BLACK STAR RIDERS – bassist Robbie Crane and guitarist Christian Martucci discuss ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE, Scott Gorham, a new lineup, and the evolution of the band.

INTERVIEW AND LIVE PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA

Black Star Riders released their fourth album ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE in February 2019, and now, eight months later, the band returned to tour in Finland. Since the previous visit more than two years ago, Black Star Riders have gone through many changes. The line-up has been updated, and the band also made the brave decision and dropped all Thin Lizzy songs from the set-list. So, has the band finally got rid of the ghost of Lizzy? This and many other questions got answered, when I met the band’s bassist Robbie Crane, and the new guitarist Christian Martucci in Helsinki.


So, first of all, welcome back to Finland. It’s been over two years since the last visit, and a lot of things have happened and changed since then. You’ve got a new album, a new line-up, but to start with, you’ve now decided not to play any Thin Lizzy songs at your gigs, so will Black Star Riders finally stand on their own feet, without the Lizzy ghost?

Robbie Crane: Yeah, yeah, I would– first of all I would say definitely not a curse to have anything involved with Thin Lizzy. I think it’s a blessing that we have Scott Gorham in the band and that great history of Lizzy, and that sound that Scott created with Lizzy, that he’s brought to this band. He’s a predominant writer in all of our records, and I think that that’s the first thing I would say to any of that. But the coolest thing about the band where it sits now in 2019 as opposed to where we were at in ’14 or ’13 or ’12 or wherever, is that I think we have these great new guys that have come into the band, infused a great new energy to the band, Christian Martucci, who is right here in front of me, give a clap for the boy. And Chad Szeliga, our drummer, who joined the band in 2017 at the beginning of the “Heavy Fire” tour. I think Chad brought a lot to the band that I don’t think really showed up until we actually got into recording the ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE record. And once Chad was able to be Chad and to do what Chad does, and Christian brought these great songs, and him and Ricky joined together, and Scott, in the song-writing process I think it really helped the band just without any prior motivations or anything, just naturally elevate to where we created a record that I think people are feeling connected to.

Because we felt connected to it when we recorded it. And it was just a different energy and different chemistry, not to say anything about the guys in the past that were in the band because they brought their own thing. Still, we definitely thought we had something special when we did those earlier records, but it was completely, it freaked us out a little bit, at least me, what we had in the studio, and we felt the energy of the five of us in the room. And when we created it with Jay Ruston– the record we created now, the ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE. So, I think it comes off on the record, I think people hear it, I think the song-writing has progressed amazingly, and it’s not anything against the past players. I think Christian’s connection with Ricky and with Scott is very evident and prevalent on the record, and I think it just comes off when people hear it. I know that when I was in the studio working with it, I was like, “Wow, this is kind of something cool.” And as we were listening to each take, I could tell the difference in the music and how it had progressed. And again, how we connected, the synergy within the band, you could just feel it. I think it was a cool experience.

When I first heard that Black Star Riders was going to make a new album with the former and current members of Black Label Society and Stone Sour, it didn’t sound like a good idea [laughter]. But to be honest, I was positively surprised when I first heard the ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE. To be honest, all of my favorite songs on the new album, are co-written by Christian. “Laughs”

Christian Martucci: Thank you very much, man. I appreciate that.

The new album comes with a lot of really cool and fresh ideas. And some of its songs could easily have been used on the latest Stone Sour record, for example?

Christian Martucci: Yeah. I mean, the thing about Stone Sour is it’s a much more diverse band than I think people give it credit for. I mean, on the last Stone Sour album, I mean, there were songs that were really heavy. There was a country song. There was a Pink Floyd kind of sounding song. And so, I mean, for me, coming into this situation, most people know me from Stone Sour, but I had a long history before that. I’ve been on a lot of rock and roll bands. I mean, I’m a huge fan of your boys Hanoi Rocks and always have been. I’ve always been more of a rock and roll punk classic rock kind of guy. That’s what I always did. I somewhat had to adapt my style, when I started playing with Stone Sour, which was a fun challenge. And that was a lot of fun to do because I’d never played a lot of that kind of music before. So, coming into Black Star Riders, I didn’t feel like I had to adapt anything or that I had to change anything. The moment Ricky came to my house, it just– the songs just poured out. 17, 19 songs, something like that. I mean, obviously I love Thin Lizzy. I mean, I can’t really think of too many rock and roll guitar players that don’t love Thin Lizzy.

BSR 2019 are: Robbie Crane, Christian Martucci, Ricky Warwick, Chad Szeliga, and Scott Gorham

THIN LIZZY FANBOY TALK

As Christian said, he is a big fan of Thin Lizzy, and if I have understood correctly, Robbie thinks the same way. What kind is your story as a Thin Lizzy fan, where did it all begin?

Robbie Crane: I was a huge Iron Maiden fan when I was a kid, and Kiss and all of those bands when I was a youngster in the ’70s, late ’70s. And being a huge Steve Harris fan, and to be honest with the first time I ever really, I mean, I knew “Boys Are Back in Town”, the first time Lizzy ever came on my radar was Steve Harris was talking about the band an interview. And I think it was right before, it was right before THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST came out. That was my first touch with Thin Lizzy. Who’s Phil? Who, what? And so, I saw a photo of Phil, and I’m like, why is he playing the bass like Steve Harris? So, that was kind of what got me into Lizzy. And I think the first record I ever got into was JOHNNY THE FOX, and I was like, “Whoa, who’s this dude?” And so, my experience of Lizzy probably started in ’81, ’82, right in that era. I was 12 or 13 and I became a huge Lizzy fan. And did I ever think I would be playing with anyone in Lizzy? No, I didn’t even think they walked the earth. I thought that they were just like these mythical creatures, to be honest with you. And because they were from over here and over in the UK, and the first time I ever met Scott was in ’94 when I had auditioned for Black Star Riders, Marco Mendoza and I were in the back of the bus and Scott came in, and I was like, he walks in, and I’m waiting for this, “All right, bloke, how are you doing?” English voice and he’s this surfer guy from Glendale, and he starts talking [laughter] I was like, aren’t you English? He’s like, “English? I’m from Glendale, bud.” I was like, what [laughter]?  So, I was like, we grew up in obviously in different eras, but we grew up in the same area.

Christian, and Scott Gorham on stage.

I grew up in Hollywood. He grew up in Glendale, not far from each other. He’s a great guy. Scott for all he’s done in his career, which is massive. And he just got inducted, or sorry, nominated for the induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in America, which is a massive honor. And to be playing with him at the time when he is inducted or being nominated is just such a great time with this guy. He really deserves it. He’s a really cool dude, and I think he’s such a normal guy, and he’s just such an easy dude to be around. I think he has a hard time adjusting that people treat him differently because he’s just a generally cool guy. We look at him as just one of the dudes in the band.

Christian Martucci: He acts surprised when you tell him like, “Dude. I remember I waited…”, how long have I been in this band now?

Robbie Crane: A year almost.

Christian Martucci: Almost a year. I finally got the nerve to show him my “Black Rose” tattoos [laughter], that I got 20-something years ago just a couple of weeks ago or whatever, and he was like, “What the hell [laughter]?” He’s genuinely surprised, and I think that’s what’s so cool about him. I’m sure somewhere deep down he knows the influence that Thin Lizzy had on countless bands, whether the bands even realize it or not, but yeah. It’s cool though to see somebody like that, who doesn’t just expect to be treated special way.

Robbie Crane: They say never meet your heroes, but Scott Gorham one of those heroes that you met that you, kind of are like he blows all of that out of the water. He’s just such a normal dude, and he’s a cool guy, and he just, I mean, that’s really why in my opinion why he still is doing it. He still has that youth about him. He’s playing better than ever right now. I mean, he’s now better than ever. Him and Christian’s chemistry together is just so evident on stage. It just sounds amazing.

One interesting thing about Scott Gorham is that although Thin Lizzy has had many different incarnations over the decades, it always sounded like Lizzy. It didn’t matter who the rest of the band was, but it still sounded like Lizzy as long as Scott was involved.

Robbie Crane: Yeah, that’s who he is.

Christian Martucci: How can Scott Gorham not sound like Scott Gorham. Why would he want to sound like somebody else?

Robbie Crane: That’s the interesting thing that you said right there, because Lizzy, obviously, was a band prior to Scott ever joining with Eric Bell and the band, and Phil is obviously Phil. Phil is the sound of Lizzy, but when Scott joined the band, him and Robbo were doing the band. It was a different band. It sounded different. Scott does have a special way he plays, a way he writes, and an influence he has. And again, people say in interviews, or reviews, or whatever about us that we sound “Lizzy-esque”. That’s a massive compliment. It’s not intentional in any way. I mean, I’ve never been in a writing session or in a pre-production session or a recording session, where anyone’s ever said, “We got to sound like Lizzy,” or, “This should sound more Lizzy,” or, “That’s more Lizzy.” I’ve never heard that.

Christian Martucci: When I was writing riffs and stuff, I never was like, “Okay, I guess, I better put my Thin Lizzy cap on now [laughter].” And it wasn’t like that at all.

Robbie Crane: It’s just his natural instincts as to the way he plays. It has the ability to steer choral nuances or phrasing. It just comes off that way. Scott is a predominant writer.

Christian Martucci: Yeah, it’s just one of those things that bring out the best in you as a player.

Robbie Crane: He really does, and he’s demanding. I mean, people don’t think that about him, because he’s such a nice guy, but he doesn’t ever say anything to you, but it’s that expectation that you just want to– for all players that you’re playing with, anyone you’re in a band with you want it to be your best work. And I know that when we went into these sessions, we all had our own questions as to what this was going to sound like because it was new for us. We had a new guitar player, a new drummer, and so on.

And I had the same discussion with John Sykes something like 15 years ago when he was playing with Lizzy in Helsinki?

Christian Martucci: Well, Lizzy was a very distinct band. I don’t know if there ‘s– I mean, there’s been people that have taken sort of ideas from them and kind of ran, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard another band that sounds like them? And the thing is, it’s like when you have a rather strong element of that band in a music situation that you’re working with, it’s pretty magical. It really is. It’s a different level. People are going to say, “Oh, you played with this person, and you played with that person.” It’s like, “Yeah, but this guy kind of helped create a sound.”

Thin Lizzy in 1976: Scott Gorham, Brian “Robbo” Robertson, Phil Lynott, and Brian Downey

MORE ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE

Christian, you said that on the latest Stone Sour album, there are a lot of elements of different styles of music, but I would say that it’s the same thing with ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE. There is a country song on this album, there are pop-metal songs, traditional rock songs, a lot of different styles. Compared to the previous Black Star Riders records, this is a lot more diverse album.

Christian Martucci: Yeah, yeah. Sure, sure, sure. You are what you are.

Robbie Crane: Yeah. I think that, again, there was no preconceived anything. I think it went like Christian said. There’s a song “What Will it Take?” Ricky, quite literally had just said, “I got this idea.” He played us the chords. And we literally just started playing the song. And kind of what we played in the pre-production is pretty much what made the record because, again, I think that actual drum and bass take is like the first or second take that we did. And it just kind of was what it was. You let a song speak to you, especially when an artist or a musician or somebody comes in and has an idea. And you let it speak to you, and you just play off of that. And if it meets what everyone’s expecting, cool. It just kind of was what it was like Christian said. We just did what we did. There was no preconceived anything. We just tried to make a great record with great songs, and that’s what made it. 

ANOTHER STATE OF GRACE the first album which you have recorded with Jay Ruston. He has previously mixed two albums for Black Star Riders and also worked with Christian and Stone Sour. But why did the band decide not to continue working with Nick Raskulinez anymore?

Robbie Crane: We had done two records with Nick Raskulinecz, who is awesome, and we had a great time with Nick. Nick was a cool cat. And the truth is that we weren’t sure what we were going to do. With Damon’s departure, we didn’t know what that brought, Damon had brought Nick in. They were friends. And so, Ricky had expressed interest about two years ago to make a record with Jay. And at the time, again, Nick was still in play, so we were a little resistant to it, and not anything on Jay, just because we had had this experience with Nick, and we had some success with Nick. And that was the process that we were going down. Well, once Damon left, Ricky just said, “I want to make a record with Jay.” And I said, “Cool man. Let’s do it.” So, prior to that, we were looking for a guitar player. We had made the mental effort to try to look for some guys. We got together and had a jam with a few guys that Ricky had thought would be considerable, and that didn’t pan out. And just after that, Jay had made the recommendation that Christian was going to be having some time off and that we should consider pursuing Christian. And it just so happened, at the time, that he was also available and was kind of interested. So, it actually came together kind of like serendipitous, in a way, that it was meant to be, to a degree. And once we saw Christian– he was kind enough– he didn’t need to do it, but he did a video of him playing like a guitar to… I forgot what song it was. It was like “Soldierstown” or something like that.

Christian Martucci: I was given a few songs and…

Robbie Crane: Well, yeah, but he did one and, quite literally, we saw the video– and mind you, we had played with a bunch of guitar players before. We saw the video, and right in like the first couple of cords, we’re like, “That’s the guy.” It wasn’t even a question. It was like, “There he is.” And we all were like, “Great.” And Ricky – I don’t know why – he was like, “Hey, can you do another video?” I was like [laughter], “Why are you asking him to do another video? Just tell him and let’s just move on.” 

Christian Martucci: In fact, I kind of dug it because it ‘s– and I know how this might sound, but it’s like, I don’t want somebody just to take me in a band because I played with whoever. You know what I mean? I want somebody to take me to the band because I got the job.  And I actually really liked it. I thought it was cool. I was like, “Fuck yeah, man.” It’s like an audition kind of thing. This is cool because it’d been such a long time. I have been in a ton of bands, but I haven’t really auditioned for anybody. So, it was cool. But I just knew kind of how I had already felt about the songs before the situation even came up. I already really loved the band. I’ve known Jay for a long time, and Jay mixed HEAVY FIRE, and he mixed KILLER INSTINCT. And so, I was very aware of the band beforehand. So, when he asked me about it and he said he was going to be producing, I got excited about it because he did the last Stone Sour album, and I know how he works. It’s not this “cut and paste” thing. We did it exactly the same way we did the Stone Sour, a song a day. So, it was really funny when that album came out when the HYDROGRAD album came out, and people were like, “It sounds overproduced.” There’s always that one guy and whatever. And it’s like that album was probably the most under-produced album released that year. There was no click track on it. I mean, it’s just us playing, and I think that’s a really strong statement about Jay as a producer that he can make it sound that good from just the band playing.

Robbie Crane: Yeah, Jay has a great way of– we’ve all done so many records with so many different producers. Jay has a great way of putting you in a position and creating an environment that’s very fruitful and musical, and for you to be creative. You don’t really feel like you’ re– most producers are like, “We’re going to do it this way.” And they have this game plan, this vision, and it’s about them. And Jay really did a great job of just putting us into a position to just record. “Do what you do, man. Let’s just hear what you got. Let’s play. Just play. Let’s just play and see,” which is great. It was a really great thing. And again, he just captured these great moments of us as a band, and I think that energy is captured on the recordings and it’s live like Christian said. There’s no crap about it. It’s just what we were in the moment. He captured that moment. And that’s what made the record. And that’s what everybody heard.

 

THE STATE OF ROCK ROCK MUSIC

Okay, I have one big question about the music business in general. We all know that this type of classic rock music is still doing quite well here in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, Germany, the UK, and Spain. But if I understand correctly, the situation is quite different in the United States. How do you see that from your point of view?

Christian Martucci: The problem is that there’s not a lot of active rock radio stations in the US and a lot of them are actually — we’ve played some places even on tour with Stone Sour and stuff like that where the radio station, it just wasn’t there anymore. It had shifted to a different format, whether it was like dance music or whatever else. But yeah, there definitely seems to be– and the same can be said– you’ve got great bands over here, like the Hellacopters over here. It blows my mind that that band never blew up in the US like they should have because it’s a great band. But on the flip side, there are so many things in the US that are just basically trying to bury rock and roll, and I don’t understand why that is. But the more they try to bury us, the more songs we write, the more records we put out. And we just keep doing it. “Laughs” Well, the thing is they say nobody wants to hear rock and roll, but if that’s the case how come AC/DC or Guns ‘N Roses anytime or whoever does something, they’re playing stadiums, and they have been for 20, 30, 40 years. And how people cannot see that, how people in the music business cannot see that just blows my mind because even these pop things and whatever– it’s like yeah, this person blows up, and they’re selling out arenas and then two years later, they’re not around anymore.

Robbie Crane: I think it’s just cultural. I think that Europe and the rest of the world have this culture thing and there’s loyalty in your culture. I think that you hear a style of music or a band and you follow it, and you get committed, and you invest in it, and people come out and see it year-in, and year-out, and they see their favorite bands through. I think in America that culturally there’s no loyalty to anything. I think that our society is so focused on one-upping themselves–

Christian Martucci: It’s very fast food.

Robbie Crane: Yeah, so my kids– I was like, “Oh, Taylor Swift’s coming to town.” They’re like, “Taylor Swift? That was like six months ago, daddy. Billie Eilish, Billie Eilish.” Oh, wow. So, I bought Billie Eilish tickets for them. I bet you when that concert comes, they’re going to go, “Billie Eilish, oh my God!” The reality is that no one supports rock and roll anymore, and why there aren’t record labels or radio stations anymore is because of our social culture. It just moves so quickly. They’re so quick to abandon anything new trend, and they’re continually just abandoning things.

Christian Martucci: But the thing is that rock is very underground in the States. I mean, what we’re talking about here is more from a mainstream perspective but like there is an underground of the US of just die-hard rock and roll fans. But the problem is, there doesn’t seem to be enough of them to fill the type of venues needed to make sense to go on tour. Touring’s so expensive.

Robbie Crane: So, I come from — my sixteen years with Ratt and bands like that, I come from that nostalgia market, Vince Neil or Ratt or whoever I play with, where we would do 2000 to ten thousand a night. And it boggled my mind that we couldn’t sell records but that we could fill our seats, hard to get seats. And we do some other — but it was for 16 years. It was nonstop when we did really big, but the reality of that was, I’m talking about in the US only, the reality of that was that people are, culturally, in America, they want a sure thing just like these remake movies that we do. People don’t want to invest in building anything anymore. They want it today. They want it now. They want to feel involved. And 90% of the people that were in the crowd, they’d never known Ratt in the ’80s. They were just random fans that had heard “Round and Round” at a dance club and like, “Oh, let’s go see that band!” They didn’t know anybody in the band. They didn’t know who was or wasn’t original. They didn’t care. They just wanted to dance to Ratt. And so, a lot of those nostalgia markets, I mean, I have a lot of friends that still play in those bands. And they sell out. They’re doing 5000 a night, 10,000 a night.

Christian Martucci: That’s very interesting. It’s very bizarre.

Robbie Crane: It’s a bizarre market. But out here in Europe, Ratt would come here. And we would play the dressing room next to this one. It was the reality. But in America, the cultural shift or that paradigm where they’re just so invested in name-brand. “If it doesn’t have a name-brand, I don’t want anything to do with it.”

Ratt 2010: Carlos Cavazo, Stephen Pearcy, Bobb Blotzer, Robbie, and Warren De Martini

As you said, you lived the period with the bands when the bands didn’t sell albums anymore, but you were still able to sell a lot of concert tickets. But things were different in the ’80s, when and you saw that very close when you were working as a roadie for Poison in the mid – ’80s. Albums sold millions, and the stadiums were sold-out. What you think was the reason that the party was soon over, and things started to change dramatically that fast? 

Robbie Crane: It was a different era. People were invested. MTV was new. The internet wasn’t here yet. You couldn’t get ready-click music filled with YouTube videos. There was still some mystery to rock and roll. And MTV kind of fed that mystery a little bit in that they would present a visual thing about a band. Now, think about this. Think about Whitesnake. This is great, this has always kind of caught my interest, think about Bernie Marsden era of Whitesnake. They did all these songs that ended up on the ’87 record. But that band weren’t exactly the best-looking dudes in town. And so, when their videos came out, everyone was like, “What’s that guy got a beard for? What’s that guy all about?” And David Coverdale caught onto that quickly. And when you saw the “Slide It In” video, all of a sudden, Neil Murray was looking cool, and John Sykes, and the band, Aynsley Dunbar, they looked totally different. And then even when he double-handed himself there, in the next album, none of the players are on the record except for John Sykes. And they all look like fashion models. And I’m friends with those guys. Vivian was great. Rudy looked great. Adrian looked great. The band was about the image. And that was very telling as to how the ’80s sold. It became a marketing tool as opposed to what was actually on the record. It didn’t really matter. They were creating something for a visual purchase. That’s why the ’80s sold so many records. But it caught up with them itself. And I know they blame a lot of their demise on Nirvana. And the reality was they just started making shitty, not Whitesnake in particular, all of the bands of that genre started to eat themselves alive.

Christian Martucci live at Helsinki 2019

Christian Martucci: I mean, another thing too that people, for some reason never talk about is the things that bands out in the ’70s and ’80s that does no longer exist is they had artist development at the label. Here’s a thing, if you look at Kiss, for instance, right, those guys toured in a station wagon.

Robbie Crane: Yeah. In the beginning.

Christian Martucci: In a station wagon for three album cycles. Three album cycles. It wasn’t until the fourth album that—or whatever it was when ALIVE! came out and they exploded. And you can say that about so many bands. Like what if the very first Thin Lizzy album was the only Thin Lizzy album you ever heard? What if JAILBREAK never happened? And that’s what’s happening to bands now is because there’s no artist development. And I’m not talking about downloads and all that stuff. I mean that just is what it is. You either roll with it or you die. I’m going to roll with it. But the thing is a lot of people don’t have, a lot of musicians don’t have the stomach just to keep getting beat down anymore, because you don’t have anything holding it back, so.

Robbie Crane: Yeah. Here’s an interesting one. APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION was out for almost a year. All those videos were out. It wasn’t until The Ritz video where people saw them live at The Ritz that that retroactively sold. It was out for 11 months. It didn’t sell very many records. It was actually dying. And it wasn’t until they released that live video “Live at The Ritz”, and everyone went, “Who the hell is this? These guys are the real deal, Holyfield.” And then the record took off and it sold millions. But what if the label had said, “Welp, that’s done. Let’s move onto the next. Shelf that.”

Christian Martucci: And that’s what happens now. I think to sort of answer your question, the short version is that people don’t really seem—and the music business. It’s like he said, they go for the sure thing. So that’s why they’re like, “Oh, the nostalgia acts, that’s a sure thing. We’ll make money off of that.”

Robbie Crane: They see those things as investible. And the great thing about us and our position that we’ve been in for the past seven years is that we’ve had a label that’s stood behind us. Nuclear Blast’s Monte Conner and Mark Palmer and all of them have done a great job of really standing behind the band and allowing us creatively to do what we do. They’ve never interjected. They’ve never come in and said, “We don’t like that song. You need more of this.” They’ve expressed excitement or, “Hey, maybe next record, we could do a little more of that.” But it’s never been a thing where they’ve come in and tried to steer the band in a new direction. They’ve kind of given us that ability to be, to create, and do what we do. And so, we’re in a unique situation in today’s musical climate that we do have a label that believes in us and has kind of let us develop on our own. But luckily our records have recouped up to this point. And maybe that speaks louder for them than anything.

You have seen all the different parts of the rock business. In the 70’s you were a fanboy, in the ’80s you saw the big times, in the ’90s you lived through the season of changes, and now we are here…

Robbie Crane: Yeah. The 2000’s “Laughs”

Which era do you like the most?

Robbie Crane: Now! It’s sweeter now, isn’t it? It’s sweeter now. I mean when you’re at the age that we’re at– I mean for me personally I’ve been doing this for 30 some odd years. I’ve made a lot of money and done a lot of tours. But was I ever happy? No. You know what I mean? Content and appreciative. Sure, absolutely. But to this day it feels better. It feels like I’ve achieved, I mean, this feels great to be able to be doing this with these guys in this situation. Believe it or not.

Christian Martucci: Yeah. I agree with that too, because this is a new band. And as you said before we’re not doing the Lizzy songs now and stuff like that. Because it’s like we don’t feel like we should have to do that. We don’t feel like we should have to do that. I mean it’s moving forward. And it’s Scott moving forward. I think it’s really incredible that somebody from such an influential band from that time period is able to make really solid relevant rock and roll records in 2019. Yeah, that’s pretty cool, and it’s very important.

Black Star Riders live at Helsinki 2019

THE FUTURE

It’s the time of the last questions, so, I want to ask something about Scott Gorham’s role as a writer in the band. He was the co-writer of five songs on his first Black Star Riders album, and four songs on the next album. But on the latest two, he has written only two songs. So, it seems that his role is gradually diminishing. Am I completely wrong about this, or why has his role been diminished all the time?

Robbie Crane: No. No. I think I’m not speaking for Christian, but I think that just a writing process is a writing process. Again, we don’t go into anything preconceived. We’ve got to have a certain amount of ideas. I had given a few other ideas that we had demoed that didn’t make the record. I didn’t care. I was just thinking like, “Those songs aren’t good enough [laughter].” You know what I mean? The best songs win. And I don’t think it’s anything on Scott. He came in with “Underneath the Afterglow” which we did on this record, so, I mean, he’s still a very prominent writer. I don’t think it’s conscious. I believe in the past situation with Damon– I think that Ricky and Damon had done so many tours together that they would write a lot and a lot of the songs predominately got put into context, and so there was a little less room for us to get involved as much. I know on the first record for me when I got involved, I didn’t offer anything because I just wanted to see– I didn’t want to mud the waters with any new ideas I wanted to be a fly on the wall and see how it happened. But I think that Scott and everybody, Christian coming into the situation, I think there was a reliance on Christian from us because Damon was that guy for us before. But songs like “War Machine”, those were ideas we had had from before. Ricky had had from before, and I had seen various ideas of how that song had come to fruition. We even demoed it at one point. That was completely different. But when Christian got the song, he heard the song, and he immediately played that tag line. That was the melody that made that song elevate. It was a different vision. Christian brought so much to the record that it’s very evident in the album. And it’s not a matter of Scott not being as involved. It’s just sometimes somebody has a different angle.

Christian Martucci: I mean, at the end of the day when you have five people that live in five different places spread out across the world, my whole thing is, how are we going to make this work? How are we going to make this work? So, I enjoy putting puzzles together.

However, there are certain things in life everyone needs to face at some point, and the fact is that Scott is a bit older than the other guys in the band. So, I was thinking, have you had discussions within the band, how the future might be, and when the time flies on, is there an option that the group would someday continue without Scott on board? 

Christian Martucci: That’s a good question. And I can fully understand why you would ask that.

I mean, I have had this same discussion with some other bands too, for example with Uriah Heep, and those guys saw no reason, why the band could not continue if and when Mick Box decides to retire someday in the future.

Christian Martucci: No. But I mean, I haven’t had to think about that because even though– okay. How old is Scott now?

He’s 68, I guess?

Christian Martucci: So, Scott’s 68, right. But when he comes in here, it’s not like a 68 -year -old guy coming in here. I mean, if he was walking in with a cane, and he was like, “Oh, my back”, then I would be kind of maybe concerned or whatever. But the fact that he’s got so much of life and, I mean, this is not an easy schedule. Not even for a 42 -year -old man. It’s not an easy schedule. We’ve been planned six shows a week, and our only days off have been long travel days. So, the fact that that guy can come here and not even complain about it when I’ve played in bands with guys a third of his age, they’re like, “Oh, my fingernails are hurting.” You know what I mean? That dude is made out of iron. So honestly it doesn’t even cross my mind.

Robbie Crane: Yeah, again, we don’t look at– Scott comes in just like one of the guys. I mean, I don’t look at Scott any differently than I look at Christian or Ricky or any of the guys who’ve been with the band. He’s just one of us, and he will do it as long as he wants to do it. He seems to be in a good place. He’s already talking about another record. So, we’re hoping that we have some more time in us. We’ve not thought about that, and I would hate to put that energy out there to think of like, “Oh, what’s going to–” we’ll cross that road when he gets here. But at the same time, Scott is very much a part of what we do. He’s the driving energy in the band, and we love the guy, and he’s one of us man.

Christian Martucci: And he’s the most unintentionally, a hilarious person I’ve ever met. He doesn’t to be that in purpose but he somehow just– he walks in the room, and you just start laughing.

Robbie Crane: Because he just has a natural comedic ability. Yeah, I mean, we’ll cross the bridge when we get to it. But, I mean, there’s nothing in our immediate future that speaks any of that.

Of course, but that’s it. Time will tell. Let’s not speculate.

Robbie and Christian: Exactly.

 

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LIVE PICTURES FROM THE CIRCUS BY MARKO SYRJALA

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