Patrick Prince of Powerline magazine recently conducted an interview with legendary German guitarist Michael Schenker (UFO, SCORPIONS). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Powerline: Compared to the last album (simply titled "Temple Of Rock"), this album ["Bridge The Gap"] kicks ass right out of the box. The adrenaline is very high and it goes right for the jugular, which is when you're at your best.
Michael Schenker: Thank you. It's a constant development, step by step, moment by moment. I mean, how things happen, how things come together, stuff like that, you can't plan it. I found that with Pete Way (UFO) and Herman Rarebell (SCORPIONS) and myself, we were just putting together a project (TEMPLE OF ROCK). I decided to go in the studio myself to put out a demo and I bumped into Michael Voss (producer and vocalist). I asked him to help me out with the vocals. I said to him, "You can actually sing. Why don't you do the whole album." So that's how we ended up doing it. And I played it to Pete Way and Herman Rarebell and they were so impressed with it, they agreed to do the rhythm section, so I started to form the band there. Then I asked musicians from the past and I ended up with Carmine Appice, my brother (Rudolf Schenker), Paul Raymond, Chris Slade, and all these guys. I kind of thought this is really strange. I only went into the studio, making a demo, and it turned into this. And Robin McAuley was on there and Doogie White. I wrote especially for Doogie. And that particular song, "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead", became like an underground hit in the U.K. It sounded so good and so powerful, and, you know, by the time we finished the first TEMPLE OF ROCK album, Michael Voss signed a record deal, a solo deal, so he wasn't available for the [entire] world tour. I had to start and improvise but because I had Robin and Doogie on the album, I was able to create like three lineups. Robin McAuley was doing [a tour] in America, Michael Voss in Japan and Doogie in Europe. By the time we started Europe, Pete Way wasn't doing so well and so I asked Herman to ask Francis (Buchholz, SCORPIONS) what he was up to. And Francis was more than happy to join. We started our European tour and the chemistry was magic. I felt like I better arrange for a video shoot, 'cause who knows what's gonna happen. I want to record the memory, so we went to a convenient place in Holland and ended up with a DVD. Better still we had to add another European tour because the request was so high. By the time we finished the first leg of the European tour and the second European tour was starting, there was a six-month gap. So I decided to ask the guys if they wanted to make an album. It was a great opportunity and everybody was happy about it. I started writing in October 2012 and I said to Doogie that I already knew the album title would be called "Bridge The Gap". I said to him, "Think 'Bridge The Gap', maybe for lyrical inspiration, and think melodic." Off he went and he ended up doing a fantastic job with it. And by the end of the year, we were ready to go into the studio, and by the 31st of March  it was basically done. The problem was, the album wasn't going to be out for another few months so I had to figure out what to do. I simply decided to just put it away, not listen to it or play it to anybody. Because we were [back] in touring mode, I didn't want recording mode to interfere. The good thing about it was after we finished the second leg in 2013 around August, we listened to it and we had fresh ears and we knew immediately what we could do to improve it. We did the fine-tuning, improved it, remixed it and mastered it, added stuff to it, and so on, and it was that much better. It was like how many artists go into the studio and two months after release they say "Oh, I wish I had done it this way." We had the opportunity. It wasn't planned but it turned out that way. Very unusual but it was an interesting experience.
Powerline: It's interesting how life works out because Doogie seems like the perfect fit for you. Just like Gary Barden was a perfect fit for you in the '80s and Phil Mogg in the '70s.
Schenker: You know what the funny part is? We were in South America and Doogie and I were sitting in a van waiting to go on. I was chatting with Doogie and I said, "You know, it's kind of weird if I look back at my past. Phil Mogg, he was a singer, and he was a Rat of the Chinese horoscope. And I'm a Horse. And then comes [Wayne] Findlay and he also is a Rat, and my brother is a Rat." And Doogie went, "Mike, you must be joking. I am a Rat, too." [laughs] There must be something. It seems like by the Chinese horoscope and by chemistry, it seems to be the Rat has very little of what the Horse has a lot of. And the Horse has a very little of what the Rat has a lot of. So if you combine on the creative level, you have a very wide spectrum and complement each other. And I agree, the chemistry is fantastic. Doogie has that extra something that puts more drama to it. He has that metal voice. He has a great voice. He's a personality. It kind of fits into what I was saying, that he has a lot of what I have a little of. And I have a lot of what he has a little of. It seems to be, in a creative way, very very fulfilling. Horses and Rats are the opposite poles, so in China they don't marry (laughs). From a relationship point of view, maybe not the best, but creatively — and that's what we are here for, the music — it's fantastic.
Powerline: You called the album "Bridge The Gap" while you pretty much nailed it. Why did you go to Doogie and say think "Bridge The Gap"? What was the reason?
Schenker: When Francis joined, I kind of went, "Wow. This is incredible." We only made one album together, "Lovedrive", which was the album where I had just left UFO and helped out and it opened the door for America. I was withdrawn, and it basically was like my brother took over and I entered the second stage of my life which was more on the personal level. And here it is stage three, and I'm back, celebrating my generation of rock — the generation of rock that I had when I started: [LED] ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH, etc. That incredible era of rock that lasted for all these years. And sooner or later it's just gonna be memory because so many people have already passed away who are important musicians like John Bonham, Ronnie James Dio, Alvin Lee, Gary Moore, Randy Rhoads, Jon Lord, etc. So many. For me it feels like I did my musical contribution in the first part of my life. In the second part I withdrew a bit to my personal life. In the third stage it's about celebration. To focus on what it was all about. To put this incredible era of rock to the foreground once again and celebrate it, basically. That's what I feel like doing. So [the title] "Bridge The Gap", basically, connects the past to the present. Being with Francis and Herman is the perfect example. And we have a chance to combine that traditional sound and make it deeper and put a bit of a modern touch to it. Also what's going on in the world right now. There's a lot of gap bridging going on. Seems like a pretty suitable title.
Read the entire interview at Powerline magazine.