Legendary guitarist Michael Schenker needs no long introductions. Having started his professional career in 1972 in the tender age of 15, Michael Schenker left his mark on bands such as the Scorpions, UFO, The Michael Schenker Group, MSG (McAuley Schenker Group) and in between as Michael Schenker the solo artist. With more than 50 albums on his resume, Michael Schenker’s guitar playing has not only been an inspiration to many aspiring guitarists, he’s also been one of the most influential guitarists in the Hard Rock genre, along with Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page.
In 2011, Michael Schenker released his album Temple Of Rock, an album which kickstarted his Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock band, which culminated into his new album, entitled “Bridge The Gap”, which was released just a couple of days ago, featuring two Scorpions members Francis Buchholz and Haremann Rarebell and singer Doogie White! Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Michael Schenker, about both the new album and his future plans!
1. Good evening Michael, an honour having the chance to talk with you to say the least! How are you?
Michael: I am fine Thank you.
2. Your new album “Bridge The Gap”, was released just a couple of weeks ago! What inspired its title and how do you feel about it, now that it’s finally released?
Michael: I am happy that it is finally out. I had the title Bridge The Gap before I even started writing the Album. Basically, when Francis joined I realized that all 3 of us had only made 1 album-Lovedrive together and all 3 of us disappeared for a while out of the loop of RocknRoll for various different reasons. Now we were making our second album together after all these years. It felt like Bridging The Gap. Also, we are using 7 string guitar more than before to get the deep sounds and make it a little more modern. Kind of bridge the old with the new. And also what goes on in the World right now needs a lot of gap bridging. So all in all I thought the title would be very suitable for this album.
3. The recordings of the album were finished by March this year, yet you toured instead of releasing it then. It was a long wait until the end of November for the release date, right?
Michael: Yes,it was torture. We finished recording on the 31st of March2013,release date was going to be somewhere in November and the first show of our second leg of our European tour started on the 4th of April2013 in Russia. I had to put the album away and did not play it to anybody in the band till the tour was over. They were pissed off about it but I had to do it that way so that it would not interfere with our tour. They would have wanted to make changes probably straight away but we were not in recording mode we were on touring mode. However ,the great thing about it was that after the tour was finished we all listened to it with fresh ears and knew immediately what we needed to do to improve it. We added parts, remixed it and remastered it and got that much closer to perfect.
4. After the first leg of the tour with Doogie White, you returned to the studio and started writing with him the album. Tell us a few words about the songwriting process and the songs that make it.
Michael: We finished our first leg of the European tour on September 2012. That gave us 6 months to write and record. I always collect stuff when I play and discover and when it is time to make an album I listen to what I have and start writing. I had enough material by the end of 2012 .Then I went to the Studio recorded some rough stuff for Doogie to write melodies and lyrics. I told him to think-Bridge The Gap -and Melodic. Off he went. Voss and I started putting down guitars, went to a special Studio for drums, got the bass done and Wayne’s 7String and Keyboards and then Doogie was ready. We selected the best ideas and finished everything by the end of March 2013.A great energy was present while recording. I also made a conscious effort to make sure the album was heavy, fast, melodic and well balanced with lots of different emotions.
5. How did you decide to work with Doogie on the new studio album Michael?
Michael: Doogie and I had crossed paths many times and after we recorded Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead we knew sooner or later to make an album together.
6. Joining you on the album, are Hareman Rarebell on drums and Francis Buchholz on bass, who also toured with you last year! As you mentioned before, this is the very first time you’ve all been together on the same album, since Scorpions’ “Lovedrive”. How did you get back to working with the guys again and how do you feel about such a reunion?
Michael: It felt great right away. It all happened step by step. First I did something with Pete Way and Herman. Then Pete didn’t do too well and I asked Herman to ask Francis if he would like to tour with us. Francis was more than happy and off we went. Great energy, fun and more fun.
7. As far as the production of the album is concerned, you decided to work with Michael Voss again, who also sung and produced with you the previous album “Temple Of Rock”. Can you tell us a bit about the production?
Michael: Basically,I have a blueprint and know exactly what I want. Voss is great in picking up on my visions and adds his magic touch. It works really well.
8. Speaking of the previous album, do you regard “Bridge The Gap” as a continuation of what you started with your previous one “Temple Of Rock”?
Michael: Not really. The Temple of Rock album was of course what led to Bridge The Gap but it’s a Band now. Basically, Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock is my current program of my most popular music from my past and current.
9. Over the past couple of years, both through your live appearances and your studio work, you appear more hungry and energized than ever before! On what basis would you say that this lies upon?
Michael: I think I have been preserved for the final. My life comes in 3 stages. Stage 1-In my teenage years developing as a guitarist and focusing on pure selfexpression, Stage 2-In my middle years -experimenting musically and developing more musically, more pure self expression and focusing also on developing on a personal level. Stage 3-is now - celebrating the Great Era of Rock that started with Zeppelin, Purple, Black Sabbath etc. They laid the foundation of this era I fell in love with. Ronnie James Dio, Gary Moore, Lou Reed, John Lord, John Bonham, Keith Moon and many more important players have already passed away. One day it will all be just a memory. I want to celebrate this great Era for the rest of my live.
10. In retrospect Michael, from a career spanning 40 years, which would you say are your best memories? Do you ever sit back to contemplate on how much you’ve achieved from 1972 until today?
Michael: I love the now. Always go forward from now. Now is always best.
11. One of the things I’ve always wanted to ask you if I was given the chance was how you come up with your solos? Are they mainly based on improvisations, or you actually sit down and write them?
Michael: All except the middle solo on Lost and Lonely on this album are improvised. It’s pure selfexpression in the moment.
12. What plans do you have now following the release of the album Michael?
Michael: Doogie ,Wayne and myself are going to the States to promote the new album. The album will be released on the 7th of Jan.2014.We are not ready for a US Tour with the Album line up and I don’t want to miss the release date in the States. So I have decided to go out there introducing Doogie to my fans .The Bridge The Gap line up will start the World Tour in March in Japan then Europe and the UK and then the States. Hopefully lots of Festivals.
13. Many thanks for the interview Michael! Would you like to send a message to your Greek fans and the readers of Rockoverdose.gr?
Michael: Keep On Rocking and we are looking forward to seeing you all soon!
For Rockoverdose.gr: Michael Spiggos