MICHAEL SCHENKER INTERVIEW
By Bob Nalbandian
SHOCKWAVES: You have a brand new CD, The Unforgiven (Shrapnel Records), and you recruited a new vocalist, once again, into the MSG lineup - Kelly Keeling (formerly with Blue Murder and John Norum)...How did you hook up and how was it working with him on this record?
MS: After I finished the European tour with MSG...the G3 tour with Joe Satriani, I decided to make a new MSG record and the first step was finding a producer. I heard the Mogg/Way album that Mike Varney had produced, which I thought was quite good, and Mike had called me a few times previously, so I got back to him and he immediately suggested Kelly Keeling as a vocalist. He sent me his tape and I thought he sang extremely well, he was the type of singer I was looking for. So, Mike produced the vocals and I produced my own guitar for the record.
SHOCKWAVES: I understand that Kelly won't be doing the tour...
MS: Yes. He might join us later in the tour but he had committed a few weeks ago to a project, so unfortunately he won't be able to start the tour with us. On tour we will have a new singer, Keith Flack (?), whom Kelly actually suggested to me.
SHOCKWAVES: I know you've worked with several vocalists with MSG...Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, Ray Kennedy....and now Kelly Keeling. Is that your decision to have a different vocalist on your albums?
MS: It just happens that way. Every time I plan to make a record, the singer who sang on my last album may not be available for this album, I don't put people on retainers so I take the best possible vocalist who is available.
SHOCKWAVES: You've worked with Phil Mogg for many years in UFO, but as far as the MSG vocalists that you've worked with, who do you feel most comfortable with?
MS: I think with Gary Barden, probably. He was probably the easiest to work with.
SHOCKWAVES: What is Gary doing these days?
MS: He actually came out on stage for 3 or 4 songs on our last European tour. I think I heard that he was doing an Iron Maiden tribute.
SHOCKWAVES: Who did you have singing with you on the recent G3 tour in Europe?
MS: That was David Valandig (?), he had never sang on any of the MSG records. We did the 25th anniversary with him singing, we played over two hours of MSG, UFO, and even a couple Scorpions songs for those shows.
SHOCKWAVES: You've probably been asked this question a hundred times, but I know there are many Shockwaves readers who are interested in hearing what actually happened with the UFO Reunion...
MS: Well, we got together because we thought we had a great manager, but being on the road and going through certain experiences, I found he wasn't the right person at all. Instances like, we would get together for a tour and I didn't know which plane to take, I didn't know which hotel we were staying in, I didn't know what rehearsal room it was...stuff like that, and I can't waste my time with that. I think UFO needs somebody with heart and soul, not someone that just opens his hand for money, but somebody who really works his butt off in small details as well as the big picture. So when that person shows up, there is a future for UFO with me involved, but until then, I can't waste my time with it.
SHOCKWAVES: So it was actually the management, and it really had nothing to do with the members of the band?
MS: Basically. We need management who is very organized in order to make it work.
SHOCKWAVES: So, there is a possibility that UFO will reunite again, given the proper management and direction.
MS: If everything seems right and everyone says yes.
SHOCKWAVES: You are, without question, one of the most influential guitarists in hardrock music, in fact, you practically trademarked the flying V guitar. With so many "virtuoso" guitarists that have come about in the past few years, have you ever been concerned with trying to re-invent your style of playing? (Not that I think it needs to be re-invented!)
MS: I just do what I do and do what I like. Fortunately, I have enough loyal fans that are interested in what I'm doing so regardless of how silly the scene becomes, I can move on and create music that I enjoy. Now I am independent and have my own company, which is important to keep things going the way you want it to go. You have to prepare yourself for the day when nobody wants to invest in your music, so you have to be able to survive without following the trends, and come up with your own ideas.
SHOCKWAVES: And you've done that now with your own label - Michael Schenker Records - which you've released several titles...
MS: I did The Michael Schenker Story Live in '97, the Written In The Sand album in '96, and the acoustic instrumental album with orchestra called Thank You. I also released a video, The Making Of "The Unforgiven" and a video of The Michael Schenker Story Live. You can order it through my website address at: www.michaelschenker.com.
SHOCKWAVES: So, you added an orchestra to the Thank You album, which you previously released a few years back as an acoustic record...
MS: Yes. I did the acoustic album Thank You which I originally released in '92. And I thought it would sound really good with an orchestra so I've finally found the time to put it together. So I re-released the CD with the orchestra.
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