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Non-Prog Interviews

Uli Jon Roth

Interviewed by Greg Olma
Interview with Uli Jon Roth From 2006

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at

You haven't toured the states in quite some time and now you are visiting here for a second time in less than 2 years. Are you looking to make the US part of your regular touring schedule?
Definitely because there were quite a few reasons why I wasn't here for so long. The main reason being that I wasn't touring anywhere for about 14 years. I stopped touring in '85. Afterwards, I still did a lot of music in my studio, writing, but I didn't tour. I just did the occasional one off show. It's only in the last few years that I have gotten back into it but mainly doing European shows and Japan. It just took some time to start getting over here and in 2004; it was a good opportunity which suddenly arose. So we went for it. We did that tour. I enjoyed it so much here. The audiences are great. I like the vibe. I do like America, so for me, it was obvious to come back. Hopefully, after this tour, we'll do more touring; playing more places and just carry on.
MSJ: Your last tour was without a full band. Why did you decide to bring a full band this time?
I always like to try and experiment and I've been wanting to do the multi media show for a long time. You know, go out with a screen and do things with the screen visually that you can't do without a screen. The way I write music it's very visual. I always have things going on in my mind and the screen helps to actually transport you to other worlds. It's not just the music; it's the visual, and it's the whole part and parcel of the whole thing. At that time, I experimented with the screen and at the same time, on that tour, it was just kind of thrown together at kind of short notice. We decided to do it that way to feel out what it would be like. So I went with a very sparse set up. It was the keyboard player, myself, and the screen. We promoted the Metamorphosis album, which really didn't need a band anyway. But at the same time, I also like playing with a band and that's what we're doing now. We've got a band and the screen now, so it's the full package. It's a lot of fun every night because we're playing quite a broad repertoire.
MSJ: How did getting Francis Buchholtz back in your band come about?
Well, we needed a bass player to do a European tour and I discussed this with my manager over the phone. We were thinking about bass players and Francis just came to our minds as being a great choice. Particularly for the club tours, we wanted to go more rock based and also play some of my older stuff which I haven't been doing for a while. I want to explore that angle and Francis is a very good choice for that. When we do the old Scorpions stuff, it doesn't get more authentic than having Francis and me there for that part of the sound. Of course we're doing "Electric Sun" and a lot of my new stuff. It was just kind of a natural decision and it's enjoyable having him on stage every night. The audience enjoys it too because he also hasn't been touring for ten years since he split from the Scorps. He did a lot of other things but he hasn't been touring, so this is actually his first American tour since the Winds Of Change tour.
MSJ: When can we expect some new music from Uli John Roth?
The new music is already there but a lot of it hasn't been recorded. A lot of the new music I have recorded but it's not yet ready to be released because it's always a lengthy process making albums and I've got a couple of albums on the back burner so to speak. One, which I've been trying to finish for years and still haven't finished it, is Requiem For An Angel. I've also started working on other stuff and I think I will probably do a new album now that is a little more rock based. It will be a single album with vocals. It's that time of my life that I've been delving into that kind of music more intensely again and I'm enjoying it. I don't know how long it will last; I can't predict the way my mind goes but for the moment, I'm enjoying it. That moment will definitely carry over into the album.
MSJ: Well you sort of answered my next question of whether the new album was going to be symphonic or rock.
If I do a so called rock album, there will definitely be a symphonic touch here or there because I don't want it any other way. For instance, now we're doing "Sails of Charon" live with a full orchestra backing on the recording. Since we are playing these clubs, we can't have a full orchestra but we have the orchestra on the screen and we're actually playing the orchestra into the music and it's sounding great; it's feeling great. I don't want to go back to the 3 piece scenario because that I [already] did and I'm kind of done with that. I'm happy with what I did back then but I've pushed it as far as I wanted it to and my heart is more in slightly broader approach sound-wise. I like to have many colors and many different instruments; lots of variety. The 3 piece doesn't actually allow me that. The thing is, I've already written most of these songs and they came quite quickly to me; within the last half year. That material, I'm really happy with. All I need to do now is "really" record it and that's the next step. In June, July, I will do a Sky Academy DVD which will feature some instructional guitar playing. I've never done that before. I'm doing it because I've been asked so many times. It's something that I'm going to do now but the main thing on the agenda, recording-wise, will be that new album.
MSJ: What are you currently listening to?
Nothing. It may shock you but I'm not listening to anything. The only time I'm listening is maybe when I'm driving the car or I see something on TV. I don't even have a TV at the moment actually. I have my fill of music. When I write, I don't go anywhere else for inspiration. It just comes right through. I know what I want to do so I don't need to look for influences and I'm not like a music consumer where I need music 24 hours a day. A lot of people do and that's great but for me, it's not, because it takes too much out of me. When I listen, it's kind of like work. I'm not somebody who actually enjoys it that much because I start to think and analyze it. So I don't go out and buy CD's. What I do do, and I do it everyday is, in the morning, I will sit down at my piano and study the music of the great masters. You know, with sheet music in front of me. That always teaches me something and keeps me sane. Having said all that, It's not that I don't like what's out there. There are great players out there; great music out there. I just have so little time in my life.
MSJ: Have there been any Spinal Tap moments on this tour?
There's always Spinal Tap moments backstage and on stage. Milwaukee's Shank Hall is pre-destined for that of course. First time I played there, I had some ridiculous power cuts and my main Marshall blew up. Yesterday, I had electrical problems like on the first song; it was just like Spinal Tap. Of my 3 amps, only 1 worked, and it was the one that delivers a 20 watt signal. It was just like Spinal tap. But then we got it working and from then on, it was fine. Oh yeah, then I have this fan onstage, in hot places I have fans to keep me cool because I don't like to sweat onstage. So this fan wasn't there at soundcheck. It was blowing so wildly that my hair was completely in my face and I couldn't see a single thing I was doing. Yeah, It was just like Spinal tap. During my life as a musician, there were loads and loads. Every band will have experienced these Spinal Tap moments and it helps not to take yourself too seriously.
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