Black Star Riders keep it simple on The Killer Instinct

Black Star Riders guitarist Damon Johnson says the beauty of the band’s new album lies in the simplicity of its riffs.

The Thin Lizzy spin-off band release second album The Killer Instinct next month via Nuclear Blast. And Johnson says mainman Ricky Warwick’s prolific writing made it a pleasure to work on.

Johnson tells MetalTalk: “It’s pretty special to be in a band with someone who writes as prolifically as Ricky does. The riffs on this album are very powerful and I think a lot of that is in the simplicity of them.

“Sometimes it’s better to have a guy that isn’t necessarily so technically proficient. Anything that he plays comes from emotion and more times than not, well keep the simplicity of his riff and then take it to a different place.”

Warwick and Johnson discuss some of the tracks on the record, with Warwick explaining the story behind the song Soldierstown.

He says: “Scott Gorham came out with that riff and melted our faces when he played it. It has such a great Celtic feel, to me we didn’t need a chorus. That riff is the chorus, you don’t need anything getting in the way of that.

“It became about the eldest son going off to fight, whether it be for ISIS, Afghan rebels, paramilitaries. It’s about losing a finger to save the hand. You give us your strongest one and we won’t attack the family. It’s a pretty deep song, it’s dark.”

The singer also explains the track Charlie I Gotta Go, adding: “It’s about Charles Manson. A guy who is joining the Manson cult, the freedom of love and the glamour of the whole thing. He realises it’s going south pretty quickly, it’s getting dark, weird and evil. He sees it coming and he bails.”

Johnson hails Blindsided as his favourite song on the album. He adds: “To me that is the epic track on the album, hands down my favourite song out of the whole batch. It’s another one that started with a piece of music Ricky had. It spoke to me loudly, almost like a Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here epicness.”

BSR are on tour with Europe this year, with 13 days included on the jaunt:

Mar 06: Glasgow O2 ABC

Mar 07: Newcastle O2 Academy

Mar 08: Leeds O2 Academy

Mar 10: Nottingham Rock City

Mar 11: Cambridge Corn Exchange

Mar 13: Manchester Academy

Mar 14: Wolverhampton Civic Hall

Mar 15: Exeter University

Mar 16: Bristol O2 Academy

Mar 18: Bournemouth O2 Academy

Mar 19: Norwich UEA

Mar 20: London Shepherds Bush Empire

Mar 21: London Shepherds Bush Empire


  1. The Killer Instinct 2. Bullet Blues 3. Finest Hour 4. Soldierstown 5. Charlie I Gotta Go 6. Blindsided 7. Through The Motions 8. Sex, Guns & Gasoline 9. Turn In Your Arms 10. You Little Liar

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.