MICHAEL SCHENKER DISCUSSES TEMPLE OF ROCK, DON DOKKEN AND WHAT SONGS DEFINE HIM AS A MUSICIAN
OMN: Your last couple of albums, Temple of Rock and Bridge the Gap, are Michael Schenker solo records. Why Schenker solo albums versus MSG albums?
MS: Yeah, this is billed as Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock. We focus on the best of Michael Schenker music and my current work which is Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock. I think MSG or the Michael Schenker Group was most popular when we had Gary Barden on vocals. We had other singers of course, but the Gary Barden era was the most popular. Right now I’m in celebration mode. My life is divided into three stages; the first stage was me developing as a musician and contributing musically to the world. The second was more about training and my development as a guitarist and the third is my celebration stage. I’ve had a wonderful career; I’ve played with my brother (Rudolph Schenker) in Scorpions, I went on to play in UFO and then formed MSG and now have done solo material. When I recorded In the Midst of Beauty with Gary Barden in 2008 that was basically the beginning of my celebration stage. When we did that tour I really found myself enjoying getting up on stage and playing. Up until that point I didn’t feel comfortable being on stage. I thought to myself “What is going on here? Why am I feeling this way?” I realized that I did make an important musical contribution. I know fans enjoyed the music but it wasn’t until that point that I believed it.
OMN: As you mentioned Temple of Rock is a different beast than MSG but you’ve done something really special in the live setting where you get different line-ups to perform on different legs of the tour. This must also keep it relatively fresh for you, no?
MS: Oh, absolutely but I don’t plan anything. What I mean is that the universe is driver I just do my part. I live moment by moment. I do feel that this line-up that you hear on the new album with Francis, Herman and Wayne has the potential of being a full-time band.
I think we’re using Michael Schenker as the platform but I do think that Temple of Rock can have it’s own entity. There is a great chemistry with this line-up and in what we are doing. I already have some ideas for the next album. In fact the line-up on the album will begin a world tour in March but since the album comes out today I figured that I’d better be in the United States to do some promotion and to introduce Doogie to America.
OMN: There was mention of you doing an acoustic record with Don Dokken. If I recall the plan was to add vocals to select tracks from the Thank You series.I know that a track with Dokken singing is featured as a bonus cut on the deluxe version of Bridge the Gap. Will there be a Dokken/Schenker album in the future?
MS: Yeah, well like you said I have four albums worth of acoustic instrumentals. I did ask Don to take some of the songs that he could do something with and write (lyrics) to them. He did that and he wound up with five songs and they are really, really good. So I decided to put one of them on this album to show people what that would be like. We will release music together. If I recall I think he (Dokken) took songs from three different Thank You records when he’s done writing (lyrics) to the songs it will eventually become an album.
OMN: If you could pick three songs that define Michael Schenker what songs would they be?
MS: I can’t do that. I can’t pick songs. I can pick a complete album. I really like Lights Out from my work with UFO. I think Doctor, Doctor is the ultimate party song. I love playing Rock Bottom because there’s a lot of room there for personal expression. If you have seen me live you can see and hear how I improvise during the song. It’s fun to play and you can use that song as a reference point to see how I have developed as a guitarist over the years.
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