Yorkshire Evening Post: Claire Cameron Interview with Scott Gorham, Thin Lizzy ahead of their Leeds date 10th January on the upcoming tour
THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN
What was the inspiration behind this tour?
To be quite honest we had some trouble a little over a year ago and myself and John Sykes parted ways. It was a period where I felt a bit down; didn’t know if I was gonna carry on with Thin Lizzy and I actually got a call from Brian Downey and he said ‘we gotta keep it going’ and he wanted to come back and be in the band. It had seemed for the longest time he didn’t wanna play and now for the last couple of weeks he’s been working harder than the rest of us!
Vivian Campbell has been a big TL fan since the 70s- he’s such a big fan he knows all of the songs- He was teaching me parts of songs I’d written years ago! The good thing about Viv joining and with Ricky Warwick singing is that they know all the songs and they know all of the obscure songs also. In the past we’ve stuck to the Live and Dangerous set but now we are starting to pull out songs we’ve never played, or haven’t played in years.
Do you think that the band has suffered from being associated with the early songs too much?
The Lizzy fans know almost all of the songs anyway- its the casual Thin Lizzy listener that will only know those two or three songs- The Boys Are Back in Town, Jailbreak, maybe Waiting For an Alibi. But I’ve heard over and over again that people say ‘I didn’t know these guys wrote that song’.
You’ve got to play your The Boys Are Back in Town and The Jailbreaks; I hope that when they hear what we’re doing they’ll download a couple of the other ones and check them out also.
Musically we were never a one trick pony, especially with Phil and his writing he could show a lot of different sides to himself and he was never afraid to show that- lots of bands get their formulaic thing and stick to it. Maybe that’s why we didn’t break America so much, because we didn’t stick to one sound the whole way through and for the longest time I’ve figured it out. But then your speak to some fans and they say that’s why they love us, because we have that variety and we didn’t just find a formula stick to it.
How would you describe your fan base now? Is die hard Thin Lizzy fans or are you appealing to a fresh set of ears?
It’s both. The last time we were out there playing that’s what we were noticing- the younger crowd were up at the front and the older guys at the back just taking it in. There is a well rounded fan base now whereas before I think it was just one age bracket, now the age bracket has widened quite considerably. I kinda dig that fathers are passing the album onto their sons and we’re playing to the new generation. I’ve had father’s say to me ‘My song was listening to this pop crap and now I’ve introduced him to Thin Lizzy you’re his favourite band.’
My Dad wanted me to go into the construction business like him and I wanted to do music- we were always butting heads over that. I always used to hear the phrase ‘Well you know you’re gonna need something to fall back on.’ A fair few years down the road you realise ‘I was actually really lucky.’ Because I wasn’t sensible or serious!
Any plans for new material and who would be writing it now?
Well that always seems to be the number one question- that has probably been the biggest hurdle of the whole thing. There are parts of Phil’s family that really don’t like that idea- they’d rather not. It’s a moral thing; there are moral hurdles you have to overcome all the time. As far as writing the material there are 6 songwriters in the band- there are no passengers!
I’ve got another band a group called 21 Guns, and we’ve made two albums already. My partner lives in Oslo so it’s always tough to try and find time to try to work on that. We have recorded in the studio there and have 12 or 13 songs in the demo state and now its weeding out time to decide and refine which ones will go on it– it will probably be after this tour. That’s the fun bit- once you’ve worked out all the hard stuff!
Is that your favourite part in music?
My favourite part in music is going out on tour and playing in front of people. It is only in the past 15 years I’ve really started to enjoy the studio. Making a Thin Lizzy album was like pulling teeth sometimes- we always seemed to be arguing all the time with everyone wanting to get their bit in. Now I’m more experienced and it’s a more relaxed process, I really like the music of 21 Guns.
You joined Thin Lizzy on the brink of their breakthrough. What was that like to live
through then and look back on from where you are now?
It wasn’t their breakthrough; they were going broke! They were heavily in debt and by the time I got to that first day for the first jam with them they had already gone through 25 guitarists and not found the right one. I walked in and I was the last piece of the puzzle for them. We then spent 3 weeks in the rehearsal studio going over and over these songs. Just for 4 shows, and the 4th show was the London Marquee- it was on that night we had to secure a record deal and if we didn’t it was over. Thankfully we got it and everything was ok!
It must be a challenge to replicate the chemistry between yourself and Brian Robertson with the dual guitar attack-how close do you think the live sound you achieve with Vivian Campbell gets to that signature sound?
Well I think it gets alot closer than it did with John Sykes and that’s not to say anything against him- what happened with John was it started to sound Metal -sounding .We always said this is an Irish Rock Band not a Metal band. With Vivian it’s been easy to pull it back to what we originally wanted sound wise, same with Ricky. Everyone knows what it needs to be rather than ‘this is want it to be.’
How important is your choice of Guitar to the overall quality of your performance- what is it about a Les Paul Axcess that draws you to it? Have you made it your own- is it customised?
Yes it is to a certain degree what they’ve done is they’ve chambered it for me so it’s made it a little bit lighter, the neck has been shaved down- it’ll not be like any Les Paul Axcess that you can get off the shelf from the shops. The pick-ups are Gibson T500s. It’s tough when people say come over for a jam and they throw this alien guitar at you-yeah your instrument is really important.
How do you feel the current vocal arrangement is working overall compared to Phil’s voice?
It wasn’t only the texture of his voice but the timing and his phrasing that was unusual- I haven’t heard anyone that’s got in there and phrased like Phil. Ricky is kind of in the same ball park with a deep voice, he gets a real authentic sound being from N Ireland on that and he’s a hellava nice guy as well. The last thing we wanted was a Phil clone. When everyone comes into this band I tell them you’re her e for a reason- because we like what you do so we’re not going to tell you what to do, you’re up there for your personality. You gotta get in there with the spirit of the song- it’s not karaoke hour.
How does it feel with this line up to play as Thin Lizzy and how do you anticipate the reception?
I hope it’s going to be good I hope people are going take it for what it is. This isn’t something that’s new to me- I think everyone is going to have a really good time. I know that from the past shows we’ve done. I think it’s going to be great!
What would you say to the TL fans/critics who feel that it can’t be TL without Phil Lynott?
(Chuckles) Every band gets that. We’re were talking the other day and we said name two bands from the 70s and 80s who still have the same line up, and we could only think of Iron Maiden and one other one which I can’t remember now! It’s really difficult for bands to stay together! And for us it’s impossible: Phil isn’t going to come bounding out from the wings and grabbing the microphone- we have to do the best we can which is a pretty high grade of Thin Lizzy. There are always critics but what keeps me going is looking out at the crowd and seeing them enjoying it!
What do you think Phil would say?
I think Phil would be the first guy up on the stage! I don’t just miss Phil as a band member- I miss him because he was my friend for 11 years we did every single thing together then all of a sudden he wasn’t there , it was sad and it was tough. The first time I got up there and played a show without him it was strange- I’d look to my right and he’s not there when for years he had been. It was a really hard thing.
What is your favourite Thin Lizzy track and why?
I really don’t have a favourite- I think if I had one favourite song I’d be waiting around for that song to come around in the set. I have lots of favourite parts in the songs, moments that I look forward to- these songs are great guitar vehicles to play on!
When you’re not performing on stage or in the studio what is your favourite place to be? I used to be embarrassed about this but I’m not anymore.
I play golf, have done for many years. I play with Phil (Life on Mars) and John Hannah -we’re in the same club together. On tour it’s often in the worst part of town and indoors- an unhealthy way of life and outside it feels healthy, it’s a way different environment. I even had Alice Cooper out there on the course the other day- he’s got a lot of stories, and when he tells them it’s amazing at how similar they are to mine! I think of Golf as a learned skill rather than a sport in that sense it’s like music in that way: you’re learning a skill and you’re always learning.
When you listen to music, how do you listen? Who are you listening to at the moment- is there any music out there right now that really gets you going?
I get in moods where I really wanna listen to music, but in what way do I listen? I guess I look at it on a performance level- how well the person is singing or playing their instrument, but I try not to be too critical. It’s no good being over critical all the time. Recently I’ve been listening to Steel Panther- I met them: they were in the rehearsal room next to us.. I could hear some Thin Lizzy guitar licks. They’re kind of a comedy band, their new album is called: ‘Feel The Steel’. Turns out they’re big Thin Lizzy fans. It’s music you’ll never hear on the radio they’re pretty out there!
What next for you?
The tour will last for the whole year then I’m hoping to get back and finish 21 guns album. Will you tour with 21 Guns? We’d love to do that-a couple of European promoters are interested so we might take them up on their offer and do a tour.
Well I’ll look forward to that! Thank you so much for your time- it has been an absolute pleasure and I really appreciate you taking the time to have a chat with me!
Thank you! And I’ll see you on the 10th January!
Words: Claire CameronThin Lizzy21 Gunshttp://www.last.fm/event/1535828+Thin+Lizzy+at+O2+Academy+Leeds+on+10+January+2011http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/musicandgigs/Music-Interview-Thin-Lizzy.6669838.jp