Ricky Warwick is a Northern Irish musician and songwriter, and the lead singer with Black Star Riders and Thin Lizzy. He is also the frontman for the Scottish hard rock band The Almighty, with whom he achieved chart success in the UK throughout the 1990s. Ricky recently released the beautiful acoustic album ‘Hearts on Trees’ and the more hard-rock centred ‘When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)’ as a double album with songs written by Ricky and his good friend Sam Robinson. Ricky is currently on tour with Stiff Little Fingers and took some time to chat with Mark Millar to talk about the new album.
Hi Ricky, how is the tour with Stiff Little Fingers going?
It’s going great. It’s been really good, we are about six shows in. We are in Leamington Spa tonight. It’s always great being on tour with your buddy’s especially for me being with a band like Stiff Little Fingers who really influenced me growing up. We are having a ball, no complaints.
You recently released a double album ‘When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)/Hearts On Trees’ which was written with your friend Sam Robinson. How did you both meet?
Football! We met through the love of Glentoran Football Club to be honest. We were both fans who grew up in the same area of East Belfast. We got talking one day about six years ago after watching a match between Glentoran and Linfield at the Oval. We ended up back in the pub and started talking. Obviously Sam knew what I did and after a few beers he showed me something that he had written. He was quite reluctant to show it to me, but I thought it was absolutely brilliant and told him I would love to write music and melodies to the words and the whole thing snow balled from there.
Being from the Greater Belfast area it must have been easy to relate to Sam’s words.
Yeah we worked very closely. For me to sing lyrics I have to relate to them in some way. I enjoy writing songs and lyrics myself, so for me to reach out to somebody else is quite unusual but everything he was writing about I could relate to and I was affected by the people and places that he was talking about which bore relation to what was going on in my own life.
Did you and Sam write any songs together?
I think there are only 2 songs on the album that I didn’t co-write with Sam and they are Celebrating Sinking, which I co-wrote with Andy Cairns of Therapy?; And the song Yesteryear, which I wrote on my own. Sam and I had a pretty strong vision of what we wanted to do so we worked closely together on the songs for the 2 albums.
Do you have a favourite memory from growing up in Belfast in the 70s/80s?
Yeah from all the craziness that was going on I had a happy childhood, it was a good time for me as a kid. Obviously it wasn’t good what was going on in the country, but when you are born into it, you don’t know any different. You just get on with it. I wouldn’t say I grew up angry or pissed off but I had a love of music and a love of the culture of where I was from.
Whereabouts did you grow up?
I was born in a bungalow across from the Old Mill on the Old Belfast Road between Dundonald and Newtownards. My dad was a farmer so I grew up on a small farm, then I moved to Scotland when I was 15.
Why did you decide to put the 2 albums out?
When we started writing the ideas were coming thick and fast, then things got very hectic touring with Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders, We were always on the road. I could never find the opportunity to get into the studio to record, so there was about 4 years from the idea of actually writing the albums and getting into the studio to record them. By that point we had about 25 songs written and we loved them all and thought we can’t whittle them down to 10 or 11 songs to make one record, so we thought “Let’s go for it., Let’s make 2, and make it a double”. I wrote 2 albums with Black Star Riders in that time so I was off touring those.
Will you be playing any shows in Belfast?
Absolutely! I am usually home 2-3 times a year to play shows. I have already played one in January up at the Diamond Rock Bar at Ahoghill and I will definitely be back later on in the year to play some shows.
Do you have a favourite Belfast venue?
I love playing the Diamond Rock Bar. It’s a great spot up there but I am always happy just to play back in Northern Ireland.
What music from growing up do you still play?
I always go back and listen to Motörhead and the Clash. I listen to a lot of Tamla Motown and Northern Soul, believe it or not.
Is there going to be a new Black Star Riders album?
Yes, we are working on that right now as we speak. Everybody is off getting their ideas together and we will get in to the studio to record that in August this year. It’s scheduled to come out early February 2017.
Buy When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)/Hearts On Trees’ by Ricky Warwick HERE
Photo credit: Ed Fielding – www.edfielding.co.uk