Interview date

September 2006


Yann G


"The Monkey Puzzle" which is being released this month is the second UFO record on which you play.
Can you please tell us more about this new release ?

Yes it comes out on September 26th on SPV Records. We started recording it in April in Germany. I did all of the guitars here at my home studio. We have Andy Parker back in the band who is the original UFO drummer.

Did take take part into the compositions ?

Yes...I wrote most of the music for this record as I did on the You Are Here record. Seven of the tunes were mine musically and a couple were co written musically by Pete Way and I. Paul wrote a couple songs and Phil wrote the lyrics.

Did you enjoy recording it ? How do you feel inside the band now ?

Yes. It was a blast doing this record. As I said, I did the guitar in my studio which is what I like doing best because I just feel more relaxed and do better and more creative work here. Playing with the band is a cool experience for me.

Your guitar solos on this record remain technical but it seems that you've so much integrated the UFO style that your style today is more hard-rock/blues oriented than neo-classical. Am I wrong ?

I am basically a song and melody player. I always get a feel from the song and play what fits stylistically. It just so happens that my blusier/rock oriented stuff fits in better with the music on this record. So I would say that my playing on this is a little more like my Meltdown record as opposed to some of the earlier solo records that were more classically influenced. I play what I feel from hearing the music as opposed to trying to throw in things that don't fit. I just recorded a track for a Santana Tribute CD and my playing on there is totally different from the UFO record. I am into a lot of different things stylistically so I can go off in many different directions with my playing. The song gives me a feel for where I go.

When I listened to this album, it was clear to me that it was very much influenced by Deep Purple.
It is funny to see 2 mythic bands like UFO and Deep Purple hiring guitar-heroes who help them to keep a very modern song and to remain very present on the metal scene.
Do you think that your experience inside UFO can be compared to the Steve Morse's one inside Deep Purple ?

Influenced by Deep Purple?? Not my songs. I was into Blackmore and Purple back in their early days but haven't heard the more recent stuff. Machine Head is one of my all time favorite CD's but I don't really hear the similarities with Purple and the new UFO. Steve is a great player and a friend of mine. Ironically, I don't have any of the DP records with him . I am sure he plays his ass off on them as always though. I have never really talked to him about being in DP so I don't know if his experiences are similar to mine or not. Maybe in some ways I would guess.

How do you judge the evolution of UFO style in the time ?

I don't actually. I liked their early records but there is a whole time period that I am not familiar with. As far as the current lineup, I don't really think about it, I just write music and Phil writes lyrics to my ideas.

I imagine that it was a challenge for you to be the successor of Michael Schenker. Was the integration difficult at the beginning ? How did you succeed in this challenge ?

I didn't look at it that way at all. It was a little weird joining a band that had another player for so many years, but I didn't think too much about it. I just went in and did my thing. I was a fan of UFO as a kid so stylistically it wasn't a very big stretch for me. No big adjustment....just plug in and ROCK!

Let's now talk about your solo career. You've released some months ago your "Best Of" record with Shrapnel Records. Can you please tell us more about your next solo album ?

I have written a bunch of new songs and will be starting the drums real soon. It should be finished by the end of the year. I am real excited about it because it has been so long since I have done a solo CD and also the material is fresh and new to me.

Will it be instrumental only ? Will you come back to your roots, i.e. neo-classical shredding guitar ?

It will be instrumental. It is a little different than anything I have done. I like to explore new territories. This is what keeps music exciting to me.

Within UFO concerts, do you have the opportunity to play a few songs of your solo albums ? If yes, which songs are you used to play ?

No I don't do this. If it is a UFO show then we play UFO songs. It is not really the right place to do my songs. I do a lot of improvising during the solos though so there is quite a lot of me there.

Did you listen to the latest Paul Gilbert and Marty Friedman releases ? If yes, what did you think about them ? All these guys, like you, are icons of the shredding period in the 80-90s.

Haven't heard there new releases. They are both great players though. PG has pretty sick techinique.

More generally, do you think there is still place for instrumental shredding guitar records today ?

There is room for anything that is good and done with passion.

You're going to come soon in France for a european tour with UFO. What feeling do you keep of your previous tour ?

I look forward to it. It will be a lot of fun. I haven't been to France in a while.

In the future, what are your projects ?

I am just concentrating on my new solo cd for the moment. I have other ideas for projects but for now, the new solo thing is top priority.

Do you plan to tour to promote your next solo album ? If yes, via a tour ? or guitar-clinics ?

Yes. It's too early to tell exactly how right now. But hopefully a tour in Europe and the US.

Would you have some words for the webzine readers and more especially to the french audience, either UFO fans or guitar apprentices ?

Thanks everybody. Keep rocking and learning and playing music with your heart and soul. Play and write your music with passion from your soul and you can't go wrong. Follow your heart!!

Thanks a lot Vinnie for this interview, and good luck for "The Monkey Puzzle" tour.