Midlands Metalheads Radio recently conducted an interview with legendary German guitarist Uli Jon Roth (ex-SCORPIONS). You can listen to the entire chat via the SoundCloud widget below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On what type of recording environment he prefers:
Uli: "I've never really had much of a band experience in albums, ever since the first SCORPIONS album. We played live on that one in the studio, but from then on, from the second one onwards, we did the layering approach, meaning bass and drums first, or rhythm guitars first, then you do the lead guitars, etcetera, etcetera. And that's pretty much how I've always done it ever since — like an oil painting, where you have several layers, layer upon layer, and in the end, you mix it all together. But nowadays, I'm somewhat dissatisfied with that approach, because I was never really happy with it. It wasn't so much the layering; it was the limitations of the medium that we have [with the] stereo and compact discs. Back then, it was albums, vinyl. It never sounded good enough to me — it never sounded like what I wanted [it] to. For instance, when I have an amp with a guitar in a really nice room and it sounds gorgeous, I never ever once managed to capture that on an album in the same way. And that has a lot to do with the limitations of the medium — the microphones, the recording process — and then the listening process. Yes, we only have two ears, but those ears hear an awful lot in 3D in the whole room. An when you only have two speakers where all this music is coming from, it's not the same as having two ears. So I'm much happier if I have a mix with, like, five, seven speakers, maybe even nine, so the room is kind of filled with sound; it's more a 3D approach. But we don't have that luxury, because nobody would buy these albums. They can't play them back properly. So my plan for the next time around is probably to go into a controlled environment, like a room with a really good ambience or a really large studio with good ambience, and then play it live with the band, and then still do some layering. 'Cause I'm a bit fed up with being overly perfect with every single thing you do on an album. The danger is always that it becomes a little bit too sterile or over-controlled or contrived or whatever."
On his favorite SCORPIONS studio album he played on:
Uli: "I used to have a favorite; that was 'Virgin Killer'. For several reasons. 1976 was a really good year for me and I felt like I really found a new plateau musically and with the guitar, and that also reflected in what was on that album. So I was extremely involved on that album, more so than the next one. But nowadays, when I listen back, I would probably say that I don't have a favorite as such; it's basically songs — I relate more to songs. On every one of these albums, there are things I like and also those that I don't care about. So that's that."
On 1977's "Taken By Force", which ended up being the last SCORPIONS album he played on:
Uli: "'Taken By Force', for me, it's an album that was more smooth than 'Virgin Killer', and it had great material on it. On the whole, I kind of felt a little bit more detached. I still did my best while working on it, but I don't think I did my very best, except for when I did 'Sails Of Charon' and 'We'll Burn The Sky'. But I could have poured more heart blood into that album, with hindsight, and I didn't, because I had already made the decision to leave the band, already before the album. So I was kind of going through the motions. And my mind, my mind was already working on these ELECTRIC SUN songs, and to me, that was more interesting back then."
On the Japanese tour that resulted in the recording of SCORPIONS classic 1978 "Tokyo Tapes" live album:
Uli: "By then, we were young, but we already quite seasoned. We took it in our stride. We were ready for anything at that point. We were ready for anything. So I certainly enjoyed Japan, and it felt great. But it was just one more step on the journey; that's the way it felt. Although it resulted in an album that, to this day, is one of my most successful things I've been involved in; that's for sure. Which I didn't understand at first, because when I left the band, which was after the album [was recorded], I didn't really get involved in the mixing, which I regret to this day, because I think it was undermixed in quite a few respects. So I completely ignored the album. But for many years afterwards, I never listened to it. I actually have never listened to the whole album in my life. But I didn't need to, because I remembered it very well. But afterwards, year after year, people kept coming with the albums to sign. And there was always 'Tokyo Tapes', 'Tokyo Tapes', 'Tokyo Tapes', so, eventually, I thought, well, there must be really something to that album, which I had written off in my mind, because I thought it didn't sound good enough. Because I remember the sound we had on that stage was fantastic. And then when I first heard the recordings, I was kind of disappointed; it didn't sound like what I had heard in my mind. But, obviously, it must have still sounded good enough, and it became a real success."
Roth will embark on his 50th-anniversary tour starting November 29 in Sheffield, England. The tour will hit North America beginning next March in Los Angeles, California.