VINNIE MOORE is hitting all the right notes as guitarist with rock legends UFO. We spoke to him at his studio about what it's like to be in orbit with Pete Way and friends, about his soon-to-be-released solo album, and also about his new endorsement with Dean Guitars.
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You've recently returned from the UK after the latest round of UFO shows, and later this year you'll be out with UFO again in Germany, England and for the first time, a tour of Russia. What has the reaction to The Monkey Puzzle album been like, and how have the shows been going so far?
The reaction has been extremely positive. It is awesome to see people in the audience singing the lyrics to the new songs. It is always a great thing that the fans know the new music. The shows have been going very well and have been very exciting as always. A lot of energy from the band and the audience. It is great to be a part of the UFO world family!
You are soon to release another Vinnie Moore album. How far forward is this project - how many tracks are there, who's on them, and what is the inspiration behind them? And when is it likely to be available?
The album has 11 songs and is being mixed right now by Paul Northfield who also did the latest Dream Theater CD as well as many Rush records such as Moving Pictures. Van Romaine (of the Steve Morse band) played drums and JD DeServio (Black Label Society) played bass. Tim Lehner (Zeroesque) did the keyboards and I even have a guest named Hurricane Hank from the George Thorogood band playing sax on one tune. I think this is my best creative effort yet. It has taken a while because I have been on the road so much and I can't wait to get it out there for people to hear. I can't give a release date yet.... but I will as soon as I know. It won't be much longer.
After an intense three years with UFO which has seen regular touring, two studio albums, and a live cd/dvd, how much of the UFO style has seeped into your new solo album?
Hmmmm... I have to be honest ... probably not really anything. A band with vocals is a much different approach than an instrumental guitar record. so it is really two totally different animals and two different mindsets. My solo stuff is more open and I go into many different musical directions. With UFO I write more from my rock side because that is what is right for the band stylistically. It is great for me to have two different creative outlets like this.
For the first time in Sheffield in August we saw you playing Dean guitars. Tell us about these guitars, and about what prompted the change?
I have been playing Dean guitars since July and am seriously diggin' them. They are making some great stuff and are an extremely hot company right now. We have been working together on a VM signature model which should be available in early 2008 and it is going to be smokin'. These guys really know what they're doing.
I had two or three phone conversations with Josh Maloney from their custom shop about the details of what I wanted, and they put together a guitar for me within like 10 days.
I went down to Tampa to visit them and was floored by how great the guitar played and sounded. I could have used it onstage that very night. The guys working in the custom shop are great players themselves and I think this is a big reason why the guitars are so awesome.
Pat Baker is quite a shredder and he tweaks my guitars and when I get them they feel great.... I don't have to do anything but play.
We are making some small refinements to the sig model but are pretty close to finalizing the design. Besides the VM model, I have fallen in love with my Dean Z79. I have wanted a guitar with a 24 3/4 scale for quite a while but other things wouldn't stay in tune for me. The Z stays in tune extremely well and sounds way cool. I am extremely excited to be with Dean and see great things in the future.
Your 1987 album Mind's Eye has recently been celebrated as one of the best instrumental albums of all time, and was also voted #6 in the "200 Greatest Guitar Recordings of All Time" by Guitar One Magazine. What was it about that album that you think won you this accolade?
Well.... it is hard to say exactly. But... if I were to guess.... I would say that it is probably because it was a very energetic record with lots of all-out extreme guitar playing. I have always considered myself more of a songwriter and melody guy though, as opposed to just a guy who shreds on guitar. I would venture to guess that the extreme guitar delivered in the form of songs and melodies made the record stand out as it did. But who knows really.... maybe it was the cool eye on the cd cover? It certainly seems to have stood the test of time and this is something I never expected or even thought about when I was 21 making that record.
For anyone who's only recently discovered Vinnie Moore via UFO, which of your albums/tracks would you suggest gives the best cross-section of your work so far?
Again a tough question. I have explored a lot of directions so it is hard to recommend just one album. I think you have to hear more to get the full picture. But maybe The Maze or Defying Gravity show more diversity than the others??? But then again Time Odyssey and Out Of Nowhere are totally different than anything else. So..... please buy them all, people.
You've played with many legends over the years, including Alice Cooper. What would be your ideal line-up as an ambition to record and tour with?
There are so many players that I admire and would love to work with. I think it would be amazing to play with Flea and Chad from the Chilis. That is one bad ass energetic rhythm section.
Who are your top three musical heroes - and why?
This is almost an unanswerable question because there have been so many. To mention only 3 would be excluding so many people who have been major inspirations to me. OK, I will attempt to answer but the answer I give right now may not be the same answer that I would give next week or next year!
For one... I would have to say Stevie Ray Vaughan. He always played with so much passion and with every ounce of energy that he could possibly muster. He put everything he had into every note he played and played with so much soul. Every time I hear him it gets me excited and brings out the little kid in me who is fascinated with guitar, and it simply makes me wanna pick up a guitar and play. That's powerful. Sometimes when I am in a rut or frustrated, I put on Live at The El Macombo and that inner flame that
Stevie has picks me right up. (By the way... that performance is one of the greatest performances of our time). When music is played with passion it is contagious. It is a tragedy that this guy is no longer with us.... he would be one guy that I would love to hang with for an hour.
Secondly... Hendrix. Because he came along and was doing things musically and with his guitar that were totally different from anything else happening in his era, or anytime before. People hearing him for the first time in the 60s must have been thinking that this cat is from another planet or something. I can think of no-one else that was so different from their time period as him. I admire that in a big way. His influence on everyone was immeasurable. Even if someone was not a big fan of his directly, they still picked up his influence. 2nd... 3rd generation and beyond. If Jimi never existed, I shudder to think what music would be like now. But I tell you, it would be different. If you were somehow able to erase an artist from history, there are not many instances where you could say that things now would be as drastically different as if you took out Jimi's influence. Third, hmmmmm... I dunno. there are so many. Probably Edwardo Van Halen because he made me wanna play guitar too. Such an exciting player who was a monumental inspiration to me.
It can't be a walk in the park touring with UFO. They are legendary for their crazy ways. (Pun intended!). What's it been like? Overall it has been a blast playing with these guys. It took a while for me to realize that I could not really take things too seriously in this band - if you do, it will basically just drive you mad. Once I realized this and learned to just go with the flow, it was a lot easier. You can't be too serious or perfectionist in this environment. It just doesn't work. It's like a dysfunctional family. I tell people all the time that I am playing in the real life Spinal Tap and I tell you it is absolutely 100% true. A comedy movie needs to be made about this band. All they would need to do is bring cameras and film the day to day happenings. People would shit themselves laughing. It's insane.
Share some of this insanity with Get Ready To Roll!
OK, well one time Pete Way took a little model squirrel from a restaurant we were in, and he carried it around for the whole tour and constantly gave quotes in Mr Squirrel's voice. He would say things like "hello Vinnie, is that an environmentally friendly guitar you are playing?" None of us had any idea what the hell he was ever talking about. But he brought that squirrel with him even onstage and put it on top of his amp every night. We hid it from him once and he freaked out. Now he has it at home. Also, Pete has had some great falls onstage. It would be awesome to have a compilation of all his falls and have fans vote on the best fall.
You've got a very active Facebook page, and have a great rapport with your fans via the internet. How important to you is this kind of communication, and YouTube etc?
Very important. I have always had this type of communication with the fans from doing guitar seminars where I have been able to talk to fans first hand. But with the internet it is exponentially bigger. I talk to people from all over the world and that is amazing to me - a big asset.
Apart from music what things are most important to you?
Sleep and sex. Not necessarily in that order though!
What would you like to be doing musically in five years time?
Writing music and following my muse wherever it leads!
© Get Ready To Roll - 21st July 2013