I’m fascinated with what can be done with a single string, and that’s where my passion is.”
Michael Schenker: Hello?
Wikimetal (Nando Machado): Hello, Mr. Michael Schenker, please?
MS: Yes, Michael Schenker speaking!
W (NM): That’s great, Michael. This is Nando, I’m here with Daniel, we’re the hosts of a show called Wikimetal, how are you?
MS: I’m fine, thank you. How are you?
W (NM): We’re very happy to have you on our show, thank you so much for your time, it’s an honor for us to speak to such a legendary guitarist.
MS: Oh, thank you.
W (Daniel Dystyler): It’s great, Michael, this is Daniel.
W (NM): In order to start the interview, what can you tell us about the concerts of the Lovedrive Reunion Tour in Brazil and how’s the experience of playing with great names such as Uli Jon Roth, Francis Bucholz, Herman Rarebell and Doogie White?
MS: First of all, I’m going to come down there with my own group, which is “Temple of Rock”, which is Francis Bucholz, Herman Rarebell, Doogie White and Wayne Findley and myself, and we are going to play the most popular music of Michael Schenker, which goes all the way from UFO’s “Strangers in the Night”, to “Budokan”, to “Lovedrive” album, and new stuff. We just recorded a great new album which will be out in November, “Bridge the Gap”, and we’re already performing a new song of that, called Horizons. And Uli also will be doing his own show with his own band, and then he will join us onstage, because he also played with Herman and with Francis, and we will play a few songs with Uli together, so the show has a whole variety of different things going.
W (DD): That’s going to be great, Michael. Let me go back to the beginning of your career, is it true that you played your first gig with Scorpions when you were only eleven?
MS: Yeah, my brother was 17 at the time, he was six and a half years older than me, and I already played for two years, and my parents drove me to one of his first shows, I think, even. So I already knew a few songs, and I just jammed with them in a couple of songs.
W (NM): Well, we interviewed your brother a few months ago, and it was one of our best interviews ever. He’s such a nice person, and we’re very happy that you’re on the show now. You were only 15 when the first Scorpions’ album was released, right? What do you remember from those days?
MS: Well, I was 15 when we recorded it, and it was released probably a year, two years later. I remember almost everything, I remember it was in Hamburg, it was recorded with Conny Plank, he was the producer, he also produced groups like Can and Kraftwerk. And it took us seven days, we were in that studio in Hamburg, and we were well prepared, we did the album, and then when it was finished, not much later, we heard it on the radio, it was a great experience.
W (DD): Unbelievable, amazing. Michael, we have kind of a classic question on our show, that we ask our special guests, which is: imagine you’re listening to an iPod with tons of heavy metal music, or you’re listening to the radio, and all of a sudden, a song starts that makes you lose your mind, you feel you need to start head banging immediately, you lose control. What song is that so we can listen to it right now on our show?
MS: You know, the problem is I don’t listen to music, I focus all my energy on creating music. But obviously, when I was younger, there was a bunch of music that I was very into, and it were all the great guitarists in the 60s. But a few that stand out are people like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter… To name a few, but there were a lot of great guitarists who inspired me to go away with this distortion metal, heavy rock sound. So I would say Scenes from an Imaginary Western, by Mountain, it’s a slow song, but it has beautiful guitar playing in it. And then of course, The Immigrant Song, by Led Zeppelin, I would say that would be one of them.
I don’t listen to music, I focus all my energy on creating music”
W (NM): Michael, do you remember the first time you met or played with Phil Mogg, Pete Way and Andy Parker and how was the invitation for you to join UFO?
MS: We were supposed to be touring, Scorpions and UFO, and UFO didn’t have a guitarist, I don’t know what happened, but for a couple of days, they went without a guitarist, and the only way not to cancel the shows and carry on, was by me playing with both bands – Scorpions and UFO. And by the time the tour was finished, UFO asked me to join.
W (DD): And Michael, you influenced many important bands and guitar players all over the world, and you still do. How does it feel to be a role model to such important and talented artists?
MS: I’m fascinated with creating, and I’m fascinated with what can be done with a single string, and that’s where my passion is. That’s what I love to do, play and discover. But of course, it’s the icing on the cake when you become recognized on that level, which is beyond my imagination. I never thought of anything, I’m just being myself, creating music and loving it. And of course, when you hear stuff like that, that’s fantastic, it’s icing on the cake, its extra.
W (NM): And Michael, let me ask you something: when Joe Perry left Aerosmith and Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones, and Randy Roads died, you were all of these artists’ first choice to invite to join their bands. How did it feel at the time, and how does it feel to be the first option of all these great, huge talents?
MS: Well, actually Deep Purple asked me too, before they asked Joe Satriani. The thing is that I was always tempted to take part of it, and to do it, but something always told me: “Don’t do it, don’t do it, you have to do your own thing, you have to fulfill your own version and your dreams, and you have to experiment with your music, and you have to develop and experiment” and do all of these things, which I couldn’t have done with them. But it’s very flattering that I left that much of an impression on those guys. What can I say? It’s flattering.
W (DD): And on the same note: what did it mean to you when you received the Marshall 11 award, an award given to those artists and musicians who represent rock N’ roll excess and living on the edge?
MS: Again, it’s something you don’t expect. It comes out of the blue, out of nowhere, and it’s an additional extra. I enjoy and love playing music, and that’s already my reward. But getting something like that is icing on the cake, it’s extra, it’s incredible.
W (NM): So Michael, tell us a little bit about your future projects. Do you have anything, any studio album on the way?
MS: Well, we’re releasing a new album in November, that’s the latest news that we have. We also recorded a DVD that was released last March, and before that, there was the “Temple of Rock” album. So this album that’s coming out in November is the newest thing that we have, and it’s going to be called “Bridge the Gap”.
W (NM): So I hope we can interview you again in November, OK?
MS: Yeah, we’re planning a world tour after that.
W (DD): And now, looking back on this amazing, successful career that you had, is there something left to achieve?
MS: Well, what I’m doing now is I’m celebrating the era of handmade rock. It’s a very, very joyful thing to do.
When I team up with new musicians, and big ones, it’s always a pleasure, and always incredible and exciting to play with them”
W (NM): Can you choose another song now, Michael, a song from your career, that we can listen to and enjoy on our show now?
MS: Ok, I choose Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.
W (DD): Michael, there were so many great musicians on MSG’s lineup so far, such as Carmine Appice, Herman Rarebell, Francis Buchholz, Pete Way, Billy Sheehan, Don Airey, Graham Bonnet… Just to name a few. Can you share some memories of having the opportunity to play with these guys, and what that meant to you?
MS: Well, it was never planned to do that, it all happened step by step, and one thing leads to another. You don’t really notice that these things are happening until you look back at your life, and you realize that all of these things happened. So when I team up with new musicians, and big ones, it’s always a pleasure, and always incredible and exciting to play with them, but it’s not all happening in go, it’s in stages. So looking back at it, it’s incredible, I mean, I don’t know how it happened, but it did, and it’s amazing. When it actually happened, it was one thing at a time, so it’s not as overwhelming as it is when you look back.
W (NM): Oh, yeah, I can imagine. So, Michael, I don’t know if you’re aware, but before every Iron Maiden concert starts, they get to play Doctor Doctor on the speakers, and the lights go down and everybody starts screaming, such a great song. Have you ever seen that happening?
MS: I have never seen that, but I heard about it.
W (DD): It’s a great experience to be on the stage when Doctor Doctor starts, before an Iron Maiden concert. You should witness that, it’s amazing.
MS: Yeah, it’s incredible that people do that. It’s great.
W (NM): We’re almost reaching the end of our interview, but I’m curious about something: you’ve released one of the most iconic live albums of all times with UFO’s “Strangers in the Night”. What do you remember of those nights? If I’m not mistaken, it was recorded in Chicago and Louisville, right?
MS: Yeah, it was something like that. Chicago, definitely, and some other place.
W (NM): And how were those nights? I still listen to that album, and it’s unbelievable to see how a band could be in such great shape.
MS: Well, what can I say? I have always tried to keep a good shape. It’s the chemistry, and especially the producer, Ron Nevison, was a very important part of UFO.
W (DD): Very good, Michael, thanks so much for your time. Can you please invite all the Brazilian rock N’ roll fans to these great concerts that are going to happen next month here?
MS: Yeah, everybody out there, come and see the show! We’ll be there very soon, and rock on!
W (NM): OK, Mr. Michael Schenker on Wikimetal, thank you so much, you’re one of the most important guitar players in Rock history. Thank you so much for talking to us.
MS: Thank you so much.
W (DD): Bye, bye, Michael.
W (NM): See you in Brazil!
MS: Bye, bye!
Listen to the full episode: