In The Zone with Michael Schenker Fest
Michael Schenker Fest kicked off the second leg of their Resurrection tour with an epic three night stand at the world famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip. Those who were able to secure tickets for one of the three sold-out shows were treated to the concert of a lifetime. In addition to Schenker’s dazzling guitar virtuosity, the night would feature all four singers from various parts of the MSG experience, including Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley and Doogie White. Just prior to the tour, we caught up the legendary axeman to find out a whole lot more about the Michael Schenker Fest exravaganza, news on the upcoming Revelation album, and why retirement is NOT an option. Read on as we get into the zone with the one and only Michael Schenker…
What are you looking forward to the most about your upcoming tour date here in the States?
Well, to see my fans, and they are all over the world and now, we’re coming to America for the second leg of the Resurrection tour and our set has changed slightly as we go. The first leg was done a year ago and since then, we have played Japan, we’ve played in Europe, and the UK, and we actually have a slightly different set now. The most exciting thing is to see the fans that are watching now.
Let’s talk about the upcoming album Revelation. Is there any story or concept behind the title Revelation?
“Revelation” means to tell people something they didn’t know about or to let people in on something they didn’t know. I’ll give you an example. For instance, if you stay true to yourself, everything else will be added unto you and more. That’s a revelation. That’s something I found out that I want to let people know, that instead of chasing commercial success, I’ve stay true to my heart for half a century. And as a result – instead of double platinum albums and money and/or whatever comes with the commercial success, I got fulfillment and that is a very important thing to go for, because I have a cake and I’m getting a lot of icing now. If you go for the icing first, you have no cake. Where are you going to put the icing? And so, it’s kind of very interesting that after all the years of staying true to myself, doing pure self-expression and experimenting with music, getting things out of my system after I had developed basically the first part of my life. I didn’t really know who I was. I was just having fun playing guitar, I didn’t chase anything. I didn’t compete with anybody. I just was happy experimenting and messing around with a single string and doing stuff with it that creates good sounds and note combinations that have an effect. And I just did that until people were saying “Michael Schenker is God,” and I went, “What? What am I gonna do with this?”
By that time, I reached the Strangers in the Night (with UFO) and then the Scorpions asked me to help them out. I’m really grateful for being able to have experienced what it is like to be famous, and that made it possible for me to let go of it and continue following my heart and do what I really wanted to do. On the school of life, I was eager to learn a lot, finding out who I was, who I am, more about life. I was sort of having fun doing anything other than the trend. And so, now, I can carry on what I put on hold. It’s a funny thing.
And now you are touring with four singers in your band and quite a collection of musicians…
It seems like a lot– People keep asking me, “How on Earth are you getting on the four singers? We can’t even get on with one singer.” And so, I’m doing something that is very unusual and all the energy that I put into these individual years or periods of singers, they are now all combined as if it was one band. Of course, it would be a completion if I had Klaus Meine (of the Scorpions) join the Michael Schenker Fest and sing a couple of songs with Phil Mogg…
Phil Mogg has announced his retirement from UFO and possibly ending of the band overall. How does that make you feel, Phil leaving UFO and the idea of retirement?
I don’t believe any of that.
Look, I mean, are we idiots or something? I mean, it has been going on forever. The Scorpions, they’re champions in telling that they’re retiring. And then, all of a sudden, Forever and Another Day, they think that they are just ruling the people. It’s just another way to get people out of the woodworks. They are like “I don’t want to miss the last show,” and then, they carry on. I mean, I don’t care whatever people want to do, you know. I’m not really interested if he really wants to quit or not. It doesn’t make any difference to me. Thus, the point is, I focus on what I’m doing. And people running out of ideas, people have to write books, they don’t know any more how to write music. They say the music is dead. It’s not dead for me. The music is dead when I am dead.
There you go.
Maybe what is dead for them is because they can’t make the money that they used to make when they were 30 or so on. For them, life means money and then, there is no money. Because everything is based on money for those people. They are not interested in music. I love rock music and I’m there with my heart. For me, it’s not dead at all.
What do you think has kept you so passionate about guitar and guitar artistry? Well, for 50 years.
Yes, well that, it’s pure self-expression and it’s like being in a laboratory and you put elements, different chemicals together and then, you get a reaction. And so, that’s what I do with tones, with notes. I put different notes together. It’s an endless combination because it’s infinite, it comes from within and it’s a bit like a tropical ocean with fish and you first have a different pattern. So, it’s like if you go with the trend and you recycle trends and recycle music, you’ve got nothing left in the audience and the people get bored. I have always made new albums. And it’s kept things fresh and maybe it kept the rock scene alive longer, I don’t know. And I may not be the only one who’s doing what I’m doing but basically– I intuitively knew I needed to stay away from music. I stopped copying since I was 17 – I don’t even have a stereo system. I don’t listen to music, so I don’t get consumed. I don’t get burned out. It’s all fresh. And I just love it. It’s like people who have a passion with things. They love what they do and you are in the zone when you are in it. When you do it, it’s a fantastic thing.
Do you have any messages for Michael Schenker fans?
Stay true to yourself and everything else will be added unto you and more.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photo by Jack Lue)
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