2023 is shaping up to be a special year for Black Star Riders as they celebrate their 10th anniversary with a string of shows around the UK. It also marks the release of their latest studio album, ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’.
The album released via Earache Records was a tremendous success as it made the UK Top Ten of the charts slotting it at number 6. Following the release, we were lucky to speak to front man Ricky Warwick who gave us a track by track run down on ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’.
#1 Wrong Side of Paradise
Wrong side of paradise, the title track of the album. As a kid growing up in Northern Ireland and seeing roadblocks and barricades and walls kind of everywhere. You know, in the middle of a street, dissecting right through the middle of a street. One end from the other and not really understanding why they were there.
I was always full of wonder as a kid, just thinking what’s on the other side of this wall? Why is there a wall on our street? Is it better on the other side or are they different than us? Did they look like us? What’s going on over there? And I was always fascinated by that.
Obviously as I got older, I learned that the walls are there to divide us and that obviously isn’t right. I think we are very quick as a society to put up fences and walls and barricades where we should be building bridges and bringing people together. And so sort of taking that concept and, you know, moving with it, and the endless struggle that we all have to get ahead in life.
We live in a society now where one job probably isn’t enough. Some people are working two, three jobs just to pay the bills and that’s it. And I just feel that that’s wrong. People shouldn’t be forced into that situation. We’re told that we have to consume and buy this stuff; things that we need to be happy, things that will make us happy, a better car, better clothes, go on vacation. All this stuff that we’re kind of constantly fed. To tell us that that will give us some kind of fulfilment.
But opinions don’t define a reality. Happiness comes from within. We are only here for a short time, and I just believe that you should listen to your gut and, do what’s right for you. We need to look inwards rather than outwards.
#2 The Hustle
I kinda wanted to get a Bowie-sque, sweet glam rock kind of vibe on this track and I think that we achieved that. I get to play harmonica on this, which was pretty cool. I enjoyed doing that. I wrote it for a very talented friend of mine who’s patiently waiting and has been waiting a long time for the world to come a calling.
When you play the victim, it’s a powerful move and acting morally right, not being responsible or accountable and always seeking sympathy, it really only gets you so far. The world really doesn’t know owe you’re living, and we’re always accountable for our own endeavours, and that’s really what the gist of the song is about.
#3 Better than Saturday Night
One of the last songs that I wrote for the record. I literally wrote it a couple of weeks before we started pre-production and we were coming out of the covid pandemic. I wanted to write something really uplifting and, and positive.
I wanted to write a song about not giving up & staying true to your ideals in this crazy world of ours, and it was really inspired by my kids. Seeing how they dealt so courageously with all the lockdown stuff. Having their freedom taken away from them. They dealt that with that probably, to be honest with you, I think better than I did.
That really inspired me and I wanted to write the song for, for them. To make them listen and learn, and ask questions and always to remember that love is much, much thicker than blood.
#4 Riding Out the Storm
This is one of those ones that almost didn’t make it. I’d written it and I knew it was a little bit different for Black Star Riders, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to present it to the other guys. I’m really glad I did because they loved it and we went to work on it immediately. I’m really happy with how it turns out on the record.
The song is basically as we get older, sadly we start to lose the ones around us that we love. And having lost both my parents and some dear friends, sadly in the last few years I’ve started to question and, and look at my feelings on my own mortality and morality as well.
I’ve come to realize that death is a part of life. Even in the dark, darkest days, which we all get sometimes right? I’ve come to understand that every aspect of life should be an intensified experience and should never be taken for granted.
#5 Pay Dirt
So much energy in this song. Rock and roll; it’s my lover, my friend, my enemy, my ally, my religion, and of course my saviour. Rock and roll is my life. Christian Martucci and the late Todd Youth wrote the music for this. Christian played it to me and when I heard it, it just stank with defiance and attitude.
I mean, it didn’t need changing musically. I just needed to add some words and a melody to echo the power of the chords that were already there. I mean, it’s really an ode to rock and rule, but it’s also dig at those that don’t learn their art. Those that don’t play from the heart, which in my opinion is the worst thing you can do in music.
It’s gotta come from the gut and it’s gotta come from the heart and when it isn’t you’ll always get found out. It is an ode to real rock and roll.
#6 Catch Yourself On
Catch yourself on is a phrase that is often used in my home country of Northern Ireland. It’s used to tell somebody to stop being ridiculous or basically to just get real. The song is basically about the fact that sadly, we’re becoming slaves to technology and social media. And I’m guilty as charged.
We don’t think twice about sharing our innermost feelings and thoughts with a world of strangers. We seem to be losing the ability to think for ourselves and are living our whole lives through our phones, our tablets or computers. Technology is controlling us. Instead, we should be controlling technology.
It feels like it’s already surpassing human interaction. And where we’re going is anybody’s guess. Musically. Love the guitar riff on this. Zach played some killer drums on this and this song rocks along quite nicely.
#7 Crazy Horses
I remember watching the Osmonds performing this song on television in the early seventies as a young kid. I fell in love with it then and was patiently waiting for the opportunity to cover it. Thankfully, my brothers in Black Star Riders shared the same adoration for the tune. So the time is now.
We covered it. It’s a song with a message way ahead of its time, talking about global pollution. Here it is Crazy horses.
#8 Burning Rome
I’ve always loved the idea that you never know your hometown until you’ve been around the world. Coming back home after being gone for a long time comes with hopes, expectations, and also a sense of dread. Putting wrongs to rights, repairing old friendships, hoping your enemies have forgotten you, and your old lovers still carry a torch.
Sometimes old scores should be left unsettled. Fighting the past is futile when it’s better to build the future. They say change is the only constant in life, but don’t expect everyone to embrace it.
#9 Don’t Let the World (Get in the Way)
I wrote this song on my battered old Avalon acoustic guitar, which is what I’ve used for the last 15 years to pretty much write everything on. I’ve always adhered to the strategy that if it doesn’t sound good stripped down on an acoustic; it’s not gonna work in any other format.
I’ve stuck by that. I wrote this in the middle of nowhere, the Joshua Tree Desert in California. I’ve always loved the idea of running away & constantly being in motion. I feel I’ve been running from and to something my whole life. Not really knowing what that is, but that’s the mystery that keeps you running.
The reckless, wild, abandon and disregard for anyone, any place, anything from holding you back is something I’ve vicariously tried to portray, represented by the characters in these lyrics. I’ve always been a fan of the don’t tell me, show me approach.
#10 Green and Troubled Land
Co-written with my good friend from Belfast, Sam Robinson. Inspiration came from the statue of Madame Mikhail, otherwise known as the Son of the Sea and McGilligan. It’s a reawakening of Irish chieftains and mythical figures from their slumber, casting their eye over the continuing lack of peace and harmony on the emerald isle.
I’ve always been inspired and influenced by Irish, Scottish, Celtic rock and folk music. That music is part of my DNA. I grew up with it and I’m really happy that it’s something that Black Star Riders have embraced from our first album right through to the brand new album on this track. It’s never really that far away in what we’re doing.
It’s something I’m very proud of and it’s something I’m very proud that we have in Black Star Riders and we will continue the influence of that moving forwards.
#11 This Life will be the Death of Me
This was the very last song that I wrote for the album, right at the 11th hour, and it made it on the record, which I’m very happy about. We all bleed the same. There is strength, love, hope, and honour in unity. As a species, we seem to be farther apart than ever. We have been blessed with so much knowledge, but we’re not using it for the greater good.
That’s really the essence of what the song is about lyrically, musically, I’m a huge Motown Northern Soul fan, have been for many, many years. Those wonderful melodies, those wonderful voices in that music and the pure soul is, oh man….if I could bottle that… if only. Well, we tried to get that vibe on this track.
I think the rhythm section of Robbie and Zach did a fantastic job of doing that. Maybe a little bit different for Black Star Riders, but that’s good because I’m all about moving forwards and experimenting.
#12 Cut ‘n’ Run
This song rocks. I’m not too proud to admit that there was a little bit of a Judas Priest influence when I was coming up with the guitar riff for this one. Lyrically, you can’t build a reputation on what you’re dreaming of. If you’re born in a bad situation, it’s a situation of they’re making and not yours.
If you’ve got no reason to stay, then it’s a good reason to go. Move the boundaries, change the outlook. You gotta cut and run.
#13 Suspicious Times
It’s easier to corrupt people than to convince them that they have been corrupted. People who lie constantly are the ones who think they’re telling the truth. Even more dangerous are the people who believe them…
Buy/Stream the Record
Wrong Side of Paradise by the Black Star Riders is available directly from Earache Records website.
Limited tickets are left for dates across their UK wide tour. We strongly recommend you purchase them in advance to save any disappointment on the night.