Jimmy Kay from Canada’s The Metal Voicerecently spoke to legendary guitarist Michael Schenker as he is getting ready to release his MSG (MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP) album “Immortal”, on on January 29, 2021 via Nuclear Blast. Schenker also talk about Eddie Van Halen and why he declined so many major bands over the years as lead guitarist.
Why did you decide to use different artists on the new album Immortal? “Everything in my life happens by circumstances and so I live in the moment. My original idea was to have guest musicians of friends and fans to celebrate the 50 year anniversary. Getting musicians lined up and together it is very very complicated and it was dragging on. So I decided to have a compact band.”
A 50 year anniversary? “My agent said the Lonesome Crow album was released in 1972 so I said that gives me two years to celebrate.”
Tell me why you chose singer Ronnie Romero for this new album “I discovered Ronnie Romero when he sang on the first Michael Schenker Fest first album. I always wondered why Ritchie Blackmore chose him and today I understand why. I understand what Ritchie was up too as we are both in similar situations. Ritchie needed to find a singer who has the ability to sing like everyone, Joe Lynn Turner, Ronnie James Dio and Graham Bonnet. So because I am in the same situation with so many different signers it would be great to have Ronnie Romero as the main singer and to continue live and have a compact band. Ritchie and I have lots of parallels and an endless amount of similarities over the years.”
Tell me how the virus may or may not have affected the recording of the new album “The virus showed up and I call the virus a bittersweet experience, it kind of directed me back to my original idea but without me planning it was just by circumstances. I got all of these incredible new musicians on this album. How it all happened is just a miracle, it’s unbelievable.”
What was it like revisiting and re-doing the Scorpions’ song ‘In Search of peace of mind’, off the band’s debut album Lonesome Crow “It is the best song on that album and is the very first piece of music that I wrote. I was 15 years old and I wrote it in my mothers kitchen. There was nobody there. The original song credits of Lonesome Crow says Michael Schenker and Rudolf Schenker lyrics, we had zero knowledge of English so how could we have been done the lyrics? Misinformation completely. Rudolf cannot even play that song, it’s actually pretty complex if you get into the details of the original version. But it was such an incredible start for myself to put the first note on a record with a song like this. I couldn’t have wished for a better result.”
What was your feeling about Lonesome Crow when it was released officially “I was absolutely excited, I was listening to Led Zeppelin on the radio just a year before in my bedroom when I was 14 years old and then one year later Lonesome Crow was coming through the same radio, it was a great feeling.”
Did Rudolf Schenker contribute musically to Lonesome Crow album “Nothing at all, he can’t even play it. The thing is I wrote most of Lonesome Crow but because I was 15 the rest of the band was 21 the band took advantage of me and wanted a piece of the pie and they wanted to be involved in their first experience of an album that was recorded for the first time for everybody.”
Tell me about the time you were asked to join Deep Purple “In 1993 I got a phone call, I was the first person to be chosen. You have to remember me and Ritchie Blackmore have so many parallels, everyone that leaves Ritchie Blackmore joins the Michael Schenker, it’s the funniest thing. There was always a conversation in Deep Purple and Ozzy, that’s why Ozzy called me up and asked me to join. I was always the first choice but I declined and I must say I’m the kid in the sandbox just enjoying playing. When I get these offers from Thin Lizzy, Motorhead I always decline because I don’t want to copy, I want to do pure self expression. I declined all these bands because I had the vision of focusing on pure expression. I cannot follow a bunch of people looking for something that I have already finished with. My own vision is more important.”
Tell me about Eddie Van Halen and his influence on the world “The weirdest thing is actually Van Halen was supporting UFO at the Starwood (Club), I was 19 years old and it was 5 years before Van Halen broke out with Van Halen One. When I heard Eddie I was like WOW this is amazing. But I didn’t know that he was actually doing the tapping technique. I was wondering how on earth does he get such a smooth guitar sound. Everyone copied him doing the tapping style later on. It was something easy for guitarists to do for overnight success. So there were thousands of guitarists going to guitar school learning tapping to be a star in one or two years. But the thing with Eddie Van Halen was he had rhythm and style. My brother Rudolf told me that he actually heard something Eddie did earlier on that sounded like Eddie was a bit influenced by me. But Eddie took it so far forward that I was blown away by what he did . His sense of Rhythm, his sense of melody, his sense of sound and tone quality. The way he actually entertained was so complete, he was the best.”
“Immortal” track listing:
01. Drilled To Kill- 02. Don’t Die On Me Now – 03. Knight Of The Dead 04. After The Rain 05. Devil’s Daughter 06. Sail The Darkness 07. The Queen Of Thorns And Roses 08. Come On Over 09. Sangria Morte 10. In Search Of The Peace Of Mind
Canada’s The Metal Voice on New Year’s Eve Dec 31 2020 spoke to guitarist Michael Gilbert of Flotsam and Jetsam, legendary drummer Carmine Appice, Aldo Nova and singer of Sword’s Rick Hughes in special New Years Special
Flotsam and Jetsam’s Michael GilbertTell us about the upcoming new studio album by Flotsam and Jetsam “The new Flotsam and Jetsam album was supposed to come out in January 2021 that was what the plan was, so the album is pretty much done. Everything is done, completed, except for the artwork as and it is now pushed to June 2021. So we stopped doing the white knuckle recording and started taking our time with the mixes. I think we are going to be releasing a lyric video pretty soon for the first single, maybe February March 2021. ”
Tell us about the musical direction “This is the perfect follow-up to The End of Chaos (last album). We could not have planned it any better. It ended up coming out like The End of Chaos on steroids basically you are going to love it. The musical direction is going to be brutal for a Flotsam record, it’s a step above Chaos for sure. ”
Carmine AppiceTell us what projects are you working on in 2021 “I got a new Cactus album coming out, I’m working on a new instrumental album, then all my drum instructional books (eight of them) are being re-released in 2021 coming out on Modern Drummer publications. Also my brother Vinny and I have been talking about a new album and we got some half done demos and Jim Crean is singing on it but it’s hard to get Vinny motivated.”
Tell us about the passing of your friend Leslie West “I knew him the longest of anyone in the business. Leslie was an amazing player, funny guy and had a real dark crazy sense of humour. I have known his since 1963, I was in an R and B funk band, with horns everything and we played the same club opposite from each other, half on half off. Then I played with Leslie in 1975, it was me Mick Jones who ended up being in Foreigner, Kenny Arniston and Lesie what a great band it was. We did Mississippi Queen and there is a video on Youtube if you want to see.”
Aldo NovaTell us about your new studio release The life and times of Eddie Gage “Eddie Gage is a Rock Opera with 27 songs and is on hold. I was going to put it out but I am now putting out an E.P. (from the album) probably March or April 2021. I am in the process of doing a mini Documentary on how the new studio album was done and put together. Also I am uploading New Youtube video performances on Aldo Nova channel of my classic songs check them out they are smokin.”
Sword’s Rick HughesTell us about the Musical direction of the New Sword album on Combat Records “The reaction to the new single In Kommad has been amazing. What I like the most about Sword’s latest project is that every song is so totally different from one track to another. The song In Kommad is the thrasher song of the album. Then you will get a song which will remind you of the early days of Black Sabbath, with a bit of Dio and a bit of Ozzy and some Motorhead. The first song is just the tip of the Iceberg and I really mean it. I know everyone is anxious to hear the album but the Pandemic has all our plans struck down, everything was ready to go and tour with the big boys in the USA so we have to wait.”
Just recently The Metal Voice had a deep discussion on the life and times of controversial QUIET RIOT‘s singer Kevin Dubrow with Author and fan club president Missy Whitney, Photographer Mark Weiss and best friend/filmmaker Ron Sobol. Other topics US festival 1983, Randy Rhoads era.
Former W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes and Famous Rock/ Metal Photographer Mark Weiss join The Metal Voice Live on YOUTUBE to talk about their current plans and take fan question and video zoom calls. The last time Mark and Chris really spoke was during the photo shoot of WASP the Last Command in 1985.
Plus there will be a special WASP family guest.
December 23rd, 2020 9am Pacific 12pm Eastern 5pm UK
Canada’sThe Metal Voicerecently spoke to Saxon’s frontman Biff Byford about the bands upcoming Covers album ‘Inspirations’ which will be released on March 19 2021 via Silver Lining music.
Tell us about the song selections for ‘Inspirations’ “I asked the band to pick two songs, so we made a list of songs. Some of them were really weird so we didn’t bother. I picked about five of the songs but remember we had more songs on the list than recorded. I waited until we were actually playing them live to see what they sounded like, some songs didn’t transpose. I wanted a song from (Black) Sabbath (Deep) Purple and (Led ) Zeppelin. We really didn’t want to do the easy ones on Zeppelin or Purple. The Black Sabbath one (Evil Woman) is an odd choice but I didn’t really know what to do with Sabbath, so I went with the Crow’s song (done by Black Sabbath) Evil Woman. I was born in the 50’s so the 60’s was a big time to be growing up with music. There were a lot of other bands that we could have done but I wanted the big three in there (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix).The thing with The Beatles when they played on TV for the very first time in 1963 I was like 12-13 years old , so seeing a band on TV in my living room was a big first for me so it influenced me a lot musically. Then obviously The Stones came later. I thought The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and in particular Hendrix influenced us definitely. Everyone one of the cover songs on the album has a connection to the band.”
Did you want the cover songs on Inspirations to sound like Saxon or keep them closer to the original recordings? “We sort of changed the songs a bit but it would be a sort of travesty to mess with them a bit too much. I wanted to keep them fairly simple to the original but with a heavier sound, a heavier angle. Obviously my voice is completely different to their voices. I think my voice definitely gives it a different angle anyway. Keep it straightforward but with a powerful performance. For example the song ‘Speed King’ we played it faster than Deep Purple, just because we can.”
How long did it take to record the album and was the album put out to bridge the gap for the new studio album “We recorded the whole album in about 17 days, it’s a very live album. I don’t think there were any overdubs on it, it’s very live. It was done in a big house in a big room like the old n days and it was just good fun. We thought the (new Saxon) album has been pushed back no one has any idea what is happening with the vaccination things or when we will be getting back to the stage. If people like it we will probably do another one next year, it’s good fun to do because there is no pressure and the songs are already written (laughs).”
Have you finished the New Saxon Studio album? “Most of the guitars , bass and drums are done, the vocals are sort of done. I have to do all the vocals at once, so the vocals I already did we will trash them and start again. I think probably after Christmas I will do the vocals on it again. I’m also doing an album with my son Sebastian, we have written some songs together and we will be doing that pretty quickly. Our videos on Youtube are pretty popular. The album with my son will be full on rock with a band. In regards to the new Saxon Studio album they are talking 2021 as the release date but I don’t know yet the whole entertainment industry is kind of gone and forgotten as far as the government is concerned. We are all waiting to see. If the vaccine starts to work people are able to mix together then the album will come out . We don’t like putting albums out and not tour because we like to tour on the album.”
Would Saxon consider doing a Live Stream event “People keep asking us to do it, whether we will or not we do it I don’t know. The thing is I like audiences, I like to be live if you know what I mean. We might do it , we could do it on a smaller scale like me and my son but I don’t think a full production running around on stage in front of cameras with nobody in the room really doesn’t appeal to me. But never say never.”
Are you getting the vaccination? “I think I might be getting mine in January 2021 because obviously with my heart thing and I am at high risk. I think they already have done a quarter of a million people in the UK.”
Thoughts on the recent passing of Eddie Van Halen “Terrible news. I saw Van Halen a few times. First time I saw them was at the Rainbow must have been 1978-79 I think they just toured with Sabbath and then they did a warm up show at the Rainbow in London, I saw that. Then I saw them again on the Tora Tora tour in Manchester. I loved the band, they were a good time rock metal band. You could not go see Van Halen and not like them actually. We did consider doing a Van Halen song I wanted to do Running with the Devil but you got to be careful. We do have an option to do another album so that might actually be a good idea. we could do a massively heavy version of ‘Running with the Devil’, make it more of a Sabbath version.”
Inspirations track list
01. Paint It Black 02. Immigrant Song 03. Paperback Writer 04. Evil Woman 05. Stone Free 06. Bomber 07. Speed King 08. The Rocker 09. Hold The Line 10. Problem Child 11. See My Friends