Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited recently conducted an interview with legendary guitarist Uli Jon Roth (ex-SCOPRIONS). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Classic Rock Revisited: You are basically introducing your Sky Academy to the United States.
Uli: "At the end of May we are doing a seminar for the Sky Academy. It may be a little different from what you would normally get from a guitar seminar. I try to go beyond just talking about the technical aspects of playing guitar. Our seminar is designed for advanced players, guitar or bass or other instruments. I want to help musicians get to the next level; which is sometimes a hard thing to do. I have worked with players who are very good but when they get to a certain level they don't progress as much. This gives me an angle to try and help them.
"Sky Academy is a mixture of things that are connected to guitar playing. We will also do a series of concerts where the students will get to play in front of the students and myself. This will allow me to help them improve on what they are doing. In the same concert hall, in the evenings, we are doing another concert. These concerts will feature special guests of mine as well as the best of the students."
Classic Rock Revisited: Do you feel very satisfied working and helping guitar virtuosos?
Uli: "I always enjoy working with other musicians, particularly when they are of a good caliber. I have always enjoyed teaching. Having said that, I have not done it that much. When I was a kid I used to teach classical guitar lessons. I had about 30 students but when I joined the SCORPIONS, I had to stop that and I have not had any students since. For the last few years I have been crystallizing the idea of the Sky Academy in my mind. This is really something that I want to do. I didn't really know what kind of framework would be best to do this type of thing. It slowly grew in my mind and now we can make this thing manifest itself. I am already looking into the future. If it goes as well as I hope it will go, then we will make it an annual event."
Classic Rock Revisited: In a recent interview Herman Rarebell (ex-SCORPIONS drummer) told me the SCORPIONS sound changed after you left. He said when you were there the guitar was always turned up too loud. What is your response?
Uli: "Oh, well, Herman… He would say that, wouldn't he? Musically, we are coming from two opposing ends of the spectrum, rhythmically as well as mentally. He doesn't musically understand me and I don't understand him, but otherwise there are no problems between us. The problem was that the guitar wasn't loud ENOUGH, particularly on 'Tokyo Tapes'. When the lead instruments have to struggle against the accompaniment, then the music becomes a strain to listen to, because each band starts to sound the same. I never want to have to strain to hear the vocals or lead and harmony instruments getting buried under tons of drum and bass boom. That seems like the death of musical enjoyment to me. I get bored with this kind of sonic approach, which was the prevalent sound of the eighties. Today a lot of that sounds very overblown and unnatural today and is plainly out-of-vogue. I just hope this way mixing albums doesn't return, but I don't think it will."
Classic Rock Revisited: "Virgin Killer" was banned!! Who was the girl on the cover and whose idea was it to have a nude child with broken glass in that area? What a statement.
Uli: "Looking at that picture today makes me cringe. It was done in the worst possible taste. Back then I was too immature to see that. Shame on me — I should have done everything in my power to stop it. The record company came up with the idea, I think. The lyrics incidentally were a take-off on KISS, whom we had just supported on a tour. I was fooling around and played the riff of the song in the rehearsal room and spontaneously improvised ''cause he's a virgin killer!' trying to do a more or less way-off-the-mark Paul Stanley impersonation. Klaus immediately said 'that's great! You should do something with it.' Then I had the unenviable task of constructing a meaningful set of lyrics around the title, which I actually managed to do to some degree. But the song has a totally different meaning from what people would assume at first. Virgin Killer is none other than the demon of our time, the less compassionate side of the societies we live in today — brutally trampling upon the heart and soul of innocence.
"I can't blame Tipper Gore for brandishing the cover on TV as offensive, though. She was completely right in doing so and she's a good person anyway, although she probably didn't make the effort to check out the lyrics, which put a different slant on the whole thing — can't blame her for that either, because knowing what I know today, I would have possibly reacted in a similar vein. Incidentally, I read Al Gore's book — 'Earth in the Balance' — and I can only wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who loves this planet of ours. His vision is strong, clear and inspired there. Shame not enough people got to read it."
Read the entire interview at www.classicrockrevisited.com.