It wasn’t Rich Ward’s coinage, The Duke name, but it stuck thusly having upped the singer and guitarist in the rock nobility echelon. Righly so: if The Duke’s work with STUCK MOJO and FOZZY didn’t show how noble he is in his heart, Ward’s first solo album, “My Kung Fu Is Good“, does. Noblesse oblige to be straightforward, yet it doesn’t exclude a good pinch of humour. So what’s there, The Duke?
– Now that your nickname is all frontal, is it demanding to be joining the ranks of Duke Ellington and The Thin White Duke?
I am The Duke, A Number One. Now I’m setting the new Duke standard.
– With such a noble pseudonym, did you ever regret choosing a rocky career in music over to the steady path in military?
I prefer to be the one shouting orders – “Why you maggots couldn’t even find the pocket if there was some pussy in there!” – so I think I chose wisely.
– Has it been a natural progression from STUCK MOJO through FOZZY to THE DUKE?
I’ve always written the records that I’m supposed to write. Even though The Duke material is a departure from MOJO and FOZZY, I still plan to continue recording metal albums as well. I’m fortunate to be able to release records in several different genres.
– Where does the line go between Rich The Duke and a band called THE DUKE?
Rich Ward is The Duke and my band-mates are called The BAD MOTHER FUCKERS. There can only be one Duke in the band.
– How did you manage to tame that angry person you were before striking on your own?
It’s simple, I just chose not to be angry anymore. We all have the ability to choose how we live our lives and more importantly, how we react to the tensions we experience.
– Your new record is very personal. Isn’t it frightening to take down the hero mask?
No, it’s quite liberating.
– Does the “My Kung Fu is Good” title signify an attempt to channel that angry energy into a new creative avenue?
That’s a great explanation, can I use it? In all seriousness, I just thought the title was a great way to show that I can maintain a sense of humor, while recording a serious record.
– Your previous records were distinctively humorous, but “Kung Fu” is different. Do you really think there shouldn’t be humor in a serious work?
I wrote this album during some live changing times in my life and I thought it would be more powerful if the record’s vibe was “focused”.
– Was it difficult to applying a different vocal approach now, different to that of the past?
It was very challenging to transition from guitarist to lead singer, but it’s been a three-year process. I started studying with a vocal coach and focused all of my energies on being the best singer that I could be. Three years later, I’m happy with the progress, but I’m still not where I want to be.
– Touring as the STUCK MOJO / FOZZY / THE DUKE package, do you try to change from act to act, chameleon-like, during an evening on-stage?
No, I’m the same guy in every band situation. The only changes are ones of dynamics in my playing and performing. The foundation will always be the same, just a little louder if that’s what the job calls for.