The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Shane Rockpit interviews RICKY WARWICK

 

Ricky Warwick should need no introduction. From an early stint with New Model Army to fronting The Almighty through to his solo years as a metal Johnny Cash styled singer songwriter armed only with an acoustic guitar, Ricky has barbed wire for blood and sweats the distilled essence of hard rock. He has just been announced as the new lead singer for the legendary Thin Lizzy and embarks on a lengthy tour with them starting in early January 2011.

 

 

Ricky generously took time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about the Almighty days, his mission as a solo artist and the challenge of jumping on board with Thin Lizzy…

 

G’day Ricky – thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule and talking to The Rockpit

You’ve just finished a run through the UK – how were these April and May dates?

 

THE SHOWS WERE GREAT, THANKS, PROBABLY ONE OF THE BEST SOLO HEADLINE TOURS I HAVE DONE.


Is your setlist these days entirely from your 3 solo albums, or do you do any of your old Almighty songs?

 

THE SETLIST PANS MY WHOLE CAREER NOT JUST SOLO MATERIAL, I DO PLAY A FEW ALMIGHTY SONGS AND ENJOY PLAYING THEM.


 

Embarking on your solo career was a radical change in style for you after the metal of The Almighty. Did your old fans embrace your new direction or was there some outcry or backlash?

 

AFTER THE BREAKUP OF THE BAND (SIC) THAT I FORMED AFTER THE ALMIGHTY IN 1999, I BECAME VERY DISILLUSIONED WITH MUSIC AND KINDA LOST MY WAY. I DIDN'T PICK UP A GUITAR IN OVER A YEAR AND WASN'T SURE IF I WANTED TO AGAIN, IT WAS LIKE I HAD LOST MY LOVE OF MUSIC - WHICH I HADN'T, WE HAD JUST HAD A FALLING OUT!

 

I STARTED LISTENING TO ALOT OF JOHNNY CASH AND STEVE EARLE AND VAN MORRISON, I WANTED TO GET BACK TO THE PURIST FORM OF WRITING AND PLAYING MUSIC THAT I COULD, THIS ALL REALLY INSPIRED ME TO PICK UP THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR AND START WRITING AGAIN. TO BE HONEST AT THAT TIME I DIDN'T REALLY CARE WHAT PEOPLE THOUGHT OF WHAT I WAS DOING, I WAS DOING IT JUST FOR ME, BUT I THINK ANY FANS OF ANYTHING THAT I HAVE DONE RECOGNIZE THAT I WRITE FROM THE HEART AND SOUL, ITS STILL EDGY AND VIBRANT AND I THINK MOST ALMIGHTY FANS ACCEPTED THAT.


There must be a huge difference between performing with the aural equivalent of a division of Panzer tanks singing songs of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, to standing onstage with an acoustic guitar singing intensely personal songs. Do you feel more nervous playing under your own name?

 

YES. I AM MORE AWARE THAT I AM THE SHOW. THE ENTERTAINMENT, THERE IS NO HIDING BEHIND ANY OTHER BAND MEMBERS OR A WALL OF SOUND - ALTHOUGH ANY ONE WHO HAS SEEN ME ACOUSTIC KNOWS THAT I BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF MY GUITAR AND MAKE IT AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE! ITS MORE OF A CHALLENGE WHICH I REALLY LOVE RISING TO EVERY TIME I PERFORM.


 

After The Almighty, was the acoustic troubadour style a natural jump for you, or did you take a while to evolve into that style? After all, you learnt guitar on an acoustic, playing along to Dylan, Springsteen & Johnny Cash records, didn’t you?

 

I KINDA ANSWERED THAT IN THE PREVIOUS QUESTION, IT WAS REALLY ABOUT GETTING BACK TO MY ROOTS AND WHAT INSPIRED ME TO PLAY AND WRITE SONGS WHEN I WAS A KID.


As an artist who has played metal, punk and your current more folky style, do you feel bound by different genres when playing with different bands?

 

IN ALL HONESTY NO - I LOVE ALL KINDS OF MUSIC, ALWAYS HAVE AND ALWAYS WILL.


You’ve just been announced as the new singer for Thin Lizzy – congratulations! Those are some pretty big shoes to step into – how have you been preparing for this?

 

FIRST OFF I AM NOT STEPPING INTO ANYONES SHOES! THERE WAS ONLY ONE PHIL LYNOTT, WHO IS ONE OF THE GREATEST SONGWRITERS AND FRONTMAN EVER. I WILL SING THE THIN LIZZY SONGS WITH COMPLETE AND UTTER RESPECT THAT THEY DESERVE.

 

THE STATEMENT THAT I WROTE ON MY WEBSITE WWW.RICKYWARWICK.COM SUMS UP HOW I FEEL ABOUT THE WHOLE THING.

 

Like every other Irish rocker and Lizzy fan, I wish that Phillip was still alive. I would give anything to be able to stand in the audience and watch his greatness and listen to his voice. But unfortunately, Phillip Lynott, the greatest Irish rock n' roller of all time, is no longer with us.

 

But his music is.

 

When I was asked by Scott and the band to come down for a jam, I had my reservations. "Do you know what you're asking me to do and what these songs mean?" Was it an honour to even be considered? Absolutely. Was the concept surreal and the reality even scarier? Hell yes. And while mulling it over and over, last week I somehow found the courage to walk into a Thin Lizzy rehearsal. I am going to share a little secret with everyone.


When I was really intimidated and having my moments of self doubt, I drew strength from a Lizzy song: "You can do anything you want to do. It's not wrong what I sing it's true. You can do anything you want to do."


So starting in January 2011, 25 years after the death of Phillip Lynott, I will be respectfully paying tribute to his legacy and singing his songs. Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, Darren Wharton, Marco Mendoza, Vivian Campbell and myself will be doing our best to entertain the fans while staying true to the spirit of Thin Lizzy. ....Ricky Warwick

 

(excerpt from Ricky's post on his website www.rickywarwick.com)

 

 

You’ve been a friend of Scott Gorham & Vivian Campbell for a while now, is that how the gig landed in your lap? Can you explain how it all happened?

 

SCOTT PLAYED GUITAR ON MY FIRST SOLO ALBUM. SO I GUESS WHEN HE WAS PUTTING LIZZY BACK TOGETHER MY NAME CAME UP. WE ALL GOT TOGETHER IN LONDON IN MAY AND REHEARSED FOR THE FIRST TIME AND I HAVE GOT TO SAY THAT IT SOUNDED PRETTY FUCKIN' AMAZING.


Lizzy have announced a tour of the UK for January – what are the long term plans? Are you able to continue your solo career alongside being lead singer of Thin Lizzy?

 

YES. I WILL BE CONTINUING WITH MY SOLO CAREER.

 


You’ve had Vivian Campbell guest on your solo work, and toured with Def Leppard, so I guess becoming band mates in Lizzy is almost a natural progression?

 

VIV IS A FELLOW COUNTRYMAN AND HAS BEEN A GOOD FRIEND, SO ITS A NO BRAINER.


You also have close ties with Joe Elliot, do you ever do a double take and think “Shit, my mate’s in Def Leppard!!!”?

 

YES OF COURSE I DO!

 

You’ve said that playing rock music is like a party, but your solo acoustic work is more like a wake. Does that put more responsibility onto you as an artist, in the sense that you can’t play around with the songs, fluff a line or two, have a bit of fun with it all?

 

NO NOT ALL, I LIKE TO TELL A FEW STORIES DURING MY SOLO SHOWS MOST OF WHICH ARE HUMOROUS. AT THE END OF THE DAY ITS ABOUT ENTERTAINMENT.. NOTHING ELSE. I WANT PEOPLE TO LEAVE THE SHOW WITH A SMILE ON THEIR FACE AND FEELING AFTER PARTING WITH THEIR HARD EARNED CASH THAT THEY HAVE HAD A GOOD TIME.


One bio I read concluded with the line “Ricky Warwick is once again armed with his guitar, he's far from fourteen, and he has something important to say, and you should listen.” Did you ever feel, whilst in The Almighty and singing songs like ‘Full Force Loving Machine’ and ‘Wild And Wonderful’ that your life would lead you here?

 

ROCK N' ROLL IS THE BIRTH OF ME AND IT WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME. I ALWAYS BELIEVED. AND I WAS BROUGHT UP KNOWING THAT HARDWORK PAYS OFF IN THE END. I DON'T EXPECT ANYTHING FOR FREE, EVER, AND BELIEVE YOU MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK. BUT IN SAYING ALL OF THAT AFTER THE ALMIGHTY OPENED FOR MOTORHEAD AND THE RAMONES ON OUR FIRST 2 TOURS, IF THAT WAS ALL I WAS GONNA GET IT WAS A DREAM COME TRUE ALREADY.


In a nutshell, what do you have to say that is so important, and what fuels that imperative in you to pass on those messages?

 

I SING AND WRITE SONGS ABOUT MY LIFE EXPERIENCES - IF PEOPLE FIND SOMETHING THAT THEY TAKE FROM THOSE SONGS THAT IS AMAZING. BUT I AM NOT ON ANY PREACHER CRUSADE HERE. LIKE I SAID IT'S ABOUT GOING OUT THERE AND ENTERTAINING THE GOOD FOLKS WHO PAY THEIR MONEY.


Talking of The Almighty, do you have any plans to record or tour with the guys again?

 

NO. NOTHING ON THE HORIZON.


The Almighty burst out of the blocks in ’89, playing your twelth gig at the Marquee Club, recording your debut album at Abbey Road Studios, supporting The Ramones and being voted third in the Kerrang! Readers poll for Best New Act. Did it feel like you were riding a wave at that time?

 

WE JUST WENT WITH IT. I DON'T THINK WE THOUGHT ABOUT IT TOO MUCH AT ALL AT THE TIME.

 


“Blood, Fire and Love” followed in 1990 and you went straight into the studio in December again to record “Soul Destruction” with Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor. At first glance that seems a bit incongruous – how did he get involved with such a vicious and notorious metal band?

 

ANDY'S A DYED IN THE WOOL ROCKER. HE HAD JUST PRODUCED THE DEBUT ALBUM BY A UK BAND CALLED THUNDER THAT WE REALLY LIKE THE SOUND OF. WE WANTED TO WORK WITH HIM AND HE WANTED TO WORK WITH US, SO OFF WE WENT.


You released 3 albums in 2 ½ years, in a time when an album a year was par for the course. Nowadays of course 2 or 3 years between albums is more normal – why do you think that is?

 

WE WROTE A LOT OF SONGS AND WANTED TO GET THEM OUT THERE, WE ALWAYS TRIED TO GIVE PEOPLE VALUE FOR MONEY.


Back in those days you supported Motorhead, The Ramones, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper and more – when you support a hugely successful act, do you watch their show to try and pick up tips and learn from the experience, or is your time better spent networking with the punters and the back of house people to capitalise on the opportunity?

 

ALL OF THOSE THINGS, YOU NEVER STOP LEARNING FROM OTHER ARTISTS. I ALSO FEEL THAT IT'S IMPORTANT TO MAKE YOURSELF AS ACCESSIBLE TO THE PEOPLE WHO COME AND SEE YOU AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.


You even toured Australia back then with The Screaming Jets – sadly I missed that tour as I was in Europe at the time! What are your most vivid recollections about that tour?

 

THAT TOUR WAS BRILLIANT...TOTAL ANARCHY, I LOVED IT. WE GOT TO SEE A GREAT DEAL OF EASTERN AUSTRALIA. ONE OF THE BEST MOMENTS FOR ME WAS WHEN THE LATE GREAT PETE WELLS OF ROSE TATTOO JOINED US ONSTAGE AT A SHOW IN SYDNEY.


I’ve only had the good luck to see you live the once, at Donnington ’92 when The Almighty opened the day. That must have been a highlight of your career – playing for 75,000 rockers in a field?


IT WAS ANOTHER DREAM COME TRUE. ONLY 4 YEARS EARLIER I HAD STOOD THERE IN THAT FESTIVAL FIELD WONDERING WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO PLAY ON THAT STAGE AFTER BUYING MY TICKET AND TRAVELING DOWN OVERNIGHT FROM GLASGOW


Back in those days a festival was very basic – one stage, 6 bands, and a great time had by all. Nowadays a festival has 3 or 4 or 5 stages, multiple bands on each, so you invariably miss some of the bands you wish you could see due to running between stages and bands playing at the same time. Obviously there’s pros and cons to both formats, but which do you prefer?

 

TIMES HAVE CHANGED. I THINK GIVING PEOPLE MORE OF A CHOICE IS A GOOD THING.

 

 

Despite my favourite Almighty album “Powertrippin’” being released, ’93 wasn’t your best year – management and record company changed, a US tour didn’t go so well. How did you feel at the time, with grunge taking over and less attention being paid to metal?

 

IT WAS ALL A BIT CONFUSING. WE HAD JUST HAD A NUMBER 5 ALBUM IN THE UK AND OUR RECORD COMPANY DIDN'T SEEM TO KNOW WHERE WE FITTED IN. THE A&R GUY AT THE LABEL 2 YEARS EARLIER THAT HAD BEEN TELLING US WE NEED TO GO IN A MORE "BON JOVI" DIRECTION WAS NOW TELLING US THAT WE NEEDED TO SOUND LIKE NIRVANA. I PINNED HIM AGAINST THE WALL AFTER A SHOW IN LONDON AND TOLD HIM "HOW ABOUT WE JUST SOUND LIKE THE ALMIGHTY?"!!


A couple more years and a couple more albums after this, you disbanded The Almighty. No doubt this was a major decision for all involved – how do you deal with an event so life changing? Did you hold a kind of informal wake with the guys, or just walk away from it all?

 

I WALKED INNTO REHEARSAL AND TOLD THE OTHERS THAT I WANTED TO LEAVE AND MY REASONS WHY. I TOLD THEM IF THEY WANTED TO CARRY ON WITHOUT ME THAT WAS UP TO THEM AND I WOULDN'T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH IT. BUT WE ALL DECIDED TO GO OUR SEPARATE WAYS. IN HINDSIGHT WE SHOULD HAVE PROBABLY JUST TAKEN A YEAR'S BREAK AND THEN REGROUPED.


Before The Almighty you did a stint with New Model Army. What did you take from that experience to The Almighty?

 

I LEARNED SO MUCH ABOUT WRITING SONGS AND STAGECRAFT FROM [MY] TIME WITH THE BAND. JUSTIN SULLIVAN IS ONE OF THE GREAT FRONTMEN, IT WAS A HONOR AND EDUCATION GETTING TO PLAY ONSTAGE WITH HIM EVERY NIGHT BACK THEN.


What are your thoughts about your contempories from those heady days who are still going, such as The Wildhearts?

 

THE WILDHEARTS ARE A GREAT BAND AND GINGER IS A TRUE ROCK N' ROLLER, IT DOEN'T SURPRISE ME AT ALL THEY ARE STILL GOING STRONG.


Do you think The Almighty deserved a better place in the collective memory than they have, or do you feel you achieved some great things without compromise and that was enough?

 

WHAT WE ACHIEVED WHEN YOU ADD IT ALL UP WITH THE ALMIGHTY IS PRETTY AMAZING AND I AM PROUD OF EVERY BIT OF IT. I AM NOT ONE FOR SITTING AND DWELLING ON WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEENS. THERE IS NO REGRETS AT ALL!!

 


I have the Anti Nowhere League compilation album for which you wrote liner notes. More than anyone apart from perhaps Lemmy, you really championed the punk cause from the metal camp. Do you still listen to such a diverse variety of music, or have you mellowed with time?

 

I WAS PUNK FIRST AND FOREMOST. IF ANYTHING I CHAMPIONED METAL FROM THE PUNK CAMP. HAVE I MELLOWED?? PUT IT THIS WAY, THE BEST NEW ALBUM I HAVE HEARD THIS YEAR IS "PERFUME & PISS" BY GBH…


We saw The Cult last night and had a great time, which reminded us of the Circus Diablo album you made with Billy Duffy – which was really underrated and seemed to die through lack of support. How do you feel about that album now?

 

THE ALBUM'S GREAT, SOME ROCKIN' TUNES, IT WAS ALOT OF FUN TO BE INVOLVED WITH CIRCUS DIABLO. THE MAIN PROBLEM WAS WE ALL HAD SO MUCH OTHER STUFF GOING ON THAT TRYING TO SCHEDULE ANY TOURING WAS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.

 


Any chance of another record with those guys?

 

WHO KNOWS??


Is there anything that you’ve never been asked by an interviewer which you would like to be asked?

 

I THINK THAT AFTER 23 YEARS OF BEING INTERVIEWED I HAVE PROBABLY BEEN ASKED EVERY QUESTION UNDER THE SUN, SOME OF THEM A MILLION TIMES.


In all the research I did, I couldn’t find a lot about your personal life – do you prefer to let your music speak for you and keep your private life private?

 

YES. MUSIC IS THE NUMBER 2 THING IN MY LIFE, MY FAMILY COMES FIRST IN EVERYTHING THAT I DO. I HAVE A BEAUTIFUL WIFE AND 4 CHILDREN AND THEY ARE MY WHOLE WORLD.


What song or songs of yours are you most proud of?

 

BORING ANSWER, BUT ALL OF THEM! THE ONES THAT I AM NOT PROUD OF NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY.


What gigs have you seen recently which really impressed you?

 

CHEAP TRICK.


What new music have you been listening to?

 

NEW GASLIGHT ANTHEM AND NEW GBH ALBUMS


Do you have any unfulfilled career goals that you’re still aiming for?

 

I AM ALWAYS STRIVING TO BE BETTER IN EVERYTHING I DO.


And finally, we end all our interviews by asking - What is the meaning of life??

 

LIVING IT!


Thanks again for your time Ricky – it’s been a pleasure


Shane Rockpit
JUNE 2010