Phone interview with Vinnie Moore of UFO
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
August 17th 2010, Los Angeles CA
Andrew: The band is going to put out the 'Best Of A Decade' next month. What was the motivation behind that?
Vinnie: You know, I have to be honest. It was a record company idea (laughs). I didn't have much to do with and I don't think anybody in the band had much to do with it. We heard that the record company was doing it, and of course I thought it was a great idea. I've been in the band for almost ten years now. We've done three studio records, a live record and DVD, and yeah it's kind of good to document that last period of time.
Andrew: So it focuses on the last decade, the 2000-2010 period?
Vinnie: Yeah, pretty much when I joined the band, which was actually in 2003. So I don't know if it's quite a decade but it's almost a decade.
Andrew: You said it was a record company thing, but did you or any of the band members had a say in the song selection?
Vinnie: They initially made the song selection and I personally know that I made a suggestion. Initially the song 'Baby Blue' wasn't included. I thought it was a big oversight and recommended it to definitely be on the record and so they added that song.
Andrew: How does a band usually go about putting together a compilation? It must be a hard task to ensure that the best songs are included on it.
Vinnie: Yeah, usually you just choose the ones you think are the best. It's exactly the same as doing a live show where you have to choose the best songs that you're going to play. You can't play everything, you got to choose which ones you're going to do and I would think that choosing songs for a compilation record would be same as for a live set. You just go with the ones that are strongest.
Andrew: You were playing in Germany last month and also the High Voltage Festival in England. How did those shows go?
Vinnie: It was like a five-show tour, a little mini-tour and it went well. We had some gear problems at the high voltage festival and that kind of got in the way of the show a little bit, but we managed to pull it off and fans seemed happy regardless, and it was rock 'n' roll!
Andrew: Last year the band put out the album 'The Visitor'. How would you sum it up, one year from the release?
Vinnie: I think it's a real bluesy, raw, earthy record and it was a lot of fun doing it. I just think it was a real rootsy type of record. It was suitable for Phil's voice actually. I think he really shines on that type of material.
Andrew: Do you think that's the kind of musical direction you will keep for the future albums?
Vinnie: I don't know. We never really have a plan. We just kind of start writing songs and it takes on a life of it's own. We just go with the flow so to speak, rather than planning ahead and saying this is going to be bluesier or whatever.
Andrew: You did a US tour to promote that album. How would you look back on it?
Vinnie: I always love playing the US and specially places like LA and NY, and just basically everywhere in the US. I live here so I'm always excited about playing on my home turf. I think the crowds have been great and they've been really receptive. I just had a blast and I can't wait to do another tour in America.
Andrew: When can we expect another tour?
Vinnie: Well, we have one show coming up in Chicago on September 19th, but that's just a one-off. Then we are going back over to Europe in October and then hopefully we're going to do another record soon after that, and then I'm sure America will be after that.
Andrew: You haven't had a DVD out for five years. Is there anything in the works in that regard?
Vinnie: There is nothing in the works, but I'm thinking that's a good idea. I was like considering that myself (laughs). I think we made that DVD in the beginning when I first joined the band and I think we've grown a lot from playing all the shows together and doing the records we've done. With Andy Parker the original drummer back in the band, I think that we're better than we were when we made that first DVD and I really think it's time to make another one to show what the band is all about now, because I think we've come a long way.
Andrew: You had to record the Visitor album without bassist Pete Way who's had medical problems. How is he doing now?
Vinnie: To be totally honest with you, I haven't talked to Pete in may be two years. I hear things here and there, but I haven't talked to him directly so I don't actually know. I like Pete, and there's no problem with him and I, we get along great. I just haven't talked to him in a while.
Andrew: You were talking about doing another record. So have you had a chance to work on any new material in the past 12 months?
Vinnie: I'm a guy that's always writing and working on new songs, so I always have some stuff laying around. We're about to get started on that, on making another record.
Andrew: UFO has been a band that has influenced so many great bands, most notably Iron Maiden. Kirk Hammett of Metallica is a huge fan too. How does it feel, playing in such a band?
Vinnie: I was one of the guys that they influenced too. When I grew up, I was a big UFO fan and had a few of their records. I used to sit in my bedroom and play guitar with their music and never even for a second imagined that one day I would be playing with them (laughs), so it's a little bit surreal. I agree with everybody else as a fan of the band and it feels good for me to be a part of that band who's had that much influence over other musicians and players. It's a good feeling.
Andrew: Other than UFO who were your influences when you were starting out as a guitarist?
Vinnie: It started with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Queen. They were all guitar-oriented bands and that's what made me want to play guitar. From there I got into guitar players like Jeff Beck and Al Di Meola and bands like Rush and Van Halen were huge influences. Just basically rock bands, I was into all the stuff that was happening in the day.
Andrew: I saw you at NAMM this year. Do you take time to actively do guitar clinics and things like that?
Vinnie: Yeah, I've done hundreds and hundreds of those over the years, and I've been out doing some for Dean guitars lately. So yeah I continue to do those whenever I get a chance. I just did a solo gig in New Zealand, in fact I just got back on Sunday evening. That was a long trip but it was a good gig. I played with Tony McAlpine playing keyboards and guitar, Slash was on the bill as well as Jennifer Batten. It was a good time.
Andrew: UFO have finished more than forty years. Can we expect a 'greatest hits' tour or something like that, sometime soon down the road?
Vinnie: I don't know, it's hard to say. I know it hasn't been discussed at the moment but you never know.
Last photo: John Price
Check out UFO's official website.