Vinnie Moore is a rock guitarist from Delaware who is now a member of the British metal band UFO. He started playing guitar at a very young age and by the age of 12, he would already be performing professionally. By the mid 80's, Vinnie established himself as a shredder to be reckoned with. After recording a great guitar solo song on the "Soldiers of the Night" album by Vicious Rumors, people in the metal industry began to take notice. This led to a career where he has recorded 7 solo albums and was also asked to join a tour with Alice Cooper's band. He played guitar on Cooper's 1991 "Hey Stoopid" album. In 2003, Vinnie became a permanent member of UFO and has since toured the world many times and appeared on 5 of their albums. Vinnie has just completed a solo album entitled "Aerial Visions" which he did over the span of two years, in between touring. I recently corresponded with Vinnie.
R.V.B. - Congratulations on your new album "Arial Visions" It's an impressive collection of melodic guitar work.
V.M. - Thanks very much.
R.V.B. - How did you find time to record it with your busy touring schedule?
V.M. - I recorded in spurts in between tours. It took a lot longer this way but that’s the only way I could do it. Sometimes it was a little frustrating because I would gain some momentum and then have to leave it for a while. Then when I would resume, it would take some time to get back in the zone. But in looking back, it was probably better than doing it all at once in a short period of time. Once I get started on something I usually become obsessed and have a lot of difficulty walking away from it. But the touring schedule forced me to leave my comfort zone. It probably added some perspective.
R.V.B. - It seems to have a variety of rhythms: shuffle with "Mustang Shuffle", Ballad with "Looking Back", funk with "Arial Vision", straight ahead rock with Now's the Time". When you set out to make this record did you have variety in mind or did it just come out that way?
V.M. - There was no plan when I was writing, it just happened that way. I had more songs than are on the record and choose 10 that I felt fit together well.
R.V.B. - "La Grange" was an interesting cover choice. The tuned down guitar mimicked Billy Gibbons voice which was very clever. Why did you pick ZZ Top?
V.M. - I sometimes record cover tunes just for fun. I actually recorded the demo of La Grange in the 90’s believe it or not. I always wanted to put it on a record but it just never really fit. I have also recorded a cover of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers version of Hideaway. That’s laying around the house somewhere. I’ve played ZZ songs onstage a bunch too. Waitin on the Bus, I Thank you, as well as others. When we tracked La Grange, Richie and I played along with my demo. A couple of the original demo parts ended up making it onto the record because it was impossible to replay them and capture the vibe. The tuned down part that you mention happens to be one of those parts. Kind of surreal that I have this new recording with a couple parts that I actually performed more than 20 years back. How many artists can say that from one point in their song to the next there are 20 years? Kind of crazy.
R.V.B. - Although I enjoyed all of the songs, "A Million Miles Gone" knocked my socks off. It's a brilliantly written song that starts light with nice acoustic work and finishes powerful. Is there any story behind this song?
V.M. - Thank you! I have always wanted to write a song that doesn’t repeat a section. Sort of one long stream that weaves and builds from one part to the next without ever going back to anything before it. My writing is usually very song oriented and structured. Whether it’s an instrumental or a vocal song, there is usually a verse, pre chorus, chorus, type of form. So I wanted to experiment and not be locked into the normal repeating structure.
R.V.B. - How do you go about putting titles to instrumental songs? Do the riffs remind you of things?
V.M. - Sometimes I sort of know what I am writing about and have a title from the very beginning, but most of the time the inspiration is more abstract and so there is no title. If I am lucky a title will come to me as I am working but most of the time it seems that I finish a song and still don’t have anything. Then I have to listen and try to come up with something that has the same vibe as the music. A lot of times it drives me crazy trying to think of titles. It’s so much easier when it comes to you without any thought. Just like anything else actually.
R.V.B. - Can you tell me a little about the people who helped on the album?
V.M. - Richie Monica played drums and we recorded at Shorefire Studios in Long Branch, NJ with Joe DeMaio engineering. Basses were played by Dorian Heartsong, Rob DeLuca who I play with in UFO, Dave LaRue and Elliott Dean Rubinson. I played bass on a couple songs also. I recorded my guitars in my studio at the house. Paul Northfield mixed the record at his studio near Montreal. He also mixed my last record and has worked with lots of other bands. I met him when I was recording tracks for Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid record.
R.V.B. - What sparked you into playing the guitar? Did you come from a musical family?
V.M. - I come from a family of music lovers but no one actually played an instrument. I have always had a close connection with music for as long as I can remember. I seemed hypersensitive to it and songs on the radio would always make me feel something. I could get sad and almost want to cry, or hear something upbeat and get happy and excited. I am still amazed at how powerful music is. When I started getting my own records, I was into The Beatles, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Queen. I wanted to play guitar because of those bands.
R.V.B. - What was your first guitar and what songs did you try and tackle first? Can you tell me about any of your guitar teachers?
V.M. - My first guitar was a Teisco which I got for Christmas from JC Penney’s. I almost quit after my first lesson because it didn’t go so well. But for the next week, I practiced what I had been shown over and over. When I went in for the next lesson the teacher was impressed and almost couldn’t believe I was the same kid. I pretty much became obsessed with it after that. Of course some of the first things I tried to play were smoke on the water, beatles songs, as well as jeff beck and peter Frampton parts. My teacher couldn’t show me anymore and recommended another teacher named Nick Bucci. I studied with him for a few years and he showed me a lot of stuff and taught me about music theory. I also joined a band and was learning things from the other guitarist in the band
V.M. - Drummer, bassist who sang, 2 guitarists. Our first gig was a party in the drummers back yard. I don’t actually think we ever did a second gig. We rehearsed a lot though and that really helped me to progress.
R.V.B. - Did you see any concerts of musicians that influenced you at a young age?
V.M. - Lots. First concert was Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. I have seen Jeff Beck a bunch, Santana, Al DiMeola, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many many others that I can’t think of. And it’s ironic that I have been in UFO for the past 12 years because I was into them as a kid also.
R.V.B. - How did you get asked to work with Alice Cooper in the early 90's and how did you enjoy that experience?
V.M. - Alice was working on the Hey Stoopid album and they were having guest guitarists play on it. Someone at the record label recommended me and I played on Dirty Dreams and Hurricane Years. It wasn’t supposed to be any more than that but a couple months after they asked me if I would join the band. It was an awesome experience and I had a blast.
R.V.B. - You've been the guitarist for the ground breaking band UFO since 2003, and have released many albums with them. How does the songwriting work with them. Does everyone have equal input?
V.M. - We all come up with songs and basically feed them to Phil. He’ll listen and pick the ones that inspire him. So yeah every one chips in
R.V.B. - What were some of the special shows that you had with UFO?
V.M. - There have been many great moments. Playing at the bigger festivals is always a very cool thing. Chicago is always amazing. That is such a great rock town and the fans there are amongst the best. In general it has been incredible to be so lucky to tour the world.
R.V.B. - How many guitars do you own and do you favor any for recording or playing live?
V.M. - I have never actually counted but I have acquired quite a few over the years. I have been getting rid of a lot of them lately because I just have so many more than I can use. I have a signature model called the vinman 2000 that is made by Dean Guitars, and that is what I play most of the time onstage and while recording. They designed it to my specs and so it feels very natural in my hands.
V.M. - It’s always special to meet someone who was a big influence on me while learning guitar. I have been lucky enough to meet Jeff Beck, Brian May as well as others. Peter Frampton was a big influence on me when I was a kid and he invited me to jam with him onstage twice. That was an incredible thing for me. Jamming with others such as Steve Morse, Steve Lukather have been highlights also. But unfortunately I still haven’t gotten to meet Ritchie Blackmore.
R.V.B. - What is your practice regimen like today?
V.M. - I don’t really have a regimen anymore. I just pick up the guitar and start playing and whatever comes out comes out. A lot of time is spent writing songs and ideas.
R.V.B. - How do you enjoy all the traveling that you do? Do you get to take in the sights of foreign cities?
V.M. - I have come to terms with traveling but by nature it is not my favorite thing. I am kind of a home body. Being with UFO has been great though. It’s nice to travel with a group of friends. We have a great time together. I’ve been out on clinic tours alone and that is much more stressful and less fun. We sometimes get to see cool cities but often we are traveling so much that there is no time to get out. We had a rare 3 days off in Vienna recently and that was amazing.
R.V.B. - Thank you very much for considering answering these questions.
V.M. - Sure thing. Thank you for taking the time to come up with this great interview
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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For more information on Vinnie Moore visit his website http://www.vinniemoore.com/2010/
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