ricky-warwickHe made his name fronting one of the most exciting metal bands to come out of the late 80s UK scene but these days Ricky Warwick is renowned as an essential solo artist and frequent collaborator with some of the biggest names in rock.

The latest, and possibly greatest, release from the former Almighty favourite is the brilliant Belfast Confetti – an album which could and should fire Ricky back into the big league. Before it does we talked Northern Ireland, football and Northern Ireland football with an artist at the top of his game.

rushonrock: You’re back on the scene as a solo artist but the new record’s being promoted as a back-to-basics release and a new direction. Does it feel like that?

Ricky Warwick: This is the third solo record that I’ve put out and the solo career has been going as long as The Almighty did now. It’s not something that’s new to me. But I wanted this album to be more stripped down and raw than the first two. I kept things to the bare minimum.

rushonrock: The Ulster twang comes through powerfully. Was that something you were looking for?

RW: The accent is important on this record. Belfast Confetti was written all about Northern Ireland and it just makes sense to sing the way I do. Everybody sings with a mid-Atlantic twang these days – it’s part of rock culture and I don’t mind it. But songs like The Arms Of Belfast Town just wouldn’t sound right sung that way. On this record it’s just me singing the way I want to sing.

rushonrock: Why release such a personal and potentially political record now?

RW: It’s taken me all these years to pluck up the courage to write a record like Belfast Confetti. It’s a very weird subject to tackle. A lot of stuff was about the troubles and battles but I wanted it to be about people and the things that affected them and me as I was growing up as a kid. One day a friend of mine said I should just stop talking about this record and write it. He said just go and do it. So I did.

rushonrock: Despite the troubles of the past your songs are generally upbeat and positive. How come? warwick-belfast

RW: Although the subject matter could be seen as being a bit heavy it really is a very positive record and, yeah, pretty upbeat. People from Northern Ireland have always been really warm and kind but their reputation has been tarnished by what’s gone on in the past. The majority of people are very very good people. I’m very proud to be from that part of the world and I thought to myself – this is where I’m from and I’m going to sing about it. But I can’t avoid mentioning the negative side of our history. It’s a positive record with real stories about people making the best of a difficult life. As a nation we’ve been down-trodden for song.

rushonrock: As a music fan growing up in Northern Ireland was it much fun?

RW: From a music point of view no bands would ever come here and everybody was afraid to go out after 6pm. There were very few entertainment venues and nowhere for kids to go. As such we were very repressed. These days people can’t believe how much things have changed. Now there’s a generation of kids growing up back home who never knew what it was like during the troubles and that’s a good thing. The music scene has changed hugely. There was nothing at all really when I was a kid.

rushonrock: Northern Ireland are back in World Cup qualifying action this month and you’re the voice of a team going places after The Arms Of Belfast Town was adopted by your national team. Does that feel good?

RW: Doing the song for the Northern Ireland football team was a dream come true. I got to play at Windsor Park at half-time during the Hungary game. It was very special for me. It wasn’t written as a football song. It was just a feelgood song that was heard by the Irish FA and they gave it their blessing. I sneaked in the back door and it felt great.

rushonrock: These are heady times for the boys in green…

RW: To be a part of what’s happening with Northern Ireland football right now is great and it’s not always been this good. But something like success on the football pitch really brings people together. The players are producing the goods and doing us proud. I still live in the States so I don’t get to see half as much football as I’d like. But I’m always trying to catch the action from Windsor Park.

* Check out rushonrock later this week for the second part of our exclusive interview as Ricky reveals his future plans for The Almighty…