I’ve been following Vinnie Moore's career since the mid-80s when he blew everybody’s mind with his first record, Mind’s Eye
. Although his style has morphed from neo-classical to instrumental rock, he’s always played with enviable articulation and feel.
On top of that, Vinnie gets to fly all over the world playing “Rock Bottom,” “Lights Out,” and “Doctor Doctor” with Phil Moog, Andy Parker and Paul Raymond. As an added bonus, he gets paid
to do this. UFO is on their third studio record with Moore, and it seems that hardcore fans accepting him as a replacement for the legendary Michael Schenker is no longer an issue.
Somehow, he managed to balance his work with UFO with his ever-evolving solo career. His new record, To The Core
, is a blazing-yet-soulful notefest that explores his many influences ranging from funk and R&B to rock and techno. Moore loosens up and gives us a taste of the blusier aspects of his playing without sacrificing the fiery note selection his fans come to expect. It’s a fine record and I have yet to take it out of rotation on my car CD player. I caught up with Moore just before taking off for a tour with UFO.
I remember working through your instructional videos back in the '80s. They really helped me become a better guitarist.
Thank you. I’m trying to get those re-released on DVD. I just established contact with the company that bought Hot Licks. They’re slowly doing DVDs for all their older stuff but they haven’t gotten around to it. Hopefully they’re going to step it up quickly. I’ve been pretty busy so I think it’s a good time to get it out there again on DVD.
Are you considering doing any more instructional videos?
I’ve kicked it around and I’ve had a lot of people ask me to do it, but I’m not exactly sure yet.
Is it that you don’t have anyone you’d like to work with, or are you undecided about what you’d like to teach?
A little of both, plus I’ve been so busy with touring. I haven’t had a lot of time and I don’t know what I’d cover anymore. I don’t know any more licks. (Laughing)
You covered a lot of ground. Besides the awesome licks, I thought the section on modes was extremely helpful. It made me “get it.” You wouldn’t believe the teachers I’ve heard who take a simple concept and over complicate it.
It’s weird. I’ve heard so many people say that. It was so unclear to them and then they see that video and it really helped. That’s so good for me to hear. I just tried to make it idiot-proof and simplify it so anyone could understand.
What have you been up to lately?
I’ve had a little time off but it’s about to get real busy. UFO is going on the road at the end of May and we’re doing a lot of shows. We start in Germany and then we have England, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and Belgium. All festivals and club dates.
What’s it like playing in UFO?
It’s been a blast for the most part. We have our third studio record coming out on June 2 and we did a live DVD. It’s a lot of fun playing with a rock band. I’m so used to doing my solo instrumental stuff, it’s a nice contrast. I’ve done so many gigs. It's just really good exposure to be playing out there in front of people.
It sounds like you’ve got the best of both worlds. Not only are you playing the classics, but you also get to create new material with an established band.
It’s fun to play these old tunes that I grew up listening to and it’s fun to write the new stuff with the band.
How do you write for UFO?
I write a lot of stuff, record it and send it to Phil Moog. He sifts through it and chooses the songs that are best for him vocally and the ones that he likes the best. Then we meet. Our home base is in Hanover, Germany because our manager lives there. All of our gear is in Europe. We get a rehearsal studio and just go through the stuff. We tighten it up and choose which songs we’re actually going to record, then go to a studio and lay it down.
When you send Phil the songs, are they full-blown songs with lyrics, chords and melodies or are they just riffs?
I never usually write lyrics but what I usually do is I give him two versions. I’ll send him just the music and then on the second CD I’ll send the songs with just me scatting out some vocals. I’m just singing notes or making up lyrics on the spot. This is just so he knows which part needs to be what. What’s the verse, what’s the chorus, that type of thing. He gets the basic structure. I sing lyrics and make them up on the spot to give him ideas, but I don’t know that he always listens to them. He likes to be inspired by the music. My vocal and melody ideas are just a last resort for him.
He probably switches around sections of the song as well.
Sometimes. He’ll sing a chorus over what I intended to be the pre-chorus. It’s just typical stuff when you work with a singer. They’re going to have their own ideas and hear things in their own way. Sometimes songs stay just as I’ve written them and sometimes he sings differently than I initially intended.
Do you submit material that you think will work for the classic UFO sound or do you submit whatever you have?
I present him with ideas that I think are musically right for UFO. With my solo stuff there’s a lot more open territory that I can move into. I can experiment and explore a little more with different genres of music. With UFO you can’t be throwing in jazz and this and that. It’s a straight-ahead rock band so I send him those kinds of ideas.
Your new record To The Core rocks heavily. I have your other releases, but this new one is more of a rock record than anything you’ve done before. It’s funky, too... a bit of a Santana vibe on some songs.
I’ve always been hugely influenced by Santana. I’ve been working on this record for a while now. I’ve been so busy touring that I haven’t been able to designate a whole clump of time to do it. I dove in between things and it’s taken a long time to get it finished. I’m happy it’s finally out there.
I’ve always wanted to do solo records. I need that creative outlet. When I started writing for it, my only plan was to be adventurous, let the music flow and go in any direction I wanted. When I did the record, I had no record label--I did it all myself. I presented the label with a finished copy. I think this is important because it made me feel like I was totally free to do anything I wanted musically. I’m into a lot of different styles of music and I wanted all that to come out. I think this is probably the most versatile record I’ve done and shows more of what I do as an artist.