Metal Wani’s Chuck Marshall had the golden opportunity to talk with Legendary Michael Schenker recently. We wanted to know how Michael went from a series of special concerts to recording an album and an upcoming tour with all four singers to the United States (which starts on March 6, 2018). Michael gave us the history behind an initial offer to headline Loud Park in 2016 which then morphed into the headlining shows in Tokyo. Upon seeing the venue, Michael knew it would be special like his famous Budokan show in 1981, and arranged for filming of the show which was released last year on DVD.
The DVD showcased the potential behind the concept of exploring the extensive catalog of music that Michael has created over time with such iconic groups as The Scorpions and UFO, as well as his own bands. This lead to label and touring offers that snowballed into the creation of the new Michael Schenker Fest ‘Resurrection’ album and tour.
The new ‘Resurrection’ album has a very power metal feel with a triumphant and positive vibe. There are also a fair number of titles that suggest a religious theme such as “Take Me To The Church”, “Salvation”, “The Last Supper”, even a bit with “Heart and Soul” and its lyrical references to being lost in the wilderness and a thorny crown. We asked Michael if those religious references were intentionally. He explained that originally, he envisioned a feast where everyone was gathered with beer, wine, food and celebrating music. As the group started to flesh out lyrics to the music, titles emerged with religious names. There wasn’t a consideration to include religious themes. However, the concept of rebirth fit in with the evolution of Michael’s current stage in his life. This lead to naming the album ‘Resurrection’. He didn’t have a title for the album’s instrumental track and decided to keep the theme going by naming that song “Salvation”.
Michael Schenker’s lyrical guitar playing has influenced a host of guitarist over the course of his career. This includes Kirk Hammett from Metallica who appears on the new album. We wanted to know how Michael got Kirk to contribute to the song “Heart and Soul”. It turns out that Kirk is a huge Michael Schenker and UFO fan. He had wanted to meet Michael and finally did during an episode of “That Metal Show” with Eddie Trunk. From that meeting they developed a friendship. When Michael asked Kirk if he would play on the ‘Resurrection’ record, Kirk was overjoyed. Metallica’s management then flew co-producer Michael Voss out to Hawaii to record his parts of the song. Evidently Kirk sent Michael pictures of the recording sessions to share his joy with his guitar mentor and hero.
We also spent some time talking about the songs “Warrior” and “Last Supper” which blends the brilliant vocal talents of Gary, Graham, Robin and Doogie. Each singer contributes their own unique vocal qualities to create a very interesting mix. In particular, we wanted to know if these songs were written having all four vocalists in mind. Michael shared that he had envisioned four songs with all four singers, but they ended up with the two. He also explained the pivotal role that Michael Voss played in helping to match up songs with each singer and including various pairings of backing vocals. Michael explained that Michael Voss is a multi-instrument musician himself and an MSG fan which provided him with someone that understood his vision and help him execute it.
Michael hinted that he hoped that future Michael Schenker fests would include Phil Mogg as UFO celebrates 40 years since recording of the shows for the live ‘Strangers In The Night’. He also dreamed that perhaps he could persuade Klaus Meine to join and celebrate the 40th anniversary of ‘Lovedrive’ in 2019.
Finally, we touched on the upcoming tour to the United States which kicks off on March 6th. The show will feature two and a half hours of music covering the new ‘Resurrection’ album as well as plenty of songs covering the entire collection of Michael Schenker’s work. The tour and the album will provide Michael Schenker fans with a festival for body and soul.