MICHAEL SCHENKER Page 2
SHOCKWAVES: Your guitar playing, particularly your solos, are so identifiable. When you hear a Michael Schenker guitar solo, whether be with MSG, UFO, or Scorpions, you know it is Michael Schenker! So many have tried to imitate but know one has been able to clone your sound and style. Your solos are so well written and so "tasty." How do you normally compose your songs - as far as the riffs, vocal melodies and solos?
MS: The way I write music is...I practice everyday, and when I have an idea I record it on cassette and I accumulate all the ideas. And when it is time to make a record, I listen to what I have and what inspires me on the tape. I then get inspired to write a song around it and then I give it to the singer, who then works out the lyrics and vocal melodies.
SHOCKWAVES: Are most your leads spontaneous, or something you sit and work out?
MS: Usually it's spontaneous, except for when I do harmonies or double-tracks, then I usually work it out.
SHOCKWAVES: Your guitar tone, especially on the UFO CD's that Ron Nevison had produced, is so rich and warm...how do you get that sound?
MS: I have my way of playing. By listening to Ron Nevison's production and analyzing it, you can find out his input. But I can only speak for what I do and I just select a combination of tone that I like, guitarwise and ampwise, and I play.
SHOCKWAVES: What equipment do you currently use onstage and in the studio?
MS: Gibson Flying V, and 50 watt Marshall.
SHOCKWAVES: When you first started out with Scorpions in Germany, you had recorded the Lonesome Crow record when you were just 16, is that correct?
MS: Actually, I was 15.
SHOCKWAVES: How was that experience...being so young and recording your first record?
MS: It was a very frightening experience.
SHOCKWAVES: How did you get involved in playing guitar at such an early age...did your older brother Rudolf turn you onto guitar?
MS: My brother had got a guitar for his birthday and it was just lying there, so I picked it up and started to play.
SHOCKWAVES: After the Lonesome Crow record, you joined UFO. Both bands were touring in Germany at the time...Is that how you hooked up?
MS: We were touring together, Scorpions were opening for UFO and I had to help them out because they had just lost their guitarist. I played a couple of concerts with both the Scorpions and UFO and that's when UFO asked me to join their band.
SHOCKWAVES: That must have been strange for you...joining an all British band at a time when you barely spoke any English!
MS: I wanted to join something outside of Germany because, at the time, music wasn't taken very seriously in Germany. And I wanted to be somewhere where music was appreciated and where I would have an audience. And England was a country where this kind of music was coming from. In Germany, management companies were not allowed and I was progressing and developing so fast that for me to move to England seemed to be the right thing to do. My lack of English was a problem at first but it really wasn't that important because it was based on music, not language so much.
SHOCKWAVES: One thing I thought was very admirable for a guitarist of you stature - after your success and recognition as one of the greatest guitarists in hard-rock, you were giving guitar lessons here in Los Angeles.
MS: That was a period when Robin McAuley and I were waiting for our next record to be recorded and I had some time off - that's why I did the Ratt project (i.e.: Contraband)...it was just something I did because I had nothing else to do.
SHOCKWAVES: The lineup you had with Robin McAuley was labeled the McAuley Schenker Group (still abbreviated MSG) and it seemed that he was given a lot more freedom and exposure than your previous singers...You also added a second guitar player - Mitch Perry, which I found kind of unusual...
MS: The thing with Robin...when I finished with Gary (Barden) in '84, I decided I wanted to have a partner. And I felt comfortable to split things down the middle, not just financially, but also namewise. And it just so happened that his last name started with "M" so the band could still be called MSG.
SHOCKWAVES: Was it strange for you, working with a second guitar player with that band?
MS: That was also my idea. I always wanted somebody that supports my playing. At that time, I was quite interested to see what it would be like to have a guitarist in the band who played totally different than I do, but still exceptional. There were two types of guitar styles that were popular at that time - one was more the "Van Halen" style, and one was more like my style. And I thought it would be a good idea to combine those two styles in one band.
That raps up the interview! For anyone interested in ordering MSG's latest CDs and videos, please check out their website at: http://www.michaelschenker.com
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