Cara Carriveau chats with UFO’s Paul Raymond about his longevity with UFO (36 years!), the current lineup, his relationship with Michael Schenker, his upcoming CD from The Paul Raymond Project and more…
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Nothing would be easier for British rock legends UFO than to rest on their laurels. The band could easily release the occasional best-of album to earn a few additional royalties and otherwise content themselves with looking back at their exceptionally glorious past. And it certainly wouldn’t be a problem for UFO to sell out tours on the strength of their legendary name with a great hoopla and low artistic values.
But idleness or indeed a musical standstill have always been out of the question for Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond, Andy Parker, and Vinnie Moore. These in equal measures experienced and ambitious musicians are interested in the present, their love of creativity and the active continuation of their celebrated band history. And now we can look forward to Seven Deadly, the band’s latest studio album which combines present and future with UFO’s greatest fortes. Mogg, Raymond, Parker and Moore are release twelve brand-new songs on Steamhammer/SPV in Germany on 24 February 2012 (Europe: 27 February, USA/Canada: 28 February), featuring – without going into great detail at this point – some of the strongest compositions this band has ever recorded.
What is this bold thesis based on – in view of the countless classics the band has produced throughout its history? Not only on the fact that UFO have that perfect mix of talent, charisma and experience, but also on each individual band member, who currently all seem to be bursting with a zest for action and a wealth of ideas. Seven Deadly is an atmospherically dense fabric consisting of classy guitars, tight rock grooves and vocals which are unique to UFO. So it’s no wonder that sound engineer Tommy Newton, in whose Area 51 studio in Celle, Germany, the new tracks were recorded, commented: “I’ve never heard a better Phil Mogg!”
The UFO frontman’s thoroughly impressive vocal performance goes hand in hand with the awesome compositions on Seven Deadly. The classic rock of ‘Burn Your House Down’ features all the important UFO strengths, ‘Mojo Town’ sees the musicians sound tougher than ever, and ‘Year Of The Gun’ features a pointed reference to UFO’s early days. ‘Angel Station’ sees the band prove how classic rock music is complemented perfectly with epic elements, while ‘Fight Night’ is an excellent track to be performed in a live context.
There’s no need to draw attention to the technical skills of original UFO members Paul Raymond and Andy Parker, their music sounding inspired and faultless at the same time. Having said that, Vinnie Moore’s exceptional guitar style deserves to be explicitly mentioned. The American musician not only lends the songs expression and power with his haunting licks and dynamic riffs, but also contributes solos on Seven Deadly which can only be described as absolute world class. Anybody still doubting my words should get ready to be absolutely convinced when the album arrives in January.
As already mentioned, UFO continue to be a live force to be reckoned with. Their UK tour has been scheduled for mid-March 2012 before the band go on to tour the rest of Europe. A little note in passing: at the time of Seven Deadly’s release, UFO will be performing at the Monsters Of Rock Cruise – The Voyage: there could hardly be a more fitting setting for this exciting new album!
There are even more stories about UFO than they’ve composed songs. Any band who have been in the music business for more than 40 years are bound to have experienced difficult times, but also dazzling successes and spectacular events. UFO’s success story began in London way back in 1969, when vocalist Phil Mogg, drummer Andy Parker, guitarist Mick Bolton and bassist Pete Way formed the group. Even in the Seventies, the band distinguished themselves with their very own, unmistakable style, touching a nerve among their growing following with rock numbers like ‘Prince Kajuku’, ‘Follow You Home’ or ‘C’mon Everybody’ from their albums UFO 1, Flying and UFO Live.
The global breakthrough arrived when German guitarist, Michael Schenker, joined the fold in 1973, having left his band Scorpions to follow an offer by Phil Mogg and Pete Way. UFO released three consecutive rock classics with Schenker (Phenomenon (1974), Force It (1975) and No Heavy Pettin’ (1976)), featuring classics like ‘Doctor Doctor’, ‘Shoot, Shoot’, or ‘Rock Bottom’.
Following the arrival of keyboarder/rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond, UFO released their two studio albums Lights Out (1977) and Obsession (1978), including the hit singles ‘Too Hot To Handle’, ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Only You Can Rock Me’. Their live cut Strangers In The Night came out in 1979 and is referred to by the press to this day as one of the best live releases of all time, while also signalling the end of the Mogg, Way, Schenker, Parker & Raymond line-up.
The reorganised band underwent fifteen years marked by various eras and numerous line-up changes. To everyone’s surprise, autumn 1993 saw the return of the former UFO line-up consisting of Mogg, Way, Schenker, Parker and Raymond. This new edition of the classic team brought out Walk On Water, their first joint effort after one and a half decades, and embarked on a world tour. However, Schenker left UFO during the Walk On Water tour again to continue working with his own group, MSG, while Mogg & Way went on to release their second album, Chocolate Box. The UFO albums Covenant and Sharks, recorded by Mogg, Way and Schenker, arrived at the stores in 2000 and 2002.Vinnie Moore went on to follow in Schenker’s footsteps, who had returned to MSG, recording the songs on You Are Here with Jason Bonham. During the subsequent world tour, UFO cut a show in Germany, which was later released on the live album, Showtime, and the same-named DVD featuring additional bonus material. Later, Bonham bid his farewells and UFO’s original drummer Andy Parker returned on The Monkey Puzzle (2006) and its successor The Visitor (2009). So with Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond and Andy Parker, the band today consists of three original members, plus American guitar slinger Vinnie Moore – the perfect complement.
© February 2012
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