Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Currently we are experiencing a flurry of Scorpions related new music. Impending releases from Michael Schenker and his Temple of Rock new album, UFO and the Scorpions themselves have all enforced the belief that the classic rock genre is very much alive and kicking. The recent introduction of a new UK based festival to the summer calender Ramblin Man Fair to be headlined by the legendary German Rock band the Scorpions offered the opportunity to discuss both this and the band history who are now in their 50th year of existence with front man Klaus Meine.
Germanys most successfully rock band, The Scorpions. These guys have been trend setters for that genre from the country that is known for Beer and their world class Oktoberfest Festival. Through Rock’s history we’ve had quite a few legendary bands that are known for their longevity in the scene, The Scorpions fit right up there when it comes to a definitive long career. But as with tenure bands, at some point they like to call it quits, so it happened in 2012 at the end of another successful world tour, the band threw the anvil down and decided to step way.
Truth be told, when there is a high demand, you supply more. In this case they guys realized that stepping away wasn’t all that easy as their popularity is still at a constant level. Klaus Meine himself admittedly said so.
Their long time running vocalist now at the senior age of 66, instead decided to mix some downtime in between studio albums instead of the constant grind of life on the road ( A bit like Judas Priest decided to do). So with a new studio album this year titled “Return to Forever” the upcoming eighteenth studio album, the band catapults their way back into the scene, line up another world tour and The Scorpions are back in business, stinging their poising to all their longtime army of fans.
We we’re very fortunate to have a chat with Klaus Meine himself tackling new album, world tour, their past success and the future….
Good afternoon Klaus. You have recently been announced as one of the head liners of the inaugural Ramblin Man Festival marking a rare UK appearance. Will that be a one off show,or will the band be returning to play a UK tour?
Klaus”Well I hope that we come for more. This is just coming back after a few years and we had the UK at the top of our list. We are glad that we have the chance to play at Ramblin Man and I guess that it is a new festival in Kent. Right?
Yeah that’s correct.
Klaus”Lets hope that we are coming back in a big way for more shows to come”
Of course fans are now eagerly awaiting the release of a new Scorpions album “Return to Forever”Perhaps the UK audience will get the opportunity to also hear some new material in that set?
Klaus”Right now we are doing all the promo for the album. Our movie has just had a world premiere in Berlin last weekend. We have got to pick up the production and all the touring related things pretty soon. Of course we will have a whole new show, a whole new stage set-up. Also a new set list. We shall see, and pick up a few songs from the new album,along with the classics,and some songs that we have not played for quite a while.”
The band are into their fiftieth year and indeed how no sign of quitting. Can you try to account for the enduring popularity of The Scorpions?
Klaus”Well I guess it is the fact that we keep coming up with strong albums and the fact that the Scorpions have always been a very powerful live band. Whenever we got out there we deliver the goods I guess. The fact that the last couple of years we have a whole new audience of Scorpions fans, a whole new generation of rock fans in front of the stage. It is wonderful, you know to see that our music has become timeless. Some of the big classics has attracted a whole new audience of rock fans out there and to play them in front of three generations it is fantastic and very motivating.”
Just moving onto a few general questions. I just wondered when did you first realize that you had a talent for singing.what are your earliest musical memories?
Klaus”I think when I was a kid. I grew up with parents and my father played with his friends. They called it”house music”you know. It was house music in the old fashioned way when some friends came together, and played at some family parties at the weekends with guitars, mandolin, accordion. I grew up with music and all the way back from the early years I always wanted to be a singer.”
Looking back at your life what are you most proud of?
Klaus”I think, that I am not proud of anything really you know. Its more that I feel really thankful that for all these years it is a privilege that we still as a German band can play a global stage. The philosophy of friendship in this band really paid off because friendship and teamwork was always a very important part of the Scorpions. It feels really good that after all these years that we are still out there, and that we still have a chance to even come back to the UK very soon.”
After such a long career do you still have dreams, hopes and ambitions?
Klaus”Of course, I mean the thing is we never lost the passion for what we are doing. Even after all these years there are still some places on the map, some parts around the world where we have never been. Even after celebrating our fiftieth anniversary it looks like now that we will go to China for the very first time in early May. That is pretty cool since we have never been there. It feels like we are excited like we were back in the seventies(laughs)playing for the very first time in Japan. There are still places around the world that we want to go and of course we are still very ambitious about it.”
Viewing the bands back catalogue do you feel that the Scorpions have ever made a bad album?
Klaus” I think in the late nineties which was a decade which was so much dominated by alternative and grunge music and all that music revolution that took place. For all the bands that had come from a successful career out of the eighties and being classic rock bands it was a time where you had to fight to survive as a classic rock band. I think that the second half of the nineties and towards the end of the nineties where we recorded “Eye to Eye”was an album where we experimented a lot. It was not very well received by our fans but maybe it was the best mistake that we ever did. We found out how important it is to go back to the Scorpions DNA. A few years later when we came back with “Unbreakable”I think we were right on track. Classic and Hard Rock came back in a big way.”
At school were you an academically strong student?
Klaus”It was always music. I always loved soccer and I am still a big fan and support my team Hanover 96 my home team in Germany. Music was what I wanted to do, and when I met with Rudolph in the late sixties we started the band in 65. That is the reason that we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary this year. Such a long time, Rudolph also loved soccer but we shared the same dream. We wanted to be musicians and take our music all over the world and that was quite ambitious for a young band when we started in Hanover West Germany.”
With regard to the new album I have heard that some of those songs have roots that stretch back quite some time into the bands past?
Klaus”We went back a few years ago and said that it would be nice to go back to the eighties, there were still some unreleased songs and some songs that were never finished.We knew that there was some very strong material that was sitting there from the mid eighties. With this record after we did the MTV “Unplugged”project and after playing some very successful shows in the last two years in Germany here we went back with our Swedish producers. In the meantime we had written some brand new material. At the end of last year we had about twenty songs and some of them date back to the eighties and also some brand new material. It turned out to be even more of a new album than we thought it would be.”
What would you say is the secret of success?
Klaus”The secret of success-Like this band when we started as young kids in Germany we were always looking for the right chemistry as a band. As you know we had Rudi’s brother Michael in the band, Michael Schenker started playing with us. Then he went to UFO in England and we had Uli Jon Roth who joined the band throughout the seventies. We did “Tokyo Tapes”always with great guitar players. It was always a guitar-driven band, a hard rock band. Of course we were always able to show the full spectrum of all the emotions. Of course we became very strong writing super ballads as well. I think one of the reasons for the longevity is partly because the chemistry was always strong,the band was built on friendship and on teamwork. Like on our new single says it all”We built this house on a rock”
Outside music what do you like to do Klaus in your spare time?
Klaus”I like to go to movies, plus when you see yourself on a big screen for the first time that is very cool, at the world premiere of our new movie”Forever and a day”. I hope that it will go out in the UK as well. I know what you are talking about-I used to play tennis for years. Doing sports/doing some workouts but then we have been all over the world doing concerts so we cannot risk doing any injuries. I have not played tennis for quite some time because that is probably the most dangerous sport when you want to stay in good shape and not ruin your bones on the tennis court”
Klaus tell me about that Scorpions movie, is it a live concert or a band documentary?
Klaus”Yeah it is called”Forever and a Day”its about the story,the life and the career of the Scorpions. With a lot of unseen footage from the early years, even Uli Jon Roth back in the seventies filmed a lot of stuff with a Super 8 camera. We had a film crew with us around the world from Bangkok, London to LA, Paris, Los Angeles and Beirut. This is between some live footage on this last tour which was billed as The Farewell tour which turned into a Return to Forever.(laughs)It also shows some footage from the early days when the band were just starting as young kids with our tour bus and just being on the road. There is even some footage in Liverpool with us playing the Cavern Club.”
Any plans perhaps to release a book to tie in with the film?
Klaus”I have been approached, by writers recently and I hope that I find the time. Right now we find ourselves doing this fiftieth anniversary thing with so many concerts piling up. France, China like I said, Russia, UK some festivals and then Us and Canada. There is simply no time to do a biography. Rudolph Schenker put out a biography some years ago called”Rock Your Life”..but I mean the time will come when we will put out something like we have talked about-the life and career, but right now we are just too busy being out there and doing what we are doing…”
You are a hero to many, but who would be a personal hero that you would like to interview?
Klaus”Being a Beatles fan, all the way back from the early days yeah it would be great to do an interview with Paul”
Looking back the Scorpions have had a hugely successful career with many millions of units sold. However what would be the lowest point?
Klaus”That is very simple to answer. He lowest point was when I lost my voice in the early eighties, and the highest point(laughing)was when it came back.”
Which songs do you feel are most representative of the Scorpions?
Klaus”I think that there are 3 which represent the band they are “Rock you like a hurricane”,”Still Loving You” and “Winds of Change. Those three songs became all-time classics and they represent the band probably the very best.”
How do you still perform songs like those classics that you have performed many thousands of times. Is it difficult to still enjoy playing those tracks?
Klaus” No because, it would be really tiring if we were performing them every night in the same place. We are going all over the world and still playing them globally, emotionally it is always different. Playing in front of different cultures and different people. On top of that we keep coming up with new material and you refresh the set that way. The new songs keep it always fresh its enjoyable you know. Would Deep Purple get tired of playing”Smoke on the Water”?I don’t think so…
It is the same as us playing “Rock you like a hurricane”when the crowd enjoy it so much.
Bringing things forward and to end our chat, can you pick a couple of new tracks and tell me about those…
Klaus”As I have said its some songs old and some new. Like Catch your luck and play” it had a different title back then. There was maybe a great chorus missing,and so there is a new chorus on that song. It has this Acdc kind of riff in the beginning. It is a great song. Rock +roll band is also a song that we performed an acoustic version for the MTV Unplugged concert that we just did in September 2013. That is a great electric version on the album that is a straight forward in your face kick ass rock n roller. That was also written,at least the music in the mid eighties. There are also new songs like “We built this house”that we did together with our Swedish producers who also contributed to the songwriting on this record. There is also a song called “The Scratch”….
That track did stand out for me when I first heard the album as being something particularly different for The Scorpions…What was the idea behind that one?
Klaus”That is pretty cool, it has a strange kind of vibe and probably something different that we have never done on any album. It is swing with heavy guitars is a very cool song.”Gypsy Life” is a song that we wrote about in the early zero years probably before “Acoustica”It is another song that is reflecting on life on the road, and what you go through as a musician. Being out there and part of this crazy rock and roll circus”
Just to close when is your movie released?
Klaus”It will be released for the movie theater’s at the end of March. There will be another premiere in Hanover at the end of March and then it will be shown around the world. Later on I think on television and then maybe next year it will have a DVD release
I look forward to viewing that and also catching the Scorpions live at the Ramblin Man festival during the summer in the Uk. Last festival I saw the band at was Donington back in 1986…
Klaus”Yes I remember Donington, great memories of Donington it was fantastic”
Thanks for talking to me today Klaus it has been enjoyable. Maybe more UK dates this year?
Klaus”We haven’t been in the UK for quite some time, and we are very excited to come back for the Ramblin Man and rock the UK again….it would be fantastic. Thank you very much good bye.
SCORPIONS – Return To Forever – The 50th Anniversary World Tour 2015/2016
Only UK show
25th July Headlining the Ramblin Man Fair
Rest of the world
8 – Pardubice, Czech Republic – ?EZ Aréna
9 – Lodz, Poland – Atlas Arena
20 – Clisson, France – Hellfest
21 – Dessel, Belgium – Graspop
18 – Sion, Switzerland – Plaine de Tourbillon
19 – Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, France – Guitare En Scene
25 – Maidstone, United Kingdom – Mote Park (Ramblin’ Man Fair)
15 – Eckernförde, Germany – Rock am Strand
21 – Coburg, Germany – Schlossplatz
28 – Zürich Switzerland – Hallenstadion
14 – Stuttgart, Germany – Schleyer-Halle
16 – München, Germany – Olympiahalle
18 – Dortmund, Germany – Westfalenhalle
19 – Mannheim, Germany – SAP Arena
21 – Hamburg, Germany – O2 World
23 – Berlin, Germany – O2 World
24 – Leipzig, Germany – Arena
26 – Frankfurt, Germany – Festhalle