INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL SCHENKER

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Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014

ON STAGE REVIEW: Good evening this is Gina Planell. I’d like to speak with Michael Schenker, please.

MICHAEL: This is he.

ON STAGE REVIEW: Hi, how are you? It’s so nice to talk to you today. What an honor..

MICHAEL: I’m fine thank you. How are you?

ON STAGE REVIEW: Michael, we’re doing a telephone interview for onstage review.com and I’m so honored to be speaking with you today.

MICHAEL: THANK YOU!

ON STAGE REVIEW: First, I wanted to say Happy Birthday…

MICHAEL: to me! thank you.

ON STAGE REVIEW: So, can i ask you a question? How does Michael’s Schenker celebrate his birthday?

MICHAEL: He doesn’t; he doesn’t even want to know it’s his birthday. He gives it all to Wayne Findlay whose birthday is the same day.

ON STAGE REVIEW: Aww.. that’s so nice! I’m so pleased that you’re coming back to Chicago you know we love you here.

MICHAEL: Yeah, I love to go, too.

ON STAGE REVIEW: Tell me.. What are we going to expect from Michael Schenker and the Temple of Rock on January 16 and 17th at Austin’s in Libertyville?

MICHAEL: okay- here’s what’s happening: I have a brand-new album out with Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock and the title of the album is, ” Bridge the Gap”. Featuring ex-Rainbow singer Doogie White, ex-Scorpions rhythm section, from “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, Herman Rarebell, and Francis Buchholz on bass, and Wayne Findlay on seven string/keyboards and the album was actually released in the states on the 7th of January, which was a few days ago….

ON STAGE REVIEW: I see….

MICHAEL: and so the album lineup world tour is not ready until March. So, in March we start off in Japan with the album lineup touring the world and we’re gonna be in America around Autumn. I said to the guys the album is coming out in the states so I’d better go there. I want to be there…. I haven’t been promoting any album for any tours for the past; who knows how many years. This is a very special album. I want to make sure that everybody knows about this. So I decided to take Doogie with me and Wayne Findlay and put together a few shows on a smaller scale and tour throughout the United States going from coast-to-coast and letting people know that there is a new album out called, “Bridge the Gap” and that’s the new album lineup that will be touring the world and be in the states in Autumn of this year. So basically, I am here with Doogie with the help of Wes Jones on bass and Pete Holmes on drums, we are basically introducing a couple of new songs. The main focus to having Doogie with me is to introduce him to my hard-core fans as the new singer and hoping to get additional people to know about this and do as much press as possible- TV radio magazines etc. etc. we will be touring until the 16th February and will be hoping by then that the wholeUnited States will know that there is a new album and we will be coming to the states with Herman and with Francis in Autumn.

ON STAGE REVIEW: The album sounds wonderful. I heard some clips that were sent to me and it’s outstanding. It really feels like home to me. I’ve been a very serious Michael Schenker fan for many years. I still have to tell you that I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you. You’re incredible. I would like to know something… You have had project after project for many, many years. Hundreds of projects over the period of your lifetime. You are legendary and that word is a minute description for you. Where do you get the inspiration to come up with these metal blasters, these incredible pieces time after time? You are awesome~ The King of Metal.

MICHAEL: ( pause..) Well it’s basically- when I was 17 years old… I stopped copying other people instinctively I knew that’s what my assignment is to contribute to the world musically from a pure place. And so that’s what I did in the 70s. I did that on my guitar. I focused on my freedom of expression and so you know, like a monk basically I’d been living- like a monk stays away from the external world so I had to stay away from external music in order to do what I must do and most of all, MOST OF ALL, I enjoy–to play and discover new music. I am fascinated with the single string; what I can do with distortion and electrical guitar, how far you can bend the string, how many combinations there are, you know – express a particular type of sound and so that’s my world. And that’s what I’ve been doing and that’s what started in the 70s…. I’ve contributed to the world from a very pure place musically as a guitarist and staying away from external music. So basically from doing so… I love to create. And I think by doing so I haven’t been consumed and I draw my inspiration from the infinite source of Spirit. And so by focusing on expression consistently, and having been doing this for all these years, I consistently express from a place that nobody else expresses from. Which means, each person who decides to express from within themselves in order to give something to the world, then nobody will know unless YOU express it. Only YOU know what’s inside of you. And until YOU decide to get that out of you, nobody will know about it. And so, that’s what I’ve been doing all my life. My first stage of my life was basically all about development when I joined UFO all the way up to Strangers In The Night, I focused on my contribution as a musician musically; And developing as a guitarist from a standpoint of freedom of expression. The middle years of my life were more about experimenting- developing on a personal level. I love to develop on all levels you know. Move forward. And so I played on Love Drive with my brother because Matias wasn’t ready to do a whole album with The Scorpions. My brother (Rudolf Schenker) found out that I left UFO and he asked me to work on music from the Love Drive album and so I did all the melodies on Coast-to-Coast, Holiday, Love Drive and Another Piece of Meat and I also think always somewhere. And so that opened the door for the Scorpions, especially for my brother for America and so my brother took over and I was through experimenting with my strengths. I did stuff like acoustic instrumentals and stuff like that. I mean I had offers from Ozzy Osbourne and Deep Purple and all sorts of bands and I I couldn’t do it because you know I had my own idea of how I would be happy and what I needed to do and so now somehow since 2008 I developed a liking towards the stage. I never really liked being on stage before.. but here out of the blue; What’s going on- why am I all of a sudden developing a liking for stage? and then I realized this might be a sign that I have to get back in the loop of what road to be available for the final. So I will say the beginning and the middle I focused on personal development and now in the final I will focus on … Well, I’ve never played the incredible era of rock that started with bands like Zeppelin, like for me the bands that I fell in love with, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath etc. etc. so many bands and great musicians, important musicians, so many musicians that have passed away you know like John Bonham, Ronnie James Dio, Gary Moore, Lou Reed, Alvin Lee, Keith Moon, Randy Rhoads and John Lord and so many great musicians and sooner or later it’s just going to be a memory. It will be nothing but the memory. And so, I wanted to put this incredible era, my generation of rock, once more to the foreground and celebrate! Because that’s what I do… And so with this album, “Bridge the Gap” I basically I have done my own re-experience like the fans do. I am also a part of that experience like when I was 18 you know? I want to be fast, heavy, melodic and hard and so on and so you know it’s kind of weird how things go in cycles.

ON STAGE REVIEW: I am so looking forward to the show. I noticed, in the most recent photographs of you; you have such a beautiful, peaceful smile. It really does look like you are completely enjoying yourself up there as opposed to photos of years ago. It looks like you are enjoying being out there again while presenting this work of art. I am really excited to see you out there again.

MICHAEL: Thank you. I am happy that the universe has eventually gotten me out there to be back in the loop and gets me great, great players who are also friends as well as musicians like Doogie White, Herman, Francis and Wayne and so you know it’s a fantastic chemistry that we have like from the beginning with Francis and Doogie joined, we could feel that that was something special. It has been showing since 2012 since we started touring on a regular basis, it was so fascinating. I quickly, as we started the European tour, decided to arrange a video shoot just in case something happened. I wanted to at least keep the memory, it was getting stronger and stronger until we ended the European leg and there was more of them coming in and then it was a 6 month window and then I said, . “Hey guys, maybe this is time for us to do an album!” And so everybody went, “Yeah!”— And so than I thought right by the end of the year 2012, it had Herman and Doogie and think ‘Bridge the Gap’! He did a fantastic job!(on Doogie co-writing the album). I knew that the title was going to be ‘Bridge the Gap’ before I even thought it might be because Herman and I only did one album together and that was ‘Love Drive’ and now here we are doing another album after all these years. It seems like a real event. I already have ideas for the next album in 2015 after we had been together on a world tour. You know, sitting together in one room all the time, somebody plays a riff and then everybody in the moment becomes creative and adds something to it. It’s great.

ON STAGE REVIEW: I would love to observe that. It sounds exciting to watch you jam together and make new music. It looks like this would be considered a celebration of ‘family’. You have, at one point, over the years played music with each other and are familiar, kind of like family. I’m very excited to see the stage camaraderie again with Herman and Francis and your new members. I have to tell you, I think this will be an incredible highlight of my life musically.

MICHAEL: Great! That’s what I want. I’m sure there’s something in the making, like what I’m doing right now is in checking it all out. So hopefully the words I’m putting out here will reach every corner of the States. So when we come over on a bigger scale- we will be playing much bigger places- everyone will appreciate the music. I hope this little bit of spreading now will benefit later.

ON STAGE REVIEW: I bet it will. I’ll do my part, that’s for sure.

MICHAEL: Good!

ON STAGE REVIEW: You know Michael, Chicago has always been hugely fond of you. Why do you think that is?

MICHAEL: (..pause) Well… Chicago has a lot of Germans there! (laughs). I think Chicago has something to do with, well obviously I can’t pinpoint it directly to the core of it, but you know it just seems to be that the timing may be right and also where we were when we decided to make the ‘Lights’ album for UFO. When ‘Lights Out’ became a hit and I disappeared. (Then) ‘Obsession’ (came out) the band was getting stronger and the band started the peak. We played arenas … We ended up deciding to make a record in Chicago and somewhere outside of Chicago we had two places where we recorded and that’s why we did it! Ron Nevison was a sixth member of the band and we had Paul Raymond with us and we were fully equipped and at that point, we were in Chicago. Chicago was the voice that was to be heard around the world on what later became one of the most successful ‘Lights’ album that worked. Chicago became famous with UFO together. So basically Chicago is part of my family. The voices in the “Strangers in the Night” album are from Chicago and so for me it is kind of unique.

ON STAGE REVIEW: Along that same line of thought, here’s the segue into my next question. Please forgive me, I really must ask it. I think a lot of people are wondering, is there even a slight chance that there would be a UFO reunion in the future with original members?

MICHAEL: UFO is family. The Scorpions are family. The universe is the driver and I do my part. Whatever the universe decides needs to happen will happen. When the conditions are right for it to rain, it rains. When something such as a reunion of UFO willhappen, it will happen. Every energy has its own cycle, a development in its own pace. When all the wheels show up, you know, like in clubwork and when it’s meant to be for that particular clubwork to be gigging together one more time, it will happen.

ON STAGE REVIEW: That is great hope. Is there anything that you would like your fans to know regarding this current project?

MICHAEL: Yes, I really think this is a great album. We’ve put all our energy into it and had a great chemistry putting it together. This is what we do. The tour actually begins in March In Japan. I’m stepping up this whole thing now with Doogie and Wayne with the help of Jones and Pete Holmes. Then, we’re going to be touring until 2015 with the new lineup and making a new album and as we do that, new things will come to the foreground, new suggestions are going to be made.. And I am as curious as you are to see what the future will be.

ON STAGE REVIEW: Absolutely! I thank you so much for your time today, Michael. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I know you’re very busy, you’ll be coming in from Denver. Something like 1000 miles?

MICHAEL: Yes, coming in from Denver…

ON STAGE REVIEW: I hope you have a great trip, smooth sailing and a great show. I’ve enjoyed speaking with you immensely. Can’t wait to see you at Austin’s saloon in Libertyville on Friday, January 17th.

MICHAEL: Oh, thank you so much!

ON STAGE REVIEW: You have a really good evening, okay?

MICHAEL: You, too! Thank you. Goodbye!

 

Gina Planell
Gina Planell (a.k.a 'Sweet G') has literally been an eternal supporter of local music in Chicago. As a youngster trying to earn money to get into college in order to pursue a career in journalism, she became a popular area promoter and photographer as a result of her good skills and work ethic. Learning to type-set flyers, posters and other pressed promotion items was something she became good at not only as a means to reach a goal, but because of the fact that she had a true, unadultered love for music, which in time started making an impact within her music community and scene.