Heart of Steel: Interviews

UFO's Vinnie Moore and Pete Way

Interview by Marko Syrjälä
Pictures by Marko Syrjala and vinniemoore.com


Guitarist Vinnie Moore released his first solo album called Mind’s Eye back in 1987. Since then he has released several highly rated neo classical instrumental albums and toured across the world with his solo band and for a time, as a member of the Alice Cooper band. Recently he joined the legendary British hard rock band U.F.O. Together they have just released a new album called FOR YOU ALL. In June 2004 I was able to meet Vinnie after their great show at this summer's Swedenrock Festival in Solvesborg. Near the end of the interview we were joined by U.F.O. bass player Pete Way who joined in and had a few things to say.

This must have been asked many times but how did you get this current job as the U.F.O. guitar player?

VINNIE: Well I got a call that they are looking for a new guitarist. We had a mutual friend who is actually my guitar tech and a soundman and he has also done sound and has been a tour manager for U.F.O. So I got a call from him and he said tat UFO is looking for a new guitar player. I sent a CD to their manager Peter Knorn, whom I had already known because he used to manage Michael Schenker and I opened up for Michael Schenker on a tour in America. So I knew Peter, I send him a CD, and when he got a CD he gave it to Phil. I was sure that I would never hear anything back from them but suddenly after ten days I got a call saying "Phil thinks that you are the guy. He wants you to do it". I was like great! So it was just sending a disc and I got this job.


When did you actually start to work on these new songs which ended up on your new FOR YOU ALL album?

VINNIE: After my audition was done we started to talk by phone about... you know... How we are gonna approach things and so on. Song ideas and stuff. Next I started sending him tapes and CD's and he was writing lyrics and writing vocal melodies for the tapes so we kind of traded ideas between us via mail.



Was Jason Bonham in the band already before you joined?

VINNIE: Jason … Yeah they told me that Jason is probably going to be the drummer. I'm not sure if it was 100% then because that was the guy who everybody wanted in this band, but I thought then that he'll do it. And so he did and keeps doing it. But I didn't know it right away.




How has it been as a fulltime member of the legendary U.F.O. so far?

VINNIE: It's been great. I mean whole band seems more energetic than before. Jason adds a lot of energy with his drumming you know? There is no laid back from him, just real energetic which makes it heavier you know. Doing a record was really a lot of fun. We all get along really well and the tour is been going great too. Everybody is like WOW!! You know we just all started playing together when we first met so before we knew if are we are getting along we started to play together.



Have you found any disagreements between you and someone else in a band so far?

VINNIE: Maybe five more years and we are fighting and telling "he sucks"? "laughs"!! Just joking … Who knows but now we are doing very well and that's great!




This band has a really long history, as you know, and in the past there were numerous line-up changes and some other problems too. So this time there is nothing in air like there has been…

VINNIE: Well no. We really like each other. Which is really good thing.



Sounds good then. You have a good relationship between the band members and new CD is good and it's getting very positive reviews around the world.

VINNIE: In Finland?



No I mean in England and everywhere and of course also in Finland.

VINNIE: You know. We tried to just made classic UFO record. I mean we all are involved in different styles of music. I do a bunch of different styles and Jason has thing he's into but we realised that when we come in to this band we have to show that side of ourselves that is UFO. You know what I mean? It's gotta be rock and something that UFO would do not something which is outside framework of UFO. We had to fit ourselves into UFO.



For me this new album is a kind of extension for UFO's last album Sharks with a little bit more modern feeling and edge?

VINNIE: Well I really haven't listened to SHARKS too much. Are we doing' anythinig from that album live now?

No you are not. (laughs)

How big of a Michael Schenker fan are you?

VINNIE: Actually he was one of my favourite guys when I was growing up. I had only a few guys that were my big influences. Well I mean I was influenced by many but there are probably something like eight really big ones and he was one of “THE” guys. I used to learn his solos. Him and Van Halen, Robin Trevor, Larry Carlton these are the guys whose old records I still listen and slow it down and try to learn all their licks. It was kind of easy for me to fit in UFO because Michael was so much of a big influence on me when I was learning guitar.



Do you actually play his old solos exactly the way he did them or..?

VINNIE: No not at all. There's a lot of improvisations there. Some of the things I copy like on "Love To Love" the solo is a great melody and it's actually a part of the song so you have to play that in a certain way. A lot of times in the solos I play the key parts and then I just kind of go off and do my own thing. Otherwise it would feel like I'm being in a cover band or something.. (laughs)



Have you got any negative feedback from "real fans" who would blame you for destroying the UFO sound or playing too different way to Michael?

VINNIE: I think that initially some of the hard core UFO fans started to communicate online and maybe they were a little bit concerned when I came in. "He's not gonna fit" and that stuff. But once the album came out and after we did some shows everybody reacted like "Oh! He's really fitting in and that's a pleasant surprise!". I seem to get that reaction after they heard it. They seem to be really happy now and that's a good thing for everyone.




In your case it's really working. Some bands do work with different lineups some don't. For example many fans of Deep Purple fans don't like current line up too much because Steve Morse is playing such a different style from Ritchie. And most of the fans want to hear stuff done in a way Ritchie Blackmore…

VINNIE: Well I have to say that I agree with you in that case.



You are not messing too much. (laughs)

VINNIE: True. Well it's gotta be UFO no matter what. I'm not going to play some jazz licks or something like that in this band that's sure. Its still gotta be UFO.



Have you filmed any of your show for possible DVD release?

VINNIE: We haven't filmed any shows yet but we are talking about doing DVD right now. I think that maybe on during American tour which will happen in September/October we might record some of those shows.



If that tour will happen... (laughs). There has been a lot of problems with that tour so far...

VINNIE: Yeah. We had to move it back and the tour WILL start from September 22. Sure…(laughs)

And both Phil and Pete are also involved on that tour?

VINNIE: They gotta be. Last time we had to cancel because Phil couldn't get in the country because of...I don't know. He had some kind of visa problem then. It's really tough for America right now after 9/11 you know. You go to an interview and they really check you over. It takes a while to get approved. That's what happened. It took a way too long until he got approved. Once he got it it was too late for the tour and we had to postpone the whole thing then.

This new album is in a way quite bluesy. You even play slide guitar son some parts. That's a little surprise because after hearing some of you solo stuff this is so different stuff from you.

VINNIE: I'm actually really into the blues. That was one of my first influences. Albert King was a really big influence and I was really surprised when I joined a band and we get on together and made that record and Phil is so into to blues. I mean when I looked his CD collection and everyday in a hotel when he was listening to music it was just the old blues guys he was listening to. Muddy Waters and stuff like that. It surprised me a lot.



How much is your influence on the new CD over all?'

VINNIE: It was pretty big because I mean I wrote most of the music to the songs. Phil wrote all the lyrics and the vocal stuff and I wrote most of the music. There is a song called "Sympathy" which Paul wrote completely alone. Jason did that "The Spark That Is Us". It started with his idea and we worked it out together ....

PETE: Would you want me to join in the interview?

Yeah why not!?

VINNIE: You want to answer for a couple of questions Pete?

PETE: Yeah of course. But you have to wait until I open my next bottle of wine first (laughs).


We were just starting to discuss about you near future plans. Vinnie told that there is a possible DVD coming out and U.S. tour in the fall. Could you tell us something more?

PETE: Well we are just doing as much as possible. Really with this band… like the band is really good now and we are trying to show that for as many people as possible. That's the plan (laughs).



Even this this is not a UFO thing this must be asked. What is the situation with new "Waysted" album at the moment?

PETE: Well it’s going really well. At the moment we are finishing the guitars and doing some mixes. It's almost finished but it's ready ready yet.

But anyway it will come out some day?

PETE: Yes sure.

VINNIE: In this century?

PETE: (laughs) Sure!!!


Vinnie? Did you give any listen to some classic UFO albums before you started to write stuff for the new album?

VINNIE: Well I actually did. I pulled out all of my old records. Force It, Obsession and Light's Out. They were three of my favourite records actually when I was growing up. I was a big Michael fan and still have all those on vinyl. In fact, I want to go and buy those as a CD soon because those old records are scratching...

PETE: Well those are good records made in a right time. You know I think that the heritage of the band is really good but sometimes it's really a hard job for Vinnie to accept that it shows how good he really is. Because he makes it look so easy.

VINNIE: Thank you Pete! I just pull out the old records and it just gets me back on UFO frame on mind (laughs).

PETE: As you know Vinnie is an exceptional guitarist…


It must be really nice to have a band like this now because things are really moving. I mean in the past there were numerous tour cancellations and stuff like that…

PETE: That's right. It was terrible wasn't it? Now we can actually play. And when we play here it's a sing a long UFO. And we are having fun. That's important for the band.

Yes you're right.

PETE: That's one of the things what rock 'n roll is all about.

It must have been frustrating times for you and Phil then?

PETE: It really was. You can just imagine.

VINNIE: For me it was frustrating last week in Italy when we were getting ready to get on the stage and we got rained out.

PETE: We had everything ready on the stage…

VINNIE: All our gear was ready on stage. Everything was ready but…

PETE: Big rain storm started and stage roof blew up and our crew came back and they said that "we have been kicked off the stage because it's too dangerous. Your guitars, amps and all of your stuff are all on the stage getting wet". After we got our stuff from stage I picked up one of my guitars and it felt like two pounds heavier than before. "laughs" Heavy guitars really..


Well unfortunately our time is running out now. But let’s just ask one more question. Do you think that this line-up will last?

VINNIE: I really hope so. Everybody in the band feels really good about this band now. Like in the beginning I was wondering if this is going to be just a project and I called this a project. When our manager Peter heard that he said: "No. It's not a project. Everybody wants this to continue and going into the future." And that's the way I feel. We wanna do more records and tours...

PETE: This is a rock band. The thing is that you are what you do. When you become great because you are great. You are not great if you play once every tenth year or so.



Ok. That’s it. Thank you very much!

VINNIE & PETE: Thank you and see you next time!