Rickey Medlocke interview
September 18, 1998
by Steph Perry
Rickey Medlocke called us from Denver to chat about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s current tour, record, and plans for the future. Rickey is one of three lead guitarists in Skynyrd, a band that has stood the test of time. The band is getting ready to enter the fourth leg of this year’s tour and will appear at the Mohegan Sun Casino on October 3rd. Their newest record is called Lyve From Steel Town which was recorded live last year in Pittsburgh and includes a variety of old and new songs. It’s a double-length enhanced CD with added videos and interviews for use with a CD-ROM. They’re also touring in support of the 1997 release, Twenty, which boasts 12 new tracks. You can pick up both records from the CMC International label.
Medlocke was proud to say that Skynyrd is having a great year of touring and that the crowds are getting younger. He claimed that 70% of the audience is between the ages of 15 and 35. Rickey credits the recent VH-1 documentary for renewing interest in the band. Lynyrd Skynyrd also has tentative plans to perform this fall for the VH-1 Hard Rock Live series.
Rickey feels that the exposure they’ve had playing state fairs this summer has been a great experience for the band. He said it was really unique to get away from the major cities and play the heartland. They’ve got one more leg left to this tour and then will take some time off. New songs are already being worked on and they will return to the studio early next year.
There are so many talented musicians in the band, how do you work out how the songs are written and recorded?
For the most part, there are four writers in the band — myself, Johnny, Gary, and Hughie. We basically sit down in a little circle, and somebody will have an idea and we just start hammering out ideas and try to come up with verses and choruses and solos. It was really interesting because the four of us have never really sat down together as a group like that and written songs. I mean, Gary and I had worked together in the original band for three years and written songs together that way, but it had been a long time since we’d done anything together. But collectively, as four of us, we had never written anything together. It worked out great, it really did. Then when we went in to record, we knew what songs, like when it came to the leads, fit who. Nobody stepped on each other. Basically this band is not very egotistical when it comes to that stuff. It kind of worked out naturally on its own.
Are there any songs on Twenty that stand out as special?
The most special one on the record is Travelin’ Man. Of course, it’s got the duet with Ronnie and Johnny singing together. I had the idea coming back on a flight from New York when we knew we were going to do the record. I was trying to think of something unique that would spark interest in the record. We, along with the wonders of technology and a great engineer, were able to take some of Ronnie’s old vocals and put them on the record by computer. And there he is singing right along with us.
When you appear in Connecticut, will the set list be similar to the Lyve From Steel Town set?
There’s gonna be some surprises. We redid the set completely. There’s songs that were on Lyve From Steel Town that we’re playing right now but we’ve changed four or five tunes in the set. It’ll be really killer for everybody to see.
What is the status of Blackfoot?
Well, Blackfoot has been on hold for the past three years, ever since I’ve joined Skynyrd. I’ve got some stuff recorded on my own but I’m not really sure what’s ever going to happen with that, this takes up 110% of my time. So, at some point in the future maybe we’ll see what will happen, who knows?
Is there anything else you’d want our readers to know?
Lynyrd Skynyrd is here and we don’t plan on going away any time soon. As long as the records keep going, and as long as we can keep making new music and the people keep coming out to see the band, we’re gonna be there.