BLACK STAR RIDERS – FORMER MEMBERS OF THIN LIZZY
It was in 2012 that Black Star Riders was formed by four members of Thin Lizzy – Gorham, lead vocalist/guitarist Ricky Warwick, co-lead guitarist Damon Johnson and bassist Marco Mendoza – plus former Megadeth and Alice Cooper drummer Jimmy DeGrasso. The band’s debut album All Hell Breaks Loose was released in 2013, and drew widespread acclaim in Classic Rock, MOJO, Metal Hammer and Kerrang!
But now, with The Killer Instinct, Black Star Riders have taken it up another notch. “We’ve gone to the next level with this record,” Ricky Warwick says. “It’s the album that really defines Black Star Riders.” And Damon Johnson is equally emphatic. “This is the band I’ve dreamed about being in all my life,” he says. “A lean, mean, dirty rock’n’roll band. And I really feel that this is a great album – a huge step in the progression of this band.”
The Killer Instinct represents a coming of age for Black Star Riders. As Warwick explains, the band had a different mindset going into this album. “When we started writing for All Hell Breaks Loose, we still weren’t sure if it was going to be a Thin Lizzy album,” he says. “This time, we didn’t have that pressure. We knew we were making a Black Star Riders album, and on a creative level, that opened more doors for us.”
Thin Lizzy is in the DNA of Black Star Riders. That much is undeniable: and for Scott Gorham, especially so. When Thin Lizzy rose to fame in the 1970s, led by legendary frontman Phil Lynott, it was Gorham – alongside Brian Robertson and Gary Moore – who defined the band’s trademark twin-lead guitar sound on landmark albums such as Jailbreak, Bad Reputation, Black Rose and Live And Dangerous. And in Black Star Riders – in the partnership between Gorham and Damon Johnson – a part of that sound lives on. “That mystical, legendary twin-guitar thing,” as Johnson calls it.
But as Warwick says: “We know who we are. We want to move forward and find our own way, our own sound. It’s important to us to retain the spirit and the soul of Thin Lizzy. We’ll always have that because Scott’s in the band. But we’ve got a lot of shows under our belts as Black Star Riders, and that’s helped gel the band.”
Gorham puts it very simply: “Black Star Riders is its own thing. You just have to power ahead and write what you write and not have to think about history.”
Gorham credits Nick Raskulinecz as a key figure in the creation of this new album. “Nick had so many great ideas – he became the sixth member of the band.” In addition, he says that new bassist Robert Crane has fitted in seamlessly as the perfect replacement for Marco Mendoza. “Robert just nailed it straight off the bat.” And with this team in place, the goal for Black Star Riders was simple. “We wanted this to be a better record than the first one,” Gorham says. “And it is – there’s no doubt about that.”
The Killer Instinct was recorded at Rock Falcon, the studio in Nashville, Tennessee, owned by Nick Raskulinecz. The whole album was cut in 21 days, but after All Hell Breaks Loose was done in just 12 days, that extra time proved beneficial. “But with this album,” Gorham explains, “we could do a basic track, sit back, think about it, work on additional parts, and then lay ’em in there.”
On 23 February 2015, the band’s second album, The Killer Instinct, is released via Nuclear Blast. Produced by Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush, Mastodon, Alice In Chains), The Killer Instinct is hard rock in the classic tradition. And as guitarist Scott Gorham says: “We’re so confident about this album. It’s a step up in the evolution of Black Star Riders.”
With The Killer Instinct, Black Star Riders have truly arrived. “There’s something really special about this band,” Gorham says. “And it has the potential to keep on evolving. We’ve made a great record – and I still think there’s more to come.”