Michael Schenker spoke to Metal-Rules.com about the provocative cover artwork for the first two albums from his MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST project. While the artwork for 2018's "Resurrection" recreated "The Last Supper", the late 15th-century mural painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, 2019's "Revelation" features an oil painting-style cover that recreates the ancient crucifixion scene.
Schenker said: "I didn't come up with them. The idea I had which I told the record company for ['Resurrection'] was to have a photo all the guys in the studio hanging around a big table or having a party/fest in the control room of the studio. We could then call it MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST in the studio. Someone from the record company sent me a photo of the last supper. [Laughs] I told them that it was not what I meant. Somehow, people started liking the idea, and it soon evolved. Then Doogie [White, vocals] started singing 'Take Me To The Church'. I was, like, what is going on here? It was getting crazy, and I said, 'We might as well call the CD 'Resurrection'.' [Laughs] One thing leads to another.
"For 'Revelation''s artwork, I had sketched out an idea of being tortured when I was slandered from the SCORPIONS days," he continued. "Also, at some point in the '90s, I was invited to join a bunch of musicians on stage in front of thousands of people and handed a guitar that was completely out of tune. It was humiliating. I was being set up, tortured, and hated. The other title we had for the CD was 'Purity And Compassion Vs. Greed And Corruption'. Basically, it has nothing to do with crucifixion; it is about me being tortured in my middle years."
He continued: "I wanted to work on myself and create music; to understand things more about myself. I had enough fame from my music to decide if I wanted to stay with the fame. I didn't need it, so I disconnected with it and created the MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP. The CD 'Into The Arena' was actually about getting on the battlefield.
"On this cover, I'm not nailed to a guitar, I'm tied to it with rope. The Flying V and I were cursed in that period of time and totally distorted by my brother, Rudolf Schenker, using the same black-and-white Flying V. I was leaving the orbit trying to see the world, doing my work, and people didn't know who the real Schenker was. [Laughs] That is why I'm hanging on the Flying V with the rest of the guys.
"The problem with the CD cover is the painter misunderstood the concept in the beginning and the first iteration had the band hanging me on the guitar. I told him it doesn't make sense. I'm supposed to be hanging on the guitar, and the band is supposed to be rescuing me. The front cover ended up as if the singers are glorifying me. That wasn't the idea either; I must have overlooked it when I was proofing the artwork because I was so blown away with the beauty of it and how it was painted. The back of the CD cover is the way it was meant to be with the singers in fighting mode trying to get me off the guitar. The story is supposed to be that they cut me off the guitar and here we are. We've succeeded, we're back, and we are carrying on. It's a celebration of surviving the middle years, and now we are all together.
"I only learned a few weeks ago that Graham [Bonnet, vocals] was offended by the CD cover. I took another look at it and was, like, 'Shit. I'm not surprised.' Doogie should be more offended as he looks like he is worshiping me. I never noticed it, and I'm really embarrassed by it. They should have been looking to get me off the guitar to save the MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST. It's a bummer."
"Revelation" will be released on September 20 via Nuclear Blast. The disc was produced by Michael Schenker and Michael Voss and was recorded and mixed by Voss at Kidpool Studio Greven & Kidwood Studio in Münstertal, Germany between December 2018 and March 2019.
Besides the four vocalists — Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley and Doogie White — the LP features guest vocals on one track by Ronnie Romero from Ritchie Blackmore's RAINBOW.