By Martin Popoff
While UFO soldiers on with solid albums supported at the six-string position by Vinnie Moore, the band’s mad axeman from the classic ’70s lineup busies himself touring and recording solo or as the esteemed Michael Schenker Group.
Schenker’s “Temple Of Rock” album is essentially a heavy rockin’ MSG record, but it’s been issued as a Michael Schenker spread. Not of consequence, because the new album is more of a raucous, celebratory group affair than pretty much anything the blond bomber has ever done.
“Why all the guest stars?” ponders Schenker, sounding fit as a Flying V, down the line from his new home back in Germany, on how the temple came to include so many old friends and some new ones. “Well, it wasn’t really planned. So much has happened, and sometimes I have a problem figuring out what was first, what was second. But the fact is that I was in Brighton, for quite a while, in England, the same place where Herman Rarebell lives. So we got together and started to play together, and then somehow Pete Way showed up! So I was with Herman and Pete in a rehearsal studio, playing MSG songs, Scorpions songs. Actually, I wanted to go out originally to do UFO songs, like from “Strangers In The Night,” and then Herman suggested, ‘Hey, why don’t we do some Scorpions songs, as well?’
“And as that was happening, at the same time, I was writing stuff for a new album. I was going into a studio with Michael Voss to make a demo, and while I was doing the demo … I knew he was a singer, but I never heard his voice. So I had asked him if he could help me out doing this demo so I have some kind of guide vocals on it, and he said OK. And then he put some words together, and it developed into a real thing. At some point, I went, ‘Like, you know what? It would be cool to have past musicians on this album as well.’ So we started approaching Carmine Appice and Simon Phillips, and all the people that are on the album.”
So how did the title of the album come about?
“Yes, you see, when it came down to getting a title for the album … I’ve been very aware for many, many years, for actually 40 years, probably, that everything I do and what I write and what I develop is actually not influenced outside of myself. As I started when I was nine years old, until I was 17-1/2, 18, I copied other musicians, other guitarists in order to get … I mean, I copied guitarists to really focus until I was 14, 15, and the last person that I tried to play or figure out a lead break that I copied, was ‘Theme From An Imaginary Western’ by Leslie West, and that was the end of it. Since then, I’ve always tried to stay away from music as much as possible, and I always knew that the infinite, you know, creativity, comes from a deeper source. So I have two choices: One is I focus externally and copy what is out there and try to do it better or whatever, or I just go within myself and try to create new colors and something that maybe hasn’t been out there. And so, since I’ve been aware of doing this all this time, I look at it as my temple of rock, the things that I create and bring into this world, things that are actually created from within more than from an external influence. So that’s why I decided that this would be a good way of expressing that, make the connection with how I come up with things. It’s like my temple; it’s from within.”