For nearly 40 years powerhouse vocalist Robin McAuley has been one of the top vocalists in rock music. From his decades of work with Michael Schenker, thru his time with Survivor and fronting the amazing Black Swan, Robin has consistently put out incredible records. He’s about to release his solo record Standing On The Edge and took some time to talk about his career.
Please press the PLAY icon below for the MisplacedStraws.com Conversation with Robin McAuley –
On working with Michael Schenker – I know there are different perceptions of Michael throughout his career because he’s been (up and down). When it comes to songwriting, he is a lot more open than people would ever think. One of the things that. Always attracted me, even though I refused to join them a couple of times, we used to be stablemates, so we were on the same label when he was Chrysalis I was there with my band, Grand Prix, was his quality of playing. Michael will always say, “It has to come from here (patting his heart). It’s very important. You can be a fast player and nothing, nothing from here”. That’s where he plays from. He plays from his heart, soul. You can hear it. His deep sense of melody when he’s gone through all of this stuff that’s just blinding work on the fretboard. And then these melodies come out and you’re going, “That’s what I like”. That’s who Michael Schenker is for me. It’s an absolute treat for a singer. He knows what he wants, especially now. He’s very, very, very focused. I think he plays better now than he ever did, and that’s a statement. That’s a statement because he always played great and he had his ups and downs and blah, blah, blah. In fact, one night on the Schenker Fest, he spoke to the whole band. We were just chatting backstage and he said, “Look, I think I needed to do all of that stuff good, bad, or indifferent to put me where I am now. I needed to make those mistakes. I need to go down that rat hole. Fortunately, I came out of it on the other end and I’m better for it. I wouldn’t be the person I am because of it”. And isn’t that life? Isn’t that how we sort of meander through the woods? Some of us just never find our way. So I feel particularly lucky. Absolutely. I’m always grateful. Always thankful. I never take anything for granted just because there by the grace of God, we can tell the story. So, yeah, great time. 14:07
On Black Swan – My favorite record of all time. Yes, the best thing I have ever done. I mean, we talk about Schenker and everything, and I will never, never put that to the backburner. But for me as a vocalist and performing. Yeah, it even floored me…Jeff (Pilson) called me, he gave me the idea. “Reb (Beach) really wants to do this and I won’t be playing bass. I’ll be like producing and I’ll probably get involved with the writing”, and Reb and I went, “Oh, no, you won’t”. We’re six songs into the new Black Swan, by the way. So a funny story was they got together, they started shredding in the woodshop and they sent me a bunch of tracks. First track, I come back and Reb’s at Jeff’s studio and we’re chewing the fat and he goes, “So you got anything?” And I said, “Yeah. So this is what I have for this song”, and started playing, what turned out to be “Big Disaster”. How we do it is we get together and we had a one-minute discussion of what the label was looking for, and Jeff says, “Classic rock record”. We would never discuss that after that. We never once discussed it. We just went, “Whatever”. And it just kept coming. I said to Jeff, “I’m never going to come back with what (they want). It’s never going to be the obvious”. So I started singing down this idea and I hit the chorus and it was “Big Disaster”. Reb stops me going, “Really? We never worked together before and you get an idea and you come in here and you go, “Yeah, dude, here’s the first track and it’s called “Big Disaster”””. I went, “Oh, you’re right, I wasn’t thinking”, he said “They’ll kill us man, are you kidding?” I think that was it. What we got was a great record, a great record, Pilson is on fire. He’s at 12 all the time. His energy is unsurpassed. You can’t help but just get energized. We had so much fun. I’m surprised we actually managed to record it…Reb goes, “Oh, he could sing anything”. It’s probably a bunch of old Winger riffs that Kip didn’t want to use. Fuck that guy. I think Kip was responsible for the name. I think it came from him. We were like we come up with some names that were dreadful names. I think Reb said, “Yeah, I was talking to Kip, but he goes well just call it Black Swan”, and Jeff and I went, “OK, that’s a great name”. Of course, the environment of the time, because what Black Swan actually means on the big scope of things, when you put it up on the board and I’m like, “Oh, dude it’s like perfect”. People will never get that, but we get it. I love the artwork, but people are going “It’s not a black swan”. You don’t see the black swan? How do you put a black swan on a black T-shirt? Our slogan actually was no B.S. in Black Swan. 16:50
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