MICHAEL SCHENKER: The Head Of NUCLEAR BLAST Told Me That Thrash Metal Never Would Have Existed Without Me

Michael Schenker
Photo credit: Matthias Rethmann / Tour-Files / Fotograf Münster

During a recent interview with Dead Rhetoric‘s Matt Coe, legendary guitarist Michael Schenker explained where he continues to find creativity nearly 50 years into his career.

“Because I was always the kid in the sandbox. Things are fun, playing the guitar with strings to put things together and creating goose pimples,” he said. “No competition, no comparing, I’m not looking at what other people are doing. How does Michael Schenker see it? You have to go within yourself. Many people are struck by fame, getting success, getting a piece of a trend. If anything, I created a trend. In the 1980s, other people copied my style and it kept the trend fresh. I get my inspiration from the inner strength of infinite creativity. If a person is willing to express himself or herself, you go within — because that’s where the fresh colors are.

“I have been doing that. I started when I was 15; I did it more when I was 16, and then by 18 I stopped listening to other music altogether. I just go with the pure joy of putting things together, self-expression. I asked myself very early in life, ‘Why I should do something that somebody else has already been doing? That’s just repeating something. Look inside myself and see what’s in there.’ That’s how I automatically, without even knowing but people told me later, I didn’t even notice myself that I was creating my own guitar style. That’s where I get my freshness from.

“If you go to your inner self, it’s like a tropical ocean where you are able to get a different look. A kaleidoscope. If you are not desperate to be famous and make money, or being top of the line — something happens automatically that is beyond than you will ever imagine. It all was told by other people much later in life.

Markus Staiger, the head of Nuclear Blast, he said to me, ‘Michael, if you would have never been, Nuclear Blast never would have existed.’ He said thrash metal never would have been. He believes that thrash metal, death metal, would have never been,” Schenker continued. “I never found out about this until so much later in my life. It just came to me as news. SlashKirk Hammett, all of these people — I never knew about it until the 1990s. So many more things I find out in my life, the impact on musicians.

Because of that and not really focusing on the temptation of being sidetracked — I could have joined OZZY OSBOURNEDEEP PURPLEWHITESNAKE. But when I finished with [UFO‘s] Strangers In The Night and Lovedrive for the SCORPIONS, after writing ‘Lights Out’ when I was 21 in 1976, it became a hit. I got scared, and I ran away from UFO because the music business expected me to write more hits. I didn’t want to be locked into that kind of thing. That’s why I started in 1980 the MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP — finding a singer without an ego joining me in the sandbox, having fun playing without expecting anything.”

Schenker released a new MSG (MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP) album Immortal, yesterday (January 29) via Nuclear Blast.

Read our review on “Immortal” here.