ďThe beauty of the songs is that you can rock any of them up.Ē

Simon Mulholland meets Ricky warwick, the new front man with Thin Lizzy, ex-Almighty lead singer and a man with a substantial solo career as well.

We sit within a fairly new venue within York but the Stereo seems to already have years of atmosphere and itís where I sit with Ricky Warwick to discuss his latest solo acoustic tour. Itís been nearly a year since we last saw you in these parts, you donít seem to have stopped since then, howís it going?
Its been good, yeah, lots and lots of touring. I donít think Iíve really stopped. I even had two shows at Christmas so its been constant touring which I feel is the best way to get the message across. I donít get any recognition on the radio or magazines, so the only way to spread the word is to play.

Therapy? Was the biggest tour you did over here? Sounded like a real blast?
It was over here, Iíve done bigger gigs in the States, Lynyrd and Leppard but European wise it was fantastic. Theyíre old friends of mine and we get on great so it was a real pleasure to be on the tour.

How did their audience receive your material?
Very good, Iím kind of lucky that wherever I seem to go on tour people seem to get it. Certainly Iím not going to play slow songs for a Therapy? crowd. Theyíre there to rock and rightly so, so I play the faster songs and I tailor my set to the crowd as it were.

Did you play the Damnation festival at Leeds? I took one look and wimped out?
No It didnít, I mean there are some gig that are not worth doing as your sound just isnít suitable.

Israel seems to be the most exotic location so far, have you ever played there before and what did you think of it?
It was amazing, a really surreal experience but a great one. I got to tour with Izhar Ashdot who is a big star in Israel and obviously sings in Hebrew and he loves Irish music, so he brought me over backed by his band for six or seven song and then I got up with him and we did a couple of songs together.

It was unbelievable , really great people, you get treated really well, its amazing that you can travel to somewhere like Israel and find such a love of traditional Irish music.

Whatís the music scene like over there?
Like most places its influenced by whatís happening in the UK and America so the kids are into the same bands that we know and love but they also have a very strong local scene with a lot of home grown talent.

Last year you were supported by Eddie Spaghetti, how much influence do you have in your support acts?
As much as I want to, to be honest with you. Its hard with the acoustic stuff, you need a band that matches the sound, there no point going on after an band thatís been blaring out, its not that kind of night.
Sometimes for a tour I check out MySpace and Facebook to find new bands but I get a hundred bands contacting me, Iím really flattered but its impossible to listen to everyone and go; ďyeah I can give you thatĒ.
The budget isnít there as well so youíre asking for guys and Iíve been there to play for fuck all and its hard plus itís all got to go through the agent but if there is someone I like I can say ďyeahĒ. I definitely say who I donít want!

The current tour is a one man affair, it that due to monetary constraints?
Yeah, there are costs involved but itís also through choice to be honest with you. I could afford to bring two or three guys along but I enjoy doing it, I enjoy the lifestyle and it gives me the freedom to do what I want and itís really enjoyable but it doesnít mean I wonít take someone on the road if I like them.

Specialist merchandise: How did the Terry Bradley sleeve come about?
What we did was a few promos for radio in Northern Irelands and we thought it would be good to bring some along and raffle them off at the end of the night. Terryís work alone is worth a fortune and Terry is an artist and the last thing I wanted to do is get people bidding for his work, so itís great we can give them away at the end of the night, there is only literally 100 available.
Terry is a friend from home , an amazing artist, heís followed by Bono, Van Morrison, Michael Flatly all have his work, now you need a mortgage to but a single piece of his work and quite rightly so. He came from nothing, living on the Shankhill Road in Belfast - heís a friend of mine and I look at his art work and I see my lyrics.

Secret gig 2nd May?
No secret really the date already up there, Iím playing Diamond Rock Bar in Ahoghill. The tour finishes on the 1st and they asked if Iíd come and play again. Itís a good place so itís a no-brainer to go back.

Who the hell thought up the genre ĎTough Folkí ?
ĒTough folk for the massesĒ was a quote given to me. I was opening for Def Leppard in California in front a whole load of people and Billy Duffy from The Cult was at the show hanging out with me and after I came off, in his best Manchester accent, said ďHey, that was fucking great man, Tough Folk for the massesĒ and I thought that was brilliant. So Billy, god bless him, came up with the quote and there is no finer man to come up with such a great comment.

(That was me well and truly put in my place and rightly so, stupid blood question! Lesson learnt)

You seem to have maintained a presence in the rock/metal world with interview on the Friday Rock Show: Any new avenues opened for you?

They donít seem to like me much; itís hard going. In Northern Ireland I had a day time TV show follow me round for a day and it was great, you know, but I canít seem to get the exposure over here. Fuck it; I do what I do and I love it and if they donít want to know them, fair enough, I believe in what I do and that is good enough for me.

Sadly no trip to SA this year then. But youíve been picked up by Current Irish Premier league champions Glentoran F.C. of Belfast apparently.
No, unfortunately not, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Northern Ireland seem to beat the big teams then loose to Latvia or Iceland which is a real shame. We almost undefeatable at Windsor park so its heart breaking but I only have to a year or so for the European Championships. Glentoran FC are probably on the biggest teams in Ireland and theyíre the local team from East Belfast where I grew up and theyíre a team I support.

The conversation descends into Football talk to national rivalries and the desire to get one over the English.

Thereís a rock version of Arms Of Belfast Town on You Tube, any plans to return to a greater electronic sound in the future?
Yeah that was just out of the blue, I was in the studio in Belfast and we just decided to do it. So we shot the video the next afternoon for literally nothing, we set up the camera, had a few drinks and itís probably got more attitude that the original video.
The idea was there and the question of how do we do this, the beauty of the songs is that you can rock any of them up and there is always a dilemma of how to play them. There are a couple of new songs tonight and do I do them acoustic or pull out an electric version or do both, you know. The songs will work anyway at all, if I had the money and the studio time I could really go for it.

As the pub fills up with expectant punters, I leave Ricky to his preparation which consists of a drink and chatting with some of his fans. He then performs a storming set to a very grateful crowd and leaves us all very content indeed.

Meeting Ricky Warwick, you are left with a definite feeling that he is doing what he loves with charm and charisma that does him justice. A few weeks later, Ricky was announced as the new singer with Thin Lizzy and the comparisons to that other Irish son, Phil Lynott are there to behold.

More Ricky Warwick on Vanguard Online:

Live Review Ė April 10