Now five albums into the Vinnie Moore era, British hard rock legends UFO are firing on all cylinders with a new lease on life, thanks in part to their virtuoso guitar player. With a brand new album Conspiracy of Stars out and a world tour in motion, UFO are once again poised to thrill fans all over the globe. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with Moore to talk about his now decade plus with the band, the new record, as well as his and the bands legacy.
SoT: Vinnie, you've now been the lead guitarist for UFO for over 11 years, and joined the band for their 17th album You Are Here, which was a very strong release. How did you first come into contact with the band, and was it a hard decision to join when they ultimately asked you?
Vinnie: We had a mutual friend named Jerry Carillo. He had worked with UFO and knew that they were looking for a guitarist. He thought I would be a good choice so he contacted my manager about it. My manager spoke to UFO's manager and I was asked to send some of my music to phil. Turns out he liked the stuff I sent him and offered me the gig!
SoT: Many guitar fans remember you fondly from your stellar '80s instrumental solo albums. What were you doing in the years leading up to joining UFO?
Vinnie: I was still making records during that time period but not as frequently. There was a time period where people weren't as much into guitar records and even rock music in general. So it was a little bit of a weird time for me but I just kept playing and writing
SoT: This band is now releasing their 5th album since you've joined, and in many fans opinions the releases just keep getting better and better. How do you feel the band is jelling these days, despite the fact that there has been some line-up changes since you've been on board?
Vinnie: I think the band is at it's peak. We have been playing together for a long time now and I think we are really locked into one another's playing style. Plus we all get along well on a personal level and I think this makes it more enjoyable and helps with the overall musical vibe.
SoT: A Conspiracy of Stars is, in my view, the strongest album of the Vinnie Moore era, but I also said that about Seven Deadly, so I think the band is really trending in the right direction. What is your opinion of the songs on the new record, and how do you feel they stack up to the previous material you've recorded with the group?
Vinnie: Man.....I'll be totally honest. I have no clue and find these type of questions very difficult to answer. It is very hard to judge something you are so close to with any reasonable amount of perspective.
SoT: "Messiah of Love", "King of the Hill", "Run Boy Run", and "The Killing Kind" are some of my favorites on the new album, as they rock hard and really have that trademark 'UFO sound'. What are some of your favorite tunes on the CD and why?
Vinnie: I really like "Sugar Cane". I liked that a lot from the time I first wrote it
SoT: How hard was it to step into the shoes of former members Michael Schenker and Paul Chapman?
Vinnie: Not really. I never really paid any attention to this. I just do my thing and that's all I really worry about
SoT: Were you at all a fan of either guitarist prior to joining UFO?
Vinnie: I was a big fan of the Force It, Obsession, and Lights Out records, and used to jam with those records in my bedroom when I was a kid. Classic stuff. I was never really familiar with the Chapman era though.
SoT: The Paul Chapman era of the band seems to be mostly ignored in the bands live set-has there ever been any talk of resurrecting any of those early '80s songs, or is it just easier to appease the fans by playing the '70s material along with some new songs?
Vinnie: We are doing 2 of those in the set on this tour. Lots of people seem to ask about this period but to be honest, the earlier stuff gets much better reaction from the audience. People always seem to like any bands earlier work, as it takes them back to a certain time in their lives, like an old smell. I think people like to be taken on that trip back into their past.
SoT: We often hear from so many popular, classic hard rock & metal bands how much UFO have influenced them (Iron Maiden instantly comes to mind) but then when these same bands tour here in North America, they bring along a young, trendy opener that older fans really don't care about, instead of a legendary band like UFO, Uriah Heep, etc. who are still going strong but relegated to small venues here in the States. Does this bother the band at all, and have you had any discussions regarding getting on some larger bills here at bigger venues?
Vinnie: We have never really discussed this. We have opened for some shows for the Scorpions and Judas Priest here and there. I am sure everyone would think this was cool if an opportunity ever came up.....but we are a very happy headlining our own shows also.
SoT: I caught the band live the last go around here in the US, and was so happy at the fire and energy you guys still have. If you look into your crystal ball, how far do you see UFO going?
Vinnie: if I knew the answer to that, I would already have won the mega lottery and would be retired and living on an island somewhere in the Caribbean!
SoT: Any surprises the band have in store for the fans on the upcoming world tour?
Vinnie: Yes each night we will kill someone onstage! (laughs) There is nothing in the works but ya never know. This is a real spontaneous band. Phil and I are both the kind of people where ya don't know what we are going to do next. Impulsive and unpredictable. Maybe its an Aries thing. Our birthdays are one day apart, and this can create some interesting moments. I have done some stupid stuff onstage because it feels funny in the moment. Ya never know when ya might see my arse!
SoT: For our guitar fans out there, what types of guitars, amps, and gear are you using these days?
Vinnie: I am playing a signature guitar made by Dean. It's called the vinman2000, and have been using my old marshall 100 watt JMP head for recording.