Intervju med Scott Gorham i Black Star Riders.
Det är inte varje dag man möter en legend. Någon som varit med i gamet länge och sett det mesta. När Black Star Riders gjorde ett stopp i huvudstaden på sin europaturné, fick jag det stora nöjet att sitta ned med Scott på Scandic Malmen. Folk runt omkring tisslade och tasslade och några kom till och med fram efter intervjun och frågade om det verkligen var Scott.
Denne gitarrlegend visade sig vara trevligheten själv och jag har aldrig tidigare fått sådan positiv feedback som jag fick av honom precis efter vårt avslutade samtal och även senare efter showen.
Det blev snack om bl a Phil Lynott, en kommande Lizzybox och vad han lyssnar på just nu.
Of all the albums you´ve recorded over the years, which one would you say has been your finest moment? The one where you really nailed it.
Scott: I´d say the next one, to be quite honest. (laughs) I don´t think you actually nail it at any point. There´s always gonna be something on some fucking song or album where you gonna go back and go, “If I had 30 more minutes on that take or this or that.”… There´s no such thing as that album that just hits on all cylinders. I´m never satisfied. I don´t know if that´s me just being pessimistic or what? Like this new album, 12 songs in 12 days for god´s sake. What the fuck is that all about? (laughs) But we got in and did it because we had already been on the road for the most of three years constantly, so it was easy for us to transfer the live thing into the studio and the gear. Very few overdubs on this album and pretty much the tone you were getting out in the studio, was what you ended up with. I´m more used to the producer messing around and that kinda thing, but this was more by the seat of your pants. I guess it was really to show everybody that what you hear on the album, is what you´re gonna get out on the shows. There was a point to it.
Fascinating answer because usually artists have that one album that sticks out as their best one. Especially these days when you can fiddle about with Pro Tools and change stuff around as much as you want.
Scott: Not on this album. (laughs) It was even to the point where Ricky was doing his vocals live as we were putting the tracks down. I´ve never seen a singer do that before, ever. Most vocalists are kinda precious about their vocal ability and all that, but Ricky was adamant. He said “I wanna get the vibe and I´ll fucking do it right here!”.
Scott: It is. I´ve had this, I was gonna say argument, discussion with a friend of mine who I play golf with and he´s a producer, Glyn Johns. He loves to record that way. He loves to get everybody in the circle jerk and wait around for the magic take. I keep saying “You really don´t need to do that.”. (laughs) There is like you say, Pro Tools and you add the basic tracks. You don´t need to do it like that, but he´s really adamant that that´s the way to catch the energy. After doing it that way, I saw the advantage to that because you capture a lot of energy and it´s coming straight off of everybody´s instrument and you´re eyeballing each other and you´re keeping each other in line, because at this point you really don´t know the songs that well. You´ve done a couple of demo sessions and a couple of rehearsals and now it´s gonna go down forever, so now you´re really eyeballing each other to make sure that you´re not the guy that fucks it up. (laughs) I think that´s where the energy comes from, the fear factor of letting everybody else in the band down. You don´t wanna be that guy. You try to keep your shit together.
I read that you were planning to start working on a new album in September next year?
Scott: Yeah, the goal is to start recording then. Everybody´s kinda already writing now and getting the riffs together. Ricky´s already got reams of lyrics going on. He likes to be absolutely prepared when he walks in. None of this “What rhymes with dickhead?” (laughs) The rest of us are all kinda working on chord sequences and stuff like “In what direction can we take this now?”. Now that were not doing a Thin Lizzy thing, we can now go in any direction we want. Keeping in mind Ricky´s vocal style and all that, so there are certain ways we do have to take. We can´t just wing off in any direction. We do have to keep it in check for different peoples´ abilities and tastes, so it´s interesting to see which way this next album will go.
Are you gonna go with Kevin Shirley again?
Scott: No. That was a one shot deal and we realized that the 12 day fear factor thing was fine one time. (laughs) We´ll take about four weeks to do this album and try to hone the parts in. I don´t know if I should say anything or not because nothing´s been confirmed. It´s heavily in favor of this certain person. They wanna do it, we wanna do it. The person we´re thinking of is very tried and trusted.
Not Glyn Johns then?
Scott: No. (laughs)
Do you have stuff lying around from the Lizzy days, riffs and ideas never used, that could be incorporated into Black Star Riders?
Scott: Not so much the Lizzy thing. I kinda leave that alone. We´ve got a lot of things in storage, like old multi tracks and all that, but it´ll get used for the next Thin Lizzy mega box set, so I tend to leave that alone. I think that if we dug into that and started dusting off stuff that is 40 years old, it´s either gonna sound 40 years old or you´ll feel guilty for using something like that, even though you wrote it yourself. No, the new album will be off the top of your head and whatever kinda inspiration that grabs you. You have to go with each different situation. A lot of people say Ricky really sounds like Phil (Lynott), but he´s a way different kinda singer than Phil, when you get down into it. You have to cater those kinda things. Jimmy DeGrasso can play anything and you cater to him and they cater to me. There was one thing from 21 Guns, a thing I´d written years ago and for one reason or the other it never got used. A couple of bits that I used.
Any plans for a solo album?
Scott: I really don´t do solo things. I have this theory that if you go out as a solo artist, it´s really tough to get back into a band thing without people going “Weren´t you that guy that did a solo album and failed miserably?”. (laughs) I´m trying to keep my name off of the title of the whole thing.
Is there talk about a DVD from this tour?
Scott: I´m sure at some point we will get the cameras out there. A lot of the guys in the band are filming things backstage and all that crap all of the time and we´ve got guys in the road crew doing the same thing. We´ll probably do a live DVD at some point. We´ve got a new video coming out, “Kingdom of the lost”, which is kick ass. Apparently the director is some famous guy and Ricky knows him. He just said “I gotta do a video!”. They flew out into the desert and filmed there and at Big Sur. I was impressed.
Scott: Phil was a unique individual. I wanted out of it really badly. I´d had it. Even to the point to where I said I had to quit this band, which is a pretty drastic move. You can´t hang around with a group of people who were doing drugs really heavy and expect to be able to get out of that hell hole. That was my only escape, that I had to get out of there. I said to Phil “You gotta do the same thing and we gotta get our shit together because we´re dragging this whole thing into the fucking toilet.”, which he didn´t agree with and I didn´t expect him to either. I would go and look for help. I´d been in rehab for four or five times and it didn´t take and I finally found some doctor where my head was ready for it. Phil wasn´t the kinda guy that would ask for help. For him to ask for help was a big sign of weakness. At that point there weren´t really the rehab facilities that there are today. I kinda jokingly put it, “There weren´t enough dead rockstars yet.”. (laughs) Obviously he didn´t trust any of those organizations either and he was pretty deep into it as I found out after a year off for me. When I came back and I was completely clean, I actually went back over to see Phil and I was shocked to see the condition that he was in. He´d gone from really bad to, bang, way the fuck down. I remember him looking at me going “Shit man! What the fuck happened to you? You look amazing!”. I was kinda saying it without saying it, that “You can do this too!”. On that same day he picked up an acoustic guitar and banged out some chords, saying “Man, we really have to get back together and start writing songs again! We gotta put Thin Lizzy back together and get back on the road!” and I´m looking at him going “Ehhh, we´ll put a pin in that for a while, ok?”. I think he saw that look I gave him and he said “Listen man, I´m gonna get off this shit and kick it. I´m gonna pick myself up.”. It sounded at the time like he really meant it. He wanted to get Thin Lizzy back together again, record a new album and do Thin Lizzy, but unfortunately, three weeks later he was gone. Even if he would´ve started that day, he wouldn´t have made it. The heart was gonna give in, the liver was gonna give in, the kidneys were gonna give in and he finally ended up with blood poisoning. He was already on a downward spiral at that point.
Back then, could you see that the drugs could help in a creative way?
Scott: For a very short while and after that you just think you´re being really creative. It´s an absolute cliché thing to say, but it really is true. Your first toke off a reefer and you go “What do you think of this fucking riff?”. First line of coke, “Man, check this one out!”. First line of heroin, “Who cares?”. (laughs) It´s a quick slide. I´ll tell you what happened to Phil. He really was chasing that first hit and trying to get the inspiration from the drugs and the deeper he got into it, the less inspired he became, but nobody could really tell him that. The rest is history on that one.
You mentioned a Thin Lizzy box set. Is that something you are involved in?
Scott: Yeah, both myself and Brian Downey. We´re trying to eliminate some of the really bad shit that Universal want us to put on. Some of the stuff we´ve found are like jam sessions where you´re jamming on the same fucking piece for like 20 minutes. I don´t know what we were thinking? I think a lot of it was, you get on this one section and you keep going and then you can take that piece home and try to think of stuff to put over that piece, but this goes on forever. Other things are rehearsal situations where we´re obviously trying these songs out for the very first time and there´s fuck ups left, right and center, “Oh, was I suppose to go there?” and that kinda thing. I don´t think anybody really wants to hear that.
Well, the diehards.
Scott: Yeah, but how many are those that will just listen to anything? Some of it really is not good for human consumption. It was never meant for that. (laughs) I had to give up on a couple of things because Universal was adamant about it. Consequently, both Brian and I have something like a 100 CD´s at home that we had to sit through and listen to and it got to the point where I fucking hated Thin Lizzy. (laughs) It was just too much of it. I had no idea that we had recorded ourselves that much. It was the same with the book (The boys are back in town, 2012) I came out with. I had no idea that we had our picture taken that many times. Being in photographers´ studios doing this and that. In the end, for the book, we had to get somebody in who was that kinda guy, but a fan at the same time and he understood the subject matter and he did a great job with it. I started out going “Yeah, I look great in that one. Too bad about the other guys.”.
On all these CD´s you listened to, are there demos and unreleased stuff?
Scott: Oh yeah! There would be no reason before that, to release a demo. There´s stuff where you actually see the evolution of the song. We´re trying to scratch this thing out and then you hear the demo version and then the finished product. You go from A to B to C, so that´s kinda cool in its own way. The A part is really fucking embarrassing. (laughs) You kinda roll up on the couch in the fetal position shaking, as this thing is going on. (laughs)
Do you get nostalgic listening to stuff like that?
Scott: Sure. Phil´s talking over the mic. There´s a lot of that going on. I´ve been asked over the years, “So, when you play a Lizzy song, do you get a tear in your eye?” and I´m like “No!”. It´s been like 27 years since the guy died, but I will admit that in the beginning when we first started to do it, I´d get kinda lumped up once in a while. Looking over to my right and he´s not there, but 25 years later and you´re still playing the songs every night, you can´t get lumped up every night. At some point there´s a cut off, you know. I think that disappoints a lot of people, that you´re not in floods of tears every time you play “Still in love with you”.
How long are you gonna keep touring with this album? Until Christmas and then you´re done?
Scott: No, we´re definitely going to Japan and then we´re trying to go to Australia around that. We´re also working out a US tour and at some point next year, we´re talking about a couple of big one offs with Thin Lizzy, where Downey comes back in and Darren Wharton and do the whole Thin Lizzy set.
Scott: Yeah, there´s a really cool band called Tax The Heat. The drummer´s name is Jack Taylor and he´s a cool fucking guy, man! It´s just different kind of music. They´re kind of writing songs that nobody out there is writing right now. I have the feeling that Tax The Heat is actually really gonna do something quite spectacular. I don´t usually go out on a limb like that, but there´s just something different about these guys. There´s so much stuff out there right now, but I like these guys. They´re from Bristol. I think they´re putting out an EP right now and then finish off another six songs. A lot of the young guys are doing that now. The album thing is just too tough to do. Nobody´s selling albums and everybody´s buying one track, which is a crazy way to buy music. How many times have you bought that one album because it´s got one track in there and then you go “Fuck, how about that second track? I like it even better than for the reason I bought it.”. I think a lot of people are gonna miss out on a lot of really good things, but that seems to be the way right now. Who the hell knows what music is gonna be like in ten years time? It might get to the point where so many bands, especially new ones, are making no money at all so they´re not gonna afford to make any albums and if they do, getting out on the road is gonna be impossible because everybody wants their shit for free. Not everybody, but a lot of people. I always liken it to, if you´ve got a leaking toilet and you tell the plumber to come over and ask him to fix it, but you say “By the way, I don´t wanna fucking pay you for that!”. (laughs) How long is the plumber gonna stay in business? You can apply that to any business and it´s the same in our business. People think that musicians are all greedy and drive around in Ferraris and have houses in the Hollywood Hills. It´s just not so. A lot of guys are just breaking even and trying to pay their mortgage and get their kids dressed and all that. It´s a job. We´ll see.