Mike McCready’s Flight to Mars, his tribute to UFO, is currently on a 7-date 10th Anniversary tour. In Flight to Mars, McCready channels his inner Michael Schenker while imparting his own sense of soul on the underated English group’s classic tunes.

Proceeds from the tour benefit Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s Camp Oasis for kids afflicted with the disease and Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness. Both are non-profit organizations which the guitarist has helped support for almost ten years. Flight To Mars plays tonight in Santa Ana, California at The Observatory.

Artist Direct talked to McCready about Flight To Mars, his passion for UFO, and the cause behind the band:
What was the initial impetus behind Flight to Mars?

MM: I was trying to figure out a fun way to raise more money for kids who have Crohn’s Disease or Colitis. For me, fun entails getting together and playing with friends of mine in a cover band. That’s came to mind. UFO is a band no one had really done which I knew about. Michael Schenker and that band were very important to me growing up as a guitar player. When we were kids, Stone Gossard and I were so into them we used to trade pictures of Michael Schenker [Laughs].

You’re using music for a very positive goal. That’s one of the best aspects of this.

MM: Right! If we can do something and be proactive and solution-oriented, that’s what life is about. Instead of sitting around, you’ve got to get out there. I have a lot of energy, and I want to devote that to positive efforts. It helps me to come out and talk about Crohn’s and Colitis, especially when I meet other people who have it.

When did you first discover UFO?

MM: That’s a good question. I don’t exactly remember. I had the record in my house in 1979. I don’t remember how it got there though [Laughs]. I might’ve gotten it as a present or from a friend, but I remember having the Strangers in the Night live record after hearing it at a buddy’s house. As a young guitar player, they were one of the bands that made me go, “Wow, what’s this all about?” They had really great songs. I loved Phil Mogg’s voice, and I loved Michael Schenker’s guitar playing. I loved how the songs were structured. It was very exciting to hear that. Strangers in the Night is what we mostly cover.

Is it important for you to infuse your style into the covers? These definitely have your flare.

MM: It’s mostly because I don’t know how to play like Michael Schenker [Laughs]. He’s so good it’s hard for me to play him note for note. He’s the kind of guitar player who can hit every single note. He probably practiced a whole bunch. I’m not a guy who’s practiced a whole bunch. I’ve just played in bands since I was eleven-years-old. That was my upbringing. I practiced a bit but never my scales. My flare, as you say—which I appreciate—is me not knowing how to play as well as Michael Schenker [Laughs].

There’s a blues element to your renditions of the UFO songs.

MM: That’s how I play. The feel aspect of it is important to me. Michael Schenker had a feel aspect, but he was a German guitar player and he came from a different thought process—which is probably more of a classical background. Within that, he had a certain feeling. I can feel it when he’s playing. I didn’t come from that background though. I came from metal and blues and a mixture of those two things.
Read the rest of the interview with more on McCready talking about Micheal Schenker and the next Pearl Jam album: www.artistdirect.com

Flight To Mars tour dates:
May 14 – Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory
May 15 – San Diego, CA – The Casbah
May 16 – Las Vegas, NV – Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip
May 17 – West Hollywood, CA – The Troubadour
May 20 – San Francisco, CA – The Independent
May 22 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater
May 23 – Seattle, WA – Showbox at the Market

McCready wrote the music for a new Matthew Lillard-directed movie called ‘Fat Kid Rules the World.’ You may remeber Lillard from his acting work in films like ‘Scream,’ ‘She’s All That,’ ‘Scooby Doo,’ and more recently the Oscar-nominated movie ‘The Descendants.’ This is his directorial debut and he told Spinner.com that it was a major coup to land Mike McCready for his musical contributions. “It’s one of the few times in my entire life where the agent has made a direct impact on my life,” says Lillard of the contact who put him in touch with the Pearl Jam guitarist. “She said, ‘Do you need music for your movie? What about Mike McCready from Pearl Jam?’ and I was like, ‘That would be heaven on earth.’”

Lillard added that his agent made the phone call and much to his surprise he was dining with and pitching his film to McCready four days later. “It was one of the best collaborative relationships I’ve ever had,” said Lillard. McCready earned a 2004 Golden Globe Award nomination for ‘Man of the Hour,’ for Pearl Jam’s contribution to the film ‘Big Fish.’ McCready also served as one of the musicians helping score last year’s comedy, ‘Horrible Bosses.’ He’s also worked as a guest composer for episodes of the TV series’ ‘Hawaii Five-0’ and ‘Fringe.’

‘Fat Kid Rules the World’ deals with an overweight and depressed teen whose life is saved when a former classmate and a local guitar legend convince him to form a band. The film has been making the festival circuit rounds and won the South By Southwest Audience Award for Narrative Feature Spotlight back in March. The movie closed the TIFF Nextwave Festival this past Sunday (May 13)  and Lillard is currently seeking distribution opportunities.

Eddie Vedder is giving us a taste of the single he created for model Christy Turlington Burns’ compilation album, ‘Every Mother Counts Vol. 2.’ The album is the second installment of Burns’ charity album series and features the Pearl Jam frontman’s new track, “Skipping.”

“Eddie was amazing to accept this project while in the midst of so much,” Burns tells Rolling Stone. “I spoke to him and exchanged several emails about his contribution. ‘Skipping’ is such a sweet song and I just love that his daughter Olivia has a little cameo at the start. He once wrote me saying that his girls would be proud one day that their dad contributed to such a meaningful project.”

The album also includes previously unreleased tracks by Beck, Coldplay, Bono and The Edge, Alanis Morissette, and Dave Matthews Band, plus more.Every Mother Counts Vol. 2 is available now at participating Starbucks through May 29.