Niclas Müller-Hansen of RockSverige.se recently conducted an interview with BLACK STAR RIDERS frontman Ricky Warwick and guitarist Damon Johnson. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
RockSverige.se: You ended up working with [producer] Nick Raskulinecz (RUSH, FOO FIGHTERS, ALICE IN CHAINS, MASTODON) instead of [DEF LEPPARD singer] Joe Elliott [on your sophomore album, "The Killer Instinct"]. When Joe told you that he wouldn't be able to produce the record, didn't you just wanna slap him in the face?
Damon: [Laughs] I think maybe Ricky did a little, because he and Joe are best mates and Ricky had told us, "Holy shit! This is gonna be great! Joe wants to do our record." So, knowing A) their relationship, and B) Ricky's enthusiasm about it, it was like, "Alright. Sounds good. Let's go!" The initial reaction was just that we were disappointed. Joe Elliott knows a thing or two about great songs and about making great rock records.
Ricky: Joe was genuinely gutted, though. He was really concerned about how we felt and that was very obvious. He couldn't apologize enough, but we understand. If it had been us, we'd done the same thing. You've got to look after your band and if DEF LEPPARD's your gig, come on! But it was one of those things where you just pick yourself up and go, "Okay, what do we do now?" We had thought about other names and other people, and certainly Nick was one of those, but, to be honest with you, we thought Nick was out of our league, just because of what he'd done. We didn't think we'd be able to afford him, to be brutally honest, and would he wanna come work with us? That's where Damon came in.
Damon: It was an accident. Both Nick and my family live in Nashville, but we literally met backstage at an IRON MAIDEN concert, in Nashville of all places. Our wives became faster friends than Nick and I did. Nick and I talked about RUSH and MAIDEN, but the girls were just hitting it off. Fast forward another three or four weeks and Joe gave us the call. As soon as Ricky called me and told me what was up, I sent my wife a text and said, "Hey, do you think Amber would be comfortable to pass along Nick's number?", because, just like Ricky, I didn't think we could afford him and I just thought there was no way his calendar was gonna be free in 10 weeks. But it was, and he worked within budget.
Ricky: And he came to see us as well.
Damon: Yeah, he came to see us play, and I think that sealed the deal for him. He knew about the history, but he saw us play before he heard any of the new songs. If he was here, he'd say, "Yeah, they blew me away with the show!" We went back to Europe to tour and he just told us to send him everything we got. "Send me rehearsals, roughs, demos!" and hand on my heart, all we ever had were iPhone versions of me and Ricky playing around on guitars. Thankfully, those were enough for him to go, "Okay, I've heard enough. Let's go in and make this record!"
Read the entire interview at RockSverige.se.
"The Killer Instinct" will be released on February 24 via Nuclear Blast. The follow-up to 2013's "All Hell Breaks Loose" was recorded in October at a studio in Nashville, Tennessee.
"The Killer Instinct" will be released in different formats: CD, limited 2-CD digibook, limited gatefold black vinyl and limited gatefold clear vinyl (available for mail orders only).