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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
SCOTT GORHAM BLACK STAR RIDERS THIN LIZZY INTERVIEW 2015

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2015 - THIN LIZZY & BLACK STAR RIDERS GUITARIST - SCOTT GORHAM

SCOTT GORHAM TALKS TO THE ROCKPIT

BLACK STAR RIDERS & THIN LIZZY

SCOTT CATCHES UP TO TALK ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM 'THE KILLER INSTINCT' , BLACK STAR RIDERS, THIN LIZZY, TOURING, AUSTRALIA AND THE MEANING OF LIFE...

FEBRUARY 2015

CHECK OUT OUR REVIEW OF 'THE KILLER INSTINCT' HERE

I was lucky enough to meet Scott last time his band Thin Lizzy toured Australia as part of the Kiss and Motley Crue tour back in 2013, we ended up talking about his new project the Black Star Riders who were yet to release their debut 'All Hell Breaks Loose' he was so laid back and comfortable, just as someone who had been listening to him since they were a young kid hoped he would be... then Paul Stanley came over to say 'Hi', but that's another story...

Black Star Riders are just about to release their second album 'The Kiler Instinct' and as I say in the review "...the band has taken that Lizzy nucleus and spun it into space creating an album that hasn’t just attained the next level, it’s almost in orbit!"

So where do you go from there? On the phone from the UK, early morning for him, I'm frantically going through my hundred questions hoping I get to at least ask a few of them, then he picks up...


Mark: Many thanks for talking to us today Scott, it’s a real honour when I was a kid I got into rock by listening to my mate’s brothers collection: he had all the greats: Lizzy, Purple, Free, Uriah Heep, UFO and Sabbath, but top of them all was Thin Lizzy by a mile… How are you doing today?

 

Scott: Hey Mark, I’m good man, I’m good, it’s a little early in the morning but I’m good buddy! Where you calling from?

 

Mark: From Perth, Western Australia.

 

Scott: Ah Perth! I have been there!

 

Mark: You have been over and I actually met you when you came over last!

 

Scott: Really? While we were doing the Kiss tour?

 

Mark: Yes, I came over to see some friends and was doing a couple of interviews, and it was too good an opportunity to miss; you were sat there, while the fans were gathering outside. It was just a few seconds after Paul (Stanley) mistook me for Marco (Mendoza, at the time the bass player with Thin Lizzy)!

 

Scott: (laughs!) I remember you, I remember that situation! (still laughing)

Mark: It was a great night (laughing) and we got to talk about the just about to be released first Black Star Riders album. You have a heap of dates already the UK in March before you play the Monsters of Rock Cruise, and I hear there is a bit of an Aussie contingent coming over to see you on those shows.

 

Scott: Oh cool man! Cool.  You know it’s funny how the whole ship cruise thing has panned out. Before you would have thought ‘what a Rock Band on a cruise ship, you must be fucking crazy man’! But now it’s like ‘the thing to do’! You jump on a boat, you’re on there for a day or a few days and you hear the entertainment on the boat cruise – man how weird is that! (laughs)

 

Mark: I don’t think any of us would have thought of that 20 years ago, but as we get older it seems somehow more comfortable! (laughs)  

 

Scott: No you’re absolutely right, (laughs) none of us would have thought that! ‘What are we playing to the blue-haired old ladies!’ (laughing). We’ve done a couple of them already and they’ve been a blast, they really are fun to do.

 

Mark: They’re really looking forward to it; and I’ll be over in the US at the time so I’m hoping to get there too.

 

Scott: Cool. When you said there was going to be a contingent I didn’t realise you were going to be over too! We’ll have a drink on the boat right?

 

Mark: We will, that sounds fantastic. That’s of course only part of what’s going on for you guys though, you’ve had a slight line-up change with Marco moving out and Robbie (Crane, ex-Ratt) coming in. I guess the big question for us down here is are we likely to see Black Star Riders in our neck of the woods down-under in the near future?

Scott: You know, we really hope that is so. Every single time I’ve been to Australia I’ve had a great time. You guys are great hosts! Every time that I’ve been down there, you’re one of those countries that is just a great Rock nation… I just wish you were fucking closer! (laughs)

 

Mark: (laughing) Yeah we do to!

 

Scott: That’s an evil plane ride! But you know you do get rewarded in the end because of who you guys are! And a really main goal for us is to get over with this album. Now I think the last time we came over we were still under the name of Thin Lizzy, so to come over as Black Star Riders would be a real kick-ass thing for us all. We’ve got our fingers crossed we sell enough albums to sell enough tickets to be able to warrant a spot to come over and play for you guys. Let’s make it happen.

 

Mark: Let’s get onto the album then. Killer Instinct, is a great album, it’s already sounding like the album of the year. It’s all that we heard on ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ but all of a sudden it just sounds like it’s all gone up a level.

 

Scott: well you know you’re absolutely right; that’s the way we think of it also. The difference with All Hell Breaks Loose is we recorded that thing in 12 days. It’s funny I was just listening to that last night, I was warming up for the next tour and I thought, well actually this wasn’t a bad album in any sense, especially the way we recorded it – twelve songs in twelve days it actually sounds really good. But with this one here ‘The Killer Instinct’ basically we all got four weeks with it. We all flew into Nashville and we took a week’s rehearsal, we kind of knew what we were doing with the songs but we took the week. We had a producer – Nick Raskulinecz (Foo’s, Rush, Slice in Chains and more) and this was the first time any of us had done an album where the producer was in from the get (go). And we played the first song and Nick would say ‘Hey, I hope you don’t mind but I have an idea for this song’; and we all kinda looked at him and said ‘Really? OK what’s your idea?’ and we’d try it out and think, well actually that works really well. So we did the next song, song number two, and he said ‘You know I actually have an idea for that’, and it went on. And by the third song we are already looking over at Nick and we say ‘Come on man, what’s your idea. And he was that kinda guy – a really hands on kinda guy, to the point where, and I know it’s a really clichéd thing to say, but he became the sixth member of the band in the studio. I think he pulled it off in a really great way.   

Mark: He certainly got a great sound out of you on the album! One of the things I wanted to ask you about the album is that there seemed to be a few things a little different this time. I don’t know if they helped get this sound out of you, but maybe they were part of it? You had been on the road so long, playing plenty of shows and honing the sound live, and this time around unlike last time, where it was still unclear if it would be released under the Thin Lizzy name or not; the pressure was maybe off a little? Then I guess as you said, the extra time in the studio too. Do you think they all added up to make a more complete record?

 

Scott: Honest to God Mark, I think you are absolutely right on all counts. There are a couple of songs on all Hell Breaks Loose’ where you just think, ‘Oh my God that is so Thin Lizzy’ – even I said that! Damon played a certain song to me for the first album and I said to him ‘Damon that is just so Thin Lizzy it’s fucking unbelievable; I don’t know we can do this it’s so Thin Lizzy’. But we did and it even ended up being a minor hit over here. But you know you’re right this time around it’s like we can stop thinking in that direction absolutely and completely. We are of course always going to have that thing where no matter what we do, people are still going to say we sound like Thin Lizzy, and I think a lot of that is because there are two guitar players, and we still like playing harmony guitars, and there’s a style of guitar playing that is always going to remind people. And I don’t think we are ever going to totally get away from that and that’s OK with me. The bulk of my career has been with Thin Lizzy and being associate with Thin Lizzy and that’s OK with me. Now you can feel and hear the different directions we’re going into.

 

Mark: You can, and you can hear and feel that change, as you say a lot of it comes down to that twin-guitar. There are so many great songs on the album it’s hard to single one out, but ‘Soldierstown’ has really capture that epic feel, that Lizzy always did so very well: it has some great storytelling, and Ricky does a great job with it.

 

Scott: Right, you know it’s that Celtic thing and obviously that is going to resonate a certain ‘Thin-Lizzyness’, if you will. But I really love Celtic music, you know it’s such an emotive style of music, and I never really knew what it was when I first joined thin Lizzy, even though I was born on St. Patrick’s Day my mother was full-Irish, it took me getting into that band to really understand that Celtic songbook. And once I did hear it and feel it, it stirred my blood, and I still really like writing in that style. I imagine there will always be a Celtic-leaning in everything we do, especially with Ricky being from Belfast. I’m glad you picked that particular song out.  

 

Mark: It’s great, I love that song. I’m sat here with a million questions, wondering which to ask as I know we only have time this time for maybe three or four more. One I had to ask though is if you ever look back on that decision to come over to England in 1973 and wonder what would have happened if Bob hadn’t asked or you hadn’t got on that plane?

 

Scott: You know, that’s such a great question Mark, and I’ve thought of that so many times. If I hadn’t taken that step on that airplane, where the hell would I be now? I wouldn’t have met Phil, I wouldn’t have been able to travel the World, maybe I’d never have stepped into another recording studio… there’s so many possibilities, what if I’d turned left instead of right on the way… and 40 years later to be able to still be doing this and talking to you Mark today, it’s pretty incredible to think that the decisions you made so long ago resonate to this day. That’s a great question, thanks for that.    

Mark: I’m sorry to do this to you, but I have to ask that stupid question you’re probably asked all the time: but is there a favourite Lizzy album? One maybe that has more special memories for you than others?

 

Scott: You know to name a favourite is probably not possible, but there are definite landmarks for me: the Jailbreak album itself is a definite landmark, it’s the album that really kick-started our whole career. You know it had songs on it that we still play today: ‘Jailbreak’; ‘Boys are Back in Town’; ‘Cowboy Song’; ‘Emerald’: there are so many songs from that album we still play. But obviously there is ‘Live and Dangerous’ that was the album that made it possible to show everybody what we actually did live. I don’t think we ever captured what we did live in the studio, for whatever reason it was, there was never that energy on the studio albums that we were able to show on the ‘Live and Dangerous’ album.   

 

Mark: Easily my favourite live album of all time, by a distance.

 

Scott: Oh thank you so much Mark, that’s great. There are other albums I could mention too: ‘Black Rose’ had some great songs on there; ‘Chinatown’ I don’t know; to pick one particular album is… I mean ‘Bad Reputation’ that was a cool album also. I’ve been asked that before and I can’t really give a definitive answer. I mean other people ask me ‘What’s your favourite Thin Lizzy song (laughs) I mean man that’s a tough one!    

 

Mark: I think we have time for just a couple more. You’ve never released a solo album, though I’ve loved some of the other Projects you’ve played on, and bands like ’21 Guns’: why no solo album – has the opportunity never arisen, or is there something about a band’s dynamic that is more appealing?

 

Scott: You know you’ve hit it right on the head there: I’ve never wanted to go out and do something like ‘The Scott Gorham experience!’ (laughs) That’s never really appealed to me, I’m like the ultimate band guy, I love being in a band, working with a group of people – the coordination of it all. To write with a lot of different people, and go out and perform with them. You know I don’t really think I have the ego to get out there and be the absolute front guy for the whole thing; it’s never really appealed to me. I love the fact that you’ve listened to the 21 Guns albums. I actually love those. Especially the ‘Salute’ album when people come up to me and say it’s one of their favourite albums of all time. As soon as I see the CD cover, when people ask me to sign something, that’s often one of the first ones that comes out - the 21 Guns album.    

 

Mark: What about an autobiography? Is that something that would interest you, writing your story?

 

Scott: We have one out, it’s on Omnibus books, it’s actually called ‘The Boys are Back I Town’ so sorry about that! (laughs) I wanted to call it something different! In the UK it turned out to be their biggest seller of 2013.

 

Mark: And an easy one to end with ‘What is the meaning of life’?

 

Scott: (pause) What is what?

 

Mark: The meaning of life?

 

Scott: Wow! …. I think the meaning of life is just doing the best you can while you’re here, I think that’s what it’s all about. Be the best you can be with the years you are given.

 

Mark: Thank you so much for your time Scott, we can’t wait to see you down here and all the best with the release and tour.

 

Scott: Thank you so much Mark. See you soon, bye-bye.

 

 

Scott spoke to Mark Rockpit, February 2015

 

 

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