In 1970, I said, the Scorpions will be one of the Top 30 rock bands in the world.”
Wikimetal (Nando Machado): Hello, Mr. Rudolf Schenker?
Rudolf Schenker: Yeah, it’s me on the phone. How are you?
W (NM): Hello, Mr. Rudolf. I’m very happy, very happy to be talking to you. How are you?
RS: I’m doing very good, we’re coming from the United States, coming from our tour, which was very successful, and you know, we’re going to the studio again to look around for some new songs and some new things to do, and, you know, there’s always something to do.
W (NM): So, talking about the time you were kids in Germany, Rudolf, in the early 60s, did you ever imagine that you could be so successful with such a solid career after more than 40 years and really create one of the most important bands in rock history?
RS: I know this feeling from every single partner. And I know, especially after “Fly to the Rainbow” it trended. And even before, that’s right, before I even interviewed, which was May ’70, or ’71, something like this… Before “Lonesome Crow”, I said – and that’s interesting – “The Scorpions will be one of the top 30 rock bands in the world.” So, you know, that’s the situation that I wrote the book, called “Rock your Life”. The situation is: if you trust your feelings and if you really have a philosophy, then you can do it, because the problem is mostly from the American, English bands, they are mostly “OK, let’s come together, let’s play music, let’s see what’s happening”. So mostly in America and England there are managements, big managements telling you mostly not the truth, they’re telling you some… Let’s say, believe what you like to believe. So when we started Scorpions in Germany, from Hannover, a very small place, I did the management. So in this case, nobody could tell me really what is true and what is not, because I decide by myself what the truth is. So from this moment on I noticed what I had to do to make the career of the band. First of all, the band Scorpions is based on the philosophy of friendship. I was always looking for good musicians, no question about this, but also for musicians who I could build a friendship with, which chemistry wise, links into my personality. Chemistry is a very important point. If you can see, when you drink a Piña Colada, if the Piña Colada has the wrong product, if it’s not the right rum, with 80%, and if it’s not the right coconut, not fresh, and pineapple too, you may get a Piña Colada, but the taste is terrible. And also, it goes away very fast, it goes back. So in this case, chemistry is the whole life. If the chemistry is right, you can have a good life, if the chemistry is wrong, you have a bad life. So in this case, I try to get the right musicians. Even later on, when we lost some musicians, the philosophy, which started the band, was always a very important part. So especially coming from Germany, it was a hard situation, but, you know, if you really believe in what you’re doing, just do it. The only thing which was I wasn’t sure about, was that I didn’t know whether it would hold this long, this career would hold over 40 years. I thought maybe “OK, 20 years could be a good time.” But 40 years is really unbelievable, and that’s fantastic.
Scorpions is based on the philosophy of friendship.”
W (NM): It is fantastic in deed. We’re very happy to have you on our show. So, Rudolf, Scorpions is known as a great live band, it’s always been known as a great live band. The live albums of Scorpions are probably between the best live albums of all time in rock history. How important is the live performance for an artist, in your opinion?
RS: The most important one! You know, the situation is you can never forget where you started from. The starting point of the band was playing live. Even in the beginning, covering songs, play as much as you can play. And then, by doing your own songs, you will start thinking “What can I do to also play music very well, and also to entertain the people?” which is very important. Music is, of course, art, and also a kind of entertainment. And what was happening where we were, was that at the beginning of the Scorpions, especially in the 70s, early 70s, I bought a car where I could drive the whole band, and drive to France and to Belgium and to Holland, and I put always a very good soundtrack to listen to what was happening, what was up-to-date music wise. And we couldn’t always listen to, driving for 8 or 9 hours by car, always to music, when we stopped the music, because we were tired of listening to music, we talked about what we could do to make a great Scorpions show. So out of this, five guys in the car, we had a Mercedes SEL, a long version, there wasn’t always enough space, but sometimes some guys were left behind, and sometimes we were talking. And we were talking about a drum riser, a drum riser who goes up in the air, we were talking about this and this, and we were talking about a lot, until everybody agreed that this was a good idea. So in this case, when we went upstate, especially coming from Germany, we had always the feeling that we didn’t have to give 100%, we had to give 150%, 180%. We came on stage everyday as a rock N’ roll gang, and we were kicking ass like a hurricane. And it was our first point, when we went to France, to Belgium, to England, and people couldn’t believe it, they said “What kind of band is that?” Playing, in first place, playing on front of 40 people, then next time already 700 and next time already 2000, especially in England, which is a country of rock N’ roll, like the United States. So in this case, these live performances are the important part, because you can’t lie, you have to perform, and people can see immediately “Is this band real, or is it only a studio project, or is it only made up, or whatever?” So in this case, live performances are the heart of rock N’ roll. Attitude is the fuel of rock N’ roll. So in this case, the Scorpions have both these things. This live situation is very important. And then, when you are also available, and you can also make good records, then you have a perfect start to a great career.
W (NM): Excellent, that’s almost like a recipe for success, a lot of young musicians will love to hear that. Rudolf, do you agree if I say that Scorpions is the biggest German artist of all times?
RS: I mean, if you look at the whole career, and, let’s say, especially also now, on the farewell tour, we’re doing very, very good, very, very well, everywhere, really. So yes, it could be true, but I’ll tell you what, there are some bands behind us, from Germany… Rammstein – very, very good band, one of my favorite bands in the world. So in this case, there are a few good bands from Germany, no question about this, but when you look at the commercial success, and also the success which goes into the more underground kind of bands, I think, of course, the Scorpions are the number one in performance.
I wanted to travel around the world with my friends and play music for everyone and everywhere.”
W (NM): We have a classic question on our show, changing the subject, just imagine you’re listening music on the radio, or maybe on your ipod on shuffle mode, something like that, and then a song comes up that you lose control totally. Which song would that be so we can listen to it on our show now?
RS: OK, I think Rammstein’s “Du hast” is amazing. Yeah, maybe also from… Green Day, I like very much, System of a Down, and Metallica, no question about that. And AC/DC’s “Back in Black” is amazing, an amazing masterpiece. And “Back in the Saddle”, from Aerosmith is fantastic.
W (NM): No, just one, we just need one now.
RS: Oh, Mamma Mia, that’s very difficult! Out of the blue… Oh, “Kashmir”, from Led Zeppelin.
W (NM): Tell me a little bit about the experience of playing in remote places, you had the opportunity to show your music to people that were not used to seeing great concerts. You did that so many times, you did that in the first edition of Rock in Rio, you did that in the USSR, in Asia, in Egypt. How important was for you to take your music to places where people did not have the chance to see other great artists?
RS: This was the most important part in our career. For me, always managing, to have to play 20 times in the United States because it makes much money… Look, the money is not the most important part for me. OK, you have to have money to live, no question about this, but my way of making music was more the philosophy… I was a big Elvis fan, Little Richard, of Gene Vincent, all these old rock N’ roll guys. Then I started to play guitar, I found out that guitar playing is not so easy, and I put my guitar on the wardrobe, until the moment the Beatles and the Rolling Stones came. Then I knew “This is what I want to do. I want to have the feeling of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, of four or five friends traveling around the world and making music, making music to the fans.” So this was my philosophy, I wanted to travel around the world with my friends and play music for everyone and everywhere… In the farthest places, and make an adventure out of this. And that was a very, very important point, because that’s the reason why the Scorpions’ career is still happening, because we played in Asia in the 90s, when Grunge and Alternative were very big in the United States and also Europe. We had the chance to play in Asia, big stadiums in Malaysia, in Thailand, in Korea, in the Philippines, wherever… In India. So it was because we played there, and we played two nights in the Big Four, in Bangkok, in ’82. And there was no record company, there was nothing, only bootleggers who tried to sell things on the street. And everybody said to us “You guys are stupid, why are you playing there? There is no market, nothing.” Same as Russia. We went to Russia, there was no record company, there was really no future that you could see to make money in these places. But I said “Look, guys, it’s why it’s important. Let’s play for these people who want to hear the Scorpions, who want to hear rock music.” So this was an adventure, and out of this adventure, there was a big vision where, at the end… The result of this big vision, especially in Russia, was a soundtrack of the most peaceful revolution on earth, called “Wind of Change”. So, in this case, I can always tell musicians around the world, I always tell them “Don’t believe in money, believe in fun, and believe in talent, and believe in friendship.” If you have these three points, you can make it anywhere around the world, and people will love you, and you can play for them the best music in the world.
The result of Scorpions’ big vision, especially in Russia, was a soundtrack of the most peaceful revolution on earth, called ‘Wind Of Change’.”
W (NM): Talking about you in particular, your performance, Rudolf, you’re one of the greatest performers in rock. Who, in your opinion, are the greatest guitarists, talking about performance?
RS: Oh, performance? Of course, no question about this: Mick Jagger is still one of the guys, I saw him many times, and I’ll tell you… Amazing! And there’s also Till from Rammstein, he is unbelievable, the whole band is unbelievable. And other people… I don’t know, I think… Steven Tyler, no question about this.
W (NM): How about the guitarists?
RS: Guitarists? Guitarists… I have my favorite, no question about this, that’s Jimmy Page, because he is a great composer and he is a great guitar player, no question about this. But there’s also the way of presents yourself on stage, and Pete Townshend was always a great performer on stage, no question about this… Or maybe… Who else? One moment, I have to think about this. Angus Young, yeah, of course! Angus Young, no question about this. He is, you know, if you think about the fact that he is the smallest guy in rock n’ roll, and his two brothers, Malcolm – he’s an amazing guy, amazing rhythm guitar player, and he’s brother is perfect to be the lead, he’s really a tornado. It’s fantastic to watch them.
W (DD): Excellent, excellent. I’m Daniel, I’m one of the co-hosts of Wikimetal, so I’ll just be asking a couple of questions to you, as well. Rudolf, you are coming to Brazil in September, with the “Final Tail Tour”. Is this really a farewell tour or can the fans ever expect a new album on the future?
RS: Well, the point is, we said, in 2010, that we… That this would be the last studio album and the last tour, because we know how much energy it costs to be on the road, to be on tour, playing five days a week. So in this case, we said to ourselves “We stick to the truth.” But what we had in mind… That’s the reason why the project also got “Comeblack”. “Comeblack” came on tour on 2010, when we saw all the young kids in front of the stage. We said “Unbelievable! Where are these guys coming from?” And then we found out, because we have around 1.5, 1.8 million Facebook fans, and we found out that the majority of these 1.5, 1.8 million fans are between 14 and 28 years old. So in this case we said “Look, what can we do?” And then the idea came to go back into the studio and record our classic best songs. But then, somehow we got into the situation “Why not give these people also the idea of who influenced us?” Like bands like The Kings… Whoever. And then we said “Let’s make Scorpions’ cover versions”. To give a kind of idea of what the Scorpions are, and where we’re coming from, and the hits. And we wanted to do it with, let’s say, the new technology, of course, Bluetooth, you can even record on this new technology with sounds that young kids understand, and really feel the sound of today. So in this case, we came with this project, which was the farewell tour. But in the future, of course, we’re working, at the moment, in a film which comes out in 2012, 2013 or 14. It’s a film which talks about the career of the Scorpions, then we have also, of course, material, which in the old days, in the 70s and the 80s, we could only record 9 songs, but we always recorder over 14 or 15. So in this case, there were always some songs left. And what we want to do is, we want to go into the old material, find out which songs we still like, and which songs are outstanding, and bring out an album with all those tracks, something like this. So we have a few things in mind, and also we have around 800 hours of film material in our library. So we want to go through Scorpions in front of the pyramids, or maybe Scorpions in Manaus. So we want to do this kind of stuff, swimming with the black dolphins, whatever. When we have time, the problem is we started already, with a kind of film that talks about the Scorpions’ career over 40 years, but then we found out how much time you need to really make a masterpiece out of it, so in this case we said “OK, guys, when we finish the tour, we’ll do this, because we’ll have enough time to do it.”
W (DD): That’s amazing, amazing, Rudolf. Thanks so much for your time, we’re sure that we’ll have two sold out nights in São Paulo, with more than 15 thousand people going crazy in September, when the Scorpions come to Brazil again. And before we finish, can you pick a song from Scorpions that you’re really proud of having written so we can listen to it on the show now?
RS: Of course! “Rock you like a Hurricane”!
W (NM): Thank you so much, Mr. Schenker. It’s been a real honor, so we look forward to seeing you in September, in Brazil.
RS: OK, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the fans from Brazil, and all the same, thank you very much for supporting the Scorpions for so long. We can only say we will rock you like a hurricane. See you!
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