Wednesday, July 27, 2016

FISCHER-Z: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with JOHN WATTS!



WORLD-GO-ROUND:

An EXCLUSIVE Q&A 
with 
FISCHER-Z’s 
John Watts

    John Watts is one of those rare gems in the music business – a singer/songwriter who continues to reinvent himself with each release and yet manages to retain his unique musical vision. Like any good art, his past releases still ‘feel’ contemporary even though they were created at another moment in time. Best of all, his musical output has continued to reach new heights with each album – he’s never released a bad full-length in a nearly forty year career. Whether he is operating under his own name or the Fischer-Z moniker, John Watts is undeniably the most under-rated artist to emerge from the Post-Punk/New Wave era of the late ‘70s.


    Watts first came to the attention of the music-buying public when his band Fischer-Z released their debut album, Word Salad, in 1979. While distinctly British, Fischer-Z were unlike any of their contemporaries –intelligent, witty, well-written songs played by a band fueled by the energy of the Punk movement. However, their arty quirkiness was more in line with U.S. bands like Talking Heads. When they released their second album, Going Deaf For A Living, the following year, the band scored a hit with “So Long,” which even earned them plenty of airplay in the U.S. By the time they released their beloved third album, Red Skies Over Paradise, in ’81, they’d lost their keyboardist, Steve Skolnick, and the support of their U.S. label, who decided not to release the album in the States. Though the album did extremely well in Europe – the single “Marliese” remains one of their most popular tracks – the band split up and John Watts pursued a solo career.


    Here is where things get a little confusing, so please follow along: after two brilliant solo albums – One More Twist (1982) and The Iceberg Model (1983) – Watts formed The Cry with former FZ bassist David Graham. After one album, Quick Quick Slow (1984), The Cry split. John resurfaced three years later with a new FZ line-up and a slickly-produced hit album, Reveal (1987). From this point on, FZ became a vehicle for John Watts and a talented cast of supporting characters. Fish’s Head was released in ’89 and marked the end of the brief but wonderful ‘modern’ FZ sound. Beginning with 1992’s Destination Paradise – their best album yet – Watts stripped the songs down to their basics and didn’t focus on production or technology to carry the songs. While he has continued to dabble in the latest production techniques since then, the focus of every release has been the ‘feel’ and message of his incredibly emotional songwriting. Kamikaze Shirt (1993) and Stream (1995) were his final two releases as Fischer-Z…for the time being.  


    Thirteen Stories High was released in 1997 under the name J.M. Watts. Bigbeatpoetry (1999) and Spiritual Headcase (2000) were released under the name Watts. Briefly returning to the FZ moniker, Ether hit the shelves in 2002. Confusingly, more solo releases followed: Real Life Is Good Enough (2005), It Has To Be (2006) and Morethanmusic (2009). In 2011, he released the album Fischer-Z 2011, which found him re-inventing some of the band’s most beloved songs. And during all of this time, John has toured Europe and elsewhere numerous times, playing to diehard fans and touching a new generation of fans.


    Five years on, Watts has resurrected the Fischer-Z name and released one of the best albums of his career – This Is My Universe. To say that he remains a brilliant, thoughtful songwriter nearly forty years after he formed FZ is an understatement. Remarkably fresh and contemporary, John Watts has served up an album that features the same mixture of emotion and melody that he has never deviated from. While many artists have come and gone since he first formed FZ in 1977, Watts is at his best on This Is My Universe. He doesn’t create throw-away Pop that is forgotten once you listen to it – it stays with you long after the final notes have faded into the ether. And you say you’ve never heard of John Watts and Fischer Z? Time to catch up on four decades of excellence! Start with This Is My Universe and work your way backwards…


    Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to send off a few questions to John Watts as he tours for the album and prepares to celebrate the band’s 40th Anniversary in 2017…


STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: This Is My Universe has just been released. How are you feeling about the journey to get this album made and the reaction to it so far?
JOHN WATTS: It took a long time administratively to put it out, but the reactions to it have been extremely favorable.

SPAZ: This Is My Universe seems to be a rebirth of sorts for Fischer-Z. Do you feel that all the paths that you’ve taken over the years have led to this new album?
JOHN: Yes, but that’s true of all new work.

SPAZ: The album is yet another amazing release in a catalog filled with amazing releases. What keeps you inspired and passionate nearly forty years into an outstanding career?
JOHN: Thank you. Most artists are driven to express their view of the world via their art form. My main one is writing songs and putting out recordings. I still have as great a desire as ever to write about all the things in the world that move me.

SPAZ: For This Is My Universe, did you have a preconceived idea on how you wanted the album to sound or did it evolve organically?
JOHN: It evolved as the way that Nick Brine and I work together, but as always I had certain references to measure up to.

SPAZ: As a songwriter, your words and music always seem to work so well together. Do you think of lyrical ideas first and work the melodies and chord changes around those? Or are the lyrics inspired by the music? Has your method of songwriting changed over the years? Or do you stick with a tried and true formula?
JOHN: I’m inspired to write words, sometimes about an event or feeling or something that evolve from words themselves.

SPAZ: You’ve managed to change and grow with the times while also maintaining your own distinct style and sound. Do you stay on top of what is happening in the charts or do you tend to avoid those kinds of influences when creating your own music?
JOHN: I have always listened to as much new music as possible. All things historic are stored away in my brain. Overall I probably listen to less music than most people!

SPAZ: Are you more concerned now with moving and inspiring the listener than having hit singles? There are very few songwriters out there who have been recording for 36+ years and still sound as relevant and vital as John Watts…In fact, there are very few NEW songwriters out there with your passion.
JOHN: Thank you. My biggest interest is in having as many people as possible listen to my work. I think all artists hope for a degree of universality.

SPAZ: You’ve been an internet presence for many years. You’ve embraced many different types of media to enhance your art (music, film, etc). However, streaming music has become a hot topic as of late. How do you feel about the state of music and technology today?
JOHN: I embrace all new technologies. All artists have great difficulty in getting their heads above the internet parapet – There’s so much ‘stuff’ out there!

SPAZ: You’ve released albums under a variety of names including Fischer-Z, John Watts, The Cry, JM Watts, and Watts. Do you think that this may have been a bit confusing to the average record buyer who tried to follow your career in the days before social media made it easier to keep up?
JOHN: Yes! But especially with the pulling together of all things FZ next year for the 40th anniversary will hopefully demonstrate the clear line of evolution.

SPAZ: The new album is obviously very near and dear to your heart, but do you have any personal favorite albums/songs over the years that you feel may have been underappreciated?
JOHN: Yes. Thirteen Stories High!

SPAZ: What’s next for John Watts and Fischer-Z?
JOHN: A big 40th anniversary year including another new FZ album and a number of other releases.

SPAZ: What do you currently have spinning on your CD/record/DVD/Blu-Ray players?
JOHN: The new Iggy record, The Last Shadow Puppets, Pretty Vicious, Kendrick Lamarr, The Tall Ships and Tame Impala.

Thanks to John Watts
Special thanks to Eric Watts and Nick Kominitsky


FISCHER-Z
THIS IS MY UNIVERSE

Available NOW!


(PLEASE NOTE: This Spotify playlist is provided in order for you to sample some of JOHN WATTS' music.  We encourage you to purchase all of this artist's music. Thank you.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

THE ARCHIES: Spaz reviews SUGAR SUGAR: THE COMPLETE ALBUMS COLLECTION!



Gather ‘round, my friends and let me introduce you to the absolute best cure for your blues: sugar. Well, “Sugar Sugar” to be more precise.

Yes, one spin of The Archies’ mega-hit “Sugar Sugar” can wipe away any negative vibe that is inhabiting your universe. Even if you aren’t a fan of ‘60s Bubblegum, you’ve probably heard this gloriously happy tune many times since it was released in 1969. Figuratively (and perhaps literally) the missing link between The Monkees and The Partridge Family, this slice of Pop love has been played millions of times all around the world, used in advertising and has been both praised and ridiculed by music fans everywhere. The fact that you still remember it today – regardless of your personal feelings – is testament to the power that “Sugar Sugar” has had on the listener.

The Archies’ animated TV show was based on the popular comic book series that originated in the 1940s. Their clean-cut image may have come from a different era, but in the late ‘60s, that was precisely what the children needed to see. The Vietnam War, drug culture and racial inequality were just some of the subjects that were dealt with on a daily basis on the news, and the world was becoming a scary place for kids. The Archies offered wholesome entertainment that made them laugh and sing along. Under the eyes of music supervisor Don Kirschner, The Archies was destined to be a hit across the board. From toddlers to teens, The Archies’ music had a built-in audience when the cartoon debuted in ’68. For the show’s producers and Kirschner, there were no kooky counter-culture shenanigans like they experienced with The Monkees just a year or two before. In fact, Kirschner had been booted from his position as music supervisor for The Monkees, and was more than happy to take the same position when The Archies’ TV show was conceived – no meddling kids to interfere with his Pop plans. With “Sugar Sugar,” The Archies became the most successful non-existent garage rock band in Pop history that had their own animated series on Saturday mornings. Maybe. I might have to do some fact-checking to back up that claim, but I’m fairly certain it is true.


But what about their OTHER songs? You know, the ones not called “Sugar Sugar”? While they may not have seen the same amount of chart success as “Sugar Sugar,” there is plenty to love about their five original studio albums. Yes, five Archies albums! And you thought they only had one song, huh?

(Oh, and for the record, Ron Dante – he of The Cuff Links – sang almost all of the male lead vocals on The Archies’ recordings and Archie Andrews would lip sync them on the animated TV series. Maybe.)

Here we are, nearly fifty years since “Sugar Sugar” hit the charts and we’re finally getting something more than just a half-heartedly thrown together Archies compilation. In fact, Sugar Sugar: The Complete Albums Collection (Cleopatra) takes The Archies seriously and serves them up in style with five mini-LP reproductions of each of their albums, all housed in a clamshell box with a booklet featuring liner notes, info, pictures and all the fun things you’d want in a box set devoted to these groovy kids. For a Pop music lover like myself, it is fascinating to hear these recordings again while revisiting “Sugar Sugar” within the original context of their oeuvre. Strange to think that that hit was on their SECOND album, Everything’s Archie, but I suppose The Archies certainly avoided the dreaded sophomore slump that so many bands became a victim of over the years.

So, how is the rest of the music? Let’s put it this way: make an appointment with your dentist before giving this box set a spin because it is so sugary sweet that you’ll certainly walk away with a few extra cavities! And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing. Take the optimistic vibe of the first two Monkees albums, add in some childlike wonder, squeeze in a dash of the first two Partridge Family albums (if you’re a purist, you can substitute The Cowsills), toss in some real back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll and then turn it up loud! “Don’t Touch My Guitar,” “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y. D.O.O),” “Carousel Man,” “La Dee Doo Down Down,” and so many other songs are nearly as wonderful. You see, the problem people may have with this material is that it will sound dated, cheesy and super gooey sweet…but that pretty much describes “Sugar Sugar” as well! If we had heard these songs hundreds if not thousands of times over the past five decades, they too would be classic Pop nuggets. Maybe.


“Hide And Seek” is a heavy garage rocker (well, compared to “Sugar Sugar”). “Justine” is pretty close to classic Baroque Pop. “Together We Two” is a delightful mix of hippie love and Bubblegum Pop. “Comes The Sun” is a late period Archies track that still sounds as sweet as their earlier tracks but also has the same free-spirited charm as the AM Pop that occupied the charts in ’71. I was planning to namecheck at least a dozen more great songs – “Jingle Jangle” was next – but I think you get the idea.

Sugar Sugar: The Complete Albums Collection is as delicious as Bubblegum Pop gets and while The Archies may not be considered ‘hip’ and ‘cool,’ they are probably hipper and cooler than anyone you have spinning on your turntable right now! Maybe.


A must-have for those who love Pop music and have fond memories of chasing the ice cream truck down their street in order to plop their money down for a delicious treat.  This is just as fun with only half the calories!

And yes, there is quite a history behind The Archies that I have not touched on here.  You can catch up on their history in the booklet included in this box.  But I will tell you that "Sugar Sugar" was written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim.  Jeff worked with The Monkees and many others before writing for The Archies.  Andy Kim is now best known for his 1974 solo it "Rock Me Gently" (you know, that song that you could have sworn was by Neil Diamond).


Peace, love and The Archies,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

PETER COYLE: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with the legendary Liverpudlian music maker and Lotus Eaters frontman!



PETER COYLE:
An EXCLUSIVE Q&A!

Deep In The Music - 
From THE LOTUS EATERS 
To The Digital Age


     Over three decades after he first entered the charts in the UK with The Lotus Eaters, Peter Coyle remains one of the most under-rated singer/songwriters in the UK. He made a splash with the truly memorable “The First Picture Of You” single in 1983 and instantly became a proper Pop star. Featured on magazine covers, pull out posters and Top Of The Pops, The Lotus Eaters – vocalist Coyle and guitarist Jem Kelly (The Wild Swans) – conquered the charts and became ‘overnight’ sensations. “The First Picture Of You” may have been a catchy first hit but it was far from your standard ‘80s assembly line Pop song. This single, like much of the 1984 album No Sense Of Sin (expanded edition via Cherry Red), was multi-layered – a glossy slice of melancholy filled with heart, soul, love, fear, hope, purity, longing and a sense of wonder. The Lotus Eaters were a very unique and gentle band that their label tried to mould into a slick, chart-friendly pop duo ala Tears For Fears and China Crisis. However, Coyle and Kelly refused to alter their musical vision to fit someone else’s idea of what The Lotus Eaters were all about. Their follow-up singles and debut album sounded like nothing else in the charts and this confused the label’s marketing team and the public alike. Unfortunately, the band split in 1985 before recording a second album. Jem went back to The Wild Swans while Peter focused on an eclectic and independent solo career. (In 1987, Coyle won the US Billboard Album of the Year for his critically acclaimed double album A Slap in the Face for Public Taste. A year later he released his groundbreaking album I’d Sacrifice Eight Orgasms With Shirley MacClaine Just To Be There. It was at this time that Peter Coyle formed the most successful dance club in the UK called G-Love and created the Eight Productions moniker to create dance floor classics such as 'Sly One' by Marina Van Rooy and 'Hard' by Connie Lush
     By the turn of the millennium, there had been a critical reappraisal of The Lotus Eaters’ small but beloved catalogue and the duo reunited to play some shows. In 2001, the duo released their second album, Silentspace (available via Cherry Red), proving that they were still a highly unique musical force, mixing gorgeous melodies with Coyle’s emotive voice. The album was embraced by longtime fans and critics but was released on an indie label that struggled with delivering their music to a wider audience. While Coyle and Kelly have continued to occasionally work together over the years, they have yet to release a follow-up to Silentspace. Coyle returned to a solo career, releasing a series of remarkable albums independently including Earthspace, Stay Deep In The Music, The Mood Machine, and Meltdown For The Mindless and G-Metrix’s Kiss the Vision. Always one to wear his heart on his sleeve, his solo recordings are more intimate than The Lotus Eaters’ releases yet they still possess the same heartwarming charm that was first apparent on “The First Picture Of You.”
     More recently, Coyle has stopped releasing physical product and focuses on issuing digital only singles every month. This allows him to work independently. He understands that without a genuine platform his music is destined for obscurity but he is adamant that the only thing that counts is the body of work. Again, these musical moments are unlike anything else you’ll hear on any digital platform yet they are tailored to fit every mood – the same song can make you sob if you’re sad and bring joy to your heart if you are feeling particularly optimistic. The only other artist who can do that so effortlessly is The Durutti Column. Coyle’s recordings have the extra added bonus of his vocals, which come from deep within the soul. He lives and breathes this music and it can be felt as well as heard in his songs. Why a record label – major, indie or boutique – doesn’t snap up his recordings is a tragedy.
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to send off some questions to Peter, who graciously took time to answer them…



STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: You first came to public attention in 1983 with The Lotus Eaters and the release of your single “The First Picture Of You”.  Coming out of Liverpool, a city with a rich musical history, what was it like growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s?
PETER COYLE: Life is hard for everyone… it was hard for me… as it was obvious that I was a freak… and the concept of fitting in was a complete nonstarter… but there was no language to express that energy…until music came into my life…and i am very grateful to music for that…music has been my salvation and my refuge…i am very lucky to have lived the life i have lived…a life deep in music…

SPAZ: People often associate Liverpool with the ‘60s British invasion but did you find the late ‘70s an exciting time with bands like Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Yachts, etc.?
PETER: Music is part of the make-up of Liverpool… I used to just walk around the city and you could almost touch the atmosphere… it was very energizing and a beautiful thing…one of the key aspects of coming from Liverpool is that it encourages you to think in an independent way…and I will always be forever grateful for that…music for a lot of us was the only option…it gave us the chance to express ourselves and find a way out of the desperate situation we found ourselves in…

SPAZ: You hooked up with guitarist Jem Kelly, who had left The Wild Swans. When The Lotus Eaters first started, what was the musical climate like? There were still a lot of great Liverpudlian bands at the time including The Icicle Works, China Crisis, OMD, A Flock Of Seagulls
PETER: There was music everywhere…i was in the Jass Babies and we just could not get anyone interested in what we were doing…i think it was because we were very different… and no one had any money and the rehearsal spaces were full of cups drenched in mold… but it was a magical time and I am very lucky to have been in such a charged up atmosphere…everything was buzzing…everyone was hoping…everyone was trying to make something that cut through the noise…


SPAZ: The music you created was entirely unique. Production-wise, it seemed to fit in with what was happening in ’83 and ’84 yet the songs were unlike anything else going on at the time.  Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted and did NOT want to do, musically?
PETER: It sounds naive now but we wanted to be original… and we wanted to do something beautiful… we didn't just want to fit in with the crowd… we wanted to be brave and do something different and I am proud of what we achieved creatively…we wanted to put our necks on the line…looking back on it…we were extremely brave…and in many ways absolutely clueless…which is part of the charm…

SPAZ: In recent years, I’ve seen the band referred to as Goth, which I believe goes completely against the positive nature of the band’s music. How would you classify The Lotus Eaters if you really had to?
PETER: Gentle melancholy… introspective… and deep… and coming from a different space… and feminine… and brave… and out there…melody and atmosphere…

SPAZ: Looking back at No Sense Of Sin, how do you feel about the album?  And were you pleased with the expanded CD reissue?
PETER:  Yes I am glad that the b-sides like “Two Virgins Tender” were on there… typically the b-sides were very important to us… which sounds like a contradiction…which it is… but it is the truth...


SPAZ: The band split after one album and a final single, the brilliant “It Hurts.” What led to this premature breakup?
PETER: During the French tour Jem decided to team up again with The Wild Swans and signed a two album deal with a Seymour Stein's Sire Records label…

SPAZ: You continued on a solo career that was low-key but contains so many unique and wonderful moments.  Do you plan to reissue any of your early solo releases?  Some of us have only ever heard them and have not been able to find copies!
PETER: that is very kind of you to say…it wasn’t my intention to be low key…but it was my intention to not waste a single moment and make sure that i followed my heart and not the money… I have done so much stuff that I am not even aware of what I have done… I like the idea of doing a ‘best of’ album that is only released after I am dead…

SPAZ: When you create music, as a member of Lotus Eaters and as a solo artist, where does the inspiration come from? Do you start with a musical idea or the lyrics first?  Or has it changed much over the years?
PETER: It changes all the time… the most important part of the process is to start and to then step back and let the creativity flow… again, it sounds very counter intuitive but it is the way it is… music is resonance and is a one to one function with resilience…



SPAZ: Interest in The Lotus Eaters continued which lead to a 2001 reunion album, Silentspace. The album continued your trend of creating unconventional yet beautiful Pop music. “Can Your Kisses Fly?” is especially glorious.  Was creating new music with Jem an enjoyable experience?  It sure sounded like it…
PETERI was in Edinburgh at the time at the university taking a much needed break from music so, yes, it was good to tie up some loose ends with the lotus eaters…it felt good to reconnect to that energy after so many years…


SPAZ: An acoustic Lotus Eaters album received limited release and it has been rumoured that there has been a new Lotus Eaters album in the works for years.  Are there any updates on a reissue of the acoustic album and a possible new album?
PETER: The acoustic album difference was never officially released unfortunately… it was recorded in 2001… a full studio album mixed and produced by Stephen Power was completed in 2009... but similarly that was never released either…i am hoping that we can release all our material together in one package at some point…

SPAZ: Going back to your solo material, do you write differently for each project or do they all manifest themselves in a similar fashion?  Songs like “Reach For The Sun” and so many others are just as moving as anything The Lotus Eaters released.
PETER:  If I don't write songs I can't breathe… it is as simple as that… every single day I wake up and try to write something beautiful that will change my world… I always hold the dream that it may change someone else's world also… but that is out of my control… I do what I do… and the world does what the world does… I am very focused… my goal, pure and simple, is to not waste a single moment on this earth… and to try and make music that counts… regardless of whether or not anyone listens to it… I am here to connect to music and there is only a finite time… all that matters is that I keep my end of the bargain… the rest is none of my business...



SPAZ:  Over the last few years, you’ve been releasing songs through various digital platforms as Peter Coyle Hijacked and Peter Coyle Fractal. What is the inspiration behind the names?
PETER: There is none… it is just that I have used so many different names and guises… that even I don't know what is happening… God knows what it is like for a member of the public… so I decided to just keep on using the same name as much as possible so now everything goes under the name Peter Coyle Fractalas it is easier for me and for everyone else… I use Peter Coyle Hijacked if I work with Yorkie… I use the name Peter Coyle And The Films Of Strawberry Black when I work with Thierry Bon and Bruno Preynat…on that point Thierry Bruno and I have a new album coming out called Strands of Slowness coming out in January 2017…

SPAZ: Your songs seem to come from a place filled with both beauty and pain.  Do you always write from the heart based on your own experiences or do you sometimes attempt to write from someone else’s perspective?
PETER: The best songs in my opinion are always written when it is from someone else's perspective but when you connect with it so much that people think that it comes from you… that is where things start getting interesting… most people think music is built on authorship and ownership… for me music is built on alchemy… and empathy...



SPAZ: Your music and lyrical approach remain honest and don’t conform to standard Pop formulas.  Is this intentional or do you find yourself unable to conform to any musical boundaries?
PETER: I love “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” (Procol Harum)… one of the greatest Pop songs ever… I love John Martyn… I love music that has its own structure… music by numbers that is designed to make money is for everyone else… I need love - real love to quote John Lennon… some of the greatest records ever have zero structure… they are just a surge of beautiful energy that comes to the surface… like the music of Erik Satie...

SPAZ: As with The Lotus Eaters, your solo recordings seem to revolve around emotion, both good and bad.  Do you think that heart and soul is missing in a lot of today’s music?
PETER:  There are people who play music… millions of them… and there are people who can't live without making music… I am in the latter category… every day I dream that I can make music… it is that innate in me… it is that integral to my very core… regardless of whether or not I sell records… that is neither here nor there… I stare at my fate every single day… and I am very conscious of the fact that I am going to be an old man who is staring at the face of failure… there is nothing wrong with that… I have spent my whole life distracting myself from real life by making music… that was my choice… and would be my choice if I had to live another thousand lives… although I am dearly hoping this is the last one… I am just eternally grateful to feel like I am connected to music and it is something that means everything to me…



SPAZ: Who have been some of your musical collaborators on your most recent recordings?
PETER: Recently I have had the pleasure of working with Phil Wake from Wake the Dead! Studios, Stephen Power, Erika Zueneli, Mal Holmes, Thierry Bon and Bruno Preynat and hopefully some new collaborations that are ongoing but I can't really divulge right now…

SPAZ: Do you have any plans to compile a physical release featuring some of your digital-only singles?
PETER: One of my heroes is Gaudi… and I love the fact that he put everything into his designs… I put everything into my music… and I would love it if a label approached me and said that they wanted to create physical releases for me… but that has not happened yet and time is short… my principal role is to make music… if I spent 95% of my time trying to get people interested I would be wasting my life… status is very nice and all that but is of no interest to me… the only thing I want on my gravestone is ‘music maker’...

SPAZ: What’s next for Peter Coyle?
PETER: I am trying to finish a song called ‘Sunset’ - I am hoping as I am always hoping that it is beautiful beyond belief but only time will tell… and I have a new single out in June July and  August called ‘The Wildflowers Of Fire, The Breakup and Homeless… and I am going to try and carry on releasing something every month even though it is extremely taxing and difficult to keep up… the only thing that matters is that I stay deep in the music…i am also hoping that i find time to just sit outside in the sunshine and enjoy the beautiful french countryside…



SPAZ: What are you currently listening to?
PETER: I am not listening to much at the moment as I have no time but in about a month's time I am going to force myself to put down tools and listen… listen and learn… and soak up… and connect with all the beautiful music out there… I love David Bowie's last album Blackstar and love him so much for making that album when he did… I like Radiohead’s new single “Burn The Witch”… I really enjoy listening to Morton Feldman and the Kronos Quartet… basically, I love all forms of music… and long may that continue…


Thanks to Peter Coyle

Interact with Peter:

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CHRIS COLLINGWOOD: An EXCLUSIVE interview with the LOOK PARK/FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE frontman!

    

LOOK POP:

An EXCLUSIVE interview 
with
CHRIS COLLINGWOOD



     When an artist attempts to alter their musical direction in even the slightest way, the final results are scrutinized by critics and hardcore fans alike. One of the few bands that were able to expand their artistic vision without losing their fan base was The Beatles. Since then, very few artists have been able to mature and grow without being lambasted on the internet by fans who felt betrayed by their beloved musical idols. Remember when Bob Dylan went electric in late 1965? One man yelled “Judas!” and the world spun off its axis. By the way, Dylan’s career recovered quite nicely, thank you! Even The Stranglers, one of the UK’s most popular Punk bands, was skewered once they became a bona-fide Pop/Rock outfit by the middle of the ‘80s. It would seem that their fan base wanted them to remain the scruffy, crabby crew they grew to loathe a decade before. So, what is an artist to do? Stay the same and lose fans because they don’t alter the formula, or alter the formula and lose fans because they didn’t stay the same? Chris Collingwood, he of Fountains Of Wayne (“Stacy’s Mom”) fame, has decided to do both – but with his new project, Look Park, he’s not in any danger of losing fans. At all.
    Although it has been five years since Fountains Of Wayne released their last album, 2011’s SKY FULL OF HOLES, Collingwood has been working hard on mixing up his proven songwriting ‘formula’ and approaching the songs in new and more intimate ways. FOW bandmate Adam Schesinger has been busy with various projects, including the fab new Monkees album, but Chris has surprisingly kept a very low profile. One of the few times we’ve heard from him since 2011 was when he covered The Dream Academy’s “Life In A Northern Town” for the excellent ‘80s ‘tribute’ album HERE COMES THE REIGN AGAIN released in 2014. All the while, he has been working on new material and finally went into the studio with producer Mitchell Froom and recorded the most excellent LOOK PARK album. This ‘debut’ album is a collection of well-crafted songs that retain the melodic charm of FOW but takes Chris in new and exciting directions. One of producer Froom’s earliest claims to fame was his work with Crowded House, and Look Park travels a similar musical path as those albums from the Kiwi band led by Neil Finn. The album is filled with great melodic hooks, yes, but the album is warm and intimate. These are songs you fall in love with, and like true love, the album only gets better with time. The production is lush yet intimate and Collingwood approaches each track with a tenderness that was not as apparent as on his work with FOW. “Stars Of New York,” “Breezy,” “Minor Is The Lonely Key,” “You Can Come Round If You Want To,” and “Crash That Piano” are absolutely lovely without being maudlin or too mellow (not that either of those are bad things). Surprisingly, there is very little electric guitar on the album – acoustic guitar, piano and mellotron create an atmosphere that is inviting and melancholic. In essence, LOOK PARK is a beautiful piece of work. It is Pop and it is powerful – it’s just not Power Pop. Don’t fear, FOW fans, Chris has delivered the goods and they are glorious.
    Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat to Chris Collingwood about the making of the LOOK PARK album and much more…
  

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: The self-titled Look Park album is about to be released. How are you feeling about your journey to make the album and the reaction to it so far?
CHRIS COLLINGWOOD: Most people are surprised that it doesn’t sound like a Power Pop album. My full intention was not to just make a Fountains of Wayne record, but to stray from that as far as possible. I like that it is its own thing and it’s very different from what I’ve done before. It was really difficult to get it to happen. I’d been demoing for quite a long time. I was with a different management company and, at one point, he asked me who I’d work with if I had my choice of any producer. I said, “Mitchell Froom,” and he said we couldn’t afford that. Don’t even bother. So my demos just sat around for a long time. I was thinking of going the crowd-funding route. What I ended up doing was calling Mitchell myself – I don’t know why it never occurred to me to do that before. But I did and he was into it. After that, it was a matter of getting on his schedule and finding some musicians who could come record with me. It was a long, arduous journey getting it finished. The record has been done since the fall of last year. It will be almost a year since the album was finished before I get to start touring.

SPAZ: Why did you choose to release the album under the Look Park moniker instead of releasing it as a solo album? Technically, it is a solo album…
CHRIS: Well, it is and it isn’t. I made it all with the same band. But if a guy has been in a band for fifteen years or so and decides to make a solo record, it is a license to ignore it if you call it a solo record (Laughs). It implies you’re going to go back to the band and that this is a side project – it implies all of these things that I wasn’t comfortable with. I hope to make more Look Park records. I just didn’t want to be ignored, I guess.

SPAZ: Who else plays on the album?
CHRIS: I did quite a lot of pre-production with Mitchell. He played all the keyboards on the record. I might have played some of the keyboards because we kept some from the demos I made. The bass player is Davey Faragher, who has played with Elvis Costello and a whole bunch of other people. The drummer is Michael Urbano  –  he was in Smash Mouth and he’s done a whole lot of session work. Both of those guys are out of my league so I was lucky! (Laughs)

SPAZ: The album has a warm and intimate sound with plenty of breathing room. There are a lot of keyboards and acoustic guitar but surprisingly little electric guitar. I’m assuming that was intentional?
CHRIS: I demoed a lot of songs at home – I was sitting around a lot for years trying to get a record made. I finally called Mitchell and then things seemed to happen pretty easy after that. I demoed a lot of stuff at home and the ones that sounded like Fountains Of Wayne songs, I just threw them out the window. I still enjoy playing loud guitar but I just wanted to make an album that was more introspective and not so immediate.


SPAZ: The album has a real late ‘60s/early ‘70s East Cost Folk/Pop vibe to it…much like Neil Diamond’s recordings from that period and even Carole King. Was that the kind of vibe you were searching for?
CHRIS: I wasn’t going for a specific time period. Both of those artists are big influences, though. It was important to me – even before hooking up with Mitchell – to get somebody else to get me out of the way I’ve been thinking for the last fifteen years. When I was writing a Fountains Of Wayne song, it’s pretty clear that everyone has the same exact instincts in the band – the guitar solo goes here, the louder guitar part goes there…it got to be really formulaic. I knew that if I went into the studio on my own without anybody else, it would end up sounding like a Fountains Of Wayne record because I have this bag of tricks and it’s been the same thing for a long time. Mitchell and I spent a lot of time on the phone – weeks and weeks, actually – before we even met face to face. We were sending demos back and forth by e-mail and during that discussion, we realized we both loved The Moody Blues and he said, “How do you feel about the mellotron?” I said, “Fuck, yeah!” so that’s why there is a lot of mellotron on the record. (Laughs)

SPAZ: So, did you pull from a batch of songs you had already written or did you decide on the direction of the album, and then finish writing a few more to fit into the vision you had conceived?
CHRIS: I had a bunch of songs. It takes a while to get out of writing for Fountains Of Wayne and just get my head in a different space. I was forcing myself to take them in directions that were uncomfortable for me. There are some different approaches there, too – ‘Stars Of New York” was the first time I’d ever written a song around the bassline. It was part of that attempt to get out of the way that I was thinking for so long.
SPAZ: I enjoy Fountains Of Wayne, but this record is really a great step in an unexpected direction.
CHRIS: I’m wondering what percentage of Fountains Of Wayne fans are going to feel betrayed (Laughs). But you can’t spend a whole lot of time thinking of that. I hope there are a whole lot of people who will like it for reasons completely unrelated to Fountains Of Wayne.

SPAZ: Power Pop seems to be a dirty word sometimes – some artists stick to a lovable yet predictable formula, while others take the genre and paint it in broader strokes…
CHRIS: Most of the Power Pop musicians that I know don’t like the term. There are great Power Pop bands but most Power Pop musicians would rather NOT be pigeonholed that way. Power Pop is more descriptive of the production – the hallmark jangle, the tambourines and backing vocals and superficial stuff. Most people who have been successful at it, it’s because they are good songwriters and not because they applied these superficial elements. No one called The Beatles Power Pop, did they? Revolver is a Power Pop record but then it isn’t called that because they are The Beatles and you don’t use that expression to describe it because it implies that it’s only got those superficial elements.



SPAZ: What’s next for Look Park?
CHRIS: Hitting the road. These past few days, I’ve been talking about different ways to start touring. Probably some shows with myself and a couple of friends – acoustic guitar and piano. Eventually, we’ll do some bigger shows with a full band.

SPAZ: What is the status of Fountains Of Wayne at the moment?
CHRIS: There’s no status. Maybe we’ll make a record way down the road. I won’t discount the possibility of that but at the moment, I’m not thinking about it at all. I’d like to get on the road and support this album and then see where I am after that.

Thanks to Chris Collingwood
Special thanks to Steve Dixon, Dave Rayburn and Nick Kominitsky


LOOK PARK
LOOK PARK

7.22.16

Friday, July 1, 2016

THE EXPLORERS CLUB: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Jason Brewer!


No Strings Attached:

An EXCLUSIVE Q&A 
with 
THE EXPLORERS CLUB’s 
Jason Brewer

    When The Explorers Club released their debut album, FREEDOM WIND in 2008, the Billboard charts were not exactly receptive to their well-crafted and quite glorious Beach Boys-influenced sound. Let’s face it: fans of Fall Out Boy, Avril Lavigne, Sum 41, and Thirty Seconds To Mars (and whoever else occupied the charts that year) were not going to rush out and buy the type of music that their parents enjoyed. However, the band’s engaging and surprisingly authentic approach to the winsome sound of California summers touched the hearts of those seeking something fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Not bad for a band from South Carolina!
    Four years later, the band faced the same dilemma with the excellent GRAND HOTEL album, which blended their pure Beach Boys-like harmonies with gorgeous songs that recalled Burt Bacharach, Paul Williams and other classic Pop writers. Again, those critics and fans who appreciated and understood Pop history fell in love with GRAND HOTEL. And while the band began to gain some traction, their delicious slices of pure, honest ear candy didn’t necessarily lead them to the top of the charts. Insert ‘face palm’ here.
    Putting together glorious albums and singles can be tough when they don’t reach a larger audience, and The Explorers Club had reached a point where they weren’t sure if they were going to continue.   Thankfully, four years on, they’ve released their third album, TOGETHER, and it is everything you’d want in an Explorers Club album – those Beach Boys harmonies and simply beautiful songs prove they truly understand the art of making great records. These arrangements are complex but the end result is stunningly simple and heart-touchingly pure. TOGETHER is an album that reveals more textures each time you give it a spin. It’s a feel-good record that does its job… and then some! Let’s hope the third time is the charm and the world finally succumbs to their The Explorers Club and their magical, musical powers!
   Stephen SPAZ Schnee reached out to Club leader Jason Brewer and fired off a few questions about the band, TOGETHER and more…

 

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your album TOGETHER has just been released. How are you feeling about the journey it took to make the album and the reaction to it so far?
JASON BREWER: Well, we are just now getting reaction coming in and the folks who have heard it are excited. The album started a year and a half ago, so to finally have it out is rewarding. It was a lot of hard work and, to be honest, we had a lot of obstacles in our way to getting it released. So yes, extremely rewarding.

SPAZ: TOGETHER seems to be more relaxed and confident than your previous albums. As a band, are you feeling that you’ve hit your stride or do you still feel that you have something to prove?
JASON: We feel like it's still just the beginning of what we can do. This is the best version of the band and it shows on this album. We can do much more.

SPAZ: There were features online a few years back that stated that this would be the final Explorers Club album. Is that still the case or will you make that decision at some point in the future?
JASON: Not true. It was something I pondered but it is not the case.

SPAZ: Did you go about recording this album differently than your prior albums – FREEDOM WIND and GRAND HOTEL – and singles? Or do you have a specific way you like to work?
JASON: With this album, we recorded as much as possible all at once in the same room – and to analog tape no less. The other albums were done piece by piece but this album we did a lot of it quickly the old fashioned way. I also chose to record in Nashville as opposed to Atlanta where the other two were recorded.
SPAZ: Do each of the band members have musical input when it comes to arranging the songs? And can you recall any particular time when one suggestion changed the course of a song for the better?
JASON: On this album, the guys put in some ideas on the backing tracks but I had a strong vision of what I wanted each song to be. We certainly smoothed things over together when we played them but, overall, vision stayed the course.


SPAZ: When you went into the studio to record TOGETHER, did you have a definite idea of which direction you wanted the album to take or did you let it grow organically? Has this been the case for each album?
JASON: Yeah, I knew exactly which vibe I wanted on this album…I would say on everything we do I try my best to have a solid vision of what I want our records to be. I am the type that is driven by the idea. I
tend to lose interest if It doesn’t become what I was aiming for.

SPAZ: There are many artists working at an indie level that focus more on hooks and melodies than ever before. How do you feel about the musical climate these days? Is it more difficult or easier for you to be heard now than it was when Pop Punk and Emo ruled the indie scene when you started out?
JASON: I would say it is more difficult than ever. Radio people are afraid of what we do. Because we essentially are an island in terms of current groups doing this type of Pop, we have a perpetual uphill battle at all times.

SPAZ: The Beach Boys are obviously your main influence, but there are loving nods to many other classic artists including Burt Bacharach and The Beatles. Are there any other influences that may not be that obvious to the listener? “Bluebird,” off of your GRAND HOTEL album, certainly recalls Anne Murray’s “Snowbird”!
JASON: I actually heard the Elvis cut of “Snowbird” first! I am very big into Abba which snuck its way into our last record. I love The Zombies, Hall & Oates, and Neil Young a ton but they don’t seem to pop up in our songs.


SPAZ: There are bands that pay homage to The Beach Boys by taking the most obvious elements and then try to ‘sound’ like them. The Explorers Club truly understands their music from the inside out. You create recordings that ‘feel’ classic even though the tracks are originals. Do you write these songs with specific ideas or arrangements in mind or do you compose your material and then build up the arrangements as you go along?
JASON: It goes either way, but the common thread is that the song has to be good first. I usually have an idea of the production about halfway into the song’s germination period.

SPAZ: Did you feel like a ‘fish out of water’ in South Carolina creating this kind of feel-good music that has its roots firmly in the West Coast (and especially Southern California)? And does it feel any different now that you’ve moved to Nashville?
JASON: I did somewhat in SC. I mean, I am from Charleston, which is the coast. I could go to the beach on my lunchbreak if I wanted to. Now Nashville is landlocked and not nearly inspiring, scenically speaking.

SPAZ: Does it frustrate you that people often hear the Beach Boys influences but don’t pay close attention to the actual songwriting that you obviously invest your heart and soul into?
JASON: I guess it can be a drag but to be mentioned in the same sentence as Brian and Co. is always incredible. I do wish writers would really dig into our albums because there will always be layers and massive attention to detail that they miss on. Peppered all through our albums are some great tunes that seem to always get overlooked by reviewers.
SPAZ: What’s next for The Explorers Club?
JASON: I want to start a new album with the guys before the year is up.

SPAZ: What are you currently spinning on your record/CD players?
JASON: The new Weezer, the last Rumer album, the new Monkees release and (Beach Boys’) MIU Album and Shutdown Volume 2.

Thanks to Jason Brewer
Special thanks to Steve Dixon and Nick Kominitsky


THE EXPLORERS CLUB

TOGETHER

Available NOW!

MICHAEL SCHENKER: An EXCLUSIVE interview!


ATTACK OF THE MAD AXEMAN::

An EXCLUSIVE interview 
with 
MICHAEL SCHENKER


    There’s a reason why German guitarist Michael Schenker is considered a music legend. He carved out a successful career as a hard rock pioneer with German rockers Scorpions (1969-’73 and ’78-’79) and British heavy rock band UFO (1973-’78) as well as his own projects The Michael Schenker Group and McAuley-Schenker Group throughout the ‘80s and beyond. His manic playing, songwriting skills and knack for creating extremely memorable riffs has earned him legions of devoted fans all over the world. And let’s face it – Michael Schenker is the only guitarist that has ever made the Gibson Flying V guitar look cool. Many have tried but only Schenker has succeeded. And now, with his latest project Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock, he is proving once again that he still has plenty of fire, skill and energy. Even though he has been a professional musician for nearly fifty years, he has never lost his mojo.
    Schenker’s first claim to fame was joining his older brother Rudolph’s band Scorpions in 1969. He and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band at the same time, although at fifteen, Michael was the youngest member of Scorpions by a handful of years. He also just happened to be a unique guitarist and gifted songwriter. He honed his skills with Scorpions for four years before leaving the band and joining British rockers UFO. With UFO, Schenker became an international sensation, steering the band away from their early Space Rock leanings towards an edgy Hard Rock sound. UFO became a force to be reckoned with, but by the end of 1978, he left the band. And to think he was barely into his twenties at this point. Schenker rejoined Scorpions right after leaving UFO, but soon realized he wanted to focus on his own thing. So he left – again – the following year. The Michael Schenker Group was his next project, although he moved away from the commercial sounds of his previous bands and embraced his experimental side. For the next thirty years, he focused on various other projects including a brief reunion with UFO, the McCauley-Schenker Group and other endeavors. By 2008, he was ready to embrace his illustrious Hard Rock past and formed Temple Of Rock. The band has had several line-up changes over the years but the most recent – and best – features Schenker joined by former Scorpions members Herman “ze German” Rarebell (drums) and Francis Bucholz (bass) plus guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay and powerhouse vocalist Doogie White (Tank/La Paz/Rainbow/etc.). While on tour for their excellent 2015 sophomore studio album, Spirit On A Mission, the band was approached about recording their live show using a new technology called 3D Listening. The results can now be heard with the release of On A Mission: Live In Madrid. On this release, you can practically ‘feel’ the atmosphere of the venue even on the normal stereo mix of this recording. There’s even a version of the release that, with the correct audio equipment, will make it seem as if you are there in the audience enjoying Michael and the boys giving it their all on stage. The material during this scorching performance spans Schenker’s entire career including Scorpions, UFO and, of course, Temple Of Rock.
   Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat with Michael Schenker as he prepared to embark on a series Michael Schenker Fest shows, which feature appearances from three original vocalists he has worked with over the years – Gary Barden, Robin McAuley and Graham Bonnet


STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: What can you tell us about your latest musical project, Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock?
MICHAEL SCHENKER: It’s a story that started in 2009 when Herman and Pete Way and I teamed up. It just went step by step from one line-up to another. Eventually, Doogie and Francis joined. The idea was to have Temple Of Rock to develop, become its own entity, and have its own sound. By the third or fourth album, Temple Of Rock should have enough material to stand on our own feet. That is my goal – working towards that for as long as possible. We’ve been touring and recording for four years solid now. We’ve released live DVDs and CDs as well as two studio records – we’re planning on making a new one in 2017. We’re taking a little break now and we have this live release to bridge the gap. 

SPAZ: On A Mission: Live In Madrid has just been released. Did you initially plan on recording another live album when you mapped out your tour for the On A Mission studio release?
MICHAEL: It is a great end before our break. This release uses a brand new technology using 3D Listening. We were already half-way through putting together a European tour and the record company asked if I wanted to do a live DVD using this technology. We had to pick a venue. The route was already going through Spain and France so Paris and Madrid were an option. I always wanted to make a record in Spain so this was the perfect moment. With the 3D Listening effect, if you have the right equipment, you feel like you’re sitting in the middle of the audience.

SPAZ: So, this release was recorded differently than your previous live albums? Were you happy with the way it turned out?
MICHAEL: I originally wanted to fix a couple of notes I didn’t like on the recording but there were a bunch of microphones all over the theater (capturing the ambiance of the venue). When I tried to fix the mistakes, I realized you couldn’t get rid of the note I didn’t like and then replace it with the right note – you’d hear both notes and it didn’t work. So, I had to forget about it. But we did a great show. We had a fantastic time on stage. It was a great evening. I love raw music – I don’t like tapes. What you hear in the audience is what we play on stage. A lot of bands use tapes and artificial stuff to impress people with sound but I just want to get raw energy across. I’ve never been a fan of artificial stuff.

SPAZ: You have a rich Rock ‘n’ Roll history. As an artist, are you more content when creating new music or when performing songs from your back catalog live in front of an audience?
MICHAEL: My focus has been on pure self-expression since I was seventeen years old. I intuitively knew not to listen to music anymore and not copy anybody. We are all individuals and we create something from within – we open the door and release a creation that is unique and that nobody else can do. There is a power of doing things that way. You have a choice – you either copy people or you create new colors that nobody has seen before. If you decide to open up from within to show something that is very much you, then nobody else can show that color. If you keep that door closed, then it will never be seen. As a result, you automatically create your own style and that’s what people are attracted to. That’s what I’ve done all my life. I just have fun playing guitar – I call it ‘play and discover’ – and the rewards come in ‘the moment’ and it’s a really good feeling. That’s the world that I’m more interested in.  


SPAZ: You’ve certainly been involved with some pretty big bands along the way – UFO, Scorpions – and you experienced success pretty early in your career...
MICHAEL: By ’77, we (UFO) had really hit big in America with Lights Out. Then the Obsession album and recording Strangers In The Night. I was only twenty three years old when I finished with UFO and I had already experienced everything – I understood what success was and that wasn’t my world. I had a taste of it – and it was good to have had that taste because I could make a clear decision that that was not what I wanted. After I left UFO, I got a phone call from Rudolph and the Scorpions to help them out on Lovedrive. I was at the peak of my success in America at the time. Rudolph asked me to help out so I did. When I finished, they were so in love with what I did, they didn’t want me to go, and they persuaded me to stay with them. They hadn’t been to America up to that time.  After all these years, I look back and I’m realizing now what actually happened. I had started Scorpions with Klaus and I was the only person in the group capable of writing at the time. I was fifteen years old when we did the first Scorpions album, Lonesome Crow (1972). When we did that album, we created some international interest in the band because I was a young guitarist who played differently. Then, this young guitarist leaves Scorpions and joins UFO. And then later, when I came back to Scorpions for Lovedrive, everybody became interested in them. All of a sudden, all these managers wanted to manage Scorpions. But I couldn’t stay with them. I didn’t want to do the same thing again. They wanted to be famous and successful – I wanted to focus on pure self-expression. I tried but I just couldn’t. My place is basically being a jump starter. I jumpstarted Scorpions, I jumpstarted UFO – turning them from a Psych-Rock band into a Heavy Rock band. I then would just go my way. 

SPAZ: You’ve written a lot of material over the years for a variety of your projects, which has been overlooked for the most part. Were you ever aware of your influence on new generations of young musicians?
MICHAEL: On Lonesome Crow, I wrote all the songs but they were credited to all the members of Scorpions. When I joined UFO, they explained to me that the one who writes the music gets the credit for it – I just went, “Wow!” But for me, it’s about music and it’s what I do. It’s not a personality contest – it’s about music and that is where my interest lies. In the ‘70s, I made my musical contribution to the world and that same kind of music was commercialized in the ‘80s. It was simplified with nice packaging and sold to a wider audience. Now, forty years later, almost every person has a guitar at home. I think my place was the ‘70s. The ‘80s were artificial and commercial and that wasn’t my place. That is when I entered my ‘middle years’. It was then I decided to experiment and get things out of my system – all the crazy things I wanted to do that I couldn’t have done in a major touring band. I refused to join some other big name bands just in order to do my own thing. What I did in the ‘70s was completely done unconsciously. No expectations and I had no plan. I just enjoyed music. I never knew it had that much of an impact. During the middle years, I found out how many bands I had influenced and were actually fans – Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, Metallica and Iron Maiden, bands like that.


SPAZ: Where did you find your musical inspiration as a young player?
MICHAEL: The music that I fell in love with – Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple – is the style of music I like but my satisfaction is not from the music itself. It’s the lead guitar playing – putting notes together and putting emotion into it. For me, the single string is the most powerful way of pure expression – you can cry, you can speak, you can express all sorts of different feelings. You can do anything with it. The possibilities are endless. If you do it from within, you can create how you feel – YOUR way of doing it.

SPAZ: You’re a great live performer but you spent many years away from the limelight. What made you change your mind and come back full-force with Temple Of Rock?
MICHAEL: In 2008, something made me want to be back in the loop. In the past, I enjoyed being on stage playing my guitar but I didn’t like the attention of being in the spotlight – I was very shy. It was more about music to me than any of the other stuff. But in 2008, all of a sudden, I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to be on stage and I couldn’t understand why. I took that as a sign. And I understand now because I can now enjoy and carry on what I started in the first part of my life.

SPAZ: When you are performing the older UFO and Scorpions material, does it feel fresh again with this band?
MICHAEL: What I do always feels fresh because I’m not over-exposed. I had the ‘middle years’ when everybody else got worn out by touring and becoming stagnant and bored, I wasn’t part of that. I was doing my own thing. I was experimenting. I was doing what I wanted to do so I was never under pressure and forced to do anything by big record labels. I wasn’t playing the same old songs for fifty years. I’d show up every once in awhile and do that but I feel I have been preserved. The middle years were important to stay away from everything. What I’m doing now is always fresh. Because I’m operating from within, it comes from a different place. I play with spirit. I don’t copy things. I don’t get bored with things because it is always fresh energy. Because it comes from an infinite place. You can’t get bored with it, because you aren’t repeating yourself.


Thanks to Michael Schenker
Special thanks to Larry Germack, Clint Weiler, Chip Ruggieri, Dave Rayburn and Nick Kominitsky






MICHAEL SCHENKER's 
TEMPLE OF ROCK

ON A MISSION: LIVE IN MADRID

Available NOW!