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Interview conducted October 10 2008
Interview published October 16 2008

Everyone knows Ulrich Roth from his trademark performances on the first five Scorpions releases, and the famous Tokyo Tapes. Most know him from his solo career and his work with Electric Sun, and the founding of his Sky Academy. Many don't know about his pictured life pursuit of the arts; like his oil painting, and writng, or his avid appreciation for Plato and Greek Philosophy, or even his being a vegetarian, and lover of animals.

Almost as if taken by force did we dialogue with one another about these very concepts. Polarized and mesmerized, in trance, all night long, it seemed we philosophized, in search of the peace of the mind. Then we momentarily discussed his new album - Under A Dark Sky, and his recent top of the bill US Tour. I invite you all to come sail in the season of sharing....

MettleAngel: I am pleased to meet you Uli, even though we had to wait until after the show to do this interview, and it is going on 3 a.m. I did not want to pass on an opportunity to wax poetic with you. I understand that you are really into Greek Philosophy. Who is your favorite ancient Greek Philosopher?

  • Uli Jon Roth: That's easy, I love Plato.

MettleAngel: What about all the other famous men, and even the Pre-Socratics? What about Plato's pupil Aristotle, who tutored Alexander The Great?

  • Uli Jon Roth: Plato to me is the one who brought it all together. There were many great thinkers in Antiquity, like Aristotle who was more of a scientist; but Plato was an ether realist, and he dealt more with the soul, than the mind.

MettleAngel: Which of Plato's works do you find most interesting?

  • Uli Jon Roth: There are many, but I love his Symposium.

MettleAngel: What commonalities of Plato inspire you the most, his 'Theory Of Forms And Ideas', his 'Cave Principle' motif from The Republic?

  • Uli Jon Roth: It is not so much the theories, which were all interpreted much later. Too many people dissected his writings, and missed the spirit of his message.

MettleAngel: You mean like the Neo-Platonists like Plotinus and Origen. Gnostics, and free thinkers of the Third Century were too obsessed with the 'Fusion Of The Horizon' ideal, of adapting these thoughts to the early rubric of Christianity. When St. Thomas Aquinas penned his Summa Theologica, he misappropriated the essence of what Aristolte intended. Thankfully, the Orientalists preserved the sacred tradion; especially as far as Book I and II of his Poetics.

  • Uli Jon Roth: You do know this, impressive! The best thing about Plato, is the essence of what he did not say, but what he felt and knew.

MettleAngel: This was brilliant, because he used Socrates as his main character contending with the Sophists, Cynics, and Skeptics to draw out truth from within them. Like Jesus in The New Testament, Socrates was fiction, and the actual life he lived, and what he may or may not have taught, was exaggerated in Plato's works. My favorite quote from Socrates is, "The only thing I know with absolute certainty, is that I know nothing at all!" This does not mean that ignorance is bliss, but rather ignorance is an illusion, and for many an excuse. Socrates was always guided by his own inner voice, his eudaimonia that is 'good demon'. This word translates as 'happiness' in Greek.

  • Uli Jon Roth: Wow, this is not going to be your everyday Rock interview, is it? But I am grateful, because I am asked the same questions everyday. I try to create new variations to answer them, but when the thousandth person asks you why you left the Scorpions, you just throw your hands in the air, and answer. Speaking to someone like you, makes you standout, and I will remember this conversation, because we are on the same level. I seldom discuss my passion for Plato with press.

MettleAngel: You can bet that I don't have too many conversations with musicians about Plato either, but I love to wax on about him, and Greek or Latin Philosophy. In the interest of our audience, and your fans, we will discuss the music. Tomorrow, you will perform at B.B. Kings in New York, as the last leg of this US Tour. You will be joined on stage by Alex Skolnick, Chris Caffery, and Cincinnati's own Joe Stump.

  • Uli Jon Roth: This should be a good show, as it is the triptych of three important shows, which began in L.A., then Chicago House Of Blues, and will culminate tomorrow. New York is a special place to me, it has its own atmosphere. I really enjoy the audience. Last time was so wonderful. I'm hoping for even better response tomorrow; because you always want to aim higher.

MettleAngel: I wish you all the best! I also understand you are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of The Tokyo Tapes, a hallmark to your time well spent with the Scorpions.

  • Uli Jon Roth: Yes, next month in Japan, that will be big, and now you have reminded me we will celebrate 30 years of Electric Sun, so I need to change up the set list, thank you for that.

MettleAngel: I did not even mention that, but the spirit is in the air. To be honest, Uli, I discovered the Scorpions in the '80s with Blackout. I did not know about the first five albums on which you played. I recall buying this Greatest Hits CD used about ten years ago, and I did not recognize most songs, as they were culled from the early days. The only songs I knew were from thrash bands who had covered the hits like Testament doing 'Sails Of Charon', or Helstar and Toxik covering 'She's A Man - He's A Woman'. Wendy and I did watch the 2006 Reunion Wacken DVD where you and Herman Rarebell rejoined the Scorpions to play some classic songs.

  • Uli Jon Roth: That was a great deal of fun, as was playing with Tobias' Avantasia project this year at Wacken. I understand, each generation discovers music, at different intervals.

MettleAngel: I'm a huge fan of Michael Schenker, and I knew he left the Scorps, to join UFO, another amazing band, but I never purchased the early albums, until the remasters came out. After watching you perform this evening, I can see why so many musicians consider you as a main influence. Incidentally, Joe Satriani played House of Blues tonight in Cleveland, so many were in attendance; but I spoke with several fans, who chose to see you live tonight, rather than him. I know I'd chose you over him anyday, even if he did train Kirk Hammett.

  • Uli Jon Roth: I just love to play, I always have.

MettleAngel: You have inspired the German Metal Scene, and laid down the grass roots of what became Power Metal.

  • Uli Jon Roth: Yes, I've been told that....

MettleAngel: Besides being a stellar musician, I understand you do oil paintings. I admire how well rounded you are. You have such an awesome aura and countenance, the epitome of 'Mens Sana In Corpore Sano'.

  • Uli Jon Roth: A healthy mind, and a healthy body, hmmmn; I do agree my mind is, but not my body. I could stand to exercise more.

MettleAngel: You have a sound mind and body, because you are a vegetarian, correct?

  • Uli Jon Roth: Yes, I am, but not for my health; but because I love animals. I feel responsible for the animal kingdom, and I won't kill anything. Ever since the early days with the Scorpions, I have felt this.

MettleAngel: I can almost hear the chorus singing 'The Magic Word', from Under The Sky, "Stop Killing!" So, am I to assume that you have been this way most of your life?

  • Uli Jon Roth: In Germany, when I was younger I ate meat. In the '70s, I read about this horrible cannabilistic dictator from Uganda.

MettleAngel: You mean Idi Amin?

  • Uli Jon Roth: Yes, he was a horrible man. I felt if he treats people like this, imagine how humans treat animals; so, I chose to become a vegetarian.

MettleAngel: That is noble. I was a vegetarian for over a decade. I was conscious of my health, and I also love animals. I know how meat is manufactured in First World Countries, so even though I now eat meat; I bless my food, and identitfy with the suffering of the animal. The meat industry is a far cry from our ancestors hunting and gathering; but I do not proselytize or preach that meat is murder.

  • Uli Jon Roth: I am disgusted by the carcass of the animal, and I find it revolting; but this is only for me. I do not pontificate or tell others how to live their lives. The Scorpions tried to be vegetarians, but they could not continue. It is so hard, especially when you tour the world. There are so many great countries with specialty foods, and I usually get the leftovers, or the chef's delight which is nothing more than mushroom stroganoff.

MettleAngel: You mean the 'rabbit food'? Why do people assume vegetarians only eat vegetables? I know what a struggle it is. I love nuts, and when I was a vegetarian, I ate them for protein. I was appalled to discover that Planters Peanuts Company uses gelatin on their nuts. Gelatin is pulverized animal bones!

  • Uli Jon Roth: You can't avoid it, there are animal fats in soap and shampoo.

MettleAngel: I see you only wear eathen fibers, no leather. I admire you for your dilligent persistance. Most vegetarians I know were braggards who smoked, drank, and seldom exercised.

  • Uli Jon Roth: Righteousness just does not work. It is the same with smoking, just because I don't like smoke does not mean governments should take that right away from others.

MettleAngel: I agree, I don't smoke either, I cannot stand the smell. My discomfort should not be grounds for violation of other's freedom. There is no evidence that second hand smoke causes cancer. I want everyone to live and let live, free of judgement and condemnation.

  • Uli Jon Roth: Our societies are way too restrictive always trying to make everyone to conform to a set standard which denies every value in life.

Wow, that is an anacronym for D.E.V.I.L.! It as if when others view smoking, eating meat, recreational sex, swearing, or any other pursuit of happiness, they consider it as being evil; which is live spelt backwards!

  • Uli Jon Roth: We are being inspired you and I. For me vegetarianism is a personal sacrifice I make to honour the animals. I respect the rights of people to do as they choose.

MettleAngel: Your abnegation is what makes you so sincere and a qualified musician. A honest vegetarian does not feel compelled to advertise or broadcast his choice.

  • Uli Jon Roth: Yes this is very personal for me, and I seldom discuss it with others. You can not come from your ego, it has to come from deep within you to make this life decision.

MettleAngel: That what you resist, persists! But, enough with our personal beliefs, how did you get Mark Boals to sing on your new album?

  • Uli Jon Roth: Last year when we played L.A., he was one of the participating vocalist, and he sung on 'Sails Of Charon'. I liked his sound, and I asked him to work with me. He was very excited to do so. I guess you would say, "Right place, right time, right person."

MettleAngel: Yes, serendipity indeed! I love Mark's vocals, he sings on two benchmark Malmsteen CDs: Trilogy and Alchemy. You play quite differently from Yngwie, with more spirituality and alacrity. Mark matches your merit. What is interesting is that Tim 'Ripper' Owens now sings for Yngwie; both him and Mark are from Ohio. Tim from Cleveland, Mark from Youngstown.

  • Uli Jon Roth: Yes, I just found out about this amazing coincidence today.

MettleAngel: I also enjoy your Hendrix renderings.

  • Uli Jon Roth: I love doing that. Everyone knows I can't sing, so I have a male and female out there doing it for me. I feel so priveledged to write this music for them to sing. this is why I reserve my guitar soloing for the second half jam portion. I want to support their talent.

MettleAngel: You play three hour sets each night, this has to become taxing. Do you ever get tired while playing?

  • Uli Jon Roth: All the time! I am a morning bird person, and I play best during the day, when I'm most aware. I seldom get to perform live during the day, so I am usually tired during the first half. This is why I make the first half about the other musicians on stage. I then invoke the spirit of the music to wake me up. the energy of the music will recreate me and I feel more alive. Then, by the second half I am really on target and ready to go. When the show is over, I am excited to meet my fans and hang out with them.

MettleAngel: I watched you challenge my wife to a game of foozeball. I too believe in the energy and triumphant, magic power of music.

  • Uli Jon Roth: Once the show is over I'm rejuvenated, I feel alive again.

MettleAngel: Which is why even at 3 a.m. we both feel inspired in this conversation. Tell me a little bit about Sky Academy. I know you are fond of the Greek Philosopher Pythagorus, and implement his mathematical theories into musical practice. Your own invention, the sky guitar, even is based on Pythagorean Theorems.

  • Uli Jon Roth: Yes, you know about Pythagorus, of course you do! My students find this aspect of Sky Academy the most intriguing. Music is magic, and to me playing is so spiritual and all encompassing.

MettleAngel: So is the experience of listening to music, and feeling the vibration while you perform on stage, for that matter. I know you like all types of music from all over the world, and all over the world, everyone apprecaites your music. Uli, thank you for your time, your patience, and you openess. I am truly grateful that we were able to do this interview.

  • Uli Jon Roth: As am I Michael, you have inspired me as well. I will ponder all of this tomorrow. Now, take care, and sleep well.

MettleAngel: Yes, I am exhausted, but also enthusiastic, which in Greek renders as replete with the essence of God. Everyone knows Metal is my God, and I am all about being mettle!

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