Black Star Riders
Vince Neil Band
The Black Star Riders make their long awaited return to the Buffalo Iron Works on March 14. Fronted by lead vocalist and guitarist Ricky Warwick. The band also features guitarists Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy) and Damon Johnson (Brother Cane), bassist Robbie Crane (Ratt) as well as drummer Chad Szeliga (Breaking Benjamin). Do not miss this show right in downtown Buffalo in the friendly confines of the Iron Works. We recently caught up with bassist Robbie Crane check it out.
RSC: You guys used the recent Rock Legends Cruise as a warm-up for the upcoming Priest tour?
Robbie Crane: I think it was something we were excited to do, Sammy Hagar and everybody on that cruise. Yeah a good warm-up. We tend to be a band that we’re ready to do whatever at any time you know warm-up, mid tour, we’re pretty ready to go. The cruise was awesome and what a good time. A great bunch of people, great bands and a real good time.
RSC: This tour looks like it will keep you busy the first half of the year. Do you have anything planned for the rest of 2018?
RC: Yeah for sure. We always try to do as many festivals as we can in the UK, Europe and stuff. I know we have a few festivals planned through June, July and August. After that our hope is to record our fourth record which is very important to us. We’ve been writing material and getting ready for it. Our hope is at end of August and into September is to record our fourth album. After that we traditionally like to go back out on smaller runs in the fall to close out the remaining tour and kind of take it from there. So far that is the plan.
RSC: How did you come about landing the gig in Black Star Riders and what do you enjoy most being in this band?
RC: I played with Jimmy DeGrasso in 2013. When Black Star Riders were auditioning Jimmy called me up, had me come down, I auditioned and got the gig to my surprise. My favorite thing about being in the band is the personality. I’m from Los Angeles born and raised so i’m used to that Hollywood/LA mentality. The cool thing with Black Star Rider’s is that everyone is from somewhere else. Ricky’s from Ireland, Scott’s in Glendale but he lived in London for four years, Damon’s from Alabama and Chad’s from Pennsylvania. Everything meshes really well for me in this band. Everyone’s cool and professional. It’s a real good environment to be around, real positive. Musically its so inspiring as Damon and Ricky are such great writers and is Scott. They’ve welcomed me in as a writer and allowed me to stretch my wings if you will. It’s all been really good for me.
RSC: How hard is it being in a band where you are not a founding member where you hear the whispers, like in your case Juan may be coming back, or Sebastian Bach might come back. How do you deal with it all?
RC: Sure that’s a great question. I’ve never been posed that question. I think it’s an important question. Everyone handles their own psyche and their own mentality differently. My position has always been even since I joined the Vince Neil’s Band, I was always respectful of the people prior to me. Whether it was Nikki Sixx that was Vince’s bass player or Tommy Lee was his drummer or in Ratt, Juan Croucier was the original bass player or Robbin Crosby. I always took to those situations with an amount of respect. I always told the band, the fans and I told Juan Croucier himself when I was in Ratt that was Juan’s gig and whenever he was ready to come back I would happily step aside. Because I believe was he earned that responsibility. I was very blessed to be in his shoes for so long, fifteen years of playing in that band. I don’t ever think I was looking over my shoulder with Juan. Juan and I actually kept in touch. Periodically we would see each other and he was always very cordial and nice to me and respectful and very cool that’s just who he is as a person. I always felt it was his gig and I would happily step aside. I’ve always had the mentality this is a gig for me, I’m being paid handsomely to play the bass guitar which I love to do. I think I’ve carried that into every gig I’ve ever been in. Maybe that is more to do with why I get hired so much and welcomed into so many situations because of my mindset. I understand the reality. Being in a band some people will compare to a marriage and I don’t necessarily agree with that. I pose it to, you have five business partners. Whether you are a hired player or a partner you are a part of it. Any situation is only as strong as it’s weak link the reality is that is the truth. I’ve always come into those situations positive and just give it my best. From the day I joined Ratt or even Vince’s band or even Black Star Riders people would come up to me with a record that I didn’t play on. As politely and as cool as possible I would say I don’t sign other people’s records I didn’t play on. It was more complete respect for them and the situation. How disrespectful would it be for Juan Croucier to see an Out of The Cellar record with my signature on? He would say what the hell you didn’t play on this. I always try to have much respect of the people prior to me as possible, and no disrespect to any musicians who sign records they didn’t play on. I’ve played on plenty of records and I don’t need to sign a record that I didn’t play on, you know what I mean?
RSC: What kind of advice would you give a young musician starting out in the music business today?
RC: Ha isn’t that a loaded question. For me I would always suggest this, it’s a business and playing music is a blessing. Practice, stay up on your chops, be respectful to others, try not to take yourself too seriously. I know so many musicians that take themselves so seriously. Be professional, play and enjoy yourself.
RSC: What was the best piece of advice you received from any musician?
RC: I can’t say that any musician ever sat me down and said here’s some great advice. Two people in my career really influenced me and one of them is probably less likely than most. The first one was when I was a youngster I was fifteen years old I had the blessing and opportunity to work for the band Poison, prior to their record success. I had the ability to be around Bob Dall from Poison. What people don’t understand about Bobby Dall is he was the band’s manager. Bob always remained the guy in charge. I was able to watch him work the record companies and work the phones and watched him get the Enigma record deal with Capitol. I watched him business wise negotiate for concerts, negotiate with promoters. That’s why I always say it’s a business. You want to be successful and want longevity you have to handle the business. Just watching Bob do what he did from 85-87 was like going to music college on the fly.
The next person I felt that was the very most important person that educated me was Steve Stevens’ girlfriend at the time when I was in Vince’s band with him, Marlene Passaro. She said make sure you keep your girlfriend or wife out of the band business because that’s where problems begin. Later I learned that was probably one of the most valuable things that I ever learned. As crazy as that sounds I always lived by those rules and to this day I do.