Australia's Metal Mal recently conducted an interview with BLACK STAR RIDERS guitarist Scott Gorham about the band's forthcoming "Another State Of Grace" studio album. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On BLACK STAR RIDERS' formation in 2012:
Scott: "When we got done with the first album, I remember Ricky [Warwick, vocals] and I looking at each other going, 'Well, it's a pretty good album. I wonder if we'll be able to get to do another one?' We spool on years later and there we are in Los Angeles recording 'State Of Grace'. And we look at each other and go, 'Can you believe we're on our fourth album?' We didn't know if we're going to get past the first one. It's great."
On new drummer Chad Szeliga and lead guitarist Christian Martucci (STONE SOUR):
Scott: "Jimmy [DeGrasso, drums] left because of family reasons. He got a couple of kids; he's married. Every time we were touring, this kind of goes with Damon [Johnson, guitar] also, he would always be in Europe, so time away from the family was crazy for him. They had to be with their families and watch their kids grow up and all that. I was fine with that. Being in a band, it's a not a jail sentence. You do what you got to do, then you get out. Chad, we had tried out a few drummers. All of them were good, but we were looking for something that extra. That little bit of extra. Along comes Chad. He finds out that we're looking for a drummer. He makes a video of himself playing, I think, three or four BLACK STAR RIDERS songs. Both Ricky and I saw that something in Chad. Here's a guy if you want a really cool groove, he's got it. If you need some stomping, hellraising drums, he's got that also. And he's a cool guy. As soon as we saw that tape, Chad was our guy. There was no question about it. The same thing happened with Damon Johnson. He left, I think, a year later. Same thing: The family thing. He needed to get back to his family. He just couldn't be touring that much, he wanted to be able to watch his kids grow up. For the second time in my career, an open audition was held. These are like horror situations to be in. But a lot of these guys were good. None of them were, once again, quite right for holding down that right-hand spot for BLACK STAR RIDERS. And then Christian Martucci. I never really heard of Christian before. He was playing in a band called STONE SOUR. Now, I kind of heard of STONE SOUR, so that kind of piqued my interest right off the bat. He also worked up a video. I think he laid down five BLACK STAR RIDERS songs. I like his look, but more than that, I like what he was doing with the songs, the way he thought about it, and I thought, 'This is the guy. This is the guy that's going to hold down that right-hand section on the BLACK STAR RIDERS stage.' Now all of the sudden we got a band back together again. It's probably, in my opinion, it's stronger than it's ever been."
On the recording process for "Another State Of Grace":
Scott: "This was a way different way of doing an album for all of us. We came up with this scheme — it's a system that we'd never tried before. With all of us living thousands of miles apart, getting together for rehearsals was an absolute non-starter. That was not going to happen. It was Christian who came up with this idea. He had done it once before. I think he did it with STONE SOUR. What he does is he takes his laptop out on the road. It's got Pro Tools in it. He knows how to work it very well. He suggested, 'Why don't you do this? All you guys, record your ideas on your iPhone, iPad, whatever you got. Send it over to me. I'll load it in my laptop here and I'll start trying to glue all these bits together song-wise. Feel free at any point to give me some kind of guidance as to how you want these bits to go.' Right off the bat, I thought, 'I don't know if I like this idea. We got to be in the same room together, eyeballing each other. You get the vibe. Okay, I'll give it a shot. What the heck? Let's see what happens here. The worse that could happen was it's not going to work.' So, I think I sent over 20 ideas, maybe a little more. Ricky sent over 25; Robbie [Crane, bass] sent his ideas in, and there was Christian. He's gluing all of this stuff together. We came up, or he came up or however you want to go put it, with 15 songs with all of our parts that we had written inside these songs. What that did, because we only had two weeks to make this album, for god's sakes — that's kind of a blink of an eye — it made it so when we got into rehearsals, there wasn't all this wasted time of starting, 'Okay, here's our starting point.' We already got our starting point. There's 15 templates of songs there, already ready to go. We just had to fine-tune all of these different songs, and figure out what your lead bits and throw in maybe a guitar harmony here. Those kinds of things. It saved a massive amount of time. When we got into the actual studio, which was Sphere Studios in Los Angeles, we already knew what we were doing. Now, from that point, it just was like minor adjustments. That right there made the atmosphere much lighter. It felt like a huge weight was off of everybody. It turned out to be a really cool way to write an album, which was a brand-new way for me and Ricky, and everybody else. It was a great idea."
"Another State Of Grace" is due September 6 via Nuclear Blast. The follow-up to 2017's "Heavy Fire", "Another State Of Grace" was recorded in February 2019 at Sphere Studios in Burbank, California with producer Jay Ruston (STONE SOUR, ANTHRAX, URIAH HEEP). The album will be made available on CD, vinyl and vinyl picture disc, limited-edition boxset and limited edition light green vinyl.