The Scorpions are currently on tour. What singer Klaus Meine cannot do without at concerts, he reveals in an interview.
They are one of the few German hard rock bands that have also achieved great success abroad. The Scorpions were founded in Hanover in 1965, more than 50 years later they are still on the big stages of the world. This makes the Scorpions one of the longest-lived bands in history. Songs like “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, “Still Loving You” or “Wind of Change” are among the classics of rock – internationally. Nobody here is thinking about retirement yet, in 2022 their last album “Rock Believer” was released.
The group consisting of Klaus Meine (74), Rudolf Schenker (74), Matthias Jabs (67), Paweł Mąciwoda (56) and Mikkey Dee (59) is currently on a big tour, and the rockers are also doing their home country in May and June stop. “After we’ve warmed up in the rest of the world, it’s finally time to play for our German fans,” says singer Klaus Meine in a double interview with guitarist Matthias Jabs. The two spoke to the news agency spot on news about strange moments in the dixi toilet, stage accidents and the war in Ukraine.
Her “Rock Believer” tour will take her to Germany in May and June. How excited are you to be back on stage in your home country?
Klaus Meine: We are very happy about it. The tour was postponed in 2022 due to the pandemic. After warming up to the rest of the world, it’s finally time to play for our German fans.
You also play in Hanover, your hometown. What is the atmosphere like there? Are you more excited when you play there?
Matthias Jabs: It’s nice to finally play in Hanover again. We’ve played more often in other German cities in recent years, Hanover was 13 years ago. The fans look forward to us and we look forward to them. It’s always exciting to play on your own doorstep. Friends and acquaintances will be there.
Meine: There will be a lot of familiar faces in front of the stage.
Jabs: In Hanover we have more people backstage than other bands in front of the stage (laughs).
In 2022 you completed a major US arena tour. To what extent are there differences between American and German fans?
Meine: The American fans are generally louder. In the afternoon they open their first beer in the parking lot in front of the hall and get in the mood. But the differences are very small, because rock fans form a worldwide community. The US has always been a good rock market. Germany is also a hard rock and heavy metal territory.
What shouldn’t be missing from your tour?
Meine: A good shower room. You can make me very happy with that. But not because I want to take a shower. I did that in the morning. I like to sing myself warm up in the shower rooms before performances.
Jabs: We don’t lack for anything most of the time when we’re touring. I warm myself up – not in the shower, but in my dressing room. It takes me about an hour to prep the fingers. A chair without armrests is a must. I also prepare myself mentally for the concert.
In the shower the acoustics are good I assume?
My: Of course. The bigger the shower, the better. The first thing I do when I arrive in the hall: I check the showers. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s really important. We have experienced a lot over the years. If I were to tell you all the places I’ve warmed up to, you wouldn’t believe it. At festivals there are usually only tents for the artists. When several bands are playing, it’s usually very loud – even in your own tent. The only place that might then remain is the dixi toilet. I remember a show in Mexico where I warmed up to singing there. This Dixi wobbled because KISS was playing.
Jabs: As long as it hasn’t fallen over, it’s fine (laughs).
They are one of the few German bands that are also very successful abroad, especially in the USA. How can you explain that? Why is it so difficult for other artists to gain an international foothold?
Meine: One reason is the language barrier. This is not only the case with German artists, but also with French singers, for example. In addition, you have to assert yourself as a live band – not only regionally, but worldwide. You are automatically on stage with the best bands in this genre. We were dealing with bands like Van Halen, Aerosmith or ACDC in the 80s. When you’re touring with bands like that or playing at festivals, you’re judged by them and you have to deliver. We did. You have to earn the “Superstar” stamp, nobody gets it for free.
The Scorpions have been around since 1965. What have been your greatest highlights over the course of your long career? And what do you remember negatively?
Jabs: We experienced so many highlights. Listing them all would go beyond the scope. Of course all the big concerts that we play to this day. A few years ago, just before the pandemic, we were voted best band by fans at the Rock in Rio festival. The fact that we celebrated our 50th anniversary years ago is also something special. Not every band experiences that. It’s a career full of highlights, I can’t think of anything negative.
Meine: I could contribute something negative. A few years ago, before there was such a thing as a pyrotechnician, we had a young man who did something similar. He had some stuff that could make a loud bang or fire. We were still young musicians back then and tried our hand at explosive shows long before Rammstein. I had a cylinder that was loaded with black powder – it could be fired by remote control. While we were on stage playing the last song, the hat on my head should go up. At the sound check, everything went wonderfully. Unfortunately not at the concert in the evening. I went up to him afterwards and asked why it didn’t explode. At that moment there was a loud bang and my shirt and upper body were on fire.
Jabs: Those were the days when you got electrocuted on stage. Today that doesn’t happen anymore. You also have technicians who have a license. That was not the case with this man. In retrospect, one can only say: lucky that it didn’t happen in the dixi toilet (laughs).
But hopefully nothing bad happened after the cylinder exploded?
Mine: No. I came home in the evening and my girlfriend said to me: “Something smells burnt here.”
In those early days or later: did you ever think about quitting?
Meine: Yes, when we were already very successful. In 1982 when we recorded the album “Blackout” my voice was gone. I was only able to sing again after two vocal cord surgeries. There were moments when I thought this was the end of my promising career with the Scorpions. Thank God everything turned out for the better. We all stuck together and got through this difficult time for me.
And what about you, Mr. Jabs? Have you ever had a moment?
Jabs: I’ve only been around since 1978. There were a lot of highs, but of course we also had times when it wasn’t easy. In the second half of the 90s, when grunge largely ousted classic rock, we had problems finding our bearings. Because there were voices that said our music was yesterday and nobody wanted to hear it. We then made an album, which isn’t exactly the jewel of our career. Luckily we changed our minds in the end and went our own way. For a short time we lost our bearings. But we have found our way back into the right direction.
Can you still hear your biggest hits like “Wind of Change” or “Rock You Like a Hurricane” after all these years?
Meine: Luckily other bands feel the same way. Deep Purple is still playing “Smoke on the Water”. A song like “Wind of Change” is still relevant after all these years and a young generation listens to it and attends our concerts. That’s great.
The song “Wind of Change” recently hit one billion YouTube views. How important are numbers like this to you?
Meine: It doesn’t matter that much. It’s an impressive moment for now. But all those numbers, even on Spotify, are tricky. Especially when you come from a time when you sold millions of records and brought home gold and platinum albums. These are different dimensions than today. We go with the digital world and of course I’m happy about such a success. But numbers are not in the foreground, but rather making a new album. What we shouldn’t do. But we do it for the sheer pleasure of doing something new for our fans. That drives and spurs us on. When we see the younger generation standing in front of the stage, it’s very motivating. Because we’re obviously doing something right.
You changed the text because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead of “Follow the Moskva/ Down to Gorky Park” you now sing “Now listen to my heart/ It says Ukrainia”. How important do you think it is to set an example in times like this?
Meine: The war started over a year ago. When we started the tour in Las Vegas, I knew that the lyrics, these romanticizing lines for Russia, could no longer be sung. That you either have to take the song out of the setlist or change those lyrics to express solidarity with Ukraine. That was very important. The whole band was behind this measure and the audience accepted it very well. There were many Ukrainian flags and the concerts were very emotional. Unfortunately, as a musician, there’s not much more you can do to draw attention to it or show solidarity. For many years we gave concerts not only in Russia but also in Ukraine. We feel connected to the Ukrainians and hope that this terrible war will end soon.
In 2022 her last album “Rock Believer” was released. Is a new record planned?
Jabs: We’re sitting in the studio right now recording “Rock Believer” and it feels like it wasn’t that long ago. We have big plans and we’ll let it come to us. Whether the muse kisses us again and we think that we have to make a new album remains to be seen. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.
Mr Meine, you are celebrating your 75th birthday on May 25th. Do you already have plans?
Meine: I have no plans at the moment. All I know is that we are playing in Berlin shortly before my birthday. Maybe we’ll go out to dinner tonight. But no big party is planned in that sense. The best thing is when you’re on tour and not getting a birthday cake in your face on stage like you used to.
The German tour dates of the Scorpions
05/14/2023 Dortmund – Westfalenhalle
05/16/2023 Mannheim – SAP Arena
05/19/2023 Hanover – ZAG Arena
May 21, 2023 Stuttgart – Schleyer Hall
May 23, 2023 Berlin – Mercedes-Benz Arena
05.06.2023 Munich – Olympic Hall
I am an author and journalist who has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. I currently work as a news editor at a major news website, and my focus is on covering the latest trends in entertainment. I also write occasional pieces for other outlets, and have authored two books about the entertainment industry.