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Interview: Phil Mogg

Rock Stars...

Phil Mogg is of course the vocalist in UFO, along with the side-project Mogg/Way. He is also now a member of a new band, Sign of 4, who have just released their debut album via Track Records (an excellent release & worth a listen). Sign of 4 have just started a UK tour and will be playing some UFO classics as well!

(Thanks to Dave Clarke at Planet Earth Publicity, the SITN members who e-mailed questions & Phil Mogg)

How are the rehearsals going? You’re just about to start your UK tour.

Last rehearsal today which should seal it. It’s going well. We’re doing quite a bulk of the Sign of 4 album. Plus some of ‘Chocolate Box’ that I did a way back with Jeff Kollman and then we’re picking some UFO stuff.

Could you tell us a bit about your new album? It’s a very good album by the way.

It’s one of the more casual albums. It was a different style of playing and material. It didn’t have any of the UFO drama around it. It was more relaxing to do.

Obviously Jeff Kollman you’ve worked with before. How did you pick the rest of the band?

Shane’s a friend of Jeff and they play in a band themselves. The bass player, he stayed in LA actually (note – he’s not in the tour band) and was another friend of Jeff’s.

What are your favourite songs on the album? Personally I think ‘Dancing with St. Peter’ and ‘Beautiful Friend’ are both fantastic.

Yeah, both of those. I like most of it particularly the ones we are doing live, like ‘Overload’, ‘Driven’, ‘Song Keeps On Coming’ and ‘Bad On Bad’ we are playing live. Some of them seem to take on a different sound live than they do on record.

How did the Tom Waits cover ‘Clap Hands’ come about?

I’d seem him record up at Kartarti where we done some albums, UFO and Mogg/Way. I had an album of his and was looking at the possibility of doing a cover and thought this could be the one. Lyrically it’s great. He writes some really good stuff – good style.

Would you plan any Mogg/way albums? ‘Chocolate Box’ was what, 2-3 years ago now?

I don’t think so. We’ll take Sign of 4 wherever it’s going and see what happens with this.

UFO had the ‘Sharks’ album out in September. Do you know how that’s been doing at all?

Haven’t seen it in the charts (laughs) but I heard it’s doing well in Europe.

Will UFO tour Europe or is UFO a more studio-based project now?

I did say in other interviews that we maybe we would do some festivals in the summer. But the way things look now unless something dramatic happens in terms of health and fitness, I can’t see UFO playing live.

Is it over, who owns the name that makes it hard to perform on stage without Michael?

No, there’s an agreement that we couldn’t use UFO that if neither he nor I was in it. You could very easily contend that and get out of it. I don’t even know if it would be worth even going there. I was hoping that things would change and swing round.

What’s been your favourate period of UFO? Which have you really enjoyed?

I like the ones where we went through a change. Like the first proper album ‘Phenomena’, then ‘Lights Out’ with Nevison - great studio. I guess ‘Strangers…’ was the top end of that period. We had some great times with Paul Chapman. ‘No Place to Run’ was great fun. It was what was going on around the album at the time. If you were having a good time.

Do you still keep in contact with former members like Paul Chapman, Andy Parker and Paul Raymond?

Funnily enough I will probably see Paul (Chapman) at the end of November as he’s in Florida. I haven’t spoke to Paul (Raymond) or Andy in yonks but I am sure we will meet up.

Would you ever like to do a covers album or a particular style of music that you would like to try?

I wouldn’t mind a good bluesy album but there is some on Sign of 4. I don’t think there is anything I would like to try, I was quite happy doing this actually.

Do you see this as a long-term project? I think it’s different and a little bit easier going. The material is great.

Yeah, I would like to do some more with this. We’ll see what happens with these gigs.

Are you just touring the UK or are you going to play some European dates as well?

Just UK at the moment to tie-in with the release of the album and mainly because Track Records is in the UK.

Who would you like to work with in the future?

I think a lot of the older English style blues players – Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Jeff Beck. I remember when Rod Stewart had Jeff Beck in his band. Jeff Beck is a fantastic guitarist. Ry Cooder – imagine working with Ry Cooder, that would be good. I mean those are ones. That style of players would be great to play with.

What do you like doing in your spare time away from music?

I quite enjoy DIY actually (laughs). Bit of doing something, restoring something. Photography, go see a band. You know the regular.

Do you think you will enjoy it more live with less pressure?

Yeah, there is always the thing with a larger band the larger gigs get a certain regularity. Very nice but if you do it for 3 or 4 years it’s thesame. There are very few gigs that you want to go back to again. Although I did enjoy Hammersmith Odeon, that was good venue. It will be a nice change and it should be very enjoyable.

Is there any UFO song that has a special meaning to you?

I guess ‘Lights Out’ would be one of my favourites because of where we were and everything else.

And is there any song you wish you hadn’t done?

We haven’t got time! No, there is a few of those. They’re just songs that you think ‘that could have been so much better’. That always happens anyway.

Ozzy has famously gone back and re-recorded the backing on his early albums. Would you consider this or do you think this is a sacrilege?

I would think what was done then should stay that way.

Have you a message for your fans…

Any of the fans that not got the end of the UFO gigs, hopefully the Sign of 4 will be completing the full course. I don’t think we are going to have anyone walking off stage. Just wanted to reassure anyone who is coming that they will get the full ticket.

Interview © 2002 Jason Ritchie

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