Interview By Alison Booth
Pic By Lee Millward
It is without a doubt that Uli Jon Roth has certainly earned his legendary status – with a career spanning five decades, Uli is set to celebrate his 50th anniversary of performing on stage, since starting out aged 13 in December 1968. His career has been a colourful journey, from the early days of the SCORPIONS to ELECTRIC SUN and a successful solo career, notably an innovator in the music world. Not forgetting Uli‘s creation of the unique and visionary Sky Guitar!
Uli is about to embark on a special six date UK tour, starting 29th November, celebrating his career by playing many favourites from over the years. Check for more information here. Metal Shock Finland Senior Manager Alison Booth recently spoke to Uli about the forthcoming tour and much more besides, for her Blackdiamond’s Metal Mayhem radio show. The whole show can be heard at this location.
Some excerpts of the in depth chat with Uli can be read below, with the full interview on the audio player.
Discussing the forthcoming 50th anniversary shows, Uli stated:
“I haven’t done such an ambitious programme in many years. I’ve got such a big repertoire from over the years, so I had to think hard about what not to play. There’s certain contenders that are always there like ‘Sails Of Charon’, certain Scorpions tracks, but I haven’t performed any of the Electric Sun stuff in years and that will be very interesting for me because that music is very demanding to play – although it should sound easy when you’re listening to it.
So we’re basically playing a best of Electric Sun, a best of my period with the Scorpions from the seventies, to doing some of my Sky Of Avalon, which is a little bit more adventurous, more melodic symphonic rock I guess. And it’s a long show, it’s a mission, so it’s an evening’s worth. I’m also playing a little acoustic set, just solo on my eight string Flamenco Sky guitar and I’m going to play some new pieces that I’ve written this summer which I love playing. And we’re also playing something that I particularly look forward to – some music of my deceased brother Zeno, who you may know, he died earlier this year unfortunately. He was a great songwriter and great guitar player himself, so we’re going to honour his memory and his legacy by playing two of his best songs.
So that’s basically in a nutshell what we’re going to do.“
Mentioning the fact that there seems to be no sign of Uli slowing down, he remarked:
“No, actually on the contrary. I was just saying to my daughter today that I have so much on my plate sometimes that I wish for longer days! (laughs). I’m a bit of a workaholic and recently it seems to be increasing, don’t ask me why.”
Looking back over his long career, Uli expressed:
“Innovator is probably true because I’m always interested in coming up with new ideas and I prided myself in loving each solo that I’ve recorded on albums, different from the other ones you know – trying to break new ground, technically, musically or whatever. So for me, it’s been largely a journey of discovery and also seeing how far you can push the guitar, unlocking some of those mysteries and there are still so many in the guitar. It feels like sometimes I’ve barely grazed the surface, because each time I pick up a guitar I have new ideas and it feels completely fresh and new, it’s just great.
I think the secret to that is that I play really very rarely, you know, I don’t play very often these days. Lots of the time it’s just on stage so that’s why I guess I don’t get bored and it doesn’t get repetitive to me ever.”
Regarding the future, Uli revealed:
“Next year will be very busy because I’m also working towards some orchestra shows, which is very labour intensive with score writing. We’ll probably have to spend some time in the studio editing the DVD and making that. I have written by now a considerable amount of new music and to my eternal shame and disgrace, I’ve recorded very little in recent years and I know a new album is long overdue.
Having said that, it’s not an easy undertaking for me because I’m not so keen on recording studios, because I don’t like the medium as such. I prefer writing music, maybe even writing it down, that as a score I prefer playing it live. But actually making it so that you have an album, you know the final like pinning down the butterfly once and for all. I’ve always had a problem with that you know, so we’ll see. I’ll do my best to come up with a new album.”
50th ANNIVERSARY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 UK TOUR
WITH SPECIAL GUEST “KALEB MCKANE”
Corporation, Sheffield Thursday 29 November
ULU, London Friday 30 November
Kasbah, Coventry Saturday 1 December
Academy 3, Manchester Sunday 2 December
Òran Mór, Glasgow Monday 3 December
The Stables, Milton Keynes Wednesday 5 December