Love To Love / Phil Mogg Talks Health, UFO And Lights Out

With the Lights Out 2024 Remaster already out, MetalTalk and Chrysalis Records have today released an official UFO Lyric Video for the track Love To Love. Paul Hutchings caught up with the legendary Phil Mogg to talk about health, UFO and when Billy Sheehan was in the band.

“I’m just going to shift my phone over to my other ear. I’ve gone deaf in one,” laughs Phil Mogg as we start our introductions. “You might have to talk a little louder.” 

I reassure him that I’ll do my best, but I say that I don’t want to come across as patronising. “Without getting you too excited,” Phil says, “it’s wax. I have it done. All that loud music. Yeah, that’s what it is.”

Phil Mogg - UFO
Phil Mogg – UFO, London. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

I’m in a wet Newport and find Phil Mogg in Brighton, where he assures me, “It’s bloody windy.” Having got the weather out of the way, how very British, Phil kindly asks how I am. I tell him I’m fine, but more importantly, I say how is he doing, having given us all a scare a few years ago with his heart issues. 

“I’m good,” Phil Mogg says. “It was a bit, what’s the word? Unusual. I thought this was indigestion, but it grabbed me a little bit more than normal. It was quite a surprise. I jumped on the bus the next day and went down to the A&E. They kept me in, but I must admit the National Health Service was brilliant. I was in and out in a week. 

“Apparently, though, if you do get an event like that, go to the A&E. Don’t go to your doctors because you’ll be kept waiting for months.” Good advice from someone who has experienced it first-hand, and as someone who works for the NHS, for me it is pleasing to hear. 

Phil explains that he had a couple of stents inserted during his admission. “You can actually lie there and watch it. It’s bloody horrible,” he laughs, before confirming that he was back to full health in about three months. “You wouldn’t know anything had gone on.” 

We touch on others who have had heart interventions, including recent MetalTalk interviewee Biff Byford. “And Brian May,” adds Phil, “but they’ve got two totally different approaches because Brian May was more like, why me? I’ve never smoked or drank. Why? How could this possibly happen? And Biff was a bit like, yeah, right. Let’s get on with it.”

Phil Mogg - UFO, London. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk
Phil Mogg – UFO, London. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

If there is one thing I wanted to hear from this interview, it is that Phil is well, and it is pleasing to confirm that. We move on to the band that occupied 50 years of Phil Mogg’s life. UFO. We start with the final Last Orders tour, and I mention to Phil that I had tickets and made the trip to the planned final show in Athens in 2022. Is UFO as a band now finished?

“Yeah, I would say so,” says Phil. “That sort of curtailed it. It would have been nice to have finished up, especially in Athens, because that was where Vinnie [Moore] did his first gig with us. So it would have rounded it off really nicely. But yeah, not meant to be.”

UFO - Lights Out. Andy Parker. "When we listened back to it, we all knew: This is really good."
UFO – Lights Out. Andy Parker. “When we listened back to it, we all knew: This is really good.”

The Watford Gap

We talk a bit about the years of touring and the changes that would have taken place between those early tours in the ’70s and the final couple of shows in 2022. “You’re talking about back in the van days,” says Phil. “The pain days. That was up and down the M1, the Watford Gap and all that. That was real fun, actually.

“I think it got a little bit repetitive, but back in the day when you’re doing that, everything was new. It was all PA stacks and, ‘Here, let’s hear your band before we put you on.’ Another good one was, ‘No, we can’t pay you all the money because you’ve drank most of it.’ You go, hang on, that wasn’t in the bloody contract. But it was a lot of fun.”

Things were a lot more comfortable for the final couple of tours, including the Last Orders tour. Did Phil still enjoy the last couple of tours?

“I enjoyed playing,” he says. “I think that the final British tour was great. That was a really good tour for us, and most of the American tour was really good, too. But it just sort of roller-coasted to a standstill as we got into Europe.

“The playing bits are always good. I think it’s the travelling which is pretty gruelling. You look when you got overnighters on the tour, and you sort of go, oh, no. And then the bus turns up, and you can’t get in a room, and there’s no food. It’s that kind of thing that weighs you down.”

UFO - Lights Out
Lights Out is truly the best example of UFO at their cohesive best.

Lights Out

We move onto the reason that we’ve got this interview – the reissued version of Lights Out, the seminal 1977 album, complete with live show from The Roundhouse. 

It was UFO’s sixth album and is seen as their commercial breakthrough. I chuckle with Phil as I say that it got to a heady 54 in the charts. 

It was the first album to feature the much-missed Paul Raymond and is what many see as the band’s classic line-up, Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond, Peter Way, Michael Schenker and Andy Parker. What were Phil’s recollections from the time? 

“We’d done all that bloody groundwork,” he says. “We had been working for four years. We had done the albums with Chrysalis [Phenomenon, No Heavy Petting and Force It]. We had done loads of work with shows everywhere, from pizza parlours to everything.”

Paul Raymond - UFO - London.
Paul Raymond – UFO – London. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

“But we were doing well. We built up the way bands used to, well, I suppose they still do. We built up a very good following, but it seemed to be a bit of a gap. That’s when we thought, well, let’s get in a different producer, an engineer. You look at the albums you play. Ron Nevison’s name popped up a lot. We said, well, let’s try and get this bloke because he’s got a real good sound. A lot of the engineering, too, on the Led Zeppelin stuff. 

“Chrysalis went out and got Ron. They had just opened the Air Studios in Oxford Street. So, we went in and said, let’s see what we can do with these rehearsals and with Ron. Man, we had strings here and there, but not like fairy dust stuff. Ron was up for doing most things, too. He had a good outlook on it. So, we worked well together.”

It’s the title track, Lights Out, that would become the song that UFO would play the most in their entire career. Based on some pretty troubling times in London back in 1977, did Phil realise that they had written a classic? “Not a clue, really,” he says.

Love To Love

“I mean, it’s strange because Doctor Doctor and Rock Bottom came from the Phenomenon album. I mean those two, it’s almost like you can’t leave them out, and that became the same with Lights Out. You couldn’t really leave it out. Love To Love, too. That was another one you couldn’t leave out. But at the time, we didn’t have much of an idea really in that direction.”

Steve Harris has often said that Love To Love is his favourite musical track of all time. Has Steve told Phil Mogg this? “No, he hasn’t, but next time I bump into him, I’ll go, eh, Harris. I hadn’t heard that at all. How nice of him. How much is that going to cost?” he laughs before elaborating somewhat. 

“That’s very nice. I was just thinking of ways when you cook things in a different way, and then maybe you’ll add a little bit more chilli or something. I think it is basically a bit like cooking something. We managed to add just about the right ingredients.”

If you read my recent review of Lights Out, you’ll know that I love the album. There are some less well-known songs on the album which are just as good. Try Me, for example, which features on the Roundhouse show. I remind Phil that he introduces it as one that all the reviewers hate, and then UFO proceed to do a brilliant version of it. 

Just Another Suicide is another track that I think a lot of old-school UFO fans hold in very high regard. The whole album is strong. 

“It turned out very good,” Phil says, “considering we weren’t actually aiming for any particular market or any particular direction.”

UFO Lights Out 2024 Remaster – Deluxe Edition
UFO Lights Out 2024 Remaster – Deluxe Edition

Strangers In The Night

We move on briefly to touch upon the seminal Strangers In The Night, a double live album that still sounds brilliant today. 

The reissue includes their set at London’s Roundhouse, and the band is on fire. There’s a great part in the show where Phil shouts out to the London crowd and tells them that the posse from Sheffield are out singing them.

One of the great things about UFO and Phil was that live, he would always ad-lib with the audience. “Yeah, it’s worrying,” Phil smiles. “My wife said that. Give him a couple of pints, put him on stage, and you’re off.

“I like chatting with the audience, and that’s a difficult thing sometimes when you’re abroad. You can’t get that interaction. Although I vividly remember doing this gig in Scotland and chatting, and somebody goes, ‘For fuck’s sake, stop talking and get on with it.’ There we go. I’m in Scotland. But I like a good chat. It’s very nice with the audience.”

Phil Mogg, UFO - Cambridge
Phil Mogg, UFO – Cambridge. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

50+ Year Career

With a career spanning over 50 years, how does Phil Mogg reflect on his time both with UFO and with other projects? His answer is surprisingly honest. “I could try. I only seem to be able to remember the most ridiculous things that went on.

“The stupid kind of lunacy. I vividly remember Pete [Way] bringing a dog from the hotel, a little dachshund, and taking it to the gig. Then coming back and the manager was in pieces going where’s my fucking dog?

“I said to Pete, why have you got the dog on there? He had put it on the bus. He just said, ‘It’s a lovely dog, though, isn’t it?’ You kind of remember that. You remember particular gigs, like the Marquee and some stadium shows. But that’s about it. It’s sort of flows into one.”

UFO has certainly had a few characters in the band over the years. I tell Phil that I think when I first saw them in 1983, Billy Sheehan was on bass. Obviously, he wasn’t quite the superstar he is today. 

“He was really good,” Phil says. “I mean, a hot bass player. He happened to be free when we needed someone, and it fitted in perfectly for a while. The other bloke we played with before was Rudy Sarzo. I can’t remember, but I think Pete went off to do Waysted around that time.” 

We mull over whether it was Fastway with Eddie Clarke. “Ah, I think that was the one. Yeah, Fastway. We needed someone quick, and then Billy went, and Paul Gray from the Damned helped out.”

I reflect that there are some big names who have been in UFO. “I was going to say that it’s the quantity, not the quality,” laughs Phil.

Moggs Motel

We finish up with an update on the forthcoming Phil Mogg solo album Moggs Motel. “It comes out in September,” he says, “which is a long way away. We’re going to do a video thing. We never did any video with UFO, which is extraordinary. I think there’s one film from Rock Palace.

“We never did any promos or things for the band, so this would be interesting. We will get that out before the album comes out.”

Phil confirms that the album is complete. “We got a deal. We’ve got SPV doing it over here and Cleopatra in America.” Neil Carter is part of the team. “You’re never alone with Neil,” he smiles before describing the rest of the line-up as “half of Voodoo Six” [For those who don’t know, they were formed in 2003, featured a certain Richie Faulkner for a time, and remain a top band]. The line-up is completed by Tony Newton [bass], Joe Lazarus [drums] and Tommy Gentry on lead guitar.  

Phil tells me that the album was started during lockdown, so most of the recording was done digitally, although there was the occasional meet-up. 

I ask if he’s excited by the release of the album. “I’ll get more excited when it’s coming out,” he says, “but I’m very pleased that we completed it because it started off from nothing, and then it all sort of came together.”

There may no longer be any UFO, but there is a fine legacy to enjoy, including that fine Lights Out package. Phil Mogg is still alive and kicking. Moggs Motel promises to be a highlight of 2024, and you’ll find comprehensive coverage here at MetalTalk. Moggs Motel will be out on 6 September.

UFO Lights Out 2024 Remaster – Deluxe Edition is reissued on 3LP and 2CD on 2 February 2024 (Chrysalis Records). Order here https://ufo.lnk.to/LightsOut.

UFO - Lights Out - Vinyl Reissue
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