VINNIE MOORE INTERVIEW:
May 16, 2009
I once saw Vinnie Moore play with Alice Cooper, he played his ass off and somehow ended up too much guitarist for Cooper’s band. Moore, who developed a reputation for being one of the underground shredders of the 80’s, landed the gig as guitarist in UFO after Michael Schenker’s departure. Vinnie recently took the time to answer some questions regarding UFO’s new album The Visitor. In addition, I had the opportunity to ask him about Pete Way, the departure of Jason Bonham and the return of Andy Parker. I was surprised to hear his thoughts on the UFO DVD Showtime. It was a good time; I hope you think so as you read this interview. If you get a chance to see UFO on their upcoming 2009 tour, don’t pass it up. I can attest that it’s one hell of a show having seen them on their last North American tour.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you get in touch with UFO?
Vinnie Moore: They were looking for somebody about 5-6 years ago, and we have a mutual friend. They were trying to find someone from England and they just weren’t finding the right person. They had given up on that and they decided to widen the search. So this mutual friend suggested me, their manager got in touch with me, and then I put together a CD with 11 songs. I then sent the CD to Phil Mogg, he liked what he heard, and he asked me to join the band.
Sleaze Roxx: Did you have any apprehensions about coming into an established classic rock band and replacing a legendary guitarist like Michael Schenker?
Vinnie Moore: Actually at first I didn’t know if I wanted to join the band, because I just didn’t know if it was the right situation for me. UFO is pretty busy and if they were so busy that I wouldn’t be able to do my solo stuff…I didn’t want to be someone’s hired hand. I wanted to be a part of the band; I wanted to be able to contribute. Phil wanted me to be an equal part of the band and that’s what really made me a lot more interested. As far as the Schenker thing…I didn’t really think too much about that. I was a huge UFO fan as a teenager though.
Sleaze Roxx: You’re a different kind of guitarist than Schenker or any of the previous UFO guitarists for that matter. What do you bring to the table in UFO?
Vinnie Moore: I think as far as the songwriting I might bring more of a blues element than maybe some of the previous guitarists did. I don’t know…it’s hard to make a judgment of your own stuff. I lose perspective because I’m so close to it I guess.
Sleaze Roxx: Pete Way has a taken a leave from the band due to illness, how’s he doing? He didn’t contribute to the recording, but did he get a chance to contribute any songs?
Vinnie Moore: I think he’s okay, he’s had some problems with his liver and apparently he needs to hangout and recuperate a little bit. Pete was not involved in the writing or on the recording of the album actually.
Sleaze Roxx: No one is credited for bass tracks on the advance copy I have. I’m curious who played bass on the album? It’s seamless, it’s like Way played on the album.
Vinnie Moore: We used a local guy from Hanover, Germany. The initial plan when we were rehearsing some of the songs was to have a local guy there just so we could have bass there. Everyone liked the feel of his playing and he’s a good guy, it just progressed from there and we wound up asking him to play on the record. The guy’s name is Peter Pichl, he’s played in a band called Nectar. We knew by that time that Pete wasn’t going to do the album, we certainly weren’t going to get a guy to replace him because you just don’t do that. We played it low key and did it that way. Kind of like the Rolling Stones with Bill Wyman, they didn’t try to replace him you know?
Sleaze Roxx: It’s also worth mentioning that Jason Bonham left for Foreigner, then left them for a Led Zeppelin reunion that didn’t go past one gig. During that time Andy Parker came back. Did you guys approach other drummers or did you just call up Andy?
Vinnie Moore: Andy was out of the business, his family has a business where they manufacture plastics and metals. He was in the corporate world and out of music and he decided that he didn’t want to do that anymore and decided that he would quit the family business and move back to America. It was funny because it was around that time that we were looking for somebody because Jason had just left. It’s like all the planets lined up.
Sleaze Roxx: The writing sessions for The Visitor music have been extremely prolific. In the press release from SPV it says you wrote somewhere in the area of 30 songs. That’s a lot of left over material. Did you consider knocking out another album since you were already in the studio?
Vinnie Moore: I don’t know where that number came from, we didn’t have that many songs. I will say that there might have been in the area of 20. When someone speaks of these songs…they aren’t speaking of completed songs. They might be referring to partial songs, ideas, riffs, stuff like that. For example on the last record I presented Phil with 19 songs and the ones that he liked were the ones that he wrote lyrics for. So you go for the ones that you like the best and go for it.
Sleaze Roxx: People throw the term blues around loosely these days but the new album has some great slide guitar on there as well as blistering solos and riffs that could have been taken from the Schenker era. How would you describe the sound UFO went for on The Visitor?
Vinnie Moore: I like the way that it sounds, I like the slide guitar blues oriented blues thing. Phil is really into the blues, I noticed that in the writing stage that the songs that Phil latched onto were the blues oriented ones. “Saving Me” and “Rock Ready” were two songs that I wrote toward the end, Phil was responding to those kinds of things so I thought, “why not give him what he wants?”
Sleaze Roxx: The Visitor is your third effort with UFO, how has the band progressed since the release of You Are Here?
Vinnie Moore: I think it’s gotten better because we know each other better now, we’ve toured together and have played together quite a lot. We know each other more as people, we know each other’s musical tastes, I know Phil’s voice, what range he likes to sing at and I know if I give him an idea what he can do with it. I think it comes down to time together has made us get stronger.
Sleaze Roxx: My favorites on The Visitor are; “Saving Me”, ” Hell Driver”, “Stop Breaking Down” and “Stranger In Town”. I love the new album, it’s fantastic. You’ll be releasing a limited edition version of with a bonus track called “Dancing With St. Peter”, is that along the lines of what we hear on the rest of the album?
Vinnie Moore: “Dancing With St. Peter” is a remake of a song that Phil did with another band he was in called Sign Of Four. He just really liked the tune and wanted to do it again, the band and the record didn’t go anywhere. Phil really thought it was strong song and wanted to record it again. I really like “Saving Me,” “Hell Driver,” “Rock Ready” and “Living Proof”, they are my favorites on the new album.
Sleaze Roxx: I have to add that the DVD you guys released Showtime is phenomenal and one of the gems in my collection. What are your thoughts on the DVD? And is there a chance that we might see one with more material from the Vinnie era down the road?
Vinnie Moore: There’s no plan at the moment to do another DVD but I think it’s a good idea to do something with more current material though. I think we should do another one actually. As for the Showtime DVD, as an artist we get kind of picky. I personally don’t think that it was our strongest show. We had done better shows than that, but we had problems with electricity that night. I don’t know, I feel little bit critical about it…the way it was shot…I felt like there was a detachment from it. It might have had something to do with the way they mixed it or something. I think it was cool to get a DVD out there, but I do think that up to that point we had done better shows on that tour.
Sleaze Roxx: There are plans for a North American tour later this year correct?
Vinnie Moore: Yeah we begin in October.
Sleaze Roxx: Since Pete’s not on board for the time being, have you auditioned bass players for this tour?
Vinnie Moore: On the European tour we have already enlisted Barry Sparks, who has played with Ted Nugent, Dokken, Michael Schenker and he’s played with me on one of my previous tours. So we know he’s the guy doing that tour, beyond that I have no idea who we’ll get to play bass.
Sleaze Roxx: Thanks so much for taking some time to answer some questions Vinnie.
Vinnie Moore: Thanks for your support I appreciate it.
Thanks to Vinnie Moore and Ruben Mosqueda