‘Most Bands Have Great Ideas And It All Goes Down The F***ing Toilet’
UK's Classic Rock Magazine gbarton / Features / 26/05/2009 16:46pm
Come inside for the first part of an exclusive interview with UFO frontman Phil Mogg.
British heavy rock legends UFO release their brand new studio album, The Visitor, on June 2 and head out on a British tour shortly afterward. The dates kick off at Brighton Concorde 2 on June 9 and finish on the 24th at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Get your UFO tickets here. In the first part of an exclusive interview with Classic Rock, frontman Phil Mogg talks about buying UFO guitarist Vinnie Moore a jockstrap; about being a fan of Ted Nugent, Pink and Beyoncé (not necessarily in that order); about a mysterious German bass player called Peter Pickle; and about a certain ‘pansy’ with the initials ‘S.B.’…
INTERVIEW: GEOFF BARTON
One of your new songs on The Visitor is called On The Waterfront. Was it inspired by the fact that you now live in the seaside town of Brighton?
No, you should realise where that one comes from. Marlon Brando, isn’t it? You know Brighton is the gay capital of this country? Everything’s quiet. It’s lovely. But you are aware of that fact, aren’t you? Because I thought I saw you the other day, swanning around outside my front door.
On The Visitor, it sounds like you’ve tweaked UFO’s musical style a little. Several of the tracks are southern rock- and country-flavoured.
The idea, the game-plan, was to record songs that we could easily play live. Sometimes songs sound fine in the studio but don’t work out too well on stage. So the main idea was: “Can we play it live?” That was the intention. Whether or not we pulled it off, I don’t know. Most bands have great ideas and it all goes down the fucking toilet. You always have a great plan to start out with. It’s a bit like digging in your back garden and you think: “I’ve got a great idea here.” But suddenly it goes all wrong – do you know what I mean? But I think Vinnie [Moore, guitar] kicks arse on the new album. Have you noticed? He’s gone from shred to bed. He’s moved left-field. I listened to his guitar-playing and I actually went round the corner and bought him a jockstrap. Just because I thought: “Great playing, Vin.” Tommy [Newton, producer/engineer] said: “He’s sounding, like, European. Or English.”
On another of your new songs, Can’t Buy A Thrill, are you drawing from personal experience?
Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. Can’t buy a thrill? Well, you can, can’t you? It depends where you are. Have you ever been subjected to being in jail? Oh, man, it’s like somewhere you don’t wanna go. We recorded the new album in Germany and every night after the studio I had to go back to this white room [Mogg presumably means his hotel room]. The only thing I could watch was MTV, because the rest of it’s German, obviously. So I’ve got Pink, who I really like, and Beyoncé. Her thighs look great. My nights were spent watching cheap movies. Oo-ooh. Can’t buy a thrill. That’s where that came from. Thank you.
Bassist Pete Way is taking a sabbatical from UFO because he (to quote the new album’s press release) ‘is currently suffering from a liver disease’. However, you have got someone else called Pete playing on the record.
Funnily enough, his name is Peter Pickle. I don’t know where you get a German name called Pickle.
How do you spell his surname? Pikkel, perhaps?
I don’t know, it was like… Pickle. We’d say to him: “Peter Piper picked a pickle, do-be-doo-be-doo.” And he’d go: “Ach, you are taking ze piss.” He turned up in the studio with sheet music. I’ve never been in a studio where someone turns up with sheet music. It was all written down on a sheet. And you’d go: “Ooh, that’s interesting.”
Where did you find him?
It came through [UFO manager] Peter Knorn. He said: “Look, this guy plays real good bass, he’s very sensible and he’s got a good-looking wife.” And he did, he had a great sound coming out of a Fender. Like a Fender bass. Precision bass. You know the Fender Precision bass? So he wrapped it up and did his gig. He’s a nice guy.
Without Pete Way’s, shall we say, occasionally disruptive presence, did this allow you to concentrate a bit more on the recording process?
I always think… you’ve got to keep doing something, your writing, working on stuff, whatever. So you don’t want any distractions. And Peter Pickle was perfect for the gig.
You’re singing very well on the new album.
Oh, shut up. How much is this going to cost me?
We can work out a fee later.
Hey, I’m cheap. It depends how expensive you are.
Seriously, it’s a good performance, you should be proud of it.
Oh no, I am. I know it sounds stupid, but I really do like the new album. It rocks. We got the whole shebob together.
Who’s playing bass on your new tour? You had Rob De Luca out with you recently…
We’ve got Barry Sparks [Dokken, Ted Nugent, Yngwie Malmsteen etc] playing bass. He’s real cool. Not Rob De Luca. He’s tied up with that pansy. That guy with the long hair who did that reality TV show with our old drummer, Jason Bonham [SuperGroup]. What’s his name?
Initials ‘S.B.’ – is that who you’re referring to?
Yes. I thought Ted Nugent shone on that TV show. He went: “Don’t come near my guitar.” I thought: “Yeah, right, Ted!” I’m not a great Ted Nugent fan but I thought he was real cool. He was the straightest person in the fucking whole group. I do like Cat… Strack… Cat… hang on a minute [coughs]. Cat. Scratch. Fever. It’s a bit like asking for Solpadeine in the chemist. “Can I have a large pack of Solpadeine, please?” No, I thought Ted was great.
* Tune into www.classicrockmagazine.com for part two of our Phil Mogg interview tomorrow.
copyright 2009 - Geoff Barton at Classic Rock Magazine
‘Oh My God, Something’s Going To Erupt At Any Minute’
gbarton / Features / 27/05/2009 10:25am
As promised/threatened, here’s the hotly anticipated second part of Classic Rock’s interview with UFO frontman Phil Mogg. Simply click that conveniently placed ‘Read More’ button…
British heavy rock legends UFO release their brand new studio album, The Visitor, on June 2 and head out on a British tour shortly afterward. The dates kick off at Brighton Concorde 2 on June 9 and finish on the 24th at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Get your UFO tickets here. In the second part of an exclusive interview with Classic Rock, frontman Phil Mogg talks about Pete Way’s ongoing trouser problems; the ‘huge crack’ in Way’s arse; the likelihood – or otherwise – of Way returning to his role of bass-player in the band; UFO’s low-key 40th anniversary; and what the set-list is going to be like on the forthcoming tour…
INTERVIEW: GEOFF BARTON
Have you spoken to Pete Way recently?
Not since before Christmas.
We saw Pete at Hard Rock Hell in December, where he played with his band Waysted. Pete was on quite good form, actually, although he couldn’t find his chalet.
Do you know what I don’t like? That huge fucking crack in his arse. Um, I find it a bit disturbing. It’s the biggest crack I’ve ever seen. Have you seen it? His trousers come down and this huge crack appears. You’re going: “Oh my God, something’s going to erupt at any minute.” Sorry, that’s just a personal thing. I wouldn’t want my wife walking around with a big crack down her arse. You have seen it, haven’t you?
At Hard Rock Hell we were thankfully quite a long way away from the stage and it was just a fleeting glimpse.
It’s the biggest arse I’ve ever seen in my life. That’s a big arse.
Well, yes, it is quite a size, actually. Even from the back of the hall, yeah.
When it goes down to being dark brown, too. I mean, that’s like: “Hell-oo-oo!”
So, what’s the skinny with Pete? Will he ever return to UFO?
Oh, I don’t… you know the score about what’s going on. I’ve known Pete for, like… ever. I’d just kind of like him to, um, pull his trousers up. No… [sighs]. I’m going to get into dangerous territory here. I think it’s basically up to Pete. Pete is up to Pete, if you see what I mean. I don’t mean that in any disrespectful manner at all. I’m being serious for a minute. I don’t know… you know the deal.
Just keep your fingers crossed, yeah?
Yeah, um… [sighs again]. No, I ain’t going to pray for him. You know, some people go: “I will pray for you.” And I’m thinking… no, I ain’t praying for you. Sheesh, I’ve been watching too many movies lately. I don’t think too much about it because it kind of disturbs me too much. It worries me. Pete, come on. You can’t show that big fucking crack to everyone. See what you done to me?
Is it a bit frustrating for you that you’ve been unable to celebrate UFO’s 40th anniversary properly? Pete not being available has put a bit of a dampener on it, hasn’t it?
The-20th-what-anniversary, did you say?
The 40th. UFO’s 40th.
Oh, shut up. C’mon, behave. We are not in our 40th anniversary. Status Quo does that. We don’t. No. Do you know what? I don’t look too deep. This is, like, rock. If you start looking too deep then you get carried away with your own stuff. You disappear up your own arse, basically. So I don’t really look too deep at it. It’s a rock group, you know? It’s never that important. Some people find it really important for their own self-importance, if you get what I mean.
So you don’t like it when a rock band sort of becomes an institution?
Oh my God, you should hear some people talk. If you meet up with, and mix with, other bands, it’s like: “I’m God.” Oh, shut up. Some of them are so up their fucking arses. Shut up, just do it. Get up on stage and rock. That’s my theory, anyway. I don’t like bullshit.
What’s your set-list going to be like on the upcoming tour?
We’re doing three new songs. We’re doing Cherry… I’ve got a set list here, actually. We’re doing Saving Me, Long Gone, Ain’t No Baby, Cherry, Mother Mary, Baby Blue, Hell Driver… and then we’ve got to do stuff that people expect us to do. Otherwise we’d be stupid. We’ll play Too Hot To Handle and we’ll kick arse with the rest. Andy [Parker, drums] also thinks it’d be good idea to do The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent. Do you know Andy? He thinks I’ve got a big mouth. He abuses me. I have to keep quiet. I just say: “Okay, fine.” It’s going to rock out, it’ll be great. Sparky [Barry Sparks] is like a cross between John Entwistle. He plays bass like John Entwistle a little bit. He’s real cool. Actually, the last time we did an American tour with him was great. We came off stage… and you know you get ridiculous things? A guy came up to us and said: “Hey, Pete! Glad to see you’ve dyed your hair blond!” Ha-ha! Who knows what’s going on here? Can you imagine that, though? It’s crazy. Yes, you do get lots of funny occasions. Still, that’s what makes it special.
Did you see the big feature we did on UFO in Classic Rock last year [issue No.121]?
Do you know what? I haven’t been anywhere. I haven’t actually done anything.
Pete Way read it. He told us: “It’s a good article on UFO; it’s just a shame the bits about me read like a medical report.”
Hmm-hmm. Hey, our satellite dish went out, right? People, I think, get too used to watching TV. So I pulled out the Scrabble board. I said to [wife] Emma: “Okay, we’re playing Scrabble.” I had this whole plan. But do you know what the worst thing was? I stole the two blanks and the ‘x’, and she still fucking beat me. Can you imagine the indignity of it? No, I’m serious. I’d hidden them under my arse – the two blanks and the ‘x’. I was planning to make ‘taxi’. But she still fucking beat me! So, women, I’d be very careful of.
Well, cheers for the interview, Phil.
It was very nice talking to you. Destroy me now, then, will you?
copyright 2009 - Geoff Barton at Classic Rock Magazine