Black Star Riders play The Middlesbrough Empire this month so Damian Robinson caught up with the band to talk about working hard, their new drummer, and their name.
You’re back on the road with the ‘Coming Under Heavy Fire Tour’. With Black Star Riders’ (BSR) on-going touring schedule and music releases since you formed are you trying to take James Brown’s “hardest working musical act on the planet” title from him?
That’s a fair assessment. We believe the work we are doing is righteous work and that our fans deserve a band that they can feel is committed to authenticity. And with that effort comes hard work. It has become a sort of mission statement for us, really.
We will be seeing you shortly when the tour hits Middlesbrough, so what can we expect from the show?
We’re changing the set up from the tour we did in the UK back in March of this year. BSR is fortunate to have a cache of songs that our audience is passionate about and expect to hear every night – and they love it when we surprise them with some deeper tracks from the three albums we’ve released, So expect that.
You’ve got your new drummer Chad out with you for this tour. What difference has he made to the band?
Chad is a huge force of positive energy: he brings as much of a love of connecting with people as he does a love of playing music. He’s amazing in that way as this business so often breeds an almost understandable amount of cynicism and frustration. And he has come to make all our songs his own as a player. We’re very proud to have Chad onboard.
Your band name was taken from a collection of outlaws in the film ‘Tombstone’. Where is the band acting outside of the law at the moment?
This band consumes what should be an illegal quantity of coffee, daily. And mine gets blacker as I get older. It can’t possibly be good for us.
This year’s ‘Heavy Fire’ album was really well received in the music press. Were you happy with the reaction you saw for the album?
We are certainly pleased when our efforts get validated by our fans and the music press. With humility, we all felt confident upon completion that we had truly delivered something special with this batch of songs. ‘Heavy Fire’ is our most complete body of work thus far.
You’ve released three albums in four years, so can we assume that you are already beginning to write songs for the new one?
Indeed. Ricky and I had breakfast together while we performed in Japan recently and he confirmed his usual growing supply of lyrics and title ideas. And we’ve all begun sending riffs, melodies and chord progressions back and forth. It will be exciting to watch the next album take shape.
There’s a track on your new album called ‘Who Rides the Tiger?”. In your mind, what is the tiger and who is riding it?
Good question. The tiger is the fear of the Boogieman coming in the front door of our homes in the USA, such that the 2nd amendment to our Constitution becomes an almost religious mantra that gets trotted out as a reason any of us should have access to the assault rifles that are present in the never-ending mass shootings we have in our country. Where will this merry-go-round take us? Common sense says “nowhere new” as long as the status quo continues. Those “riding the tiger” seem convinced we actually need more guns, to which our song asks, “What the fuck?”
Black Star Riders play The Middlesbrough Empire on Tuesday 14th November. Tickets, priced at £31.35 in advance (including booking fee), are available from seetickets.com.