An Interview with the Legendary
that took place on October 22nd, 2017.
Interviewed By Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: Hello Michael, how are you Sir?
Michael: Good. How are you?
Glenn: I'm good. It's Glenn from Metalliville and it's a pleasure to talk to you.
Michael: Thank you.
Glenn: No problem. The last time I saw you was at The Plug and you were doing the 'Temple Of Rock' and you had Doogie on vocals. That was such a great night in Sheffield. How was that for you and how was that tour in general?
Michael: The Temple Of Rock was fantastic. We toured for four years. We did two studio albums, two DVD's and then I announced a break. Everybody was happy about it. We needed a little bit of distance because we did a lot of touring. It was non-stop. At that point in Japan we had an offer to tour with Graham Bonnet, opening the show and then sing a song with us. When that was suggested and happened, that started off the thought of, 'Man, you know I should actually be performing my most popular music with the original singers'. I hadn't done this for a long time so I was sure everyone would love to see and I would love to do it.
There's more than one singer – I've had quite a few singers. I picked a time and the period with Gary (Barden), Graham (Bonnet) and Robin (McAuley). We called them up and they were really happy to do that. Then I had to figure out who should be the band. Chris (Glen) and Ted McKenna came to mind immediately- they were of the original line-up after Cozy Powell. Also, the rhythm section for 'Assault Attack'. Then a unique little twist came in - that was that Steve Mann came to mind who has a connection with McAuley Schenker Group. It couldn't have been planned but it worked out just like that.
We started doing a few festivals. The first one was Sweden Rock. We did a few festivals here and there. But an actual tour we didn't do at all until on 15th of this month. We started headlining Loud Park in Japan which is a superb arena. It's the third largest indoor arena in the world. It was pretty amazing. We carried on in Osaka. We are now going to Frankfurt and Offenbach. Then we carry on in Spain and then we do four shows in the UK. Then basically the UK tour with this line-up will be the last one.
We have never done this in the UK before. This is the first time but also we started when I was thinking about Michael Schenker Fest – you know, what's next? I thought, 'Well how about Michael Schenker Fest in the studio. (We laugh) That was for a while. That was going to be the working title but since then we have come up with a better idea. The album is now called 'Resurrection'. We started the album in June and it actually is being mastered as we speak. It's all completed. We even ended up with Kirk Hammett on it.
Michael: A guitar battle. This album is not just end of course as we have added Doogie White to it.
Michael: This links us to probably your next question that is, 'Is Temple Of Rock still going?' - of course Doogie is there – I can combine everything. So now, I have a chance to play the most popular of Michael Schenker from the past and current. This is fantastic. 'Temple Of Rock' is basically Doogie and myself anyway. Even Wayne Findlay was writing a few songs. This way I can connect everything. The album is really, really unique. It's got three songs for each singer. We have actually combined three or for songs so they all sing.
Glenn: That's great!
Michael: Gary sings a verse, Robin sings a bridge and Graham sings a chorus. It's really, really fun. We have one song that was ready very early in the process. It's called 'Warrior'. That's when we started doing that where everybody is singing a line. We played and we recorded in Stuttgart. We also took footage of singing, playing and recording in the studio. It's gonna be the first teaser – the first promo song that's going to be hyping the album. The album we are going to do isn't out until the beginning of March I think. Then we start a US tour with four singers including Doogie.
Glenn: That's amazing!
Michael: That will be a whole new programme. That's why I say for the ones that want to see this show in the UK, it's going to be the first time we are doing this in the UK and it will be the last time with this particular line-up even though we aren't losing anything, we are just adding Doogie to it.
Michael: We will change the songs because there are more singers and it will be a different set.
Glenn: It makes a lot of sense that. When you got the idea of putting the Michael Schenker Fest together, did it take long to rehearse it all or did it just come together like clockwork as though you'd all been working together for a long time?
Michael: Basically, once the idea was in my head I was hoping for the best. Steve Mann did an interview and he said, “This could have gone completely wrong”. I didn't even think about it. I just thought, 'Well it be unique to have the original singers'. All the energy we have put in, in the last few years to sing those songs directly for the newcomers and for the hardcore fans to re-experience and also for the newcomers to actually see what it was like past. It's a really unique thing. Basically, we called up and people were happy to do that – each one. That makes it so much easier even though it's a big undertaking because you have to fly in people from all over the world. Gary lives in Bangkok, Robin and Graham in Los Angeles then a couple up in Scotland and so on. It will happen one time in England.
We have a new record company – Nuclear Blast, which is a great record company. They are well-connected worldwide. It's running really smoothly. We've stuck with the timetable. It took us five months to put it all together but it's being mastered today. I start my promo tour and I'm going to be flying to the key cities in Europe to promote the album for 14 days. It will be a great relief. Michael Voss when we finished mixing – he was the Co-Producer with me, he said, “This is the greatest project he has ever worked on”. It's really, really brilliant!
Glenn: That's brilliant. I'm so looking forward to seeing you guys in Sheffield. I know Graham. Graham's such a great guy and I know Robin as well. We hung out and chatted. We have the biggest laughs. They are such good guys. I'm yet to meet Gary yet and I've seen you quite a few times like when you played with David, God rest his soul – a great guy – when you were at The Canyon Club and also seen you two or three times in Sheffield. So I'm so looking forward to it all. It's going to be so good.
Michael: Yeah! We are all very excited especially since we've never been to the UK. We haven't played for a while. I haven't played the UK. I love playing the UK so it's going to be great to be here.
Glenn: Yeah that's great. You did a DVD in Tokyo. Can you see you doing a European or UK DVD to mark this event?
Michael: I think it's going to be the UK, the next DVD. I don't think we will do it now but I think we will do it when Doogie is part of the whole line-up because then you have a reason – an additional singing and it will be a different programme. But it's my dream to do this in the UK because I've done Spain and Tokyo. I've done various different countries but I want to do one in England. It's gonna be the best. It's gonna to be the one with the four singers. It's gonna be a great DVD!
Glenn: Awesome! What guitar straps do you like to use?
Michael: I like those DiMarzio guitar straps. They are really good. They make snap-on and I've used them for over ten years now. I'm happy with them.
Glenn: Right. One of our writers, Dave Attrill was asking where the idea came from to have your Flying V's black and white?
Michael: It actually marks the beginning of my second part of my life. After I opened the doors for The Scorpions with the last record 'America' I split and started MSG. Basically, that idea already when I was still with UFO in 'Strangers In The Night'. I had a black and I had a white guitar. I was always wondering which one I should use. They both sounded great. That's when I thought, 'Oh, wait a minute, a black and white guitar would be great'. Basically, that's how it started.
Glenn: When you're performing certain songs on stage from whatever period, do certain things come into your mind such as memories of when you did them the first time round. And if so, what really stands out to you?
Michael: For me, it's all the art of lead guitar with pure self expressions. I'm just gone when I play lead guitar. I don't think about anything. I'm just enjoying what is happening at the time. I don't think about the past or the future – I'm just there.
Glenn: You just get on with the job! It makes a lot of sense. Can you see yourself at any time writing an autobiography?
Michael: A biography?
Michael: I am a musician. (We laugh) I'm not a book writer. Let the music do the talking. I think I'll leave the book writing for the people who have run out of ideas. I'm still in the middle of my full enjoyment of music and I put my energy into that.
Glenn: Yeah! A lot of people have written one over the last few years.
Michael: Yeah! I think they have run out of ideas. (We laugh)
Glenn: It's a good answer that! That's brilliant. What would you say your happiest moments are so far in your career?
Michael: The happiest: I have enjoyed my life from beginning to now. Even a crisis is a teacher – they teach you and you learn from it. I'm so happy when something goes wrong and I come out on the other side with a greater knowledge and an experience that teaches me something about life. It's all good. It's really depending on how you see the world and how you look at things. For me, it's one journey that is basically unique to have a variety of happenings in your life in order to experience things and to learn from them. I love it. I don't look at a crisis and say, “Oh look, another crisis!”. Eventually I love to learn from them and it's fun for me.
Glenn: Awesome! That's great. Are there certain songs that you look forward to in the set that you are doing on the Michael Schenker Fest?
Michael: It's one thing. It's not about a song and another song and another song for me. It's a show like a book. It's more balance and each part of the book is important in order to understand the whole book so that's what the show is. The whole show is one book. It's one journey and I love it.
Glenn: Is there anything else you would like to mention before we come to the end of the Interview?
Michael: I'm looking very much forward to doing the UK Tour. I am also very much looking forward to the CD release – the new CD. It's a fantastic CD. It's really unique and different and you will enjoy it. Let's stay with the live shows for now and see you in the UK when we get there which is just around the corner. And don't miss it! It is to be the only time that the first time we are doing it in the UK and it's the only time you will see it in that way.
Glenn: Brilliant. As I say, I'm looking forward to that and seeing everyone. It's gonna be good.
Glenn: Right, I'll let you get off Sir but it has been a pleasure.
Michael: Okay, thank you so much.
Glenn: Thank you Michael. You take care of yourself .
Michael: You too. Bye-Bye.
Glenn: Thanks. Bye.
A big thank you to Michaela Sauter of Noble PR for setting up the interview, supplying the marvellous concert photographs by Emili Muraki & Frank C. Duennhaupt and of course the UK Tour Poster.