British rock veterans UFO kick back into action with a new line up that sees the return of bassist Pete Way to the fold and the edition of guitarist Laurence Archer. Lyn Guy makes a sighting with the legendary bassist and the new six stringer to take you into the next generation.


As a fledgling headbanger, UFO enjoyed a number of years as my top rock band, right up until mad Michael Schenker, eccentric German guitarist, quit in 1978. It is interesting to note that despite mad Mickey's strange habits and chemical excesses,  UFO's best material was recorded during the period 1974-1978. Vocalist Phil Mogg also labels  Obsession, the last album to be recorded by the classic Mogg,  Schenker,  Way,  Parker,  and Raymond line-u[ as his favourite. Personally,  I have always considered songs such as "Doctor Doctor," "Rock Bottom," "Lights Out," and "Love to Love" to be classics of that genre, unrepeatable gems that never lose their sparkle.

Now comes the prospect of a brand new UFO, ready to rejuvenate the record books, whilst adding a few new chapters into the bargain. This is why I am sitting in Razor Records Knightsbridge office with Pete Way and guitarist Laurence Archer,  after a mad dash across London in the new and remarkably same guitarist's car.


UFO, circa 1991, have just spent a gruelling six hours posing for photographs,  and they're ready for anything that doesn't involve cameras. So, as Laurence draws on a bottle of Sol and Pete cracks open a can of (to his abject horror) Fosters (I mean, anything less than Special Brew just ain't Rock 'n Roll), I raise my glass of bitter and demand to know why Phil Mogg hates the term” reformed.”

“Well it's not a reformed band actually. I don't think we particularly wanted to be called UFO, 'cos I mean, the name of a band doesn't really matter. But we'd have probably been labelled as UFO anyway, even though what we got isn't like a lineup change,” states Pete, before adding, “It might sound funny to say it, but having been in bands that changed their lineup, it's like being in a soccer team, where you change this guy and that guy. But this is brand new and it's very exciting. It does carry the mould of the UFO style of music. I guess.”

As Michael Schenker apparently offered to work with them for $100,000,  maybe there's some sense in equating the band format with being in a football team league. Having not heard any new material, I can't comment on any parallels with the old days. So how about enlarging on that Pete.

“It's got a similar style to the original UFO, especially in the guitar playing. It's very much in my mind, like how Michael would have been, or Paul (Chapman,  Schenker's successor). But Laurence plays in his own style, which is actually very fluid. The whole middle period when I was in UFO was a bit boring. This isn't boring at all. It's very exciting listening to Laurence play guitar. which is part of the reason I wanted to work with him.”
The album under discussion... 
“It's still got a lot of elements of the old band in it,” Lawrence confirms, “but that's happened naturally.  We haven't said ‘we've gotta make a record that sounds like the old UFO’. We've literally just written songs and recorded them. But it hasn't suddenly changed into Megadeth or something!”

Can you seriously imagine Phil Mogg behaving like Dave Mustaine? After all, this is the man who treated me to a remarkable imitation of Neil Kinnock and who also refuses to be drawn into serious conversation when he pops into the office whilst my tape is switched on. 

UFO are due to release their new album next January, preceding it with an as-yet-undetermined single and half a dozen dates in November. Produced by my Kit Woolven, the LP was recorded at Live House Studios in Launceston, a little place in darkest Cornwall. Does it make much difference, I wonder, using a studio so far away from the hub of the music business?

“You shouldn't have to be somewhere in the hub of the music business to make your own music because your music should come from you,” states Pete.

“I think we more or less needed to be away to make things jell,”  Laurence ads.

“Plus, working together and getting to know each other as people probably was just as important over that period as recording the album. Because when we finished recording the bulk of it, and we came back to London, we actually did a couple of rehearsals and we found we just felt like a band. Whereas before it’d felt like four people thrown together. Basically, there's nothing to do in Launceston other than play, record, go to the pub, and play pool. We wanted that band feel from day one as well. Instead of the 'reformation of UFO' with Pete, Phil, a guitar player, and a drummer. If we'd been working in a studio in London, we'd have been able to walk in, do our bit, and go home. Whereas there, we had to live with each other, day in and day out, and it was a good testing for everything really, and in the end, we came out with a plus. If it had happened a lot quicker I don't think it would have looked or been as genuine as it is now now now.”

Pete chimes in equally as enthusiastically.

“Now our rehearsals are what's giving us the buzz. In some ways, recording isn't that much fun because there's a lot of hard work in making it sound like it does at rehearsals. But live, hopefully it will work very, very well.”

I suppose it's a completely different feeling once you come to play live, anyway.


“No, not a different feeling at all! we record in the same manner.  everything we do is live.  sometimes it's the recording that dilutes it, but never the other way around.”

Laurence takes up the point at issue.

“The majority of the album was recorded at the same time, and when we did the backing tracks, we all played together. The way we were working -- we wanted to capture what we did in rehearsal in the studio -- was probably more time-consuming. So we might have done, say, twenty takes of one particular song, just to capture the feel we had in rehearsals. The attitude we took with this record was that at some points we were doing takes that were actually too good to polish. We wanted it to sound rough and ready and straight to the point, which is basically what it is.  Now, we've just got to mix it.”

So why is the release not happening until next year?

“We could try it out," comments Pete. “But we didn't want to push it into the Christmas market. So January is much better. If we'd done it really fast and on the cheap, I dare say we'd have been touring in September. In actual fact, there's so much work and thought gone into it, that it's very much a building process. It's never been a problem to us really, to rush something out. I mean, if you put out a record by a group called UFO -- it's been a long time since the last record came out -- it should be as good as it possibly can be, and it takes time. We’ve not wasted time, and, so far, everything has been proved to be for the best.”

As with everything else in their strategy, even the choice of an indie label release in preference to signing to a major company, it has  clearly defined reasons, which Pete and Lawrence have no hesitation in sharing with me.


“We didn't want to mess about, and actually Castle Communications is quite a good label, and they gave an awful lot of money.”

“They probably gave as a lot more money than a major would give us,”  continues Lawrence. 

Plus they gave as a lot more control over what we wanted to do. And the way we've done the deal, financially we are more in control, artistically we are more in control, and we don't have to run around trying to please an A&R man who is really into Simon and Garfunkel. We don't have to deal with any internal record company politics, which is the best thing about it.”


“Of course we could have gone to someone like Atlantic Records and gone through the rigmarole of ‘I hope we are better than that band who played at L'Amours in New York this week’, or ‘I hope the bloke's in a good mood when he hears our tape.’ But we weren't interested in that.” 

Mr Way is particularly bursting with confidence and enthusiasm for this fresh incarnation of what I have to say is a great British rock institution. However, with the recession cutting deep into everyone's pockets and the British touring circuit currently overflowing with activity, if I were him, I'd be worrying about whether they can fill the size of venues they have chosen.

“We'll have to wait and see,” replies the slightly more cautious Lawrence. “By the time those dates happen,  there'll be a lot more coverage out about what the band's doing. The thing we've found generally is that there's a lot of pro-UFO people out there.”


“That's in some ways what kept the name, and by the time we hit January, the whole picture will be there. Hopefully there will be a reasonable attendance in November. But it's all part of a big build towards a picture of the whole thing. The excitement level will be there and there'll be all the songs that everybody wants to hear, plus stuff off the new album. It's going to be a good night out.”

I do hope so, because if this fails, UFO will have no choice but to disappear back into the unknown, a course of action Pete hasn't even considered. Take his answer on the current rock marketplace.

“This probably fits at the top of the list actually! I may be biased, but I find everything else I've heard rather boring. Nobody is going to be disappointed with these new songs and everybody who buys the album is going to have a favourite song. We don't actually do this because it's supposed to be average!”

So are you aiming for world domination then, Pete?


Lawrence: “What else is there?”

Lyn  Guy
Riff Raff
November 1991 

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