Vinnie Moore of UFO on "Best of a Decade", and what's to come…
UFO Interview w/ Vinnie Moore
By: Nick St. Onge
Pop quiz… Name the English hard rock band who has been rocking on the scene for 40 plus years, has launched the careers of many famous and memorable musicians, has written numerous memorable songs that have been etched into rock history, and still continue to play arenas and stadiums around the globe to this very day. No, it's not Black Sabbath. It's a hard hitting, heavy bluesin', hard rockin', powerhouse known simply as UFO…
Still rocking on after all these years
Originally named Hocus Pocus, UFO changed their name in 1969 in remembrance of the famous London club where they were spotted by Neil Moore and signed to Beacon Records. Since then, this acronym has far surpassed their space-rock roots and flown into a realm of rock and metal trailblazing over a span of 4 decades.
UFO has long been overlooked and overshadowed in the history of rock and roll. Though they have many long lasting and truly devoted fans, their long and influential career has never gotten the respect or recognition it deserves, in this writer's opinion.
Your perfect chance to make up for this injustice and help give the guys in UFO the props they so rightly deserve is to show support for, and check out their newest album "Best of a Decade", due to be released on September 28. If you haven't already, this is the perfect time to jump on the UFO's literal bandwagon.
Over the past seven years, UFO has gone through a bit of a rebirth. Through the years they have worked through a couple different lineup changes, having both new and old members coming in and out of the fold, and in the meantime showcased the talents of many other top notch musicians. One such musician, who seems to have stuck with them, is Vinnie Moore.
Vinnie joined the band in 2004 as a very accomplished studio player and solo guitarist and has been playing and creating with the band ever since. "I grew up listening to UFO and playing along with their records", says Moore, "I was really just so stoked to get to play with these guys. I really looked up to them, you know?" Since Vinnie has joined, UFO has seemed to find new life and to have picked up where at one point they seemed to let go.
Through the seventies, UFO really found their voice as a heavy rock band with the help of Michael Schenker, guitar player of The Scorpions, and later The Michael Schenker Group. His innovative guitar playing still stands strong as a vital step in the evolution of the metal shred guitar playing we are familiar with today. Schenker's influence, when joined with the powerful vocals of Phil Mogg, and the solid foundation built by bassist Pete Way and drummer Andy Moore, yielded one of the most infamous yet influential bands in hard rock history.
After Schenker left the band in 1978, they went through a bit of a rough patch. Members came and went, and the band was struggling to find their foothold in a changing industry. They released a couple albums that produced hits in both the U.S. and the U.K., but seemed to be shying away from the hard hitting days of old. The rest of the eighties had their share of ups and downs but still showed a great band of musicians dedicated to making great music.
Through the nineties and early two thousands, the original lineup was reunited for a string of albums and tours. UFO got back to their roots and started rocking hard again, both for their long standing fan base, and now a whole new generation of fans enamored with the metal trailblazers of old. UFO got back their heavy.
After Schenker left again due to issues within the band, UFO picked up the highly accomplished shred master Vinnie Moore. "I just heard through a mutual friend that UFO was looking for a guitarist," recalls Moore. "I sent in a demo CD with like 10 tracks from my solo stuff to Phil (Mogg), just to give him an idea of what I was about. It took about ten days and then I heard back. Phil and I talked on the phone for a bit, and before I knew it I was on a plane. (laughs) It was really a great feeling."
Since then, UFO has been revisiting their sound and style of old, while adding a whole new dimension with the eclectic and inspired playing that Vinnie offers. "I don't consciously add my style or stamp to the UFO music," says Moore. "My certain style just comes through inadvertently on the tracks because I enjoy what I'm doing. It's gotta be what's right for the song, and within the framework of what UFO has always been about." UFO has released three successful albums, and a live DVD recorded in Germany since the addition of Moore, and resolidified their place among rock royalty.
UFO loves touring internationally, and just finished up a tour of Brazil. "You know we really played some amazing clubs there," recalls Vinnie. "We play a lot of arena shows, but there's something about an intimate venue with diehard fans. It's a totally different vibe with those people right there in front of you. You can feel the love…" (laughs) While in Brazil, Vinnie also indulged in his other passion, and that is teaching.
Vinnie has put on guitar clinics around the world for many years and loves to take the time while touring to meet and converse with the fans and teach them a few of his virtuosic techniques. "It's cool to be a part of the global guitar community, and it's an honor to know that I can sometimes inspire others to get excited by music and guitar. It's an amazing feeling, and I'm just glad people enjoy what I do," says Moore. "I guess I just got lucky. It's tough out there for any musician, but you gotta be happy, whatever you do, and just follow your muse."
UFO is the perfect example of this philosophy, still exploring new territory and breaking new ground while never forgetting their roots or losing their muse. After all these years, UFO is still pumping out great albums like the critically acclaimed "The Visitor" in 2009, and reintroducing fans to their roots on the new release "Best of a Decade". There is no better time to discover, or rediscover this legendary rock band that has been one of the best kept secrets in the rock world for far too long. Check out everything you have been missing. Go out!
Support! Respect! Rock! You can thank me later…
Nick St. Onge