Michael Schenker Fest

An interview with Michael Schenker
by Tommy Rage
April 2019

Michael Schenker

Michael Schenker

Success can be measured in many ways. Whether it’s being a part of three well known bands, numerous world tours, or countless awards, time may be the best way to measure success. For more than 40 years, Michael Schenker has put together an impressive resume.

At the early age of 16, Schenker, along with his bother Rudolf, formed the German metal group, the Scorpions. After several albums, most notably 1979’s Lovedrive, with hit songs “Loving You Sunday Morning”, and “Holiday”, Schenker then helped propel the British rock band UFO into stardom with hit songs “Doctor Doctor”, “Rock Bottom” and “Love To Love”.

Following several reunions with UFO and various lineup changes in Schenker’s own group: The Michael Schenker Group (M.S.G.), paved the way for a new endeavor. Starting in 2016, the guitar legend brought together a collection of musicians to form the Michael Schenker Fest. Four vocalists: Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, and Doogie White, along with bass player Chris Glen, drummer Ted McKenna, and guitarist/keyboard player Steve Mann contributed to Schenker’s 2018 album: Resurrection.

Taking around 5 months and multiple studio to put the album together, Schenker knew where he wanted to take his latest release. “I had a pretty good idea going into [Resurrection], that I wanted to have something fast, energetic, and melodic. It has all the elements that keep things sounding fresh, and not boring. When I put the second song on the table, I just had the music. Michael Voss-Scheon (co-producer), showed up at the studio the next day and said, ‘Hey Michael, I put some lyrics to your music.’ It was fantastic and it became [the song] ‘Warrior’. It sounds like such a classic song. We made a well-balanced album where each singer sings about two songs, and it went down really well.”

Working with four different lead singers, as well as a guest appearance by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett on the album’s first track ‘Heart And Soul’ Schenker, made a personal discovery about where he wanted Resurrection to go. “I realized that I was preforming a lot of my older music, but not with the original musicians. I had a realization that the next step should be to get the singers from the 80’s and my past, and see if they would do it? It seemed like they were waiting for the call [laughter], and it seemed like it was meant to be. It was the right time.” 

Moving forward for Schenker onto a new project felt right to the veteran virtuoso. “In 2008, I got this urge to get back out and do the things that maybe UFO, or the Scorpions would have hated [laughter]. Basically, I didn’t compete against anyone growing up, I was just having fun, developing, and creating effects out of three or four notes; which give you goose [bumps]. I was having so much fun it was like I was in the laboratory, putting together different elements and getting different reactions. By the time I got to Strangers In The Night with UFO and Lovedrive with the Scorpions, I wanted to do things that maybe they would have hated. It was good for them I didn’t join up, and it was good for me. I felt that one chapter of my life was completed. Because I was able to experience fame, I knew that it wasn’t important me. It was not important to me, so I let that go, and I was able to focus on my next step.”

Songs such as ‘Take Me To The Church’, ‘Anchors Away’, and ‘Messing Around’ are radio ready, gritty tunes which are laden with familiar, yet unique guitar foundations. The various singers fit perfectly with every song, each singer being surround by talented musicians to complete the best of an all-star rock album. Schenker is proud of all twelve tracks on Resurrection. “All the songs found their own place, they development and found their own space. It wasn’t forced and wasn’t rushed; it fell into place. I love playing this album live, ‘Messing Around’, the happiness of it, it’s so much fun to play live.” Adding to his joys of playing live all over the world for this album, Schenker was excited to return Los Angeles. “When we played L.A., we had a unique idea to play the Whiskey A Go Go, [as] it was actually my first concert, I think, when I was 18 years old. Now we are full circle. Its whole decades and eras of my development, showing up on stage. It’s an unusual undertaking having four different singers all on stage, but it’s good. It’s like having all my energy in one central point now.”

Closing out Resurrection, ‘The Last Super’ ties in with the albums tongue n’ cheek cover, laughs Schenker, “Yeah, at first I had a vision of the Michael Schenker Fest in the studio with a big table, and a big feast, with a woman with big bosom, serving big pints of beer. Like Octoberfest, with a turkey and a big feast. Someone sent me a picture of the Last Super and in a musical kind of way, it means coming back to life, just like a resurrection.”

Schenker has managed to seamlessly bring together four different vocalists and a group of talented musicians to craft yet another step forward in his accomplished career. Resurrection is a true culmination of almost four decades of hard-hitting rock, unique Euro-metal, and electric guitar playing. The joys of Michael Schenker being able to craft an album with energy and creativity while still maintaining his edge is reflected in his love of preforming live. “The whole show is so entertaining. We have a big show, over 150 minutes and at the end, people always want more. I ask, ‘Don’t you have to work tomorrow?’ [Laughter]. It must be great for people to see these different eras, up on one stage for one night. For the hardcore fans to re-experience it and for the newcomer, to get a glimpse of what it used to be like. It’s a lot of fun, because I stay true to myself. There is a saying, ‘If you stay true to yourself, then everything else will be added onto you’, and that’s exactly what has happened.”

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Michael Schenker Fest
CD: Resurrection Record Label: Nuckear Blast
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