Ricky Warwick - Thin Lizzy - Interview Exclusive. Print E-mail
Written by Tazz Stander   
Saturday, 05 February 2011 05:00



Many an argument has ensued as to Ricky Warwick's nationality recently. Is he still Irish or is he pure Scottish? Well I don't know so don't ask me. But one thing you can't argue about is the fact that he is now very much the front man of Thin Lizzy, and what an amazing, breath of fresh air he is in that role as well.  What is there for me to tell you about Ricky that you probably don't already know? He's an honest man, a storyteller and a damn fine musician - but as I said these are all things we all know.  I seriously didn't want to go down the route of asking Ricky, probably what had been asked of him at every interview in every city before he got to London, that being: What does it mean to you fronting Thin Lizzy? Surely his response was not going to be, "it's shit" right? Actually, by way of general conversation on our way walking to his dressing room (that incidentally he was sharing with none other than Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard fame), we had already covered that question and Ricky's face lit up when said, "It's amazing". I was also not there to ask about The Almighty (even though they are still one of my favourite bands).  Neither was I there to compare him to Phil Lynott.  He's not Phil and never will be Phil but, Phil started the Thin Lizzy legacy, we just needed someone else to carry on that legacy for our future in music.  So there is really no better way for me to tell you what I wanted to know than to let the man himself tell you...



Apart from taking over on vocal duties in Lizzy, you seem to have been pushed to the front of the queue for most of the interviews on this tour.  How qualified do you feel as being the spokesperson at such a historical period in the band's career?


Very good question.  How do I feel?  Obviously doing interviews is not foreign to me as I've been doing them for 20 odd years so all I can really talk about is my own experience with the band and what they meant to me growing up - as a fan and now as being in the band.  I've talked with Scott, Brian and Darren at length about what they expect from me and what they expect from this new line-up of Lizzy so I can speak for them and what they have told me. I was never made to feel like a hired gun or anything.  Myself, Vivian and Mark have been brought in and told we're part of the band so I'm don't keep on going back to Scott and saying, "is it ok if I do this or do that". With their blessing it makes things really simple and real easy you know?


3rickylizzy240In 2005 a journalist asked you who your favourite musician was to work with and why.  You said, "Apart from Joe & Vivian (Def Leppard), I would have to say Scott Gorham.  Unbelievable guitar player and I love Thin Lizzy." Six years later, you're fronting Thin Lizzy.  What sorts of personal pressures are you dealing with when performing songs loved by so many people?


(Laughing) Be careful what you wish for right? The only way I could approach this is by:  What would I want to see if I went to see Thin Lizzy?  If I were a fan, what would I want?  I would want the songs to be sung as close to the way that Phil delivered them, phrase wise.  All his little "Philism's" as I like to call them, all the ad-libs, I would like all of those in there.  I would like somebody to be putting their heart and soul into their performance and making it their own.  That is what I'm trying to do.  Some people are never going to get it, some people are stuck in the past and aren't going to get over the fact that Phil is gone and that is OK, that is absolutely fine, I have no problem with those people at all.  They don't need to buy a ticket and they don't need to come to the shows.  I think, genuinely, that most people have been surprised by how energetic and how full on the band are when playing the songs.  I think the sound has almost gone back to the Celtic Rock 'n' Roll sound that Lizzy had.  I wish Phil was still here, I would be upfront watching him every night but the cold hard truth is that the man is not around and that is a shame but Scott, Brian and Darren played the songs, co-wrote the songs and have just as much right to go and play the songs as anybody.


With regards to paying your respects to Phil, how has your perspective changed since joining the band?


With regards to Phil, I dream about it and I dream about him, to be honest with you.  That says a lot about a guy that I have never met.  I know he was a very powerful and enigmatic guy and I certainly feel that coming from the other guys.  Without getting too spiritual about it, I certainly feel that he's around.  Everybody has their own moment with him on stage and I just always say thanks, and thanks for giving me the opportunity.  It's very strange, it's very humbling and it's very surreal and it's also pretty awesome (laughing).


Going back to something you mentioned.  On announcement of this tour and the new line-up, I noticed a fair amount of negativity from fans toward you guys touring under the Thin Lizzy name.  What comments, if any, would you make to the fans to justify your duties towards the legacy of Thin Lizzy?


Well, it is Thin Lizzy.  I mean you've got three members of Thin Lizzy there.


Is the basic element enough to justify it?


Yes absolutely.  The tour is selling and people are voting with their feet. I'm a big fan of 'don't tell me, show me' and I'm a big fan of us doing our 'talking' up on the stage. Back to your question though, what you're finding if you go online and there is a negative comment, there is another hundred comments saying, "I was at the show, shut up, you don't know what you're talking about".  The tide has turned and like I said, some people will never get over that fact and some people have a real problem with it. Personally, that's not how I live my life, I recognise my past but I never live in my past, I'm all about living in the now and moving forward - it's just a positive outlook on life.  I would just say that they should come and see the show, come and see the band, the attitude, the energy and the power along with the passion that is put into it.


1rickylizzy240Lizzy is still alive.


Yeah definitely.  You know, we want to do well for Lizzy fans and we want to do well for Phil. We want Phil to be saying, "Go on boys, you're doing great".  A real poignant moment was in Bristol when Phil's widower Caroline and their daughter Kathleen came to the show.  I was really nervous that night because I really wanted them to like it.  They came back and they were gushing and sent me this nice text about how great it was and how Phil would have been really proud.  That's the man's Wife and Daughter talking you know?  For them to be that happy, I felt validated.



I last saw Lizzy live in December 2007 when John Sykes was on vocal duties and he said, "Thin Lizzy was more of a tribute to pay respect to the memory of Phil".  I've heard talks of new material in the future.  Is this the case or was that comment John's own personal opinion?


This is not a tribute band.  This is a new line-up of Thin Lizzy. That comment was John's own thing.  Scott has never said that, he wants to move forward and continue with the legacy while pushing the boundaries and while we are completely respectful to Phil, as you will see in the show, and we will always be, how can you not be, but we want to move forward and that includes recording at some point, further down the road.  I think none of us want to do that until we've been playing together for about 2 or 3 years.  Then, I'm sure we will.


Will you be part of the writing process?


We've got amazing talent of musicians in this band and amazingly talented writers so I'm sure there will be a wealth of material.


2rickypool240Your roots are predominantly set in your great love of playing an acoustic guitar.  What for you are the fundamental musical and mental changes between this love and fronting Thin Lizzy?


In some ways it's going back into The Almighty.


I miss them


Do you? Naw! As you know, we were very loud and I played electric guitar and similar size venues to what Lizzy play so that has never really left me but I jump around a lot more than on acoustic where I stand still.  Yes, I'm very aware and there are a few songs where I'm just singing which I've never done before so I have to get the old microphone techniques down but loving it, enjoying it.


No issues then without your guitar as a comfort barrier?


No not at all, it's been absolutely fine.  I've been in many bands from Circus Diablo to solo to playing in 3 piece bands and fronting the Almighty as a 4 piece.  I've been doing it a long time now so it's coming natural to me.


Focussing on your trusty acoustic for a minute:  When this love was lost, a soldier and a stripper reconciled you. If ever there was a reconciliation needed for Phil and Lizzy, what in your wildest imagination do you think that reconciliation would have been?


Wow, now there's a question! Wow! Well, I think with Phil it would have been with his trusty Fender Precision.  Oh man ... I always imagined Phil being a real peoples person so I can't imagine him heading off to a desert like I did.  I think he would surround himself with people.


(Laughing) But not like in a shopping mall though right?


(Laughing) He would probably throw a big writing party or something.


1rickypool240Man, your blog inspired me so much in trying to make this interview as different as possible.


You certainly go it right.


If you could have asked Phil one question by way of preparing yourself for this tour, what would you have asked him?


[Ricky lets out the biggest of sighs]  That is a brilliant question and I need time to think about it. [The seconds are turning into minutes now] (Laughs)  What do I need to do?  I think ...What is the most important element of Lizzy? I think it would be the fans and communicating with the fans.  How do you want me to deliver your songs?  I think that is what I would ask him.  What way do you want me to interpret these? Do you want me to try and be me singing these songs? Do you want me to be closer to the way you sang them?  I think he would have said, "be yourself and make them sound the way you know people love the sound but sing them as Ricky Warwick".


Nice I like that.


Finally, you've never hidden behind the fact that you really dislike reality TV shows like 'X Factor'.  What's your take on Steven Tyler not touring Aerosmith in order to be a judge on American Idol?


(Laughing) I have no interest in it at all.  You know, it's a terrible thing.  If somebody approached me tomorrow and asked if I would be a judge on 'X Factor' and they paid me enough money to put my kids through school and college, I would do it.


Is that not selling out?


I would do it because I would do anything for my kids.  I would hate it but I would do anything for my kids, if I'm being honest.  I would hate the fact that I did it but I wouldn't do it if I didn't need the money, I wouldn't do it and Steven Tyler doesn't need the money.  I wouldn't go near it, I wouldn't even dream of it.  It would need to be a lot of money for me to do it: have the security and safety sewn up for years and then I would think about it. That is the only reason to do something like that and I would hate myself for it.  I think it's a shame because he has that choice, he doesn't need the money, and he doesn't need to do it. Sometimes you don't have a choice, you just have to suck things up to do something for a long term goal but you do have a choice if you don't believe in it.  I'm sponsored by a Whisky company for a fact but there is no funding from record labels for recording, there is no longevity - when you sign it's only for 1 album, that industry is gone so Artist, like everybody else, horror shock as some people think we should play and make music for free, we need to eat and we need to live and we need to pay our bills too.  If that means we need to write songs for movies then so be it but he doesn't need the money!




Thank you, that was wonderful.


I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did (laughing)


I did, you've got some great questions.






For those of you who would like to check out Uber Rock's review of the Bristol show that Ricky refers to here you can do so by clicking this link.  Plus if you'd like to keep up to sped with the recent set of Thin Lizzy Deluxe Edition CD's then all you have to do is click this link.


Photo Kudos - Gaz E.