He’s the man with a liking for black and white Vs - but how will Michael Schenker handle the 10 questions we ask everyone?
1. What was your first guitar and when did you get it?
“My first guitar was one that I built myself. I was 14 years old and in school we had a project to build something out of wood, and so I decided to build a guitar. And guess what shape it was? It was a triangle - I was 14 years old and I built a triangular guitar. It wasn’t a V, but it was as close to one as you could get!”
2. Suppose the building’s burning down. What one guitar from your collection would you save?
“To be honest, I would just pick one and it would be whatever was closest to me, they all play great. The Kaleidoscope I liked a lot, but that was stolen, so I’d probably pick up a black and white guitar.”
3. What’s the oldest guitar that you own?
“Probably the very first guitar that Dean made for me, which was in 2004. It’s the one I usually play for Rock Bottom. I don’t even know what pickups are on it… I think I have about 25 Dean guitars and there are so many black and white guitars. I’m not really a collector and I don’t really keep track of what I have.”
4. When did you last practise and what did you play?
“I actually call it ‘play and discover’ and I do that on a regular basis. I did it before I left this morning. I have the best energy in the morning and I don’t play anything I know; it’s just play and discover, so I just play and hope I discover something! I’m actually going to Glasgow to do a few days’ rehearsal with the Michael Schenker Fest to add a couple of songs in there and also to refresh the memory and to play together. We don’t actually have a gig until May, but I want to do a rehearsal.”
5. When was the last time you changed your own strings?
“Actually, I don’t know. I used not to change my strings, period. Only just lately, because I have had a string go in the middle of a lead break, I’ve kind of started to get fed up with it. I like playing on worn-in strings, but lately, especially if we haven’t played for a while, I tell my guitar tech, ‘You’d better change the strings,’ just to make sure I don’t break any. It’s hard to remember when it was; I definitely did it before we played Japan - and that was last August [laughs].”
6. If you could change one thing about a recording you’ve been on, what would it be and why?
“To be honest, it’s a bit like this: the past is the past and whatever happened there brought me to where I am today and, actually, I’d leave everything the way it is. It’s all part of development; it’s all part of a healthy learning experience. I’m in a good place today and so I would say that everything I did brought me here and so there’s no need to change anything, really.”
7. What are you doing five minutes before you go on stage and five minutes after?
“I eat a Snickers before! I have to make sure that there’s not a photo session, because last time I was eating a Snickers and they did a photo session while I was chewing. Five minutes after I change as quick as I can and get out of there.”
8. What’s the worst thing that has happened to you on stage?
“It’s an embarrassing one: I actually shat myself. I had a stomach upset from some bad food and it developed throughout the afternoon. I had my long boots on, the long boots I used to wear with UFO - and it took me about 45 minutes to put them on. It was towards the end of the show and I just couldn’t do anything about it and I just rushed off stage as soon as I could and just dumped everything in the shower. It was terrible, honestly!”
9. What song would you play on an acoustic around a campfire?
“Probably Beatles songs. I love Beatles songs. When we used to go with The Scorpions from gig to gig in the very early days when I was 15 or 16, that’s all we did. It was fun.”
10. What aspect of guitar would you like to be better at?
“It’s not about ‘better’ or ‘not better’, I play and discover. I play from within and just take it from one moment to the next. There are no expectations. I go treasure hunting and as I go I’m having a lot of fun - you don’t necessarily find the gold, but you have fun hoping that something shows up. So I don’t expect anything, I don’t really look for anything… My focus is the art of lead guitar with pure self-expression and so whatever comes out from the inside helps make the world of the fretboard that little bit bigger.”
Michael Schenker Fest Live Tokyo CD and DVD is available now