Michael Schenker On Eddie Van Halen 'He Had Rhythm, Melody & Tone, He Was The Best'
Updated: Apr 2
Jimmy Kay from Canada's The Metal Voice recently spoke to legendary guitarist Michael Schenker as he is getting ready to release his MSG (MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP) album "Immortal", on on January 29, 2021 via Nuclear Blast.
Schenker also talk about Eddie Van Halen and why he declined so many major bands over the years as lead guitarist.
Watch Interview here
Why did you decide to use different artists on the new album Immortal?
"Everything in my life happens by circumstances and so I live in the moment. My original idea was to have guest musicians of friends and fans to celebrate the 50 year anniversary. Getting musicians lined up and together it is very very complicated and it was dragging on. So I decided to have a compact band."
A 50 year anniversary?
"My agent said the Lonesome Crow album was released in 1972 so I said that gives me two years to celebrate. "
Tell me why you chose singer Ronnie Romero for this new album
"I discovered Ronnie Romero when he sang on the first Michael Schenker Fest first album. I always wondered why Ritchie Blackmore chose him and today I understand why. I understand what Ritchie was up too as we are both in similar situations. Ritchie needed to find a singer who has the ability to sing like everyone, Joe Lynn Turner, Ronnie James Dio and Graham Bonnet. So because I am in the same situation with so many different signers it would be great to have Ronnie Romero as the main singer and to continue live and have a compact band. Ritchie and I have lots of parallels and an endless amount of similarities over the years."
Tell me how the virus may or may not have affected the recording of the new album
"The virus showed up and I call the virus a bittersweet experience, it kind of directed me back to my original idea but without me planning it was just by circumstances. I got all of these incredible new musicians on this album. How it all happened is just a miracle, it's unbelievable."
What was it like revisiting and re-doing the Scorpions' song 'In Search of peace of mind', off the band's debut album Lonesome Crow
"It is the best song on that album and is the very first piece of music that I wrote. I was 15 years old and I wrote it in my mothers kitchen. There was nobody there. The original song credits of Lonesome Crow says Michael Schenker and Rudolf Schenker lyrics, we had zero knowledge of English so how could we have been done the lyrics? Misinformation completely. Rudolf cannot even play that song, it's actually pretty complex if you get into the details of the original version. But it was such an incredible start for myself to put the first note on a record with a song like this. I couldn't have wished for a better result."
What was your feeling about Lonesome Crow when it was released officially
"I was absolutely excited, I was listening to Led Zeppelin on the radio just a year before in my bedroom when I was 14 years old and then one year later Lonesome Crow was coming through the same radio, it was a great feeling."
Did Rudolf Schenker contribute musically to Lonesome Crow album
"Nothing at all, he can't even play it. The thing is I wrote most of Lonesome Crow but because I was 15 the rest of the band was 21 the band took advantage of me and wanted a piece of the pie and they wanted to be involved in their first experience of an album that was recorded for the first time for everybody."
Tell me about the time you were asked to join Deep Purple
"In 1993 I got a phone call, I was the first person to be chosen. You have to remember me and Ritchie Blackmore have so many parallels, everyone that leaves Ritchie Blackmore joins the Michael Schenker, it's the funniest thing. There was always a conversation in Deep Purple and Ozzy, that's why Ozzy called me up and asked me to join. I was always the first choice but I declined and I must say I'm the kid in the sandbox just enjoying playing. When I get these offers from Thin Lizzy, Motorhead I always decline because I don't want to copy, I want to do pure self expression. I declined all these bands because I had the vision of focusing on pure expression. I cannot follow a bunch of people looking for something that I have already finished with. My own vision is more important."
Tell me about Eddie Van Halen and his influence on the world
"The weirdest thing is actually Van Halen was supporting UFO at the Starwood (Club), I was 19 years old and it was 5 years before Van Halen broke out with Van Halen One. When I heard Eddie I was like WOW this is amazing. But I didn't know that he was actually doing the tapping technique. I was wondering how on earth does he get such a smooth guitar sound. Everyone copied him doing the tapping style later on. It was something easy for guitarists to do for overnight success. So there were thousands of guitarists going to guitar school learning tapping to be a star in one or two years. But the thing with Eddie Van Halen was he had rhythm and style. My brother Rudolf told me that he actually heard something Eddie did earlier on that sounded like Eddie was a bit influenced by me. But Eddie took it so far forward that I was blown away by what he did . His sense of Rhythm, his sense of melody, his sense of sound and tone quality. The way he actually entertained was so complete, he was the best."
"Immortal" will continue the tradition of the previous two MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST records "Resurrection" and "Revelation" and feature a big list of friends and guests. The album's main vocalist will be uprising Chilean-born talent Ronnie Romero (RAINBOW), along with Michael Voss (MAD MAX), Scheepers and Joe Lynn Turner (ex-DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW) singing on two tracks each. Besides Michael Schenker himself, the album was recorded with Steve Mann (keyboards), Barry Sparks (bass, DOKKEN), as well as the three drummers, Bodo Schopf, Simon Philipps (ex-TOTO) and Brian Tichy (ex-WHITESNAKE).
"Immortal" track listing: 01. Drilled To Kill- 02. Don't Die On Me Now - 03. Knight Of The Dead 04. After The Rain 05. Devil's Daughter 06. Sail The Darkness 07. The Queen Of Thorns And Roses 08. Come On Over 09. Sangria Morte 10. In Search Of The Peace Of Mind
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