RICKY WARWICK - The Almighty Addiction
July 13, 2009, 10 years ago
When vocalist / guitarist Ricky Warwick ditched The Almighty in 2002 for the second time – the first goodbye came down in 1996 followed by a reunion in 2000 – and resurfaced a year later with a folk rock album, Tattoos & Alibis, he was written off by many as another unfortunate casualty of war. Extensive touring and a second folk record in 2005, Love Many Trust Few, followed by even more roadwork made Warwick’s commitment to his new direction very clear. His absence from the realms of distortion was temporary, however, as 2006 saw Warwick kick off the short-lived project Circus Diablo and rejoin his Almighty bandmates yet again for a string of shows… spread over two years. So it goes that 2009 finds him with a new folk-based album, Belfast Confetti, under his belt with The Almighty’s shadow lurking in the background, rainsing the question as to whether Warwick is surprised he’s able to play his folk card with almost no backlash.“I haven’t really sat down and thought about that because the way I deliver the songs when I stand up there by myself with the guitar is no different from the way from when I was in The Almighty. It’s still the same passion and the same belief. It’s not like I’m strumming the acoustic guitar going ‘Oh, feel my pain, I’m in a terrible place…’ because I hate those kind of singers. I want to put on a show, I want to entertain people, so I want to make it as energetic as I can. Okay, it’s just me and an acoustic guitar, but I think when people see that they realize that, yeah, the songs are different from The Almighty and it’s a different approach, but the heart and soul is still very much in the delivery, the attitude, and the lyrical content.”
Warwick is a storyteller. The Almighty’s catalogue features the occasional tune about drinking and/or the inevitable day after, but only when he’s not taking on religion, society and life in general. It was material inspired by personal experience, and the same rule applies for Warwick’s solo material. You won’t find dumb boy / girl lyrics cluttering up the works.“I’ve never really lived that life,” states Warwick. “The dumb boy / girl thing, it’s fun to do a couple songs like that and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – let’s be honest, a lot of rock n’ roll is based on that format – but I just think that people have so much more to say than that. I have an opportunity to get up there and say it. I’m lucky in that I’ve lived a full and varied and crazy life, been a lot of places and met some fantastic people. This just gives me the chance to write about it. I’m just writing about what happens. I guess if I had a really boring job and I was stuck working in a factory, I guess that’s what I’d write about. People like Springsteen write about people wanting to escape from that, so anything can be a topic. I think as long as it’s real and you’ve had some first hand experience it’s great.”
“Belfast Confetti was probably the hardest album of my career to write in the respect that I put it off my whole life,” he adds. “Once I stuck my toe in the well, though, it was the easiest album to write in that it’s most honest and rawest thing I’ve ever done.”
He has no illusions about Belfast Confetti striking a chord with Almighty fans any more than his previous records did, even if it does stray into the realm of blues and rock. If anything, Warwick is pleased to have two separate yet solid fanbases.“It’s one of those things where you hear about someone in a successful band going off on their own, and you always fear the worst. People have blinders on saying ‘It’s not like his old band.’ Of course it’s not, because if it was he’d never have left the band. I knew it was going to be tough and lonely, that I was going to have to start again, but I didn’t for one second expect or feel I had the right to demand of anybody who liked The Almighty to come along. I knew I had to earn that from the very beginning. I did my first solo show in 2002, so it’s taken me seven years to build things up to what it is. Now I stand alone and people go, ‘Oh, that’s Ricky Warwick, he used to be in The Almighty, ’ and that’s great.”
“I still rock as hard as I ever did. I crank it up through an acoustic amp and it’s fuckin’ loud, so I still get off on that. That hasn’t changed. I’m still excited by that and I’m certainly not going to deny or shirk away from my past because I’m very, very proud of it.”
He’s also quite proud of taking a stab at an entirely new musical direction and, against all odds, having it succeed..“I’m stubborn and I’ve just kept at it,” Warwick offers. “I’ve gone from doing big shows with The Almighty to doing solo shows where 10 people show up, but hopefully those 10 people will enjoy it and the next time I come back there’ll be 25 or 30 people. It’s an old cliché but it’s true.”
“I’d say it’s a 50 - 50 split now,” he continues, referring to the his own fanbase versus The Almighty followers hanging about. “Let’s get real here: there are certainly Almighty fans that have come and seen me play and said ‘That isn’t for me.’ The mere sight of an acoustic guitar brings them out in a rash, which is just dumb, but everybody’s entitled to their opinion. But, I’d say a broad section of my audience is a lot of people that have never owned an Almighty record in their life and never will. And then you have the people that dug The Almighty and they dig what I’m doing now.”
With regards to life outside Belfast Confetti, Warwick confirms that Circus Diablo is inactive for the time being. The band – also featuring Billy Duffy (The Cult), Matt Sorum (Velvet Revolver), Billy Morrison (Camp Freddy) and Brett Sccallions (Fuel) – released their debut album in 2007 and did a handful of shows including Ozzfest, but were eventually pulled apart by higher priorities and bad timing.
“It’s all well and good in that all of us are still really good friends,” says Warwick. “Myself, Billy Morrison and Billy Duffy have been friends for quite a while. The problem is that everybody is in another band and doing other things. To set aside two or three months to go on the road and do the record justice, as needed, it just wasn’t there. We could never get anybody to commit to it, and I was guilty of that well. You can’t expect Duffy to say ‘I’m going to give up three months with The Cult’ or ‘I’m going to give up time on my solo stuff.’ We’re not kids, we’ve got mortgages and families, and whether you like it or not that comes into the equation. The fact is you can’t afford to go out on the road for three months for nothing. That’s really what the problem was, not that we didn’t believe in it. We all loved Circus Diablo, but trying to get more than a handful of shows together and trying to get all five guys in the same place at the same time is a nightmare.”“It was really good fun and I’d like to do more of it,” he adds. “I really enjoyed working with those guys. I was a huge Cult fan, so to be able to share a stage with Billy Duffy and being in the studio with someone like that trading guitar parts was amazing. But, it was always meant to be a side project and I think that’s the way it needs to be looked at.”
The burning question for long time Warwick fans is whether The Almighty is going to stay together long enough to record an album and tour in earnest. Bassist Floyd London announced at the end of 2008 that he was leaving the band, but two years’ worth of here-and-there shows and Warwick’s inability to call The Almighty a dead issue suggest it may indeed happen one day.“Y’know what? I wish I had a real honest answer, which would be ‘Yes it’s over’ or ‘No it’s not,’ but the truth is I just don’t know. The Almighty is a strange thing because we never planned to get back together. When Floyd got really ill and we did get back together to do those benefit shows at the start of 2006 it wasn’t in the cards, but it kind of ignited the spark again. We’d done some reunion shows, and we were at the point of ‘What do we do now?’”
“To do a band like The Almighty justice I think that everybody would need to commit 100% again. It would have to be me waking up in the morning saying ‘I’m Ricky Warwick and I’m in The Almighty…’ and that’s what I’d concentrate on for the rest of the day. I wake up thinking ‘I’ve got to get the kids to school…’ (laughs). That’s where our heads are at and I think that we’d be doing everyone a disservice if we just went back to The Almighty half-heartdely. I think that until we’re all thing that we’ve really got to get the band back together and do this and that, there’ll be some one-off shows here and there, but I can’t see it being much more than that.”
Go to this location for more discussion with Warwick about the making of Belfast Confetti.