Niclas Müller-Hansen of RockSverige.se recently conducted an interview with legendary German guitarist Michael Schenker. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
RockSverige.se: I'm sure you've been asked this many times before, but what was the reason for letting your strings dangle from the guitar? You never cut them.
Michael: Everything just happens with me. It happens based on circumstances. I never picked the Flying V because of its look. I ended up with it, because my brother [Rudolf] was playing it before me and I just had to play his guitar because I didn't have my own. I heard the sound, combined with my amplifier, and I just understood that I had a great sound there. I had a different amplifier than Rudolf had, so he had a different sound with his guitar. I liked the sound so much, so that's how I got stuck with it, and because of the shape, you use it in the best way possible and then it becomes unusual and you can't even hold another guitar anymore, because you have developed a particular technique holding it. I had a certain way of doing my vibrato and that put me in the bent position and before I knew it, I had a particular look. For instance, people ask me why I have my cabinet upside down? It's the same thing. It was going straight into my ear and I couldn't stand it, so I decided to turn it upside down, so it would reflect down to the floor. It's all just based on circumstances. With the guitar strings, it was never necessary for me to cut them off. Why should I cut them off? It's just extra work. Just put them on and play, that's what I thought. [Laughs]
RockSverige.se: Were you and brother Rudolf [SCORPIONS] competing with each other when you were younger?
Michael: Not me. Absolutely not. Maybe he did. I don't know. For me, music is just about expression. If you're focusing on a trend, then you're in a race, and that's different. I guess my brother was focusing more on trends and maybe he studied anything that would keep him within the trend, but I would do the exact opposite. I would do anything to stay away from that and just focus on self-expression. That's the only thing that makes sense to me, and that's the only place I wanted to be in, and it's the only place where I can enjoy myself. There's no pressure and complete freedom. That's the reward in itself right there. We had two completely different visions. My brother had the vision of being in a famous band and my vision was to become a great guitar player. I'm six and a half years younger than my brother, so maybe I was born to help him out. I jumpstarted the SCORPIONS with my songs, then I left for UFO and then I came back to jump start them for America. Then I went on my own and came back in '93 to do a tour with them in England and get the houses full. Whenever he needed me, I was available to help him, but it was not a necessity for me to have. I admire my brother's success and how he made it with so little. He's more like a magician than a musician.
RockSverige.se: Have you ever thought of writing a book?
Michael: I did. In 1990 I wrote a book. It was 400 pages, but I destroyed it. It was therapeutic and I'm glad I didn't release it. It was too honest and just when I was about to release it, I thought, "What will my mother's neighbors say?" It was so bloody honest, but the reason for writing it was that I had a realization that if I could let the whole world know who I am, I would have half of the key to the place of freedom. That inspired me and I was really ready to let go. Today I know it was a test to help me transform myself into the next level. It was a very honest moment. It was an eye opener and it took a lot of weight off my shoulders.
RockSverige.se: You don't think you'll write another one?
Michael: If I write a book, it will maybe be really close to the end of my life. Making it very honest. I prefer to write something, not because it sells, but because of explaining of how it really was. It's not all unraveled yet, and there is more stuff to come.
Read the entire interview at RockSverige.se.