Scorpions don’t need any introductions. The best introduction was written by 27000 fans on the 18th of July 2005. There is a saying that the more you say the poorer you are. Let’s go straight to the point. Ladies and gentlemen, Rudolf Schenker, Klaus Meine and Matthias Jabs. Interview: Sakis Nikas and George Anasontzis
Rockpages.gr: You played last year at a sold-out venue here in Greece with a capacity of 7000 people. Now, you are back and you are having a sold-out concert of 27000 people. How does it feel?
Rudolf Schenker: Great! It means that we did a very good job with “Unbreakable”, because all our fans have been waiting to return to our familiar rock sound, after all our side projects. We didn’t want to recreate the 80s, though, but to bring the sound of 2000 into our music. I think it was a good mixture; people liked it very much and we are quite happy.
Rockpages.gr: You consider “Moment of glory” and “Acoustica” to be side projects for your career?
Rudolf: Yes, and “Eye to Eye”. Sometimes, you need to refresh your sound.
Rockpages.gr: So, what was the motive to go back into the studio and record a dynamic album, like “Unbreakable”?
Matthias Jabs: Basically, this is what we know to do best. When we did “Eye to Eye” we were wondering if we should do something different, because we had done for such a long time the same rock n roll music. Every musician has the right to do something different, to experiment with various sounds. But, the fans want their favorite band to sound the same as always. I can understand this, because if I want to hear something new from AC/DC I want to hear something like “Highway to hell” and not something else. But, with all these side projects we had the opportunity to work with some outstanding musicians and maybe with the best orchestra in the world. How can you say no to a project like this? It was a very challenging opportunity for us, we took it, and I think that it turned out great! It was a nice extension of what we do musically. “Acoustica” was the continuation of our side projects. We were in that mood to do something different and it was an idea that we had for a long time, since MTV Unplugged became popular in the early 90s. After all these journeys, we are glad that we had returned to our hard rocking sound.
Rockpages.gr: Did the fact that these side projects weren’t as commercially successful as you might have expected played any role in returning to the hard rock sound?
Matthias: No, it’s not a matter of the commercial success. At least we, as band, don’t see it that way. Of course, we would like to sell more albums of “Acoustica”, but that’s not the point. We always pay attention to the set-list of our shows. If you notice, we don’t play any songs neither from “Pure Instinct” nor from “Eye to Eye”. We are playing songs that people like and happen to be from our personal favorite records.
Rockpages.gr: We heard that Uli Roth will open a concert for you in France. Is it true?
Rudolf: Yes, and in USA we will have UFO as an opening act. I can’t wait for this!
Rockpages.gr: Have you ever thought of doing any special show with Uli or Michael Schenker, and share the stage all of you?
Rudolf: Always! We are trying to get it done for such a long time, but the schedules never seem to work out for all of us. The idea was also to have Uli and Michael in the “Acoustica” record, but it didn’t happen. Someday…(laughs)
Rockpages.gr: You are the first and most successful German band in rock music. How difficult was it for you to break the barriers and make it in a commercial market, like the music one?
Rudolf: Very difficult! We had to fight a lot of times to achieve our goal.
Rockpages.gr: Did you meet any obstacles, especially in the beginning, in order to achieve an international career?
Rudolf: Of course. We were a German rock band and I remember in the beginning there were some people from the music industry that were laughing with us. But, in the mid-70s, there was a band in the USA called Van Halen that was doing Scorpions covers, like “He’s a woman, she’s a man” and “Speedy’s coming”. My brother called me from USA and I couldn’t believe it! When we met Van Halen after a couple of years or so, they came to us and sung “Speedy’s coming” (ed. Here, Rudolf sings the chorus of the song, causing a stir in the room). It was hard but we managed to work our way up. In the end, this period made us stronger and gave us a lesson later on how to survive being successful, which I tell you it is an even harder thing to do.
Rockpages.gr: Was there any moment that you thought that maybe the end was near for the band?
Rudolf: Sure. Especially, when Klaus lost his voice, after “Animal Magnetism” and we had to wait for him to get better, because we didn’t think of getting another singer. That was not even a choice for us. We would wait for Klaus and we are glad that he returned…
Rockpages.gr: …with an album-dynamite like “Blackout”!
Rudolf: Yes, but we thought at that time that maybe this could be the end for Scorpions. Those kinds of things make you stronger and better. Other bands, like AC/DC or Stones, have had their tragedies, too. But, they carried on and built a successful career.
Rockpages.gr: You always said that the 80s were the peak of Scorpions’ career with all your famous albums. Do you think that with “Unbreakable” you are reliving a second peak?
Klaus Meine: I really think so. For example, we are returning to Greece in such a big way and all the people that we meet say that we could have played in a bigger stadium. Not, that this one is small! (laughs) A couple of years ago, we’d be happy if we played in front of 5000 people…
Matthias: …which is still a big number.
Klaus: Yeah! But, today we are playing in front of 25000 people and it is absolutely great. You are right, though. This seems to be our second peak, because there is a whole new generation of kids out there, who loves rock music and loves “Unbreakable” and Scorpions! As I used to say in the 80s, our music is like an invitation to all of you out there. If you want to join the party, you are welcome! It seems that our music attracts new fans, especially these days, where there is so much plastic/computer music around. Young fans know that only rock music comes from the heart and soul of the artist and only rock concerts are a unique experience. This Scorpions’ line-up, with Pawel and James is very strong and gives a new air in the band! The reaction of the crowd to songs like “Rock you like a hurricane” or “Blackout” or any other Scorpions’ song is the motivation to keep going.
Rudolf: We also want to express our thanks to EMI, especially in Greece, for doing such a great job in promoting Scorpions as mush as possible. We’ve been together for a long time and they always cared for us.
Rockpages.gr: Klaus, what does Rudolf mean to you and…
Matthias: …don’t be afraid of fights! (laughs)
Rudolf: Come on, Klaus! (laughs)
Klaus: Rudolf and Matthias are my best friends. Especially, with Rudolf we have a friendship that goes back in the 60s. He is not only my band mate, he is my brother! He is not someone that you only call in the middle of the night to fix your tire!
Rockpages.gr: …and that, too! (laughs)
Rudolf: Yeah! I am Klaus’ mechanic. (laughs)
Klaus: No, really. He is a good friend and a powerful songwriter. Matthias is also a good friend, obviously. Being a member of the band for more than 25 years, he can be a real Scorpion! He can be a real asshole! (laughs)
Matthias: Ohh! (laughs)
Klaus: Come on! You know what I mean. This has a positive meaning.