Mark Kadzielawa of 69 Faces Of Rock recently conducted an interview with legendary guitarist Michael Schenker. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
69 Faces Of Rock: The new album, "The Temple Of Rock", is released under your own name. What sets it apart from MSG records?
Michael Schenker: It's a good question... Let me think about it. MSG originally is with Gary Barden on vocals, and, of course, I've done many records without Gary. I think the whole concept is because I am focusing on the whole past. So, it's like a Michael Schenker effort, not so much like I am focusing on a particular band with a particular lineup. It's like I'm playing SCORPIONS, UFO, and MSG live. All classics from my life, so it's similar to the way the album was developed. It was more focused on that in general, rather than particular line up you may know from the past.
69 Faces Of Rock: Just as you were caught by surprise by the previous question, the audience was caught by surprise with this release. Especially considering the very successful reunion with Gary Barden in the very recent past.
Michael Schenker: Gary is away in Thailand. He has a personal situation, but for me it was a time to celebrate the "hand-made rock" again. I wanted to combine my whole efforts in such a way. You know, nothing was really planned. I started off very regularly. It was just a time to make a new album. Gary wasn't available anyway, he went out to Thailand. So, I've decided that now would be the time to do something that is more connected to the summit. Summit, like the sum of the past. I actually had no plan, really. I was actually working on a touring project with Pete Way and Herman Rarebell. I wanted to play "Strangers In The Night" (UFO) material because I hadn't played it for a long time. So, we got together in England, and we were living close to each other. I started rehearsing with Herman all the time, and then Pete showed up at some point. So, we did rehearse for a tour in mind, and while we were doing that I was also doing a demo at Michel Voss's studio. And I asked him to help me out with guide vocals. And when he was singing, I was very impressed with how he sounded. I liked his vocals, and I‘ve offered him to do the vocals on the next record. He's already expressed the interest to work with me in the past. So, I said, "Here's your chance,” and that wasn't planned either. But the universe is the driver, and I just kind of do my part. It just moves forward anyways. And then Herman and Pete heard the material, and they wanted to do it, too. So, I had a rhythm section, which was kind of unique because of the SCORPIONS-UFO connection. And then as we were doing it, I was like, "Let's invite some other musicians from the past." I've created a list, and you know, many of them were available, and so we did some recordings. And then Michael Voss did the intro using his voice, and it was amazing. I was like, "It would be great to get a big name actor with a distinguished voice to do that." At the same time, I was getting a request to play on William Shatner's album, and I was like, "Wow, this is perfect, this is the guy." So, we've asked him if he would do the introduction, and he agreed. So, I've played on his album, and he did the spoken-word introduction on my record.
69 Faces Of Rock: The current tour reunites you with Robin McAuley, who also makes an appearance on the new album. How did you decide that Robin will be the singer you'll use on the tour?
Michael Schenker: I didn't decide. What happened was Michael Voss signed up with some record company, and then he was busy doing other things. So, I was like, "What am I gonna do now?" But Robin was on the album and Doogie [White] was on the album. So I put two and two together, and figured that one of the these guys should work out since they were all on the album. And so, as we coordinated, I just somehow put together different line ups as to who was available, and in what continent. And that's how we've ended up putting it together basically. And with Robin over here, we're pushing "Lover's Sinfony" obviously as a song. And Doogie is on "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead", and that's becoming a hit in England right now. And with Michael Voss, we're gonna be pushing "Hanging On". So, we have kind of three strong songs worldwide. And again, I don't know what the whole meaning is behind, but something's in the making and it just seems to be working kind of almost effortlessly.
69 Faces Of Rock: After 40 years of performing and making records, are you still as passionate about making records and touring?
Michael Schenker: More! What happened was, I had a very fast beginning, for whatever reason. And the developing time began. All learning, focusing on developing as a person, and as a musician. Experimenting, doing all sorts of different things. That's why I put MSG together because it was not my assignment to be the part of rock machine that did what everybody did in the '80s. I did my part, and then my brother took over. I did my developing time. And now that we kind of coming to the finish line of the hand-made rock, I feel that we are celebrating now. And somehow, for some reason, all of a sudden I'm having a lot of fun being on stage again. I'm loving doing the things that I thought was never possible in the past. But as everything seems to be coming to the final stages, and I want to be part of it. So, it's like the train is moving forward, and I'm in it.
Read the entire interview from 69 Faces Of Rock.