Now read on... as Phil bares all in this account
of dodgy geezers and their dodgy visas.
Well Phil... first off... what went wrong with
Pete's visa, after it was all looking so positive...?
Since 9/11 there's been this knee-jerk reaction on the part
of America, and the process for getting into the country is
so long-drawn-out. We've done tours there for 20 years, but
it's only since 9/11 that people have had to attend the US
Embassy in London for interviews and all that kinda thing.
The grilling is unbelievable. And yet somebody
who's living a high profile life in a band is far less likely
to be a terrorist than someone unknown, whose background isn't
documented. That's right, and the
grilling is unbelievable. It's understandable, but it's unbelievable.
You feel like saying "No... we're a rock band. We don't
When my own visa was turned down I just couldn't believe it.
As far as I was concerned, the Embassy interview was just
a formality. They asked me if I'd ever been arrested over
there, and I remembered getting pulled up on a visa incident
on the way into America from Canada, but when they checked
my fingerprints against the police records it turned out that
I'd forgotten about the much more rocknroll crime of 'baring
my anus in a public place'. In 1982 I'd mooned in Lubbock,
Texas. I'd completely forgotten about that! You'd
put it behind you, maybe, haha?
Hmmmm. okayyyy... we'll come back to that in a few minutes,
but first tell us why Pete's visa was refused.
Pete had a load of problems for
a while after his wife Joanna died, and one time he was driving
through Kentucky and got arrested. When it all came to court,
he pleaded guilty and the authorities confiscated his passport.
That was what caused the complication, because with no passport,
he was forced to overstay. Pete's had three lawyers working
on the case and they immediately appealed against the decision,
so there is still a chance it could get overturned. But we
just don't know how long that's gonna take. They could overturn
it tomorrow, or in a week, or in a month or whenever. When
mine was refused a couple of months back, my appeal came through
within a week, so as far as the previous set of US dates were
concerned, we could probably have gone ahead and done half
the tour - but that would have been a risk anyway, cos at
the time we had no idea how long the appeal would take. And
it's the same for Pete. We can't keep cancelling, so we decided
we've gotta go ahead with it.
How has the US Embassy's decision affected the rest of the
band? How is Pete taking the setback?
Of course we're all dispappointed - it knocked us a bit sideways
- but we have to go on. We'd just got heated up with the first
round of gigs, and obviously we were all very unhappy about
it, but we have got to go ahead.
Vinnie has worked with Barry in the past, so do you feel
that their chemistry might add a new dimension musically to
the live gigs? Yes, Vinnie knows
Barry well, and I know him from playing with Jeff, and from
hearing his Cosmosquad collaboration with Jeff - and of course
from the Uli thing (Donington and the Covenant tour) and we
all get on fine. He'll be fine. He'll fit in, and he's a great
bassplayer of course!
UFO fans admire Barry for his sunny personality and his shiiiiiit-hot
bassplaying. I've suggested to him that he should wear a polka-dot
blouse, and dip his hair in creosote before every gig.
Yes! Pete's lent his stage clothes to Barry already. He'll
soon be whipped into the UFO shape! Barry in red spandex?
What about after the US tour is over?
We have plans for some Scandinavian dates, and also some more
UK dates, and of course Pete will be able to play all those
- and in any case, Pete's only lending Barry his stage clothes
for the US tour - he wants them back as soon as it's finished,
It was very moving to hear I'm A Loser sung live after all
this time. And Fighting Man was an eye-opener too, and I'm
sure made many fans get Sharks out and really listen to it.
Fighting Man, yeh, that one really bops along. Hey, that's
a worrying thing... with Pete not there I've gotta do double
the work. I usually lay back while he's bopping around. I
said to him the other day 'Listen you fuckin arsehole, I've
gotta do double the work now that you've blown the visa'.
Haha, I'll tell Barry to jump up and down and bounce around
a bit. If he's wearing Pete's clothes he might take on some
of Pete's characteristics. Hey, maybe it's the clothes that
do the jumping, not Pete. Hmmmm now there's a thought...
So anyway... what songs from the Chapman era would you like
We're gonna have to discuss this when we all get together...
it comes up time and time again. We're just not sure which
songs to play. I'll ask the SITN crowd what they think, and
let you know, ok! Yes, we'll definitely look into playing
a few from the Chapman days. the Wild The Willing and The
Innocent is one possibility. I pulled the albums out the other
day, but I didn't want to chuck too much onto Barry, although
he could probably learn them in his sleep, haha.
Would playing Chapman-era songs be a kind of purging - along
the lines of 'Schenker has left the building'? No,
not purging, no, I don't think so. That's not something I've
thought deeply about.
What was your personal favourite gig so far on the Euro/UK
Hmmmm... maybe Paris. Oh yes, Paris had great
reviews! I've not read the reviews.
You start reading your reviews and the fatal thing is you
start believing them, haha. Dave Ling of Classic
Rock Magazine said the Paris gig was one of the best gigs
he'd ever seen. Did he? Oh
maybe I'll dig it out and read it then! Yes, do
it! What about Geoff Barton's review of You Are Here? He gave
it FIVE STARS! No, I've not read
that either. I've got all the magazines here but I can't bring
myself to read the reviews. You must read it!
You're missing so much! Geoff's review was a right old bodice-ripper.
Lots of heaving throbbing pulsating pounding blahblahblah.
They almost had to sell Classic Rock from the top-shelf that
Hey, this incarnation of UFO is so much more than just a
pension-plan. You really did all look as though you wanted
to be up there. Blimey, even Pete, on the night England played
Portugal - he still gave 100% up there. You all did. The punters
really appreciated that. Apart from the non-Schenkeriness
of the line-up, what else do you put the cameraderie of the
band-members down to?
We just all get on so well. Excellent!
It was also quite bizarre seeing Paul get about 20 years
younger every night during the course of the set. That can't
just be down to the embalming fluid kicking in, can it? He
started the evening as errrrr... a 43 year-old, and was down
to 23 by the time it got to Rock Bottom. Talk about thriving
on the buzz - it was beautiful to watch the years dropping
off him. Reminded me of the film Cocoon! Hahaha,
well he's just had a holiday in the south of France, sunning
himself. He's a 'Bronze God' now. He's been working up a tan.
He'll shrivel up! Hahah yeh, he'll be a wrinkled prune! I
tell ya, with Pete not around it will fall to someone else
to be the subject of ridicule, the butt of all the jokes.
Who do ya think it's gonna be...? It's gonna have to be Paul,
isn't it...? Paul, yes - I think so!
Will there be a DVD of the tour, either from Euro/UK footage
or anything planned from the USA gigs? Has the Pete/Barry
situation affected plans for that? And what are the plans
for the next album? Yes we want
to do a DVD. But what we'd like to do is cook up something
a bit different for that - put some new material together
that hasn't been recorded before. We can't do the same stuff
that's been recorded over and over again. Yes, we need something
from the You Are Here album, but it would be nice if we had
something up our sleeves... like a couple of tracks that haven't
been recorded yet. When we go to Vinnie's next week, we might
knock up a couple of new tracks - for the next album and for
a DVD. Do some writing, play about with some ideas. Get Pete
to record the bass back in the UK after, but at least get
some writing done, and get some ideas together.
In the past, UFO has often been a victim of errr... The Nostradamus
Effect... where the left hand hasn't always known what the
right hand's been doing - such as lifting a pint or... whatever
else you fellas use your right arm for. Now Michael is out
of the band there seems a new level of professionalism about
the set-up, not least of which is finishing a damn tour! Is
this purely down to the new line-up, or what? When
people ask me about Michael, I have to stop and think. This
sounds almost rude, but... I don't think about Michael alot.
I love Michael to death, he's a great guitarist, but... it's
like, in interviews, Michael is still talking about things
that happened thirty years ago. It's history, it aint that
important now, it's so long ago, and it's tedious and boring.
When I hear all that, I want to say 'Can't we get on with
the next chapter of our lives'. The fans who have stuck with
UFO for 25+ years do appreciate the new 'stability' that seems
to be there (even with the work-permit problems in the equation).
At the recent UFO gigs there was the expected puntership
of 35-50 year-old mulleted tattooed headbangers (and some
of those were fellas!) - but also alot of younger fans. More
than just a second generation dads-and-sons kinda thing. Are
you particularly aiming for younger fans in the way you market
the band - such as advertising or getting editorial in a different
kind of magazine, or going for airplay on 'younger' radio
stations or whatever - or doing anything positive to extend
the fanbase? (without selling out to the MTV schlock, of course).
Well, if we carry on just with
the regulars, eventually they'll all be dead! We want to play
to all ages. I went out to a club recently to see the Datsuns...
but, having said that, I didn't see the Datsuns haha. It was
at a rock club, and they had three supporting acts, and I
kept thinkin 'they're good, they must be the Datsuns', but
they weren't... We were standing by the bar, and each time
a band came on we were saying, hey, they're really good, but
each time it turned out that they weren't the Datsuns, hahaha.
One band were exceptionally good - but no, they still weren't
the Datsuns! I don't think I actually ever got to see the
Datsuns, haha. That's the great thing about playing clubs
though, as opposed to playing concerts - at a concert you
only draw the people who are going there to see you, but if
you go out and play clubs, you reach a different audience,
and a much wider age range of maybe 18 - 40s.
Clubs like you played on the $ign Of 4 gigs, yeh?
Yeh! You know, I really LOVED the $ign Of 4 gigs. Yes,
the clubs weren't big, but the fans who went to those gigs
said the atmosphere was really special. They said it was like
having the band playing in their front room. Absolutely!
And it was the most relaxing tour I've done in years. Down
on the floor with the people. A most enjoyable tour... and
Jeff, Shane, Mark, Chris - lovely people, and great to work
OK, now this whole lyric thannnggggg. Writers say they hate
being asked where they get the inspiration for their lyrics,
so I won't ask that, but ... do you really hack into our brains
while we're asleep and steal our subconscious, untangle it,
and then weave it into the kind of poetry that's there inside
all of our heads but just hasn't been woven into words yet?
Poetry which we all recognise when we hear you sing it, in
a 'Lyrics that make you go Yessssssssss!!!' kinda way.
It's the kind of poetry that if we'd have been able to study
it for A Level it would have made Eng. Lit. our favourite
subject and we'd all have stayed on at school and done the
exams and ended up rich and intelligent and vivacious and
articulate and the world wouldn't be in the mess it's in today.
Blimey. So, my question is... do you think in that kinda way
all the time, walkin round the house, making a cuppa tea,
putting the bin out, etc - or is it only when you're consciously
writing lyrics? Do you have to hear the music before your
brain can crank into eleventh gear and do the business? Tell
us how it happens. Or should we not question it and just be
grateful that is DOES happen? I
think the answer to that is that I read the paper or see the
news and I get really depressed, and then write about depressing
things. You've only got to open the newspaper and there's
a song on every page - it's all there before you. And
it comes easy to you, does it? Sometimes...
yes. With these guys it's easy to write. With Vinnie and Jason
and all... there's no drama. It's pleasurable...
Hey, talking of lyrics, here's a funny story - on Dave
Ling's most excellent website he relates a legend about
when UFO were recording the Misdemeanour album, and you hadn't
finished writing the lyrics, so they sent you down the garden
with a pen and paper to get on with it, while they went for
a game of pool. The story goes... 'When somebody came
back a while later to check his progress, the chair was empty
and there was no sign of Phil Mogg. They went out to the table
to find his sheet of paper was still there. On it was written
the words: ‘Buy Special Brew’. The silly old sod
had made a shopping list, and then in his haste to quench
his thirst had only gone and left it behind!' I explained
to Dave that it wasn't a shopping list at all, but an attempt
at the first verse of Night Run... "Love me tender, love
me true, ooooh baby, buy some Special Brew'. Hahahaha,
that's quite possible! That was one of those dodgy periods
in UFO. A bit of a 'whoooooooooooooooooooow' period. That
hasn't gone on since that time, but yeh I can believe that
of then!! They were going 'Come onnnnnnn when are you gonna
come up with some stuff' ... 'I'm trying! I'm TRYING!! I had
a block - through quite a bit of the 80s, actually!
So then Phil... coming back to this Full Moon Over Texas
thanggggg... how did all that come about...? I
really don't know! I've never mooned before - never mooned
after, I don't know what was going on. Ohhh I remember going
to jail, with the guy who'd been at the concerts and had got
arrested with me and I was standing with my back against the
wall with these really tight lycra trousers on, ohhhh it was
awful... Yeh... not a situation for a n-n-n-n-nervous
boy! Haha, yeh, and I was thinkin
'Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh Godddd, I'm screwed', and this guy said,'I've
just seen your fuckin concert, mannnnnnn. Greatttt, mannnnn...'
Ohhhhh the memory of it now... it was awful... Isn't
hindsight a wonderful thing! Of course, when I say 'hindsight',
I don't mean the sight of your hind, which of course is a
horrible thing... blimey...
So anyway, it's no wonder they didn't want you back in their
country. Spandex should have been declared illegal by at least
1979! You're damn lucky that they're lettin you back in at
all! So, what are you gonna say to the good people of America
to put them at ease? OK, well...
Pete's got three lawyers on the case - there IS hope. As far
as the gigs go, they're gonna be kick-arrrrrse. Vinnie's American,
the album is with Vinnie and Jason, we want to play there
- and we're going to play there! If Pete's ticket comes up,
that's great, he'll fly over and jam in - it's an open door.
If it doesn't, well, yes, that's unfortunate, but we'll play
a great round of US dates with the excellent Mr. Sparks. We're
coming over there to kick your butts! But without showing
This interview © Batttttty
- 9th September 2004