Interview by: Marianne Jacobsen
So usually when I’m given the honour of speaking with a musical monster – I call them. However, this week the saying “don’t call us we’ll call you” became new monster mantra.
I don’t know about you but just the bragging rights to be able to say one of the greatest musicians and Gods of Guitar called my house – let alone talked to me is mind boggling.
More like an alien abduction of some kind.
So as I get my feet back on the ground, I hope you enjoy another slobbering Fangurl interview with the the man who owns the UFO I want to take me away – the one, the only, ULI JON ROTH!
** Ok so I’m sitting and staring at the phone. Waiting for it to ring, saying “Be Kool MJ”. My palms were sweaty (Mom’s spaghetti).
RING(I pick it up halfway through the first ring! **I don’t care if it makes me look desperate its fucking ULI JON ROTH!!)
UJR: Hi Marianne! (yes that’s right fuckers ULI JON ROTH said my FUCKING NAME!!! omg!!)
It’s Uli (FAK! We are already on a first name basis – is this really happening?)
MGM: Hey there!!! I just want to thank you so much for taking some time out to talk to me.
UJR: No problem.
From here I got into a Fangurl moment – leading into the most Fangurl question of ever:
MGM: What does it feel like to be the Guitar God of other Guitar Heroes?
UJR: Oh Boy! I mean, Can’t you ask like a more simple question? Hahaha!
MGM: We can skip it if you want?
UJR: No really, the truth is that I don’t really think about stuff like that. You know in the past there was a time in my life where I realized that my playing was influential to others. It’s a nice thing to know because no man is an island and it’s nice to be appreciated. It’s nice to know that but I really don’t think about it too much. You know people tell me these things and it’s good to know but I don’t see myself as a Guitar God. For me there is really just one God – and that ain’t me!
MGM: Your style is just so influential to so many guitar players (Joe Satrini and Kirk Hammett to name a few;) that have always described their style of playing as “feeling”. Is this the way that you play too?
UJR: Yeah yeah sure. I mean, you do need technique as well. I think you need both. If you only knew how to play feeling and you don’t know hot to translate that feeling, then – that’s not right. But if its only technique and no feeling then that is not right either. There should be a natural balance between the two.
MGM: Do you have any words of wisdom for young/new guitar players?
UJR: It’s not that easy, because each person is really different. The most important thing is – what is your motivation? And some people just want to play guitar to relax and some people take it very very seriously indeed you know. And then it become like something that is a major part of their lives. But each person has a different way of going about it and I wouldn’t say there is really a right or random kind of answer to that.
Usually what I tend to tell people – somewhat cryptically – is to really try and connect with the music on a deep level. A lot of guitar players fall into the trap of just exercising their fingers but not guitar playing. You need to connect with the music, not just with the instrument. And it’s an easy trap to fall into you know. A lot of guitar players can’t really fully connect with the music. They get enamoured by technicalities – and that’s something to be aware of.
MGM: What about Egos? Like, How does someone like you keep yours in check?
UJR: That’s a good question!
UJR: A lot of people when they become successful or when they are being acknowledged by others, it tends to go to their head and then the ego. It balloons in some cases and that’s another trap that people fall into. I think I left my ego behind when I was 15.
I did fall into that trap for a little while when I was 15. Then someone pointed it out to me and then after that I was fine.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. You know, people tell you how great you are and then you start believing it yourself and then you expect to hear it. A lot of rock stars fall into that trap, and a lot of them never get out of it. Then that leads to narcissism and in the end they suffer from an inflated ego with actually really nothing to back it up. So telling it like it is, they start treating people in a disrespectful manner – and that’s really bad.
I don’t know – some grow out of it and some never do.
MGM: How old were you when you picked up your first guitar?
UJR: I think I was about 12. And that was pretty late but I was playing other instruments before that. So the guitar was not my first or my second instrument.
MGM: What was your first?
UJR: The trumpet – the classical trumpet. That was how I learned to read music with an orchestra player. Then I also played the bass and then I started the guitar.
MGM: Do you play any other instruments?
UJR: Oh yeah, after the guitar I learned to play the piano and the violin. Yeah I feel it on pretty much any instrument after a little while. It doesn’t take me long to figure it out.
MGM: Ok so what’s this about Sky Guitar? Like how many frets does it have?
UJR: (Laughing) Well its pretty awesome actually! I’ve been playing Sky Guitar for many years and its been on the market on some levels with Dean Guitars as a limited edition of 50 for some years now. Since that edition has been finished/sold for some time now we are looking at making a new edition which will be slightly different.
MGM: How is it gonna be different? You can’t tell me because it’s a secret right?
UJR: Well it’s not gonna be that different. But it will be different.
MGM: Ok what about Sky Academy?
UJR: Ok Sky Academy is the name of my teaching venture. I love to teach certain subjects that I feel confident about and my main subject is really the metaphysics of music and musical philosophy – and how it ties into lives. I have been doing a lot of these in recent years. This year though, not so much because I’m touring and I’ve tried to combine Sky Academy and touring before but I really don’t want to do that because it takes too much out of me. I now have chosen to separate the two and do Sky Academy as it was in the beginning as dedicated stand alone kind of events.
MGM: How does Ultimate Guitar Tour differ from something like say – G3? How are you going to BLOW MY MIND?
UJR: We are already out there at it. We have already completed the first part of the tour!
It’s a little bit like G3 as there are three main guitar players, but it’s a more integrated show than the G3. We are using the same band and at the end we are interacting together, we are playing music together and its more than just jamming. I am sharing the stage with Jennifer Batten and Andy Timmons – both outstanding players in their own right.
MGM: How do you feel about some new bands that are out there?
UJR: I welcome young bands as long as they play good music.
MGM: Is there any band in particular that you are fond of right now?
UJR: What do you want me to say? I have no idea what is going on.
MGM: hahahah I love you!!!
UJR: Well its true. I don’t have a record player. I don’t have a CD player. I am pretty autonomous, just cruising in my own altitude somewhere.
MGM: I would like to know where that altitude is please!
UJR: Well I don’t know. The frequency keeps changing. But you will find me way out there.
MGM: I hope so! Maybe I can get one of my crystals aligned up to where you’re at!
UJR: Haha! Just look for the Uli GPS!
MGM: What would you want a new fan to know about you if they could not Google you?
UJR: I don’t know. I don’t want them to know anything about me. I don’t know – I’m just putting music out there. I’m just a conduit, you know.
MGM: You are Awesome is what you are! (nanananananana FANGURL!!!) You have a great sense of humour.
UJR: Well you know I learned that in England (hey Hexy) because I was in England for so many years and British humour is the best. In Germany we don’t have much humour so I took some time to acquire an English sense of humour.
MGM: Always look on the bright side of life! Right?
UJR: Yeah! Hahah I usually do.
As this is written my new buddy Uli is on the road – (only because his spaceship is in the shop) coming to a concert hall near you. Go out and see what a musical inception sounds like – Its good to know where your musical heroes found theirs’ and why.
28. Mar. 2016 Detroit Michigan Token Lounge
29. Mar. 2016 Toronto Canada – Ontario
Mod Club Theater
30. Mar. 2016 Montréal Canada – Quebec
31. Mar. 2016 Londonderry New Hampshire
Tupelo Music Hall
01. Apr. 2016 Ottawa
Canada – Ontario Brass Monkey
02. Apr. 2016 Poughkeepsie New York
04. Apr. 2016 Manhattan New York
05. Apr. 2016 Sellersville Pennsylvania Sellersville Theater
06. Apr. 2016 Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Rex Theater
08. Apr. 2016 Melbourne Florida Studio Theater