ROCK ICON MICHAEL SCHENKER ON FAME, “ALL OF A SUDDEN, I WAS A MAJOR INFLUNCE. PEOPLE WERE SAYING ‘[I AM A] GOD,’ AND I THOUGHT, ‘WHAT IS THIS? THIS IS RUBBISH.’
Greg Prato of Vintage Rock spoke with iconic guitarist Michael Schenker. Highlights from the chat appear below.
Vintage Rock: It seems like Stateside, you’re the most popular you’ve ever been. What do you attribute this to?
Michael Schenker: It’s like this — in my middle years, I consciously dropped out of the commercial machine. I had experienced what I needed to experience with UFO and Scorpions, and I wanted to carry on being true to myself — through true self-expression and experimenting with music. So, I took MSG out of the scene, completely. I couldn’t have done what I did with Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, or the other bands that asked me to join them. So, in the middle years, it was all about learning. In the beginning, I didn’t even know who I was. All of a sudden, I was a major influence. People were saying “Schenker is God,” and I thought, “What is this? This is rubbish.” After Strangers In The Night and Lovedrive, I had enough of that, and I wanted to continue focusing on music. And out of that, I actually missed out on the commercial success as many had in the ‘80s. But I’m making up for it now. I’ve been staying true to myself for half a century, and I got rewarded — I found fulfillment. I experiment and I get everything out of my system. There’s nothing left that I wanted to do…
…And since 2008, all of a sudden, I had this urge to be on stage. I never wanted to be on stage, and all of a sudden, I had this urge to be on stage. I take it as a sign that something…it’s time for the third part of my life. So since 2008, I started having one leg in the machine, and now, there are two legs. Basically, step by step, I developed myself back to the place where I used to come from — where I was with UFO, and where I was with Scorpions. Going up and up…
…If you think about it, for half a century, I did not listen to other people, and being true to myself, and writing and experimenting. It’s a long time. So, the reward is big, and I get a lot of icing now (laughs).
Vintage Rock:2019 is the 40th anniversary of both UFO’s Strangers In The Night and the Scorpions’ Lovedrive. What do those two albums mean to you?
Michael Schenker: The release, maybe, but for me, it’s always when it was recorded. And that’s when it really happened. So, for me, it’s 41 years now. Last year was 40 years. For me, it’s been 41 years since the recording of Stranger In The Night, “one of the best live rock albums of all time.” That’s my speech. And…it’s been 41 years since the Scorpions asked me to help them with their Lovedrive album. So, I call it 41 years, maybe for the release date it’s 40 years…I don’t know. I always go by when it was recorded.
Vintage Rock: But what do those two albums mean to you?
Michael Schenker: They mean that that was basically the end of my development – the first step of my development. I started recording when I was 15, I started playing guitar when I was nine. From 16 years old, Lonesome Crow contained my first-ever written song, which was credited to all the Scorpions, but they had nothing to do with it. I was only 15, they were already 21, and they kind of ripped me off. But In Search of Peace of Mind was the very first music that I ever wrote – and it still has one of my favorite solos in it. So, from then on, until Strangers In The Night or helping the Scorpions with Lovedrive, which opened the door to America for them, that was basically the end of that era. And then, I started writing the song called Into the Arena, and that meant, “OK Michael…it’s time to work on understanding what life is all about, and who you are.” That’s what it means. It’s basically development fulfilled. And the next step was focus on life itself, and since 2008, it has been about understanding what happened, and celebrate.
Read more at Vintage Rock.
Following the release of their successful first album Resurrection, Michael Schenker Fest is currently recording their second album.
The band will be starting a North American tour on April 15th. See the tour itinerary below.
4/15 Whisky A Go Go – West Hollywood, CA
4/16 Whisky A Go Go – West Hollywood, CA
4/17 Whisky A Go Go – West Hollywood, CA
4/19 Palace of Fine Arts – San Francisco, CA
4/20 Ace of Spades – Sacramento, CA
4/21 Revolution Hall – Portland, OR
4/22/ Vogue Theatre – Vancouver, BC
4/24 The Palace (formerly Flames Central) – Calgary, AB CANADA
4/27 Gothic Theatre – Englewood, CO
4/28 The Truman – Kansas City, MO
4/30 Bourbon Hall – Louisville, KY
5/3/ The Pabst Theater – Milwaukee, WI
5/4 Concord Music Hall – Chicago, IL
5/5 Piere’s – Fort Wayne, IN
5/7 Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON
5/9/ The Egg – Albany, NY
5/10/ The Palladium – Worcester, MA
5/11 Irving Plaza – New York City, NY
5/12/ The Space at Westbury – Westbury, NY
5/14 Ram’s Head Live – Baltimore, MD
5/15 The National – Richmond, VA
5/16/ Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA
5/18/ Empire Garage – Austin, TX