MICHAEL SCHENKER: “Phil Mogg and Klaus Meine should join the Michael Schenker Fest

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST (Live at the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., November 9, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Guitar legend Michael Schenker is back with the Michael Schenker Fest featuring no fewer than FOUR lead singers from his past. Mick Burgess called him up to talk about working again with these singers and reuniting with the Assault Attack lineup from the early ’80s as well as addressing the rumours of taking part in UFO’s Farewell Tour in 2019.

Your latest UK tour starts in early November. Are you looking forward to coming over to play again?

Absolutely, we’re getting into gear right now and we’ll be all ready for the tour. We are all really looking forward to it.

This is something rather different from a regular tour as this is the Michael Schenker Fest featuring Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley from your past and your current Temple of Rock singer Doogie White. This will be quite some tour?

We have four lead singers and a two-and-a-half-hour show that will be full of classics and some new stuff. I’ll be covering very different eras of my career so it will keep everything interesting across the whole show. Each singer will sing songs from their own period.

You toured last year with Gary, Graham and Robin on vocals, why did you decide to add Doogie as a fourth lead singer?

Doogie White was always calling me up asking when we were going to do the next Temple of Rock album. I said to him that we’ve been recording and touring for four years and we needed a break but suggested he joined the Michael Schenker Fest. He has recorded two albums with Temple Of Rock and now he can sing his own songs each night as part of the show.

Most guitarists will tell you that it’s hard work coping with one lead singer in a band. How on earth do you cope with four?

Ha!! I don’t cope.

What sort of format will the show take?

Each singer will do a few songs from their past and also songs that they do on the Michael Schenker Fest album, Resurrection, and they will all sing together at the end. We have a lot of fun doing this. We’ll have a lot of songs to get through and we want to put together a variety of music that’s good for the newcomer and also for the specialist fans who know everything that I’ve done. The two and a half hours go by so fast.

Do you also have space for a UFO or Scorpions song too?

This is the Michael Schenker Fest and celebrates the music of Michael Schenker so we play songs from my past and present so we include UFO and Scorpions too.

You only did one album, Assault Attack, with Graham Bonnet and did part of a warm up show in Sheffield before it fell through back in the early ’80s. Did you feel like there was unfinished business with Graham?

I never have any bitter feelings when people leave or things don’t work out. Bitterness is poison for myself so I try to avoid it. Graham had gone so what could I do? He had his reasons and I didn’t want to force it so Gary came back to the band for a while. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. It’s great to work with Graham and play some of those songs that we recorded on Assault Attack live all these years later. We’re all so happy with each other and having such a great time. It’s just something that was meant to be. In the past people have asked why the lineup kept changing well maybe there’s something in the bigger picture. I’m making up for the middle years when things weren’t going so great and now I’m having the best time. I’m on top form at the moment and everybody is enjoying it.

Joining you on the rhythm section is Chris Glenn and Ted McKenna both of Sensational Alex Harvey Band and band mates back in the early ’80s. Was it important for this tour to work to have these guys in the band again?

After Cozy Powell, they were the original MSG rhythm section and they were the obvious choice and both played on Assault Attack with Graham singing and also on the tour that followed with Gary on vocals. We also have Steve Mann on keyboards and guitar who links together with the Robin McAuley era of the band. I couldn’t have planned it better if I’d tried. They are just the best choices for me to work with. They all fit together so well.

Your latest album Resurrection, received great reviews. Were you pleased with the reaction?

Absolutely yes, they have been some of the best reviews I’ve received. For something that started off as a few shows with three different singers to make an album with them and Doogie as well is fantastic.

Did you write each song with a specific singer or singers in mind?

I haven’t listened to other music since I was 17 so the only music I’ve focussed on is Michael Schenker music so I wanted to keep that going so I always write the music and my passion is music so I always tell people that I want to be a spirit on a mission spreading the joy of music from a place of pure self-expression. I have to be very true on that level and I have been playing from the well within. I don’t follow trends or do what everybody else does. I actually did the opposite and became a trend maker and people started to copy my style. I have fun expressing myself and want to keep on writing music. I’m not Classic Rock, I’m Michael Schenker Rock. What I do is come up with the idea and producer Michael Voss adds his ideas so we are building the song up from the bottom like architects then we bring in the others to add their parts and finally we put the roof on and finish the house when the singers add their parts and whoever feels right will be the one singing the part. We then put the finishing touches to it and mix it. I also wanted to make sure there was a couple of songs where everybody sang together and we did that with “Warrior” and “The Last Supper.” “Warrior” was the first one we did and I was very happy as that was the one that was presenting the band to everyone. It’s a fantastic song and everyone sings so beautifully on that. It worked out really well and I want to keep on playing Michael Schenker music.

Last year you spoke of growing the Michael Schenker Fest and you did that by adding Doogie White. With UFO’s impending retirement next year would you consider inviting Phil Mogg to join the Michael Schenker Fest?

Hey, thy will be done. Ha!!

Talking of UFO, if you were asked would you be a part of any of their farewell shows next year?

There is no UFO without Pete Way, Michael Schenker, Phil Mogg, Andy Parker, Paul Raymond and Ron Nevison the producer. That is UFO, there is no other UFO. The band that he calls UFO is not UFO. There is also no Scorpions. It’s like they carry on the band name with unknown people. The current lineups have nothing to do with the past without those guys there is not that chemistry. If I was to do it then it would have to include all of those original members. The only thing that could come close to it is if Phil joins the Michael Schenker Fest. The same with the Scorpions, I’d only do that with the original line up and I’d doubt that could happen because of the problem they had with Francis Buchholz and as you know I’m staying away from Rudolph so that can’t really happen as well so the closest you can get is for Klaus Meine to join the Michael Schenker Fest. So, like I said, thy will be done.

Looking forward to 2019. What are your plans for next year?

We are planning to start on the second Michael Schenker Fest album after the UK tour finishes. I’ll start to work on little bits and pieces that pop up when I play and discover. Then I’ll bring those pieces together when I’m inspired and develop them ready to go into the studio. I’m always on the go. We’ll then be heading over to America to play those cities that we haven’t been able to play yet but we hope that the new album will be out over the summer.

The Michael Schenker Fest tour starts on 5th November in Glasgow.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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