DATE OF INTERVIEW:
MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST
23rd October 2017
METAL DISCOVERY: Because it’s called Michael Schenker Fest, I guess it’s MSF instead of MSG, and the ‘F’ could also stand for ‘Family’, maybe… Michael Schenker Family. Does it feel like one big musical family? Does everyone get on really well off stage?
MICHAEL: That’s what Steve says! [Laughs] That’s what Steve says in the behind the scenes footage. Steve says the only way you can describe this in how everyone’s getting on so well is like a big family. That’s what he says and that’s what it is. If you see the footage, you can see that everything’s so natural and it’s like there are no problems.
(Michael Schenker on the cathartic experience of writing and subsequently destroying his autobiography)
"...it was coming from the heart and I was serious about releasing it. And that was the main thing. That did its job and that’s why it was completed and it was destroyed. So, it was a fantastic experience. Basically, you get everything off your chest."
Graham Bonnet & Michael Schenker - live shot, 2016
Photograph copyright © 2016 - Frank C. Duennhaupt
Interview by Mark Holmes
Michael Schenker Website:
Thanks to Michaela Sauter for offering and arranging the interview
Michael Schenker Facebook:
Michael Schenker Twitter:
Michael Schenker Fest Website:
MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST 2017 UK TOUR
Thursday 2nd November 2017 - London - Shepherd's Bush Empire
Friday 3rd November 2017 - Sheffield - Academy
Saturday 4th November 2017 - Manchester - Ritz
Sunday 5th November 2017 - Hull - City Hall
MD: What does the future hold for Temple of Rock because I know you originally said you wanted to get a new album out this year?
MICHAEL: Well, this is the thing… you can’t plan things but, as you go, new things open up on the horizon. And Doogie keeps calling me up, you know… “When’s the next Temple of Rock album?”… I said, “I have to have a record company first, who wants to do it and so on, and let me work on it. And it’s too early, anyway, we’ve just finished a tour.” And then I said to him, “Maybe it should not even be done in 2017; maybe it should be done in ’18.” And then, eventually, when I thought, okay, what’s next… Michael Schenker Fest in the studio… and that was the moment when it clicked: wait a minute… I add Doogie to it!
Doogie and I are Temple of Rock. We wrote all the songs with the exception of a few that Wayne did on the last album. But, what I can do now is Doogie can be his own man… he doesn’t have to sing MSG stuff anymore. By now, we have a few Temple of Rock classics, so Doogie can perform those and that’s the current; and then we have the past; and then we have also got the past doing current stuff. So it’s a really kind of round thing.
Who knows what else can happen, you know? 2020 is actually 50 years of the first Scorpions record. The Scorpions, they celebrated something… I don’t know what they celebrated… 50 years of Scorpions in 2015 or ’16… it doesn’t make any sense. The first album they recorded with Klaus and that lineup was when I was fifteen years old and it was ‘Lonesome Crow’ in 1970. So, 2020 is gonna be the 50 year anniversary, and that also applies to Klaus. ‘In Search of the Peace of Mind’ is the first song that I ever wrote and, for some reason, they credited every member in the band… which I never really realised, and was never really wondering about it, but it’s all coming out now. I was sitting in a kitchen writing the song… why did they get credit for it?! [Laughs]
MD: Yeah, I did read about this, actually.
MICHAEL: I was originally nine years old and they were already grown men so I guess they just kind of… I don’t know… I guess they treated me as a little idiot! [Laughs] I was the working horse and they put the money in their pockets… whatever. Anyway, 2020 would be the time… maybe Klaus, by then, a few years from now, he is ready to close the chapter… and singing a couple of songs with me, and still having it as the Michael Schenker Fest. Maybe even Phil Mogg is interested to sing a few songs.
So, yeah, the next three years, a lot of stuff can happen. People change and people are already changing… so, who knows what is possible, and it would be fantastic, at the end of the day, if I could do this with all of the original singers, you know. Let’s go step by step and this is a good beginning… actually, I don’t even know where the beginning is because it’s like knitting a jumper. It’s like one thing goes to the next but, before you even know, everything glues together and fits together. You know, like the Temple of Rock thing and now Doogie is part of the Michael Schenker Fest and doing the current stuff. So, it’s something you can’t really pre-plan. It just somehow comes… these things, all of a sudden, they pop up and, like, “Wow, this is a great idea, this is so fantastic.”
MD: It’s exciting when life is like that.
MICHAEL: Yeah, absolutely! We started with this album, and I wrote all the music, and then we’ve been sending it out to the different singers and let them choose what was suitable for them. It actually all worked out. And Michael Voss, he went the extra mile… he went to Hawaii… actually, we have Kirk Hammett doing a guitar part with me. Kirk, you know, he’s a Michael Schenker fan all the way, and he has become a friend, and he plays in the biggest band on this planet. So, I asked him if he wanted to do this and he was more than happy. And so, Michael Voss flew over there and recorded him. And he went to Los Angeles to record some stuff with Robin and some stuff with Graham. And, of course, some stuff we recorded in Stuttgart and in Michael’s studio. So, we’ve actually been in four different locations, making the album, and it took the total of five months. But it’s done now, and it’s just very entertaining with all these different vocalists on there, especially when they’re sharing a song; it’s such a great feeling to hear that.
MD: And Kirk Hammett… I mean… wow!
MD: A big name to have on there but a big fan of yours, like you said. I saw some footage on YouTube where you played with him on a TV show in the States…
MICHAEL: Yeah, Eddie Trunk and Kirk, they wanted to put me on the show with them and Kirk wanted to jam, and just kind of get together and share with the fans what is… you know, where he’s coming from; who influenced him; ask me questions… and then we jammed! [Laughs]
MD: Yeah, I saw all that… he looked a little bit star-struck when he met you, as well…
MD: I guess he was meeting one of his heroes, kind of thing.
MICHAEL: Yeah, but, you know, we all have that. I have that with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. I only met Jimmy Page for one moment and it was when I was getting an award a few years ago, and I shook his hand and I said, “Hi Jimmy, eventually I’m meeting you, but I have to go and take pictures, bye!”
MICHAEL: That was funny! I got introduced to Jeff Beck once. At the beginning of MSG… once, somehow, Jeff Beck was there… I guess, maybe because of Cozy or something like that. And we had Robert Plant in our dressing room. And even Ron Wood… I had Ron Wood come to my dressing room with his whole family to introduce me to them… there were like five children and three women or something like that!
MICHAEL: And, you know, “This is my favourite guitarist,” he said! I didn’t realise any of that then. But, when I look back now, it’s kind of… wow, that stuff actually went on. You know, we were recording with Paul McCartney and we were sitting and having dinner together at the round table with Linda and Paul, and it was just kind of so many things happened… and Robert Plant… I mean, those guys, they are my heroes… you know, Led Zeppelin. I mean, John Bonham is my favourite musician.
Zeppelin, Sabbath and Deep Purple - when they started, that’s when I knew… I know which way to go now. That’s when I picked metal music as my screen to put my lead guitar on… the art of lead guitar for pure self-expression. I used that powerful metal music - you know, the big chords and the big drums and stuff like that, and that’s basically a screen for me. You can choose to put the art of lead guitar on pop music, disco music… you know, I chose metal music. That was because my emotions go all the way to every little corner and, so, it has to be something that is extreme, where you have lots of emotions. Pop music and disco music… there’s always something missing somewhere. In jazz there’s something missing… guitarists never bend a string, for instance. And so, distortion and the six string electric guitar - you know, that together, it’s an infinite combination. It’s endless, you know.
MD: An emotionally powerful form of expression.
MICHAEL: Yeah, it’s unbelievable.
MD: Have you ever thought of writing an autobiography, because you have so many good anecdotes from over the years? That’s gonna make a really good book!
MICHAEL: Er... yeah… but I think I have got too many ideas as a musician rather than sitting back and writing a book! I think I’m not at that point, you know. I’m not sure if I ever will. For me, it’s more like, let the music do the talking. But, you know, I don’t think about a book. It’s not in my head anywhere, at all.
I wrote a book in the early nineties… and, basically, I was very serious about it. And I wanted to write a book that I wanted to be able to tell everything about me without fear. And I was convinced that, if I do that, I would have fifty per cent of the key to freedom of the peace of mind thing. And I, actually, was very serious… that’s why it worked. I actually had about eight cassettes full of talk and, last minute… [Laughs]… I was thinking to myself, I can’t do this. I could not put it out. If my mother gets this… my mum’s neighbours… they’re gonna be… [Laughs]… it was so honest. That book was so honest that I destroyed it, you know.
MD: Oh, you destroyed it?
MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah. But, I was serious about it and that did the job. So, basically, the tool was used… it was all from the heart. I only just realised that you cannot put yourself on a plate, out there. People eat you!
MICHAEL: I never knew much about borderlines, you know, because I used to trust everybody and anything and so on. So, in my middle years, I started to learn about borderlines and I’m so glad I threw the book away. But the thing was, though, that it was coming from the heart and I was serious about releasing it. And that was the main thing. That did its job and that’s why it was completed and it was destroyed. So, it was a fantastic experience. Basically, you get everything off your chest.
MD: So it made you feel better for writing it, at least.
MICHAEL: Yeah, in an honest way and not holding back. It’s incredible how powerful that is.
MD: Absolutely. More people should be that way, I think.
MICHAEL: I think people do it, in a way. They write their little notes… but I was actually going to go so far to actually release it, you know. I mean, that took everything and, if I had done that, I think people would have…. I mean, you have to have borderlines. There has to be stuff that you don’t let people into because you can’t just put yourself on a plate… then people eat you!
MD: Definitely! So, my final question then - do you think you’ll forever be a spirit on a mission? Or do you think you’ll be able to sit back one day and say to yourself: “Yeah, mission accomplished.”?
MICHAEL: [Laughs] No! Not mission accomplished! It’s an infinite mission, yeah? Music, you know, it’s always there.
MD: Until the day you die, you’ll always be making music…
MICHAEL: Well, I’m still gonna be there. I’m gonna be in the music!
MD: Absolutely! What a good answer!
MD: Very good closing words! Well, it’s been a real pleasure chatting to you again.
MICHAEL: Great, thank you very much.
MD: Best of luck with all the Michael Schenker Fest shows.
MICHAEL: Thank you very much.
MD: Alright, cheers a lot, Michael.
MICHAEL: Take care, bye, bye.