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Non-Prog Interviews

UFO

Interviewed by Greg Olma
Interview with Phil Mogg of UFO from 2005
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Since your last tour of the US, what have you and the band been up to?
We've just done a DVD and another disk to go with that which we did "Love to Love," "Try Me," "Profession of Violence," and "Slipping Away" off the new album You Are Here. We did those with a string quartet, which is pretty cool, instead of using the keyboard thing. We did the DVD at the Pump House in Deutschland. We did a tour while we were doing that. We are doing this bit of tour now (US summer 2005). We're pretty much tied up now for a little while.
MSJ: You mentioned the DVD. How did that come about and why did you decide to do it on this tour and not on the Walk on Water tour?
It was one of those things where our record company said "you're going to do a DVD" and we went "yeah, right". It wasn't particularly thought out. We did a live album for Strangers and it's got quite a few of those songs from that period on it. It's kind of like tying it all up. We were like "yeah, lets give it a crack".
MSJ: Are there any plans to come out with another studio UFO album?
I start doing some work with Vinnie later in the year. It will be the November timeframe. Just putting stuff down. He has a studio at home so I'll probably go over to his place and we'll just start. It will be a little bit more leisurely than the last album which was the first time we actually got together. We know one another now. You can say "f**k off" and "shut up" now. It will be quite leisurely now so it should be good.
MSJ: You Are Here kind of resurrected the band again. Kind of the same way Walk on Water did. You had a down period during Sharks, which is kind of the lost UFO album. Now again, you're back with a strong album and consistent touring.
It was difficult because by that time we got to where Michael had finally gone again. It is difficult to replace someone with that amount of talent. That took quite a lot of time to fill those shoes. There was a period of being nervous and worried about it. I think we got really lucky with Vinnie, both playing wise and personality wise. We were sinking a bit low. Just before Michael had left, I said to him "are you going to be doing this or not" and he said "no, you carry on". It was very amicable. I always had a thought that we could have achieved more.
MSJ: Was the Mogg/Way album Chocolate Box initially going to be a UFO album? It's basically UFO with Jeff Kollman instead of Michael Schenker.
No, it couldn't have been UFO due to contractual reasons, but it might as well have been. Michael disappeared in Modesto, California. He disappeared after that gig and I remember chasing his bus to Phoenix. It was as close as we got to do a UFO album but Jeff came in and saved the day. We were all there, left up in the air with nothing to do.
MSJ: It's really a strong album.
I love some of the tracks on that album.
MSJ: You have been the only member to be in every incarnation of UFO. What is your favorite era?
I don't know. They are all so different. Each phase is different. The first time we came to America, it was a bit like "WOW!". We had been doing clubs like the Marquee in England. Suddenly we came to America and we were doing quite well. It was a bit like "this is good". Then you get to different years and different things happen. I think it was a bit too much for us. It was the anything you want syndrome. We were a bit overwhelmed by it but we calmed down after that.
MSJ: You popularity grew in the '80's when Paul Chapman came in but yet everyone regards the Schenker era as the classic UFO.
When Michael left, it was the peak of what should have been. We had done all the work. He says "I'm off" but we were like "we just worked for five years for this". It is just what happened. We're happy with what we've got.
MSJ: Is there a reason why you don't include any Paul Chapman era songs in your set?
We resurrected some of the '80's stuff for the DVD. Well, just one, "Profession of Violence," which sounds pretty good. You're right. It's not been a conscious thing. We were supposed to do "Change Change." You just reminded me but we haven't gotten around to it yet. Thank you for bringing that up. It's not a conscious thing, we just haven't gone there. I don't know why. We do four songs off the new album which we like.
MSJ: Is it difficult to pick a set list when you go out on tour?
Yeah. We tend to pick it up from people who come along. They ask are you doing so and so tonight and we say, "no." Then we think maybe we will. We did start off with "Only You can Rock Me" the other night but it doesn't work there. Then you go "that's a mistake".
MSJ: Are there any songs that you're sick of playing but you have to because the fans demand it?
No, we have that thing where we are happy that fans like the songs. A lot of that stuff is what got you to where you are in the first place. I've gone to see bands and have been a bit irritable if I didn't hear the song I came to hear. I can appreciate where that comes from.
MSJ: What was the last CD you purchased?
It was an Irish band. The name always escapes me. It's Erie something. It's an Irish fiddle band. The last rock album was Audioslave. That's a good album.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended for fun?
That was Reef in Brighton. It was down the road from where I live.
MSJ: How is it working with Jeff Kollman again?
Great, apart from his foot (Jeff Kollman hurt his foot before the tour). I keep saying he should get a parrot on his shoulder. He'll be Long John Silver. He's a great player. You couldn't ask for a nicer guy.
MSJ: If you were to go back in time and re-record one of your albums, which one would it be and why?
I think that would be difficult. I've enjoyed all of them. When you do an album, you put as much as you've got into it. There's no back-off with an album. You really put yourself into it. I liked High Stakes and it was sadly missed because there are some great tracks on it. The albums with Atomic Tommy were recorded as well as they could have been. In the mid-'80's, there was a lot of excess going on. A lot of bands got swept along with it.
MSJ: What is your favorite Spinal tap moment?
So you want to talk about Pete Way. We did a festival with April Wine. This is going way back. Our bus driver was on the phone to another bus driver. We were looking for "something". He said that we would meet up at the next service station. So, we pulled off there and picked up the stuff. After that, when we got on stage, we couldn't move. We were so stiff, only our mouths could move. That was when we got to the part where we said "this ain't doing us any good". We cleaned up our act from then.
MSJ: Any last words for your fans?
I'm not good at those last word things. Hopefully we'll see you at some gig in the near future. Tonight should be good, tomorrow should be great. If you live in Vegas, we'll see you in Vegas.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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