ULI JON ROTH: 'Music Has Lost A Lot Of The Social Standing That It Used To Have'

June 3, 2015

In a brand new interview with Maximum Metal, legendary guitarist Uli Jon Roth (SCORPIONS) was asked what he thinks would have to happen for the future of music to improve. He responded: "Oh, lots of things. I think it's all screwed up. There is a big chasm between the haves and the have-nots, in more ways than one in music — not just talking about the finance or the ability to make a living with music, which nowadays for most musicians is one of the hardest things. You know, musicians have to live too, and a lot of them are resigned to scraping the barrel just in order to eat and to be able to do music. They have to do all sorts of sacrifices and that's not good for the music itself, because music should be free from all these things. So that is one aspect.'

He continued: "As far as the music itself, I'm not really enamored with the whole instant gratification-like download mentality. You know, the iTunes thing means that it's just like McDonalds. You can get any piece of music instantly, and they're disconnected. My music, for instance, I always tried to write like an album of pieces that are connected. And then, of course, you can listen to them on their own, but I feel it's not quite the same. I tend to think in broader artistic frameworks. And I'm not the only artist, you know. Kate Bush thinks like that, and so do several others. That's one thing.

"I feel that the young generation, because everything is downloaded in seconds, there is no more physical aspect to it, and they don't seem to bond with the artists. But the artist needs a bond with the audience, a deeper understanding, which goes both ways, you know? Both sides are missing out if that's not happening, because the music benefits from that, the quality of the music benefits from that kind of bonding, which is a mutual understanding and a mutual kind of respect for one another — the audience for the artist and the artist for the audience. That reflects in the music and also the quality of the music, I think. So that's a little deplorable."

Uli went on to say: "Where the journey is heading, I have no idea, because I'm not really trying to be a prophet along these lines. You know, I just go with the flow on that. At the moment, the flow doesn't seem to be that great. At least that's what I'm seeing or watching, you know? As for myself, I try not to be affected by it, or not to be too affected, although it does affect everyone to some degree. And I'm also not a nostalgic person who says, 'Oh yeah, everything was great in the '50s and '60s.' It wasn't. There were other problems.

"But since you asked about the trends in music, etcetera, I think music has lost a lot of the social standing that it used to have. In the '60s, artists like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, THE BEATLES, these people actually still had a lot to say, and when they spoke up it did create a lot of waves and energy in the material world. Politicians had to listen to that. They couldn't just wipe that off the table. But nowadays, artists, most of them I wouldn't even call artists. Basically they're entertainers. And entertainment is something completely different from art. Very rarely do the two go hand in hand. It's possible, but I wouldn't take that for granted. Entertainers usually don't change the world in a good way. They have the power to change the world to some degree. But usually there is not much wisdom reflected in that.

"Now, real artists have more of this kind of power to change the world if their art is connected with wisdom. But nowadays, it's almost impossible for real artists to get even a platform that's noticed by the mainstream. That's a little deplorable, because both in the classical field and in any field, almost, [there are] a lot of worthwhile voices of people who really have something to contribute and they just go completely fall by the wayside and are just being ignored, you know? You find that in visual arts, you find that in music or just about any genre. So it's a sign of our times. That's why I call it the McDonalds society. It's all mental fast food. Fast food of the mind is the name of the game. That's what rules the planet. You know, it's fast information, shallow information, cheap information. Anything instant, but very little of that goes down way deep. That's just the time we live in, and it takes some period of transformation inside of us to come to grips with this kind of speed, you know?"

Uli added: "Everything is much faster now than it used to be. The train of mankind is running at a different frequency now, and that frequency is not necessarily very much in tune with what would be healthy for the human mind. There's a certain kind of spectrum of plus and minus of a healthy speed which is conducive to real progress of the human mind and spirit. But if you go beyond that, if the speed is too high, it's like you could easily have the whole train derailed, you know? And then the learning is not facilitated by that, because the speed is just too quick for that which we are naturally equipped with.

"Maybe the next generation will adapt to that kind of speed, but I know very few people who have so far. Most people are just kind of coasting along , but maybe they don't even really notice, but when you really analyze what's going on, I don't really know anybody who's really on top of it now, even if they appear to be on top of it. A lot of precious things fall by the wayside. And I don't mean that financially. I mean spiritually precious, mentally precious, you know? A lot of good things fall by the wayside. They get crushed by this incredibly fast train."

Read the entire interview at Maximum Metal.

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