INTERVIEW AND LIVE PHOTOS BY BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
Michael Schenker is a legendary German guitarist, best known for his tenure in UFO and solo career. He was an early member of Scorpions, then achieved fame in the mid-1970s as the lead guitar player for UFO, with whom he played until 1978. Then he briefly re-joined the Scorpions and recorded the album LOVEDRIVE. Since 1980 he has been leading the Michael Schenker Group in various incarnations. He has also re-joined UFO three times and has been a part of several projects and bands, including McAuley-Schenker Group, Contraband, and Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock. Schenker’s long career has had many ups and downs, but he continues to record and perform. The latest project is called Michael Schenker Fest. It’s a kind of supergroup mainly consisting of the Schenker bandmates from the ’80s. The band includes three vocalists, Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley, from the band’s most successful era. The band’s latest addition is the fourth vocalist, Doogie White, who is the lead singer of the Temple of Rock. Michael Schenker Fest was formed in 2016, and after finishing the tour, the band released a live album LIVE- TOKYO INTERNATIONAL HALL A. (April 2017). In the summer of 2017, the group started to work on its first album feat—the original material. As a result, the album called RESURRECTION will be released in March of 2018. Michael Schenker arrived in Finland in late December to promote the new album. Here’s a summary of things we discussed: the birth of the band, the new album, some past stuff, and more…
First of all, I want to say congratulations on your fantastic Michael Schenker Fest band and the new RESURRECTION album. It seems that things are going great in your life and career at the moment.
Michael Schenker: Absolutely. I have been in my middle years. Actually, in 2008, I was always suffered from stage fright. 2008 something happened like out of nowhere, 180 degrees, I wanted to be on stage again. I took that as a sign to put my first leg back into the loop of Rock and Roll. I was with an acoustic cable company, but also on the side was selling CDs. But I felt quite comfortable there. But to understand where I’m coming from, I would have to start off… like the first part of my life; I made my music contribution to the world in the ’70s, which impacted many generations and influenced a lot of guitarists, which I never knew. I never actually wanted to be famous or anything. I just had fun playing. It all happened by itself. I will always say that I unconsciously made my music a contribution because I never knew I made one.
So, when I was 23 in 1978, I finished STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT. I helped the Scorpions with LOVEDRIVE, up to those for America for them, and I had to kind of force myself out of the Scorpions. Because at that point, I was experiencing fame and success to its fullest, and I was able… and I’m very grateful for that. Because it’s a difference-making a decision, knowing what it’s like out there. Instead of making a decision when you haven’t reached it. Which way should I go? So, I knew there was nothing there for me that I wanted, and I wanted to experiment with music and focus on life. Because the first mission was complete, and I kind of developed. I called it my development year and decided to disappear from the face of the earth. But I couldn’t because Peter Mensch was standing on the other side. He was waiting for me with open arms, sending me straight back to Aerosmith. I went like, “Wow!” I was getting a bit dizzy because I had made a decision. I felt like Jojo, but the first step in the right direction was made. I created my own band, the Michael Schenker Group.
So, that was the beginning of the second chapter of your career.
Michael Schenker: Yes, and that chapter went on for ten years. It was all the way through the Gary Barden time, Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley. Then ’92, it was when I moved to Arizona and built a recording studio and completely disappeared. The last years of Michael Schenker that era. I was away until 2005, no interviews, nothing. I just did whatever I wanted. But it was the most rewarding time because of what I experienced with all the experiments musically. I did acoustic instrumentals, electronic instrumentals. I was jamming with; I was doing a project, THE ENDLESS JAM, with Davey Pattison and Aynsley Dunbar. The second album also featured Tim Bogart; it was a fantastic time.
During that era, you also released those THANK YOU albums, right?
Michael Schenker: I did THANK YOU albums and all that stuff. I wanted to do projects where I could play solos only. Anyway, I was doing many things, and I got it all out of my system. So, the middle years were the most rewarding. I was able to get everything out of me, not just music but also as a person, I could develop.
So, shall we say that you were recharging your career and yourself at the time?
Michael Schenker: Yeah. I was developing out from a shy, unstable person into a strong, stable person. That’s when 2008, that’s when I said… that’s when I felt I wanted to be on stage again, and then I connected with one leg in a loop of Rock ‘N Roll, like with the cable company. But I was happy there where I was. I was protected, and everything was okay. So, I did for the next ten years. I was making records with them and then, of course, halfway through that period. I started Temple of Rock with Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz from Scorpions and Doogie White and Wayne Findlay. And we did Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, and we toured for four years, and we did like two live DVDs, CDs, and two studio albums. But it was just like no break. It was like running on consistently. Many bands, when they want to break, only make a record and tour for three years. They create a distance, and the first was that way. But we played the same city so many times; it was better for us to have a break.
So, just before we got to that point, we played in Japan. The promoter had the idea to have Graham Bonnet open up for us and then have Graham sing a song with us, and we did that, and that kind of stuck in my heart. So, I started kind of… this is now the third stage of my life, is celebration time and performing the most popular music of Michael Schenker. But I wanted to do it with original singers. So, it’s a kind of celebration, Michael Schenker Fest, to the original singers. So, it had all that energy that usually one band has that stays together for 40 years. They put all the power into that one, and they create a band name, and they keep stepping up and further and further. I put it in all different directions. So, I wanted to… I was actually ready to play my songs with the original singers. I thought that all my energy was kind of all over the place, and if I get that all together, I can concentrate that energy and have the same effects. I get all the energy back into one place. So how can I do this? Maybe Phil and Klaus are farfetched, but perhaps I can do it with the MSG 80’s guys? With Gary, Graham, and Robin. So, we called them up, and they were all ready. It’s fantastic. It was as if they were all waiting for it.
THE THINGS DEVELOPE
So, you’re saying that all the guys were available, and nobody didn’t say no or wasn’t too busy with other things at the time. How the things develop from there?
Michael Schenker: They all were ready, and they wanted to do it. They were really happy about it. I put the band together, which was evident that I wanted to have Chris Glen and Ted McKenna in the group. They made the original ASSAULT ATTACK, they were the rhythm section, and they also played most of the original MSG stuff in the ’80s. Then nice addition that popped into my head was Steve Mann, who was in the band during the McAuley Schenker Group era. So, we had a really good combination, which was just kind of perfect.
So, we started with the first concert in Sweden Rock, and we did different little things, so we basically in baby steps and moved forward. Soon we got offered to headline Loud Park near Tokyo or in the Tokyo area. It is the third biggest indoor arena in the world and hosts 33,000 people. We were asked to headline there. I said, “Who are we headlining the first day?” They said the Scorpions. I said I was not going to do it. So, I got offered to do other shows in Japan. Instead of Loud Park, we did Budokan. I didn’t even discuss with anybody in advance, but I just put the hand in my own pocket and hired a camera team and behind-the-scenes people, photographers, and stuff. It was a fantastic show. Then I went to Germany, and we edited it there. I did go to Michael Voss’s recording studio with him, and we mixed it. Then we sold it to Acoustic, and for the first time, it was available to see around the world, with its full potential. Because of the YouTube stuff and all of that, shot with the iPhones. It doesn’t work. NEW MUSIC LIVE – TOKYO INTERNATIONAL HALL A was released last spring.
At which point did you decide that you were going to record new material with this line-up?
Michael Schenker: It was at that point, I said, like all of a sudden, I was thinking Michael Schenker Fest in the studio. So, I imagined a big feast table with bottles of wine and big everything, like a feast with Michael Schenker Fest in the studio and the control room in the background. That was a kind of a… I had a funny ring to it. Michael Schenker Fest in the studio. So that was the beginning of thinking, making a record at the studio with all new material. A full studio album of Michael Schenker Fest! At that time, because of the DVD, we started getting record deal offers. Record companies made offers, and Nuclear Blast was the most attractive one. Because they were German and they had a great reputation and were represented by this German company.
So, it’s good to keep this just alone, from the legal aspect. You don’t have to pop them, not getting anyway. If you connect it to… to be with someone like America or something, but the thing was, I didn’t want to do it at first. I said, “No.” I said no, and I said no, and I kept saying no. I didn’t want to do it, period. Eventually, it jacked on for weeks, and eventually, my representative said like, maybe you should do it. That was enough said, because my representative, it was a blessing. He would be behind it. So, I looked at my situation, kind of in general, and figured out what was happening. I realized that I’m a different Michael Schenker today than I used to be. So, I didn’t need that surrounding anymore. It served that purpose, but it was not needed anymore. The other one was that Michael Schenker Group is a much bigger undertaking, which needs proper support, especially for something like that. So, I said, all right, let’s do it. So, I signed, and I’m very happy today that I did. Because of what I’m experiencing here now, it’s unbelievable. Because I was out of the scene for so long, I forgot about this part of life. But anyway, middle life was the most rewarding time of my life because it was more than money. It made me who I am today.
So, I started to meet with Nuclear Blast, and, in the beginning, they said, like, don’t worry about timing. You can take your time: no pressure and whatever. I said, “No, no. Wait a minute; we already have a tour committed!” It was confirmed to start on the 6th of March in North America. So, we needed an album out before. I asked if we could figure out timing, like when we should need to finish an album, to have enough time to do all of that properly. So, we put that together, and I don’t know if everybody was on the same page. Like I started writing, and at the department, I started working on the idea with a big table and stuff like that.
You had the band, and you started working on the material. At which stage was Doogie White added to the line-up as the fourth vocalist?
Michael Schenker: Doogie kept calling me up and said like, “Michael. When are we doing the next Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock?” I said, “We just released the live album. We need a little bit of break!” I said, “Then the chocolate will taste good again!” or something like that. But he kept calling up until I said, “Wait a minute. If you join the band, you don’t have to sing the old stuff anymore. If you were a part of Michael Schenker Fest, you could be current, and then you don’t have to sing the old Gary Barden songs anymore”. Temple of Rock has already been existing over five years, since the first song was written, maybe even more. It existed before “The Devil Knows You’re Dead” was written. And there are quite a few Temple of Rock classics already where Doogie is involved. So, he can perform that stuff and from the new album, songs like that. So, he understood that. When I sent the songs out to him, he just took five immediately. I said, “Doogie. Wait a minute; you can only have three. We’ve four singers in the band.” Also, I didn’t want to do like three songs each in clinical and just like that. I wanted to be more like… I wanted to have like two or three songs where everybody was singing together.
In the second song that I wrote overnight, Michael Voss worked on the melody and the lyrics and played it to me. I said, “Michael, this is perfect.” It became “Warrior.” It’s perfect for the whole band to share. It’s a great song, and I was really happy that it happened at the beginning of the album because it was the first song ready. So, we had all the time to prepare whatever needed to be prepared for that. Basically, I put all the songs on the table. I created a collection of the songs and the blueprints. I tried to make it as real as possible so that the singer always knows exactly where he is going to. Also, for the musicians, I stopped listening to music when I was 17, so I also stopped copying. I want as little outside influence as possible. So, the more I create, the less there is it.
But the personalities, that’s the important part of the recording. The special personality of Ted McKenna with his backbone of drum fills and the wellness and the solidness of Chris Glen and stuff like that. Then, of course, Steve Mann’s little sprinkles and stuff like that. So, we sent all of that out, and then I kind of was joking. Let’s just send it out, and maybe everybody picks what the other one doesn’t pick. But then again, I didn’t want to do it; it was clinical. So, we ended up at some point. But because I think Graham was still thinking, we had two years before something new happened. Michael Voss is a huge MSG fan, and he analyzed MSG, the whole ’80s era because that’s the most fascinating MSG time for Michael Voss. He analyzed the ’80s in general, but MSG was always his favorite band. So, he understands when I have an idea, and he can read exactly what I want. It’s unbelievable, and that’s why we work so well together.
But because he knows that much about MSG, he knows everything about MSG. So, he is a genius, a musical genius. He is really, really good. So, he started writing with a B plan. He was making a B plan, just in case for Graham, and he had custom-tailored two songs for him, “Night Moods” and “Everest.” So, when Graham started panicking, “Oh. Do you have any other fast songs, or do you have anything?” Michael said, “Look. I kind of tried to maybe come up with something for you. Just have a listen, see if you like it?” And Graham was so happy about the songs. “This is perfect,” he said, and “Night Moods” has a fantastic chorus and the eclipse on end; they worked out incredible. “Everest” is the album’s first song, and he was kind of dragging in halftime over it. So, at the end of the day, everybody ended up with what they actually liked.
I agree. I just listened to the album a couple of times, and I would say that the Graham tracks have the right vibe of the ASSAULT ATTACK album.
Michael Schenker: Yeah.
SELECTED ALBUM TRACKS
Let’s talk a bit about some individual songs on the album. First of all, I would like to pick up the opening track “Heart and Soul.” It’s one of the heaviest songs you’ve done in your career. The double bass drumming sounds fantastic throughout the song. Tell me more about that song?
Michael Schenker: I wanted it snappy; I loved it. I wanted it to be snappy, fast, and not boring. The whole album at the same time needs to be balanced. But don’t go too far with it, with the other side. But three quarters, I like it up there. It’s like reading a book; you don’t want to have like a whole valley of boredom.
I think one of the best moments, most fascinating things on the new album, is the song “Take Me to the Church.” The Deep Purple type of keyboard stuff, in the beginning, is great, and the song has a catchy chorus, BUT what are those lyrics all about?
Michael Schenker: I know, and I couldn’t believe it first, and I was like, Doogie. Where do you come with lyrics like these? It’s unbelievable. That guy, he’s like a nut case. He comes up with incredible stuff. Like out of nowhere, “Take Me to the Church.” It was just kind of incredible to watch how this band lives worldwide how everybody from the different parts of the world impacted the progression of everything. All the way from the big feast, to a table with a guitar, to getting to the first part of the cover in…it looks like the last supper.
What’s going on? Are we still keeping the name, the title Michael Schenker Fest in the studio? Because “Take Me to the Church,” Michael Voss is already writing a song, “Last Supper.” Then that album cover, I looked at it and went, let me have a look here. I don’t think the title sticks anymore; it’s turning into something else. So, I looked into my verse, and I kind of said to myself, “You know what? In a way, it’s like you left the scene, to the point that nobody knew where you were.” Of course, the hardcore fans knew. But in general, the other part didn’t. Then, I came back in and took the people, the musicians with me, and so it’s like a resurrection. I felt like maybe RESURRECTION would be a good title based on what is going on here and seeing the album title. It’s developing into like a little Jesus story, in a musical sense. Because betrayal is part of it, and there are the lost years of Michael Schenker. Then I didn’t have a title for the instrumental. I went to Salvation to make it complete. So, to be honest, people might think like, “Wow!” if they just see this album cover ahead of time without any explanation. They might think it’s a religious album! But it’s just we couldn’t help it. It’s just everything came out of nowhere, and that’s what came out.
Another great song on the album is “Messin’ Around.” It’s poppy and melodic song with great melodies and a strong 80’s feeling. It’s a perfect song for Gary Barden.
Michael Schenker: I love it, and it’s so chicky, and its shows Gary, it shows him being looser and he has developed in life. The song is a kind of chicky, but it’s also so tight, so it’s just kind of… I don’t know what it’s like?
But I love that song the way he did it. When I first heard it, I closed my eyes, and in my mind, I saw a picture of Gary Barden singing with his shirt open showing his chest hair, like Tom Jones “Laughs.”
Michael Schenker: Yeah, yeah “Laughs.”
THE SPECIAL GUESTS
You have some high-class guests on the album. Would you tell me something more about them?
Michael Schenker: Yeah. Here comes one incredible thing, first of all, I want to mention this. Like with all the other stuff, the weirdest thing that started to establish this thing was that I was presented with an award. The HRH, the Hard Rock Hell award. The X-Men Award. At the same event, on the same night, Nuclear Blast got awarded as the best label or best record company. I couldn’t believe it!
Everything happened at the same time. Then when we were making the album, there was one song. I wanted Dee Snider to sing because the chorus sounded like it would be perfect for Dee Snider. So, we called the management; they never got back to us. When I was sitting at the award presentation, the loud music, and everything. Somebody goes like this, “Dee! What are you doing here? We were looking for you. We called your manager; we wanted you to sing on the album.” He answered, “Me, sing on your album? That would have been an honor. He said, “No Heavy Petting” by UFO; I had to show that album to all my friends. When you did the reunion in New York, and I said to my friends, “That’s what a reunion should look like,” and stuff like that. He was shouting in my ear, and it was just all of a sudden.
The elements were there, unbelievable, and then we wanted to have Apocalyptica on the album because we had this intro with the cellos, and they were ready to do it. They just needed instructions. Michael and I, Michael Voss, and I were focusing on the album for three months. So, it’s like, What about the intro? We forgot to leave instructions! But they were already over the hills. They were already up to other stuff, and then there was Dee Snider.
Then there was, of course, Kirk Hammett, and Kirk is the… Peter Mensch always… I used to live with Peter Mensch for two years when he used to manage AC/DC in those days. He wanted me to record with Mutt Lange and say, I am from AC/DC. I refused, and I worked with Martin Birch instead. Later, when he was doing Def Leppard and were touring together. He was telling me that Kirk Hammett thinks I’m his Santa Claus! He’s too shy to speak to me and so on, and I understood because Jeff Beck, for me, is a different generation. You don’t break into that world.
So basically, the first time we met was in ’97, when we got offered to be on the front page of a guitar magazine ’97. As the most influential guitarist, there were ten guitarists: Joe Satriani, Kirk Hammett, myself, and others. But we never really spoke, and so I think over the year, actually never before all of that then. He put Hampton ready as a thank you, whatever or making a statement, Hampton already on the Guitar Hill. I was their version of Guitar Hero, which was a very nice gift. So, thank you very much, Kirk!
So, I think Eddie Trunk was the one who said like, I can set something up here. I think together with the management and Eddie, Frank, and Kirk, they arranged something. So, it was That Metal Show. We started to jam together and did an interview, and then a few days later, he showed up on stage with that and jammed at a concert. So here we have Kirk Hammett, a fan; he became a friend. Now he plays with the biggest bands in the world. I said, Kirk, “You want to do it?” Yes! The management paid for Michael Voss to fly in. He wanted to do it in Hawaii, in his studio. So, the management paid for his flight to fly over there, so we called him. Thus, the way it ended up, it was like my…
I do the first; there are two sections of solos. When the first solo starts, its three parts. The first one I do, the second one Kirk and the third one I do, and then there are vocals again. Then on the outro, there are four sections in a solo. I play the first one, Kirk the second, me the third, and Kirk the fourth. Michael Voss was sending me pictures back from Hawaii, and Kirk looked like a 20-year-old teenager with a big smile on his face. He had a baseball hat on, and he had a casual outfit. He looked like 20 years old; it was unbelievable. He was really happy, and so I’m sure he had a great time.
It must have been an extraordinary thing for Kirk because he hasn’t done much outside of Metallica?
Michael Schenker: Right, somebody told me that he has never done this kind of thing before. The only time he did it once was for his old band Exodus. We all had fun doing it, and when we finished this album, Michael Voss said this was the best thing he’s ever done. So, it’s not a regular album because it’s a variety of different things. Michael Voss was all over the place. Everything that wasn’t finished in Germany, and he had to fly over to Los Angeles, where Graham and Robin live, and he was able to finish what wasn’t finished in Germany. He was able to finish that, and he was flying over to Hawaii, and then I did all of my guitars in Graven, in KID studio of Michael Voss’s.
We did all of Doogie’s main vocals in that studio. We did Gary Barden vocals in that studio, and then we ended up with two songs, where they all sing together. “Last Supper” and “Warrior.” Then we combined some backing vocals. Because of the way I was singing with Doogie and with Gary, we had some songs, where Robin was sharing the vocals with whatever. We did the “Warrior,” the band was singing. So, it became colorful in the end and not as it used. I had an interview in Japan with Michael Amott, and he said, “Michael, I have enough problems with one singer. I truly respect you!” Dealing with four singers and still getting things done is fantastic. So, the band flows really well. It’s flowing forward great, but the most challenging part is the coordination. Make sure they keep slots open when we get offers that we can fit it all in—then getting everybody from Bangkok in Los Angeles, all to one place. I keep driving up and down from Brighton to Scotland to rehearsal. I tell you, it’s a more significant undertaking in any direction.
RECONNECTING WITH THE OLD BANDMATES
You and the old bandmates, you all have had your disagreements in the past, so it’s great that things are working great again. So, about fixing the old relationships, is it like when we are getting older, we realize that it makes no sense to remember what happened in the past but continue forward?
Michael Schenker: It’s like this. First of all, life is there to have crises and challenges. It’s like weightlifting; that’s how you create muscles. So, in order to learn something, you have to have challenges. You need to embrace them and look; the design of the planet is negative and dual. Every side has another side. So, in order to make choices, you need that setup. Because without choices… choices are what keep us moving. Every choice I make, every choice we make, puts us in the next place. It might not be the place you really want, but we choose based on the present current circumstances. If we make an honest choice, we may go in the direction we want to go to.
Many time’s people, at the beginning of life, know what they want from the heart. We know who we’re and what makes us tick and what makes us excited and what we really want. But very often peer pressure in the Western world, very often peer pressure… he’s already driving a big car, he has a big house. Wait a minute; maybe I’m losing. I want to compete with them. I don’t want to look stupid. I want to look like them. I establish something here. Then ending up in debt and even losing that happy place and not even remembering what was feeling so great. That is the thing. Thus, the choices that we make can bring us in the right direction. It can also, because of most people… it’s a human thing. It’s like instant quantification. Versus, you don’t get materialistically rewarded immediately. But if we keep going, everything else will be added to you.
In my life, it has been like that. I didn’t want to become famous, but I got famous. Rudolf wanted to become famous and wanted to be like The Stones, and Elvis Presley, who was seven years older than me. So, the younger brother, who didn’t want to become famous, became famous in ’78 already. I finished everything at 23 years of age. It took Rudolf another ten years to get to the point he was 33 when they did BLACKOUT, which became a hit. It’s funny; there is something in there. That it’s almost like ego sees everything upside down.
MORE ABOUT THE LINE-UP
That’s right. One more question about the Michael Schenker Fest line-up. It’s incredible on every level, and it’s the band is now the best you can have. But many classic bands now tour with only one or two classic-era members, and the rest are some new, entirely unknown guys who are apparently much cheaper. I’m talking about bands like Rainbow, who now tours with an entirely new line-up with Richie only remaining from the classic band. I’m glad that you have chosen a different path here but what do you think about that subject?
Michael Schenker: It’s because that’s the point. You cannot plan it. It’s something meant to be, it will happen, and I am okay with those guys. But it’s not okay with the guys from the past; you can’t do it. Yngwie could do the same thing; Ritchie Blackmore could do the same thing.
Quite a few people could do the same thing. But are you ready for it? And is everybody ready?
Michael Schenker: Right, is everybody ready? They may be at a different time because it’s a different generation anyway. Yngwie is a different generation. But of course, Ritchie is ahead of me. He probably decided he couldn’t be bothered going through all of that rubbish from the past. He’d instead do fresh stuff. In ’92, when I decided to be back on the scene, a limo driver was telling me. I had a conversation with him. He said you’d been ripped off left and right, Michael. Do you know that? Because I never looked at the business side of stuff. I know I got ripped off. But now a limo driver is telling me that. I said like, “You know what?” I said to myself, “Why I’m I hanging out with these people if I keep being ripped off left and right?” Why can’t I just do something by myself?”
I had this idea if I didn’t have any need for luxury or big this or big that. For me freedom is the most important thing and if I’m sure I can sell three CDs a day, to have a few sandwiches and move over. My necessities and I can be my own man, and I don’t have to listen to this crap and stuff like that. So, I decided that I would make an acoustic instrumental by myself and call it THANK YOU for the support over the years. I can do it all by myself, no drums or anything—just acoustic guitar. When I finished it, I went into a Greyhound, a public Greyhound bus with two bags and two guitars, and went from radio station to radio station. Knocked on the door without an appointment and said, “I’m Michael Schenker. I have a new CD, and you want to do an interview and stuff like that?” I traveled over 10,000 miles with a Greyhound bus in public transport from Arizona to Phoenix to San Diego, up to Seattle, down to Denver, over Dallas, and over to New York, Boston, Cleveland. All the way down to Clevest, on the left side of Florida, Tampa, to Louisiana. Then something happened, and I had to go back. I flew back, and when I came back home, I was rich, and that was it. In the past, all that money that was supposed to come to me was going into other people’s pockets. Now it was coming directly to me! I had three houses. I had a house in Mexico. I had a recording studio. I had my land in Hawaii. It was at the time when nobody heard anything of me; I was the richest person.
That was a crazy story, “Laughs.”
Michael Schenker: The funny thing is, like I said, I never asked to be famous. I became famous, and I didn’t want to be rich. I became rich. It’s crazy. But there is something there that speaks. It’s all upside down. Actually, the opposite is what makes it tick.
I thought that have you ever planned to release a book about your life? There’s plenty of things that have happened during the journey so far.
Michael Schenker: I wrote a book in 1990, and I destroyed it. But that was half politics. I really wanted to release it, but I dropped down. It was not meant to be released. So, I destroyed it, and that was that. It was more like a confession book like Catholicism. It is just getting things out of your system and because it was done purely honestly, with the thought of release. But I thought of my mom and when the neighbors met her and stuff like that. There was too much information. I don’t think humans know how to deal with it; they would have eaten me all the way. So basically, I think I will get assigned if I ever should write a book. I will know and will see what happens. Maybe in 25 years, I don’t know. Maybe just before I die?
I just interviewed Bruce Dickinson last week. He just released a book about his life.
Michael Schenker: Oh?
It was interesting that he said the hardest part of writing the book is how to end it.
Michael Schenker: It’s the first half of his book “Laughs.”
He said that there might not be another book anytime soon, but my point here is that he left all the crap out of it. Most of the Iron Maiden things, the drugs, girls, and he hardly talked about his former bandmates. He said nothing about those things, and I think if you had put that book out, you might not have the bands that you now have?
Michael Schenker: Yeah, because too much information is not good and life is about development for everybody. That’s why I was saying earlier, challenges and crises are necessary to train and learn. They say if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. That’s how it works. You have to have it. You have to enforce that every household has that. Every person goes through that because it makes us. It develops us. It forms us. The older you get, the more you understand. Every day can be different. That’s what you call growth.
After the upcoming U.S. tour is done, what’s going to happen after that?
Michael Schenker: We’re already booked many things for 2019, and we already have confirmed concerts, and of course, we’re doing a world tour, of course. We play everywhere people can afford us.
And that tour will include Europe and Scandinavia as well?
Michael Schenker: Absolutely. We’ll go everywhere where people can afford us; we will play. I mean, that’s what we do, we play.
You talked a lot about reconnecting with Gary, Graham, and Robin, but you did it in 2005 when you released TALES OF ROCK’N ROLL. Why didn’t it lead to something more back then?
Michael Schenker: Obviously, it was like a pre-introduction. It’s like that everything happens in baby steps, and before I started the band with Doogie, we met. Every other two months we had a little meeting and eventually, he was singing one track on the album, and finally, he became the singer of the band. So, what I’m saying is everything happens in steps, in slow-motion, and it gets closer and closer and more frequent. Until it happens and it’s there. So, it’s like with other things similar with Robin and Gary and so on. There were periods where we did something together, some little things on TALES OF ROCK’N ROLL. It was one thing, but it was one song goes into another, and it was such a development. But eventually, it became that and became more.
I have one question about the Temple of Rock. When you put out the first album, Michael Voss was the lead vocalist, and he did sing most of the songs. However, he was then replaced by Doogie White on tour, and it then changed into the permanent line-up. What happened with Michael at that point?
Michael Schenker: Michael Voss became the lead singer because I was ready to make a demo. I was working with Herman Rarebell and Pete Way at the time. I was working on the live project, and I went to make a demo, and I asked Michael, “Can you help me with some vocals?” But he was saying; he can actually sing. So, that ended up him singing quite a few songs. Then we had all of these other musicians on there and then a few different singers as well. Then, of course, we had Doogie on there, which was a fantastic contribution, and it was great chemistry. Then Michael Voss signed a solo deal, and all of a sudden, he wasn’t available. Then Robin McAuley helped me out in America, and Michael Voss was available for Japan, and then Doogie was available for Europe. At the same time, Pete Way got sick, and then somebody asked Francis to join so we could continue, and that’s how Francis got in, and the line-up was ready.
One thing always leads to another.
Michael Schenker: It’s all about the circumstances. That is what my whole life is. It’s a series of circumstances. It’s like that one thing always leads to the next.
It’s time for the very last question. You mentioned Pete Way. Have you heard from him lately?
Michael Schenker: No. But it was so funny when I was sitting in the studio with Michael Voss, and we just called the manager of Dee Snider, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, Pete Way calls up. He said, “Hey, Michael. My book went number one!” “Oh, congratulations, Pete. Hey, we have a request. Can you contact Dee Snider?” because he produced the first Twisted Sister album, I was thinking. “Can you contact Dee Snider? We want him to sing on the album.” He answered, “Yeah. I can do that”, and he never did a thing!
He probably forgot it right after, I think.
Michael Schenker: Yeah.
Thank you for this interview, and best of luck with RESURRECTION.
Michael Schenker: Thank you!
LIVE PICTURES FROM SWEDENROCK 2016