INTERVIEW BY MARKO SYRJALA
LIVE AND INTERVIEW PICS BY MARKO SYRJALA
OTHER PICS ARE FROM WWW.PETEWAY.NET
The legendary British band, UFO, first reaped moderate success with their space rock in the early 70’s. This was before they had introduced Michael Shenker into their ranks. They finally hit it big with their PHENOMENON (1974) album. Their fortunes continued to ascend with FORCE IT (1975), NO HEAVY PETTING (1976), LIGHTS OUT (1977) and OBSESSIONS (1978) albums and the accompanied tours that followed, before finally climaxing with the lauded double live album STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (1979). As the 70ï¿½s drew to a close, the story of UFO was far from over. Many incarnations, detours, and distractions later, UFO remain to this day a force to be reckoned with both live and, as their new album THE MONKEY PUZZLE (2006) proves, in the studio as well. We managed to catch Pete Way last month in Copenhagen prior to the UFO show in Pumpehuset and here are the results of our interesting discussion. In this interview, Pete recounts some highs and lows from his whole career, including Fastway, Ozzy Osbourne, Waysted, Damage Control and of course UFO.
UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT
The first two UFO albums were a kind of mix of blues and boogie and altogether different from the albums that followed. In retrospect, how do you view those early releases?
We were learning. You know, I was only eighteen when we did the very first album.
Yet those early records did very well in Japan and Germany?
Yeah, they did, actually in France also. It was quite amazing, people still ask for those songs.
Have you ever considered adding a song or two from that era to your current live set, like "Prince Kajukuï¿½ for example?
Our manager says "You should do it for Germany, the German people grew up with this music.ï¿½ I don’t know, with THE MONKEY PUZZLE we only do one song off it at the moment, we were doing a bit more, but for different reasons we’ve come back to doing one, because we finally found ourselves playing nearly two hours and everybody wants to hear "Doctor, Doctor", "Lights Out" and all those songs, you know. It’s difficult to put it all together, you’ve got the Vinnie Moore era… one thing we did want to cover was the Paul Chapman era actually, we planned to rehearse one song, but we haven’t finalized rehearsals, so unfortunately we ended up playing the set that we were doing earlier this year. I think for the next tour or maybe some festivals we’ll change the set. It’s difficult really, there’s a lot of songs from the Michael Schenker era that people really wanna hear and we’re trying to sort of show Vinnie’s side of it as well. It’s all in the plans, but we’re not great planners, I can tell you.
After your original guitarist Mick Bolton was out, you had Bernie Marsden, who went on to be in Whitesnake, in the band for a while?
Oh, Bernie’s just an easy-going, nice guy to get on with. I think we were a little too wild for Bernie. Bernie’s like "Hello?" and we’re like "Where’s the drugs? Give us a drink!" David Coverdale once said to Bernie "What are they like then, those guys?" and Bernie said "Oh, you wouldn’t believe!"
Pete Way, Andy Parker, Phil Mogg and Bernie Marsden in 1972
After Bernie was gone you hired Michael Schenker from THE SCORPIONS. How did that happen?
Actually, Bernie had lost his passport and was going to miss two shows. The Scorpions were supporting us actually and we played together a lot, so we asked Rudolf Schenker if his lead guitar player would play with us. He [Michael] didn’t speak English, but we spoke a little bit of Deutsch, you know. So we did a reduced set, it was because on the night there was people there and the promoter said "If you don’t play, people are gonna go mad!". So we had to work it out and that was in the day when the songs were a lot simpler.
What kind of person was young Michael Schenker back in the day?
Wild! He became a lot moodier later, I don’t know why, it’s just something that happens I think. He was good fun, I don’t know what changed, but I think he stressed out and the usual thing, drugs.
Would it be accurate to say that, at the time, Michael was the missing link for UFO?
Yeah, it did change the style of the band. That would probably be right, you know, Bernie was very kind of blues oriented, that’s why we never did an album with him actually. What happened was Michael had a much more open style, much more sophisticated while still simple and it gave the songs more style and of course that ["Phenomenon" (1974)] was the first album we’d made since Mick Bolton left. It just made the whole thing fresh, plus he was very young, I mean I was twenty-one and he was seventeen or eighteen. It was like a new beginning, so it was quite interesting.
Michael Schenker, Andy Parker, Phil Mogg and Pete Way in 1973
You really made it big with PHENOMENON, how did that affect the band members, all that fame and fortune?
Touring for two years nonstop is sometimes not much fun, so we had to make our own fun, using lots and lots of cocaine and drinking. It was like being a schoolboy, we went to have a good time, we didn’t care who we played with or how we did it. We were getting more and more successful, the albums were selling very well in America and reasonably well in Europe, it was like a schoolboy being let into a candy store, as I said. We managed to get on a lot of people’s nerves. We felt that we were the best band around and we didn’t care what band we played with. That’s when we were playing as special guests to a lot of really big bands, we could play with Aerosmith for instance who were really big in America at the time and we could go down just as well as them and later on we did our own shows for ten, fifteen thousand people with AC/DC as our special guest. It was a good time. If you played and played and played, you had so much confidence and it was a reward to see what we thought was the quality of our music being seen by a lot of people and don’t forget, no hit singles, just albums.
Whose idea was it to add a keyboard player into the band prior to the release of the NO HEAVY PETTING album in 1976?
At the time it was lot of work for Michael as a four piece, some of the songs had a lot of overdubs and keyboards were on the albums. So it was like, let’s try keyboards. We found that just having keyboards on their own was too much, we didn’t have them on all the time, it would be just for intros and some sophisticated parts. That’s how Paul Raymond became involved, because Paul plays a good rhythm guitar and of course is a really good keyboard player, so that fitted. Michael and I couldn’t reproduce the backing of the albums as close as we would’ve liked to. Some people really liked it as a four piece, but sometimes you’ve got songs like for instance "Love to Love", things that do have those keyboard pieces, in those days you couldn’t use samples, they didn’t appear from nowhere. We’ve always been very realistic live band.
Once Michael was out of the picture in the late 70’s, was there ever any doubt about continuing with UFO?
It didn’t make any difference. When Michael first went, the album LIGHTS OUT was still climbing the American charts and we toured without him with Paul Chapman. The album started selling bigger and bigger and Michael came back because we had borrowed Paul Chapman from another band just to fill in.
Especially in the 70’s UFO had some really interesting album covers over the years. What’s going on the cover of FORCE IT for example?
It’s a guy and a girl "laughs"
Sure, but which one is which?
That’s the thing isn’t it? The guys that did those Pink Floyd albums [Hipgnosis] they did some historic album covers, so we were lucky to use them or should I say get to work with them.
How much control did you have over the cover artwork?
When you work with people who’ve worked with the Floyd and Led Zeppelin, some really big people, you don’t really question it. When they were shooting the pictures and ideas for it you might have thought it was a bit wild, but it always came out right, they’re now classic covers.
Paul Chapman finally replaced Michael for good in 1978, but you had first had him with you way back on the PHENOMENON tour as a second guitarist?
Yeah, but it didn’t really work to have two guitar players at the same time all the time because Michael’s style is so… you know, when you’ve got two really good lead guitar players, it was like those fucking solos… it was actually quite exciting, but it didn’t work because Michael’s the lead player on the albums, so the solos were all Michael’s. It’s difficult to ask someone who can play really well solowise to just play rhythm, you know?
The ï¿½Chapman eraï¿½ albums: NO PLACE TO RUN, THE WILD, THE WILLING & THE INNOCENT and MECHANIX were solid and also sold quite well. Why do you think those albums aren’t considered classics in the same way the ï¿½Schenker eraï¿½ albums are?
I think the production with Ron Nevison was very important [for the success of the Schenker era albums]. Ron and us together at the same time was perfect, he caught the style, I mean he had worked with Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, some very good people and he was able to capture us live but make it sophisticated and fresh. After that, they’re very difficult albums to follow up. I would say writing with Paul Chapman was different as well, because it changed the attitude of the writing, you know. It’s difficult to put into words, but I would say there are some very good songs on them, but they weren’t produced by Ron Nevison. George Martin’s a lovely man, but he didn’t really capture our rock n’ roll sound in the same way, it was a lot smaller sound. It wasn’t the rock thing that I like and think we get with Ron. Ron could make it sound clean, but also make it powerful. The [Chapman era] albums were good and people still ask for those songs.
UFO in 1979: Pete Way, Paul Chapman, Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond, Andy Parker
LIFE AFTER UFO AND THE REUNION
How much did you follow UFO’s career in ’80s after you had left?
Well, I was always in touch with Phil because we had been friends for a long time. I saw them go up and down. In fact the first WAYSTED album [VICES (1983)] and the SAVE YOUR PRAYERS(1986) went higher up in the American charts than the UFO one [from that time] did, but then I saw Phil and went "Let’s write together again." When you’ve known someone since you were sixteen, you don’t lose contact and you’re always talking about things.
How do you like the UFO albums MAKING CONTACT (1984), MISDEMEANOR (1985) and AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (1988) that were done without you?
Well, you know, I think the direction wasn’t really particularly special. I’m not so critical, if I listen to some of it, which I never really do, but there are some good songs there. At that time, if you think back, record companies tried to get you to make a single, so what happens is you’re not really being true to your music if you’re changing your music to have a single, so everything has that sort of softer approach. It even happened with Judas Priest.
What was the reason you and Phil started to work together again in the late ’80s?
I had got divorced and was hanging with Phil all the time and then we just picked up a guitar and wrote a song in between the drinking and watching videos. It became important and went on from there. The "High Stakes and Dangerous Men" (1992) album isn’t bad actually. There are some good songs on it, but it almost wasn’t really a UFO album, because it’s like the other ones in that gap, it wasn’t a solid team of people. It was mostly me and Phil writing and Lawrence Archer, who’s a good guitar player, and of course drummer Clive Edwards coming in.
Clive Edwards, Pete Way, Phil Mogg and Lawrence Arthur in 1991
The following year reunion rumours were abound. What was the catalyst for that?
It was actually Michael who wanted to rejoin the band and when he approached us about reforming the "Lights Out" lineup it made sense. We were selling some at the time, but the reason to get back together wasn’t about great amounts of money or anything like that.
Later on during the "Walk on Water" tour you got Simon Wright, who’s playing with you on this tour as well, in the band?
Andy [Parker] didn’t want to work with Michael [Schenker], because he didn’t know what was going to happen next, because of cancelled shows, Michael being in good mood or a bad mood. Michael liked working with Andy, but Andy decided that he didn’t really want to tour, he didn’t want the stress of it. He got himself involved in his family company, they had asked him to and he wanted to leave America, because he was getting divorced as well. The reason we got Simon with us now, apart from that he’s our friend, is because Andy has broken his ankle and had to have an operation. We waited all this time for Andy to come back into the band and he does this! He actually had to have these screws put in, it was a bad break. So it was lucky, because Ronnie [James Dio] is working with that band Heaven & Hell and of course Simon isn’t playing with them and was available. It wasn’t very difficult to change from Andy to Simon, Andy plays slightly different but Simon certainly puts in a good show.
Shortlived reunion lineup Raymond, Way, Parker, Schenker, Mogg..
In the aftermath of the "Walk on Water" tour and later on as well there were rumours about John Norum replacing Michael. Was there any truth behind those rumours?
Because of consistent problems with Michael, we wanted to continue as a band and John was a friend, he’s come to a lot of shows and been in contact and of course he’s a very good player. There was a possibility, but then Europe reformed, so that went out of the question. We’d been recommended that Vinnie [Moore] might be really good, but we were a bit worried because of Vinnie’s reputation for playing really fast and didn’t know if it would be right. We sent some ideas over for songs and you know, Vinnie can play in any style and we bonded very well.
Did you actually play together with John at all or was it all just talk?
No we didn’t actually, but only because we were in different countries. We never made arrangements to get together. It was always a possibility, but when the Europe situation became possible, it was better for him to do that than to see how it would go with UFO.
The next two albums COVENANT (2000) and SHARKS (2002) sort of fell short of the expectations set by the excellent WALK ON WATER album, wouldn’t you say so?
Yeah, I would say Michael [Schenker] was just going through the motions, you know? And it wasn’t because we got on badly or anything, there wasn’t a bad feeling when we were recording, it was fine. Sometimes with Michael, he needs to take a rest from it and then come back with a spark. You know, like in football where they rest for a few months and then they come back at the beginning of the season with all the energy. Michael’s never really given himself time or if he has, he’s done it because he’s had a nervous breakdown or because of a drug addiction or this or that. It’s difficult when you’ve got such an important member of the band going through the motions and I think it showed even with his solos because it was all very m atter of fact. We were recording with Mike Varney in San Francisco and Mike would put everything on a schedule and that was another part of it. You can’t put everything on a schedule like it’s only going to take ten days, we’ll have four days of rehearsals and everybody learns the parts before we go into the studio. But there’s still some good stuff on those albums.
Pete Way, Phil Mogg, Michael Schenker, Ausley Dunbar in 2002
Where did you find Aynsley Dunbar to play drums on those albums?
Through Mike Varney, he was from the bay area of San Francisco, in fact he even played on the MOGG/WAY albums.
Have you any idea what he’s up to these days?
You know… I don’t know. He had some family problems and American government problems, so I’m not sure if he can leave the country. It’s a bit complicated these days to get in and out of the United States.
Speaking of MOGG/WAY, what’s the reason you decided to release the albums under that name?
Well, we had songs and Mike Varney said "Why don’t you do a MOGG/WAY album?" and Phil and I weren’t doing UFO [because of Michael Schenker] and still wanted to do something and Mike Varney said he’d pay us. We were enthusiastic to do it. I wasn’t looking to work with anybody else, I’ve always enjoyed working with Phil. Jeff Kolmann is a bit jazzy but he’s a good player.
In 2004 you introduced a new UFO lineup, with Vinnie Moore and Jason Bonham, both very well established players, how did you get those guys?
Well, Jason really wasn’t doing a lot to be honest, so he was available. We wanted somebody with a name and he was very keen to play with us. We looked very hard for a guitar player and Vinnie’s a really good person to work with and a very good guitarist. Once we had found the right people we recorded the ["You Are Here" (2004)] album, which I think is pretty good?
Vinnie Moore, Paul Raymond, Phil Mogg, Jason Bonham, Pete Way
So you didn’t try and reach any of the ex-members and ask them back?
No, because we didn’t want to go back in time, we thought it was time to create a fresh chapter.
How was it to record a new album with this new lineup?
Well, Tommy Newton was very helpful and made a lot of it possible. Tommy doesn’t necessarily produce in the easiest way, but he certainly gets good results. He really is hard to work with, but so was Ron Nevison, he got a performance.
In 2005 UFO toured the United States and Barry Sparks had to fill in for you. That must have been pretty frustrating for you?
I think a lot of people were disappointed because they expect, not always bass playing, but a certain style from me. They took away my passport, it was very disappointing. We had set up the tour, the tickets came on sale, then we cancelled and I got a different lawyer and it looked like it would work out and you can’t cancel a tour for a second time, I think the people wanted to hear the music. It was hard for the band because I wasn’t there and I’m not saying I’m the most important part of the band. Barry’s a very good bass player. You can’t keep cancelling tours, because people lose money when they buy the ticket through an agency and UFO is famous for cancelling shows.
Pete Way, Andy Parker, Vinnie Moore, Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond
Andy Parker [the original UFO drummer] recently rejoined the band. Was it because your drummer at the time, Jason [Bonham], got offered the FOREIGNER gig?
To be honest with you, Jason got on my nerves, he didn’t like my lifestyle or attitude, he’d given up drink and drugs. Jason was already doing things with Foreigner, but would have liked to have done some more things with UFO I’m sure, but we weren’t working that much and then Andy became available and so it was like "Great, we don’t want an ybody else." and we did a show in Spain to see how it goes, to see if Andy can still remember how to play drums. Of course Andy had been playing drums, but not really professionally, just semi professionally. He’d decided to get back into music again, he’d had enough time not being on tour and it was amazing the way he played, it just makes life easier for me. It was instantly good, so that’s why Andy was back.
So it didn’t take persuading to get him back?
He’d left because of Michael [Schenker]. Michael upset him a lot. He didn’t want to start a tour that we wouldn’t finish and things like that. Like in Japan where Michael walked off the stage and cancelled some shows. You know, that’s Michael’s way of running his life. Yeah, we do it for money, of course, but we do it for pride as well. You can’t have one person’s mood dictate whether you’re going to play or not.
The new album, THE MONKEY PUZZLE, kind of sounds like a twin brother of the YOU ARE HERE album, doesn’t it?
I’d say it’s better than YOU ARE HERE though. It sounds like a band now, Andy’s playing gave it a little bit more of a UFO style.
Let’s talk a little about your other bands. You started FASTWAY together with Fast Eddie Clarke, how did that come about?
UFO toured so much and nobody was really getting on, it was… I wouldn’t really say going downhill, but it was just one of those things, another hotel, another tour and there was a lot people talking about one another behind their back, so I decided I wasn’t gonna do it. Actually it was the photographer Ross Halfin, he knew Twisted Sister and that they were playing clubs in New York and they liked UFO verymuch and he asked if I would produce their album ["Under the Blade" (1982)]. To say that I produced the album would be the wrong thing to say, because I was more like having a drink while watching them play. I had known [Fast] Eddie for a long time, obviously through Lemmy, and he got in touch and said if I’m not doing anything we should get a band together. So we searched for a singer and a drummer, we got Jerry Shirley because we liked early Humble Pie and we got Dave King, he’d sent in a tape. It was just Eddie and I for about three or four months working to put the band together. At the same time I was working with Twisted Sister.
Pete Way and Fast Eddie Clarke
Fastway is actually playing a one off show at the Sweden Rock Festival, which you have also played at with UFO, next summer.
Oh, is Dave King singing?
No, it’s a totally new lineup it seems.
I don’t think Dave would want to work with Eddie again plus he has his own band [Flogging Molly] that does well. I see him on and off, I like Dave. We were in fact planning to do a new FASTWAY album, myself and Dave and possibly Jerry. I did call Dave and ask him and he said he’s doing a tour with Flogging Molly, so that makes it difficult. Then one thing leaded to another and I ended up doing more UFO. The funny thing with UFO is that for many years we’d work and then suddenly you’ve got a lot of time and you’re not working.
Motï¿½rhead are playing at the SRF on the same day as FASTWAY as well…
Oh wow, let me tell this… I’ve known Lemmy since Motï¿½rhead were playing for ten people and he told me "I fucking hate you Pete." and I said "Why’s that?" "Because you made that cunt a star with FASTWAY!" he said. Seriously, Eddie walked out in New York [back in 1982] and that’s why Lemmy won’t have anything to do with him. Of course I’d left UFO, so we did that band [FASTWAY]. I get along fine with Eddie.
THE BLIZZARD OF OZZ
After the FASTWAY thing fell through, you then joined up with OZZY OSBOURNE for a tour in Europe?
I just did the English shows. But what happened when I started doing Fastway was that Chrysalis Records wanted to sign us, but CBS Records came out with a bigger offer and I said yes straight away. Chrysalis wanted it, but they didn’t come out with a deal. I didn’t know that on my contract with Chrysalis I was a key member to the band, so they were gonna sue CBS and me, so I couldn’t play with Fastway unless Fastway had signed with Chrysalis. So Chrysalis said they’d give me my own record deal if I stayed with them and I said to Eddie and the management that I’m not going to hold everything up because of the legal things. I worked on all the songs, I was actually a co-writer of all those songs, I did all the rehearsals, but it was easier for them to bring a bass player in so that they can tour. Of course the album was successful. Then Ozzy called me, I’m friends with Ozzy but haven’t seen him for a while, he called up and said "Look, we need a bass player, you’re not doing anything, what about coming on tour with me, I’ll pay you very well?". It was Sharon of course who organized the deal and I did about ten shows with them. I can’t say they were my best performances, because I find his music… I wouldn’t say difficult to play, but I didn’t have much rehearsal time and I have a way of playing and it wasn’t really suited to my style. But that’s why WAYSTED played with Ozzy in America and I think in a few other places too. Sharon said "You helped us out, so WAYSTED can do the Ozzy tour in America." and of course he was really big there and I was a friend of his, so I was actually traveling with Ozzy on my own, you know, me and Ozzy just having a drink together.
It was Brad Gillis, Tommy Aldridge and Lindsey Bridgewater in Ozzy’s band at the time, right?
Yeah… Lindsey and Don Airey was there as well shortly after Lindsey.
Were you always going to be in the band just for those English shows?
Well, yes and no. The thing is that I wasn’t playing really well, it wasn’t a happy situation to be honest with you. I was going to do my own band anyway and Chrysalis offered a lot of money for me to do my record, because of the success of FASTWAY actually. So they said "Thanks very much Pete, here’s the money and you’ve got the American tour.". I mean how many bands would like to open for Ozzy? It was perfect. Even when UFO played with Ozzy, we used to rehearse in the same place before his first album came out, so we used to go to the pub together.
THE GOOD THE BAD THE WAYSTED
You recently reactivated your old band WAYSTED, released a new album called BACK FROM THE DEAD and even did some gigs?
Yeah, we did some shows, only about ten actually, in England. I didn’t do all of them because I had to have an operation, I had a problem with my veins actually due to abuse of needles and drugs, so some of them I couldn’t do. It’s funny, it’s not a deliberate thing to work with so many different bands, but obviously UFO is my main band.
Whatever happened to Paul Chapman? He wrote some songs for the BACK FROM THE DEAD album but didn’t actually play on it?
It wasn’t working out actually, it was taking too long. We had an English guitar player, Robin George, who was very good and he was gonna start just doing some of it, and then Paul still hadn’t got it right and I’m being diplomatic, so he did the whole thing, and we remained as a four piece. There’s some good songs on it, you know, rock n’ roll. I like to play rock n’ roll obviously. Fin’s a great singer.
A while ago I spoke with former WAYSTED drummer Johnny Dee. How did you like the SAVE YOUR PRAYERS era lineup and why didnï¿½t it last longer?
Johnny plays with DORO now, doesn’t he? I see him every now and again. In fact, I’m sure sometime we’ll work together. It was a good band, the "Save Your Prayers" album was good. It’s one of those situations where I think there was a change in music [business] and we were getting like a million pound advance and you don’t get offered another million pounds if you don’t get the sort of sales that you need. So in the end we were changing band members and I just thought I didn’t want to go through that again. I like a band to be a band, so that when people play everybody knows who it is and know what they’re getting.
Waysted in 1986: Johnny Dee, Pete Way, Danny Vaughn, Paul Chapman
Would SAVE YOUR PRAYERS be your most commercially successfull album?
Yes and no, because they’ve all continued to sell. I would say that they did a lot of international promotion for that album as it was on EMI.
Have you kept in contact with Danny Vaughn?
I was in Birmingham, England some time ago and he called me up and I went down and got up on stage with him for "Heaven Tonight" but I was very fucked up, so I don’t know how pleased he was that he asked me to come down. He’s a good singer, Danny, a real artist.
Some of the WAYSTED albums are really hard to get, are there any plans to re-release them?
Some of those were with Music for Nations and I don’t know what they’re doing with it, but I will look into that. It’s something I haven’t really thought about because I’ve been so involved with DAMAGE CONTROL and of course with UFO.
DAMAGE CONTROL AND THEN SOME
Can you tell us some more about your new band DAMAGE CONTROL?
The reason DAMAGE CONTROL started was because I had time off UFO and of course I had worked with WAYSTED, so Robin George was mixing the WAYSTED album and we just did a bit of recording together and then we got Spike from THE QUIREBOYS who’s a good friend, he lived near and we got Chris Slade (ex ï¿½AC/DC, Uriah Heep, ASIA) It was one of those things, you know. We actually got quite good money for the album from Japan alone, it’s now coming out in Europe. Spike, he spent his Japanese money in four days on drink and drugs.
Speaking of Spike, a few years ago there was a story about him hitting Michael Schenker resulting in two black eyes, among other things?
It’s true, Michael was asking for it. Spike had actually broken his leg playing football and had a stick and Michael came towards Spike to hit him and Spike just went "WHACK!" Spike was a little shocked, anybody would be if they’re suddenly attacked. Of course it caused a lot of problems, we [UFO] cancelled the English tour, it cost us a lot of money.
Are you planning to do any touring with DAMAGE CONTROL at all?
Yes, but there’s quite a lot of work involved with UFO and I have to be careful because it’s going to need quite a lot of rehearsals because it will be brand new. I don’t want to commit to something and then have something come along for UFO, you know what I mean. As soon as we have a break from UFO, I’d like to do something. We’re going to see how the album does.
Damage Controll album promo poster
In 2000 you released your first actual solo album called AMPHETAMINE. How did that come about?
What happened was, I was asked to do a charity thing and it was me and a few other bands involved in Chicago. I got a local guitarist and a drummer from Columbus, Ohio and thought I’d have a go at singing, because when I write songs I often sing it myself be it rough or not. Strangely enough it went down so well that I was asked to come back again and do some solo shows which I actually ended up doing, but the songs I had written, for whatever band it was gonna be, were put out as a solo album. It wasn’t something that I was planning, it’s a punk rock sort of thing, but I think it’s pretty good, it’s got the energy. I was a junkie at the time, injecting heroin every ten minutes. It was one of those things, if I wasn’t doing something, you know, I might not be here today. I did a second one called "Acoustic Animal" (2004) as well and that one started off as just something I did at my living room or rehearsal studio and the record company wanted to put out, it’s supposed to be raw and not supposed to have lots of layers and things, you know.
You recently appeared on THE MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP’s TALES OF ROCK N’ ROLL (2006) album, when did you record that one?
I did the album "The Plot" (2003) with Michael in Arizona and while there I did that with him, I put the bass down because it was one of the agreements. Michael had liked the "Amphetamine" album and he said if I’ll do another one he’d like to play on it. He liked the music for "The Plot" so much, well it wasn’t going to be called THE PLOT, it was gonna be PETE WAY "Amphetamine II" or whatever. He said let’s do a band and I even did some shows with him. We ended up calling it THE PLOT with the idea of maybe going on touring. I used to come on in the middle of an MSG show and sing with THE PLOT. While I was there Michael came up with the idea for this ["Tales of Rock 'n' Roll"] and asked me to play on it because he was charging me for his studio time. It was actually a good deal, he was playing for free or very close to free for what he would normally want. He said he’d pay an X amount of dollars if I played on it, so I did. The funny thing was the engineer was a very good musician and when I first started doing it Michael had gone away for a weekend or something. I was playing and the engineer goes "I don’t think he wants that, I think he wants something a bit more sophisticated, more of something like Billy Sheehan.". Then Michael comes back and says "I want it the way you play it.", so I had to sit there with him and do every song again, he made me play like I do in UFO. It was quite interesting.
Was Jeff Martin [the drummer on TALES OF ROCK N' ROLL] also in the studio with you?
Jeff played on the "The Plot" and was getting along well with Michael, but then there was a big bust up. If you hang out with Michael day to day for two months, I can tell you it can get quite wild, you never know what’s going to happen. I’m lucky because I’ve known him for so long, so in a way he trusts me and remembers the times we’ve had together. He’s funny with some people, he can be very rude.
Is it true that you also had a project going on with Vinnie Appice [of BLACK SABBATH, DIO] and Tracy G [of DIO] back in 1996?
Yeah, very briefly. Phil [Mogg] and I did, because we’re friends with Vinnie. Vinnie asked what we thought about his guitarist friend, Phil came over and we tried some stuff and it was alright, but we didn’t go any further at the time. I don’t really know what happened, it’s been a while since I’ve seen Vinnie, I’ll have to ask him about that.
Vinnie’s going to be doing a lot of touring with HEAVEN & HELL at least until the end of the year and hopefully beyond?
I don’t know if Simon’s been thinking that [laughs].
Alright. Thanks for the interview Pete, it was a pleasure.
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