Interview with Michael Schenker ahead of his gig at the Ironworks, Inverness. (Tickets available now.)
To say Michael Schenker is unique is selling him short. The ultra talented guitar virtuoso has been on the rock scene for over forty years from his teens playing with one of Germanys premier rock bands ‘The Scorpions’ with his brother Rudolph, followed by an institution of 1970’s British rock ‘UFO’.
It was with UFO he toured all over the UK and further afield but it would appear after much contemplation, this upcoming visit to the Ironworks will be the first time in the Highland capital. “I remember Phil Mogg (singer of UFO) saying I needed my passport jokingly as we were playing all over the UK including Scotland way back in the mid 1970’s.”
Michael still has a passion for playing and writing music even more so today than throughout his 40 years in the business. “I love playing live now, there was a time I became very nervous with stage fright, but since 2008 I absolutely love playing on stage.”
Temple of Rock is now in to its second album and is the third installment in the native Germans career. After Scorpions and UFO he formed the Michael Schenker Group (MSG) which became very popular with rock fans throughout the 1980’s producing rock anthems like ‘Armed and Ready’ with some of the best known players of the time including Cozy Powell on drums, Graham Bonnet and current AC/DC drummer Chris Slade among many others.
Temple of Rock vocalist Doogie White is a Glaswegian that has carved out his own career with other notable guitar greats like Richie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen. White has found a great working relationship with Michael and written the songs from the new album ‘Spirit On A Mission’ with him. “Working with Doogie is simply meant to be, we work really well together, and there is great chemistry.”
While recording the album, some of the work and equipment was stolen from the studio in a break-in. Michael was obviously incensed about the episode but turned it around to a positive. Because some of the equipment that held Doogies vocals were taken, they approached the work as pre-production. “After I had initially got over my annoyance, we re-did the vocals and other parts and what we ended up with was a much better result, so we worked it to our advantage.” He said.
On asking Michael about how his guitar playing has developed over the years he said the following, “I stopped listening to music and other players at 17 so I could develop my own style and technique putting as much self-expression in to my lead guitar playing.”
Always planning ahead with many projects on the horizon, Michael will have a live dvd filmed recently in Madrid coming out in April with the next Temple of Rock album set for a 2017 release.
At present, Michael is working through a current record deal. “ I am currently working with a record contract agreed a few years back under my own name but once that has been fulfilled, I will be looking to have a new deal set-up as the Temple of Rock as that will be how we move forward.”
Spirit On A Mission, features Schenker’s Temple of Rock band. Jamming alongside Schenker is drummer Herman Rarebell (formerly of the Scorpions), Francis Buchholz on bass (also ex-Scorpions), vocalist Doogie White (ex-Rainbow) and Wayne Findlay on guitar and keyboards.
Michael co-produced the latest album with producer Michael Voss, “Basically it’s a co-production effort because, we work very well together and he has great ideas and he can understand immediately what I’m asking him. I already had the concept for this album before I went into the studio and Michael picks up really well, it’s a really good team and working relationship.”
Many musicians tend to feel that their newest album is the best of their careers, we asked Michaels view on that concerning Spirit on a Mission. “It is quite possible. Maybe it’s just a natural progress as you get older and you are capable of living in the now, and not getting so much distracted by all the other stuff… I think these days’ people have learned – they have been through the school of life, like myself. I’ve noticed when I speak to some of the musicians today it’s really a pleasure to speak to them. You can actually have fun talking to those guys when years ago it wasn’t possible.”
Tracks from the new album are currently featured on Planet Rock Radio with highlights including Good Times, Rock City, Live and Let Live and Communion.
Michael Schenkers Temple of Rock plays the Ironworks on Saturday 23rd January.
Ticket via the Box Office: 0871 7894173 or online www.thegigcartel.com.