s a great vibe.
OD – Looking back on your career Ricky, there’s been so much you’ve achieved and you’ve had your up’s and your down’s. Have you ever considered documenting all of this in a book?
RICKY – I’ve actually been approached to do this very thing and to be honest, I’m just not sure if now is the time. I feel like there’s a lot more that needs to happen in my life and I reckon that when I’m too old to keep doing this and I’m winding down, that’s when I’ll put it all into a book form.
I’d love to do it but I’m just not ready yet.
OD – Summer Festivals for 2020! I know you can’t reveal just yet but can you confirm if Black Star Riders will be jaunting across Europe this Summer at a few of the major festivals?
RICKY – Yes, there are a lot of plans in the works at the moment and offers coming in for Festivals, but as you already said, I can’t talk about it. [Laughing] The plan is for as many festivals that we can do all through the Summer anywhere and everywhere.
OD – Everyone has a bucket list and I’m sure you’ve crossed off a few things already but is there anything that you’re still eyeing on going forward?
RICKY – To be honest, I’m just so grateful for everything that’s happened to me and I truly feel very blessed that I have managed to have the life I’ve had to date. I’ve worked with, and played with some of my biggest idols and got to do that all over the world in places that I could have only dreamed of when I was kid.
For me, my biggest wish is to just keep doing what I’m doing and being able to tour as much as I can before I get too old [Laughing]. Having the health and passion to keep doing this day after day is the greatest gift for me.
OD – With regards to albums and one’s that have been very important to you growing up, what would you consider to be you favourite album covers?
RICKY – Well, I’ll give you two that have been with me since as long as I can remember. The first being, Thin Lizzy ‘Live and Dangerous‘ and ‘London Calling‘ by The Clash. Those covers are just mind-blowing for me. I was 12 or 13 years of age and I was just looking at these covers saying to myself: “That’s just fucking badass!“.
The cover for ‘Live and Dangerous‘ is just so iconic. The angle of the image with Phil in full beast-mode, his long legs and the look on his face and all I could think was: “Who are these people and how can I be like them?“.
Black Star Riders will be performing in The Academy on Wednesday, October 16th. Tickets on sale NOW via Ticketmaster.
The “Overdrive Presents” in-store Tower Records show is SOLD OUT. Get your copy of ‘Another State of Grace‘ via Nuclear Blast here.
Catch Black Star Riders on tour. Full list of dates below;