In 1972, guitarist Michael Schenker launched a stellar career with his performance on the Scorpions debut album, Lonesome Crow. Together with his brother Rudolf, Schenker helped propel the Germans’ rise to fame on two successful follow-ups, Fly To The Rainbow (1974) and Lovedrive (1979). Schenker departed Scorpions and developed his unique style further with the legendary English act UFO on rock cornerstones like Phenomenon, No Heavy Petting and Obsession. Schenker also created his own moniker, Michael Schenker Group as well as the McAuley Schenker Group.
Schenker’s 40 year career is still blooming fresh ideas and new concepts. In 2011 Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock was formed and features former Scorpions colleague Herman Rarebell. The band’s third album to date, Spirit On A Mission, is set for release this March and features vocalist Doogie White (Rainbow, Malmsteen), Francis Buchholz (Scorpions, Uli John Roth) and Wayne Findlay (MSG, Uli John Roth).
Maximum Metal’s T. Ray Verteramo conducted an interview with Schenker to talk about the new album, being on stage and the “portrait of spirit”. A few excepts follow:
Schenker describes the concept of Temple Of Rock: “The Temple of Rock concept is a mixture of the past and the now. The idea is for The Temple of Rock / Michael Schenker platform to develop into its own entity. The first Temple of Rock album, which was successful around the world, we didn’t know what it was developing into. Step-by-step, we had Bridge The Gap. It’s like a story and it continues. By the time we make the third album, The Temple Of Rock will be capable of standing on its own feet and its own identity. We’re just using the past in order to create a connection. The Temple Of Rock, once the jump start is completed, will propel by itself.”
Describing the band’s newest album, Spirit On A Mission: “It’s a celebration of the year of my generation of rock that started for me, that I fell in love with, and so many other people that have already passed away like Gary Moore and Ronnie James Dio. I want to bring that incredible era in that time and put it into the foreground and celebrate it. And so, simultaneously, I’m celebrating my own progress, my own accomplishments from the ‘school of Life,’ that I have learned from. It’s kind of looking back and looking at the now and combining it all.”
On his spiritual expression and creating art: “If I look back, I see my life in three stages. The beginning, the first stage of my life, was dedicated to the development as a guitarist and to my music contribution to the world, creating an entity for the 80’s. And then the 80’s, the Lovedrive album with my brother that opened doors for America, for the Scorpions. So, my brother took my black and white Flying V [laughs], took over, and I withdrew into the ‘school of Life.’ I experimented in development more and more musically and having my own face, without being in a touring machine that was looking for fame and success from me. I was hungry for learning to play on a personal level. And then 2008, somewhere around that time, all of a sudden, I felt the urge and really enjoyed being on stage, which never happened before. So, I knew that time that I should be back in the world of rock and roll now and The Temple Of Rock is that group where it is happening.”
On coming to peace with the stage: “I once went to a metaphysical program where a millionaire couldn’t understand why he couldn’t enjoy his millions. Then it was found out that his money was based on hate. He brought in all his money going, ‘I will show you!’ He had some trouble with his uncle or something and so basically was looking into why he couldn’t enjoy his millions that he had. So, then the coach was telling him, ‘Well, why don’t you make peace with that person and then see what will happen?’ And so, he made peace with that person and he was all happy and he was able to enjoy his money. For me, it was kind of like that. When I was doing my music development and contribution in the 70’s, I always said that I didn’t even know what I was doing. I was just being myself, I wasn’t looking for anything, it all happened by itself. Then I went through the ‘school of Life’ and all of these things I learned, all of these things opened up for me, these understandings, etc. etc. and now they make it possible for me to enjoy all of this. It’s a bit similar, you know?”
On doing homework for the school of life: “It’s like first it was all about play. I love to play and discover. I don’t want anyone to teach me anything, I just want to find out for myself. Guitar playing was the same thing. The guitar was standing there. The moment I pressed the string and I put another note to it, I thought, ‘Wow, this is great!’ And it never stopped. On the guitar, I could always play and discover something new. Always play and discover and when I discover, I go, ‘Wow! Another thing!’ I get that excitement. So, at some point it’s like – I don’t know how the world works, but I can say and I can feel that it’s all related. It’s the mind, body and soul, it’s all related to each other. Everything needs to get attention to develop and if it’s balanced, it’s probably the best way.”
Read the complete interview at this location.
Schenker will release the new studio album, Spirit On A Mission, in the UK on Monday, March 23rd, and in North America on March 24th.
It is now confirmed that Schenker will be touring North America come the spring, in support of the new album. The tour kicks off on March 25th at the Rockbar Theater in San Jose, CA, and wraps up on May 2nd at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, CA (with special guest Don Dokken on the bill). In between, the tour will go coast to coast, including a performance at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC on April 15th.
“Promotion is definitely the next step,” says Schenker of hitting the road in support of Spirit On A Mission. “Wherever we are needed around the world, we will be there to promote Spirit On A Mission. I want to make Temple of Rock its own entity. Right now it is still using the Michael Schenker platform but eventually I want it to stand on its own feet as Temple of Rock.”
Tour dates (with support act Gundriver):
25 – Rockbar Theater – San Jose, CA
27 – Tonic – Portland, OR
28 – Studio Seven – Seattle, WA
1 – Boardwalk – Orangevale, CA
2 – Yoshi’s – Oakland, CA
3 – Whisky a Go Go – West Hollywood, CA
4 – M-15 Concert Hall – Corona, CA
7 – Vamp’d – Las Vegas, NV
8 – Livewire Concert Hall – Scottsdale, AZ
10 – Trees – Dallas, TX
11 – 210 Kapones Live – San Antonio, TX
12 – 18th Street – San Leon, TX
15 – Gramercy Theatre – New York, NY
16 – Eclipse – Binghamton, NY
17 – Newton Theatre – Newton, NJ
18 – The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, NJ
20 – Sellersville Theater – Sellersville, PA
22 – Rockpile West – Toronto, ON
23 – Concord Music Hall – Chicago, IL (Enuff Z Nuff guests on this performance)
24 – Harpos Concert Hall – Detroit, MI
25 – Arcada Theatre – St. Charles, IL (Enuff Z Nuff guests on this performance)
26 – Freaksters – Pontiac, IL
28 – Buffalo Rose – Golden, CO
30 – Ramona Mainstage – Ramona, CA
1 – Coach House – San Juan Capistrano, CA
2 – Canyon Club – Agoura Hills, CA (Special Guest Don Dokken)
Spirit On A Mission, the album of all-new material, features Schenker’s Temple of Rock band including ex-Scorpions Herman Rarebell (drums) and Francis Buchholz (bass), ex-Rainbow’s Doogie White (vocals) and Wayne Findlay (guitar, keyboards). The album will be released on CD, Deluxe Edition (CD+DVD), Deluxe 180 gram vinyl (special DMM-Cut), and digital download.
The album features 12 classic rock guitar-driven songs that highlight Schenker’s distinctive and dynamic guitar playing, valiantly underpinned by the ferocious rhythm section of Rarebell and Buchholz, the same rhythm section that originally performed together on the Scorpions’ 1979 album Lovedrive.
Spirit On A Mission tracklisting:
“Live And Let Live”
“Something Of The Night”
“All Our Yesterdays”
“Let The Devil Scream”
Check out the promo video of the new single “Vigilante Man” below.