Michael Schenker interview – February 2015

Michael SchenkerI spoke to Michael Schenker to talk about his new album, “Spirit on a Mission” which is due to be released next month.

Your new album, Spirit on a mission is due to be released next month.  Where did the title come from?

I was asked a while ago about who I want to be remembered as, and what came to mind after all these years on this planet, was a Spirit on a mission spreading the joy of music from a place of pure self-expression.  When it came time to choose a title for the album, that Spirit on a mission popped up straight away.

Was it just yourself and Doogie who wrote the album?

Doogie and I wrote most of it but then I also asked Wayne to come up with some ideas on his seven string guitar to add that element of seven strings to it and make it an all-round complete product.

Are there plans to get the rest of the band involved in writing in the future?

Yes.  We discovered by having Wayne add some seven string ideas and I’m adding my parts to it and Doogie his, we discovered a whole additional song writing team which will be very good for the future writing.  So far with “Bridge the gap” and “Spirit on a mission” I had very strong concepts on how to go about it, and so I had a blueprint and basically all that was requested from Herman and Francis was to do their parts which they are very good at, they’ve been in the business long enough.

For the next album I already have some ideas on how to get to the next level and how we can make things better, to keep things interesting, adding some additional sparkle, but at the end of the day those two albums have really been based on a particular vision of what I saw in it.  Basically it’s like to create an album that is entertaining and keeps going like a fast energetic melodic and combined with a seven string to balance it out, then some mid-tempo’s in the middle and then to be able to read it like a book from beginning to end and keep being entertained.  That is basically the situation at this point in time, but who knows – maybe at some point we all sit together in one room and write together.  All these possibilities are there.

Certainly right from the start, the album grabs your attention – “Live and let live” really gets your attention and makes you want to hear more.

Thank you.  “Live and let live” is going to be the next single.

On the UK tour last year just after you recorded the album you played “Vigilante man” which went down very well.

Yes, that was our first single, and that was Doogie’s favourite and he wanted it out.  At the end of the day it’s all about preferences anyway and the second single is going to be “Live and let live”, so then we’ll have two very different songs out there and the third one would probably be one with a seven string.

You wrote and recorded the album between tours last year.  During the recording there was a robbery at the studio.  Did you lose much?

Yeah, that took us all by surprise.  It was really bad news when I got the call to say that four of my guitars got stolen and some of the music, but fortunately it was only performance. Of course the guitars haven’t come back, but fortunately I have a lot of guitars collected over the years from Dean, and they’re all good guitars, so I have already put together a new selection of guitars I’m going to be touring with.  I look at that incident as “Okay, we’ve done pre-production, now lets start with the real production”.  So that way it wasn’t that bad.  You could look at it as pre-production because when you’re in the studio, even if you don’t think pre-production you kind of work at it to balance it and get it right, but it doesn’t mean that you never go back to it and start touching things up, so at the end of the day, all the way to the end of the album, you keep going back and touching things up.  The recordings that got stolen, who is to say that we weren’t going to touch them up anyway, so basically we had to pull through it and we worked hard on it, we had to re-do some stuff but it all worked out to the good.

Did it delay finishing the album?

Some but we just had to work harder and work longer and it was a kick in the butt for us and made us wake up, so maybe it was a good thing.

One thing I noticed on the tour at the end of last year was that you seemed a lot happier and more comfortable on stage than you have in the past.

Yeah, that’s what life brings with it.  When I look back now, I can see clearly three stages of being.  The first stage I look at as my musical development and as a guitarist, and my musical contribution to the world was created in the 70s and 80s, then I joined my brother for the Lovedrive album after I left UFO, and the Lovedrive album opened the doors to America for the Scorpions and I gave my brother the black and white V design on coast to coast and blessed him and he took over. I was true and my focus on experimenting and doing things I couldnt do with a commercial touring band such as instrumentals, acoustic instrumentals, electric instrumentals and all sorts of stuff, and also developing on a personal level.  In 2007/2008, I guess I felt the urge, a strong urge, to be back in the loop of rock and roll, and that was when I all of a sudden started having fun on stage.  I used to be a very shy young boy and had a lot of stage fright, so I didn’t really like being on stage, but the love of music was so strong that I forced myself to do that, but hidnig behind my hair etc, but over the years I have grown out of it and I’m now actually able to enjoy all of that.

You’ve got a US tour coming up in March for around 6 weeks.  What else do you have planned for the rest of the year?

Japan, and then of course Europe and UK, and then we want to play Australia, South America, Asia and probably tour all of 2015 and part of 2016.

Are there still countries where you have never played and still want to?

Plenty.  Australia is one of them, so I’m hoping to be able to show up there sometime.  Then there are many more places but of course some places are not good to hang out at this point in time, but there are places that are developing and becoming more receptive to this type of music and wherever people are interested in what we’re doing, I want to be.

Are there likely to be any appearances at festivals ?

We have a few in Europe and so hopefully we find some more.  I love playing festivals, it’s just a bit different from the usual thing, a big stage usually with good sound on stage so that’s nice but any kind of venues are great as long as there are people that enjoy it.  Each size venue has it’s advantages and disadvantages so I’m going to be wherever there is an interest.


“Spirit on a Mission” will be released on 23rd March – check out David Farrell’s review of the album – https://planetmosh.com/michael-schenker-temple-rock-spirit-mission/


About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.