Intro - One more time
Towards the end of January 2016, legendary six-stringer Michael Schenker and his killer band will be touring the UK and no doubt blowing minds wherever they play.
Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock includes ex-Scorpions rhythm section Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz as well as ex-Rainbow vocalist Doogie White and multi-instrumentalist Wayne Findlay.
With such an extensive back catalogue of material covering Scorpions, UFO, Michael Schenker Group, Temple of Rock – as well as his solo records – narrowing down a gig set-list is never the easiest of tasks for Schenker. Tracks from Temple of Rock’s 2015 long-player Spirit on a Mission will certainly be a focus but what else can fans expect from the shows?
“They’ll still be a lot of classics,” says Schenker, as we catch him on the phone just prior to a batch of tour rehearsals in Birmingham. “The main thing is we’ve got so many classics, every time we tour we can kind of swap them around to make sure we don’t repeat ourselves too much. We have to find a good balance between new songs and classics because some people want to hear new songs and others want to hear classics so we combine them in a common sense way. It’s going to be a very entertaining set!”
After over 40 years of gigging with various bands, how does Michael feel when he’s onstage performing in 2016?
“Fantastic!”, he enthuses. “It’s a 180 degree turn. When I was younger, I had stage fright like crazy but I grew out of it. I’m so happy that now I can enjoy all of that which I couldn’t really in the beginning. The first stage of my musical career was hard for me. I was never really interested in being famous or making much money with it or anything like that. I just had a passion and enjoyed playing guitar… but, in 2008, I had a 180 degree turn.
"Something happened and I felt the urge to go out and do it one more time. Maybe it was something that was already predestined and I can feel I have been preserved for this particular period now. Basically, what I did in the ‘70’s was all done unconsciously. I had no idea how much impact I had on other people but, in my middle stage, I learned so much about life and that enabled me to understand what I actually did when I started and I can now consciously finish it and enjoy it!”
What kind of approach has Schenker taken for his top 5 tips for guitarists?
“Basically, it’s like this. My way of doing things comes from within. When I was 17 years old, I knew intuitively not to listen to any more music, not to copy anymore and just create. I knew that’s what I wanted to do - to really focus on creating rather than copying something that was already there. I was more into designing my own little things and self-expression. So, in general, my guitar tips are maybe a little bit more unusual than the usual guitar tips that people hear…”
MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK UK TOUR 2016
- Book online atwww.thegigcartel.com
- BILSTON ROBIN - WEDNESDAY JANUARY 20 - Box Office: 01902 401211
- HOLMFIRTH PICTUREDROME - THURSDAY JANUARY 21 - Box Office: 0844 478 0898
- EDINBURGH QUEEN’S HALL - FRIDAY JANUARY 22 - Box Office: 0131 668 2019
- INVERNESS IRON WORKS - SATURDAY JANUARY 23 - Box Office: 0871 7894173
- GATESHEAD SAGE - MONDAY JANUARY 25 - Box Office: 0191 443 4661
- LIVEPOOL ACADEMY - TUESDAY JANUARY 26 - Box Office: 0844 477 2000
- MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2 - THURSDAY JANUARY 28 - Box Office: 0161 275 2930
- NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY - FRIDAY JANUARY 29 - Box Office: 0845 413 4444
- ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL- SATURDAY JANUARY 30 - Box Office: 0844 478 0898
1. Create your own sound
“The first thing that is important is you have to create your own sound. You need to know where you want to go. You have to hear it in your head. You can listen to a sound someone else has created and copy that sound, but that’s not your sound.
"And, if you do copy a sound and it is trendy at the time, then you can even be successful with it but I think you need to focus on yourself. You have to get away from everybody who will say, ‘Oh, this is great, this is great, this is great!’ You don’t listen to that because that’s their opinion.
"You have your own idea of what is great. Only you can express something that nobody else will be able to express. When you decide to open up and make that effort to express something purely yourself - regardless of whether people like it or not – only then you will release something that hasn’t been known to the world ever.
"It can only be known to the world when you open up yourself. Each person has a unique expression that has never been heard or seen before until the person expresses it.”
2. Play from your heart
“Express yourself purely and play from the heart and that way you come up with something that is you and new. If you keep doing that, if you keep on playing from your heart for long enough, eventually - without even trying - you will be recognised as a unique player because everything you do is something that comes from your heart and within yourself.”
3. See the guitar as a tool for pure self-expression
“Of course, some people want to play guitar to become rich and famous but that isn’t why I did it. I can do fine with a lot of money and I can do fine with little money. Actually, when I was becoming famous with Lights Out [1977 album by UFO], I ran away because I couldn’t stand it.
"But these days, I know how to deal with it and I’m actually now enjoying everything. Maybe it was never meant to be for me to enjoy myself back then, otherwise I never would have been able to learn from my middle years. Every person has a unique life structure on how things are going to happen based on what we need to learn.
"We have to deal with our own unique set of circumstances because they are the exact right circumstances for us because they tell us something. We have to deal with it and, at the end of the day, that’s how we learn. This is what I believe in.
"Pure self-expression is my place and that’s why, when people ask me, ‘Michael, how do you get your sound?’, I say, ‘Well, it’s the way I see the sound, it’s the way I hear it and it’s the way I want to express it.’
"I think people can get a lot of the answers when they make the effort to listen to themselves but not many people have the courage to do that because of the worries of failure. ‘What if they don’t like it?’ ‘What if I don’t get anywhere?’ ‘What if it doesn’t happen?’
"Well, that is already the wrong approach because you shouldn’t expect anything. I didn’t expect anything. I didn’t even ask myself, ‘How am I going to earn money?’ because I was having so much fun playing guitar. Nothing else really mattered. Everything came by itself.
"I think the more you focus on ‘How am I going to earn anything?’, you’re already having doubts and you’re already jeopardising how you are going to move forward. You can only move forward if you enjoy something so much that you are basically becoming an arrow and you’re shooting straight forward without any limitations, without any doubt and without any help. When I was 14 years old, my mum said to her friend, ‘Do you know what Michael wants to be? He wants to be a professional musician!’ and they started laughing.
"I guess, the stronger your vision and the stronger your belief, then the more likely you will move forward how you are meant to… and you will automatically feel it.”
4. Play and discover
“Play and discover is the magic formula! You basically go treasure-hunting because, inside of yourself, there is a lot of stuff that is there and you just need to get it out. The guitar is just a tool but you have to be able to use the tool well in order to get everything out of yourself that you want to express.
"While you are playing and discovering, you are also having fun. When you go treasure-hunting, you may not find any gold but just the thought you’re going to find something in a minute will keep you going and will make you continue hunting.
"When you play and discover, especially in the beginning, you will find a lot of bits and pieces very quickly. When I was putting the first and the second notes together, I went, ‘Oh, this is incredible!’ When I found the third note, I couldn’t believe it!
"And it never stops. It’s all about enjoying yourself. If you cannot enjoy yourself, then maybe you’re doing the wrong thing.”
5. Figure out who you are
“You need to ask yourself whether you are a creator and a trend-maker or whether you are a copier, following trends? You have to figure out what you are.
"If you are an inventor and your passion is pure self-expression, then all of the above I’ve just mentioned will apply to you. Obviously, if you want to make music following a trend and get a piece of the pie of what is currently popular, then you’re better off listening to what the trend is all about.
"Copy things, try to do it as well as the ones that are becoming famous and get a piece of the pie. That would be that other direction. Those are the two different types of approaches. Mine is more about creating and inventing.”