Michael Schenker Group

by Mike Huberty
July 2010

MIchael Schenker

MIchael Schenker

On tour now to celebrate the thirtieth(!) anniversary of his self-named group, German guitar wizard Michael Schenker has been shredding since first joining his older brother, Rudolf’s band, The Scorpions, in 1970. In the middle of that decade, British band UFO snapped him up and they went on to record a new wave of British Heavy Metal classics like “Lights Out” and “Too Hot To Handle”. With his signature Flying V guitar, Teutonic presence, and unique playing style, he took the band to the next level of popularity around the world despite the language gap between him and his English-speaking bandmates. After leaving the band, he struck out on his own to form MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP (better known as MSG and Schenker is known for being no stranger to “preservatives” himself) in 1980 and released hard rock anthems like “Armed and Ready” and “Gimme Your Love”. Throughout the 90’s and Aughts, Schenker reunited with UFO and continued MSG in various forms, revolving the door to bring musicians in. Currently, this tour brings him back together with original MSG vocalist Gary Barden as well as the guy who literally wrote the book on rock drumming (1972’s Realistic Rock Drum Method), Carmen Appice, who’s played with everyone from Ozzy to Rod Stewart, Vanilla Fudge to Jeff Beck.

“I have always been very musically involved, even when I was five years old, always drumming and singing.” Schenker says in an understandable and charming German accent. “When I was 8 years old I was listening to the radio with my brother and sister. We paid a lot of attention to sound because of course we couldn’t understand the lyrics of bands like The Beatles, but we loved the music and our whole bedroom was filled with pictures of Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley. When I was around nine, there was a guitar lying around. My brother was starting to work and he got a guitar for his sixteenth birthday. I started figuring things out on the guitar and started teaching my brother some stuff (note: and a nine-year old teaching his older brother how to be the guitarist for The Scorpions is kind of an awesome story) When I heard bands like Jeff Beck and Led Zeppelin, it gave me goose pimples. When I heard the distorted guitar sound when I was fourteen years old, That was the kickoff that was when I knew what I wanted to do.”

And it wasn’t just performing he knew he wanted, it was the sound. “I knew that I was going to do the same thing that Jeff Beck did to me.” Schenker says assuredly (admittedly with almost half a century of hindsight.) “I was very focused on guitar playing, I only listened to music that had great guitar players. I knew exactly what I wanted, I knew in my head what kind of sound I wanted. I was so keen on developing those visions that I practiced all the time. I developed very fast, before I knew, maybe a couple of years later, I was already in the studio with The Scorpions.”

And when he made the jump to UFO and later, running the show in MSG, he feels it was something he was compelled to do. He says, “The difference was total freedom for musical creativity and personal development for my own tastes and needs. Basically, MSG was made to create in my own way and my own pace and do what I wanted to do based on what I believed in at that time and what I thought needed to be developed. I had to do this on my own. It was my own mission and my own assignment, I had to go through it in that way and only that way and that was very important.”

Now after thirty years of different band reunions, different singers, solo records, and tours, Michael Schenker is back with his original singer and he feels that this formation is the best yet. “Well, it’s the same as UFO and it’s the same with The Scorpions, the chemistry is always there.” he says. “It doesn’t disappear over night. It was there when you are born. And when certain people meet, they have a chemistry and when they meet again, they have that same chemistry the way it was before.”

But for people coming to the show in Middleton at Scatz on August 4th, he says you can expect to hear his classic songs. And as for his longevity in the industry, he answers straightforwardly, “I meant it.” He continues, “when I started it was with all my heart and the only thing I wanted was to create goose pimples. I never thought about how powerful or famous I could be, it was just about how I felt. With not much expectation, everything happened by itself and that’s based on purely wanting to create something that creates great feelings.”

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