Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Stage Buzz : UFO @ Arcada Theatre

| March 2, 2016

UFO 2016, Paul Raymond – far right


New Wave Of British Heavy Metal pioneers UFO come to the Arcada Theatre for 2 shows on Friday and Saturday (3/4 and 3/5 – low ticket alert!). We talked to long-time keyboardist/guitarist Paul Raymond about the 2016 version of the band.

IE: Chicago has always been a favorite of UFO to play over the years and the band released A Conspiracy of Stars last year. What’s kept UFO going for so long?
Paul Raymond: There seems to be a wave of nostalgia rising, perhaps as a consequence of a few bands of our era ceasing to exist in the last few years, such as Thin Lizzy, Dio, and now Motorhead.  Particularly in the UK, we sold out the majority of venues on our tour there last year.   I think a lot of people are thinking along the lines of ‘is this the last chance I have to see this band?’ and to hear the original band play the music live.  Remarkably, all members of UFO past and present are still alive – and I hope it remains that way!

IE: You’ve also been busy with the Paul Raymond Project. What can you tell us about that?
PR: There has been a Paul Raymond Project in existence since the late ’80s in various incarnations.  Initially in Japan and for a while – in the UK it only existed as a studio project. But back in 2013 I put a band together for the album launch of Terms & Conditions Apply and subsequently with a line-up change we did a mini tour in early 2015 and a couple of shows in September to promote the Rewind 50 album, which celebrated the anniversary of my 50 years as a professional musician.  I’d love to do more, but the band are scattered to the four corners of the UK, so it’s really difficult to arrange rehearsal time in between my UFO commitments.  It’s an ongoing project and there will be more albums – and perhaps more live shows in the future.


IE: You play the guitar upside down like blues great Albert King. Was it difficult figuring out  performing songs with that guitar style early on?
PR: It has had its problems technically, but generally I think I get a brighter sound by strumming upwards.  Michael Schenker once paid me a huge compliment back in 1998 by saying “I have played in a 2 guitar band with many different people, but I think your sound complements me the best” Sometimes when Vinnie [Moore] writes songs that have complex riffs, I think to myself, how am I going to play this? But I’ve never yet been defeated – and always find a way!

IE: One of our favorite songs, “Try Me” (Lights Out)  has been included in some of the live shows on recent tours. What inspired you to write the classic opening piano intro?
PR: “Try Me” started out life as just a guitar solo (which you hear in the middle of the song) Phil [Mogg] said “We can make a song out of this, have you any ideas for a vocal melody for the verse?” He already had the very strong chorus (the “Try Me” bit) so I came up with the vocal melody and we wrote the lyrics together in a rehearsal room in London while the other guys went to the pub.  The only missing element was the introduction – so I drew on my classical training and with the essence of the song in mind – created the intro you are referring to. Ron Nevison [Lights Out producer] seemed very pleased with it.

IE: Many people don’t know that you were a member of the band Savoy Brown after most of the other members jumped ship to form Foghat!
PR: Hmm!  Yes, Savoy Brown did have (and continued to have) a very high turnover of musicians, I’ll leave that to your imagination to figure out why.  I had just spent 2 years in Chicken Shack which was another great British blues band and we had the same manager, Harry Simmonds – who was Kim Simmonds’ brother – it made sense for me to join them and bring the rhythm section with me! It was a really great line-up and within a month of Kim and I working together we came up with “Tell Mama” [Street Corner Talking] which has really endured, and we knew we had something really special.

IE: Have you spoken to to Paul Chapman, recently (Ex-UFO guitarist)?
PR: I last saw Paul in Orlando back in 1995.  I’ve had no direct contact with him since then, but a relative of his came to one of my PRP shows at The Borderline in London and said that Paul had recently been in London and he wished he could have brought him to the show, but he’d just returned to the States.  He said he was really healthy and doing well.  It would have been really great to see him again.

IE: When is the last time you had a request for the song “Getting Ready” off of Lights Out?
PR: Never in my recollection. I always thought this one was the one that got away – I don’t think it’s ever been played live by UFO (we rehearsed it, but I don’t think it ever made it into the set) but it’s a great song.  Maybe Paul Raymond Project will do it in the near future – we already played “Born to Lose” and “You Don’t Fool Me” – the really devoted fans love to hear the deeper cuts played live.

IE: What’s one of UFO’s favorite songs to play live?
PR: “I’m a Loser” – it’s so beautifully constructed. A simple verse, a nice middle section, great chorus and an incredible solo section.

IE: Who would win in an arm wrestling contest, Pete Way or Fast Phil Mogg?
PR: Funny you should mention that!  Phil always prided himself on his arm wrestling prowess – until around 10 years ago when we had a guitar tech named Oskar who reluctantly took Phil on. On numerous occasions, spurred on by Pete Way, shouting from the background “Come on Champ, you can do it” and with money on the table, he beat him every time, much to Phil’s distress.  Surprisingly, there hasn’t been much talk of arm wrestling in recent years!

–Todd Houston

UFO appear at the Arcada Theatre Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5

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  1. Jim Leitner says:

    I have been reading the Illinois Entertainer from cover to cover for many years now. In an upcoming issue please include an article on the local bands that are most successful. Styx – Reo – Cheap Trick and Disturbed

    Thanks for the feedback Jim. We have a piece on Cheap Trick previewing their entry into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in April’s issue -Ed

  2. Rich Zacharias says:

    I saw the show at the Arcada Theater 3-4-2016 and they were great ! While i love their older stuff I wished they would have played more of their newer stuff. I think Vinnie Moore kicks ass and I think that really shines through with all the stuff he’s done since he joined the band. Hands down, one of the very best guitarists today. I thought seeing them was everything I thought it would be, and better. I think Vinnie Moore is better than Michael Schenker. I’ve seen them both live .