Sting In The Tail
RUDOLF SCHENKER (guitar)
KLAUS MEINE (vocal)
MATTHIAS JABS (lead guitar)
JAMES KOTTAK (drums)
PAWEL MACIWODA (bass)
“While we were working on our album these past few months, we could literally feel how powerful and creative our work was–and how much fun we were still having, in the process,” says SCORPIONS lead singer KLAUS MEINE about the band’s new album STING IN THE TAIL. “We want to end the SCORPIONS’ extraordinary career on a high note. We are extremely gracious for the fact that we still have the same passion for music we’ve always had since the beginning.” “So at some point,” added guitarist MATTHIAS JABS, “it came to us to end our career with this exceptional album.” Guitarist RUDOLF SCHENKER stated, “The three year tour through five continents is meant to be a huge blowout, where we can party with our fans and say good-bye.” “When I started out, I had a lot of wishes,” SCHENKER noted. “It’s crazy, I achieved more than I ever even dreamed of.”
The basic elements of hard rock music are ingrained in the DNA of the members of the iconic and legendary German hard rock band. And with STING IN THE TAIL, the SCORPIONSmanage to newly define their blueprint and build an opus that--set in granite--does not only resemble the characteristics of our time, but is ahead of it. Nobody has a master plan for a hit album. “However, this time, we just focused on finding our base,” says Rudolf Schenker. “Attitude” is the right word, the “disposition” as a stereotype for rock culture. “I’m driving out of town just follow my heart/I think I’m gonna be a rock ’n roll’ star/The Girls would go mad I’d give ‘em all I can give/If I had a cheap guitar and one dirty riff”--those are the lyrics for the title track “Sting In The Tail,” written by Klaus Meine. “We sound fresh and unfussy on our new album, just 100 per cent Scorpions,” says Matthias Jabs.
It has been 40 years since the old formation of the SCORPIONS--back then with Rudolf Schenker’s brother Michael who later went on to join English band UFO-- drove their rickety red VW bus from one small pub to another, from one back yard to another, in their home state of Lower-Saxony to unpack their equipment and rock on. Five years earlier, in the little town of Sarstedt, Rudolf Schenker had given the band its name. And from the very beginning, even with changing band members, the band showed signs for a promising career. They had two--almost apocalyptic--goals: “First of all, we’ll focus on English lyrics because secondly one day we will be one of the best rock bands in the world.”
The rest is music history: From an “Echo” for “Life Achievement” (2009) and “Best National Band” (1994) to the “World Music Award” (1994)--there aren’t many noteworthy awards theSCORPIONS have not received. To name their Gold and Platinum awards is difficult. There are just too many worldwide. And each year they receive new ones. Just looking at records sales alone we know-- they are far beyond the 100 million-mark! Looking back, it is amazing how seemingly random the combination of rhythm, lyrics and melodies together with the band’s charisma became a universal hit. Self-assured and unmistakable. Drummer James Kottak is right when he says, “If you are an alien and you’re landing on the planet earth and you ask ‘What is Rock ‘n’ Roll?’ – SCORPIONS would be the answer!”
The accomplishments throughout their career have built a bridge between yesterday and tomorrow: they drew more than 150,000 spectators between Manaus and Rio on the last big South America tour, sold out stadiums in Greece last summer, jam-packed venues in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mumbai, performed at “Monsters Of Rock” with Alice Cooper and Rasmus as special guests from Wladiwostock to Moscow. They sang for peace on the border between North and South Korea, because one of their songs sounded like the worldwide soundtrack for the deceleration of the arms race and an anthem for the self-destructing Iron Curtain: “Wind Of Change.” “It is very inspiring to see that when we perform, so many young people are standing at the stage, singing songs that were written while they hadn’t even been born yet,” says Klaus Meine.
The fuel is LIVE. “I think that’s the most important and strongest argument,” says Klaus Meine. “The SCORPIONS are a band that from the very beginning saw its place on stage, on the biggest stages of the world, in the largest stadiums and arenas.
It hasn’t been long since the German newsmagazine Focus asked to interview theSCORPIONS shortly before their concert in Manhattan. The journalist and a photographer walked with the band across Times Square. The reporter seemed surprised that the world-famous band could just walk across Times Square like this, without causing any commotion. “That’s the way it is in New York,” said Rudolf Schenker. “It’s nothing special if musicians walk the streets.” Just then, the first autograph hunter appeared, then a second one. Then fans wanted photos. The result: according to the journalist it didn’t even take five minutes before there was a traffic jam on Times Square. The German magazine Der SPIEGEL wrote: “In Germany, many people don’t believe it or don’t want to believe that the Scorpions from Hanover, founded 1965 as a school band, are still a big hit in the rest of the world. Really big even: In the last year alone they’ve played over 70 shows in 27 countries and not in front of a couple of hundred die-hard fans, but for a total audience of about a million.”
In 2009, Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine again provided a musical and lyrical basis for an album. They recorded it in their own Scorpions-Studio in Schwarmstedt near Hanover and in Stockholm, Sweden, home of producers Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hanson. Matthias Jabs: “It’s a well-rehearsed team. These are smart people who complete each other, very musical. We haven’t had so much fun during production in a long time. They shared the duties. Mikael was more responsible for the guitar sounds, Martin for the voice parts.”
They used new technologies like Skype and Twitter to keep in touch while on the road. Bass player Pawel Maciwoda: “I hung out with the guys for half a year. It’s my third album with the Scorpions, and it was a great chance and so much fun for me.”
Sting In The Tail is probably the most characteristic of the SCORPIONS’ albums. Maybe even the nicest, definitely the most authentic. Crucial for this success are the people, the fans--without borders of class, gender or age. And this authenticity of the base is reflected in the songs on Sting In The Tail: from the title track to the wonderful rock ballad “Lorelei” (“It’s about the German legend, we all know the story. It’s when you go up the river Rhine and pass this certain cliff and reportedly Lorelei plays her song. The boats smash because the captains forget anything else while listening to the music. Lorelei is the big temptation we all encounter every day”) to “The Good Die Young.” Klaus Meine says about this song: “It’s a song that’s very deep. It’s about people who stand up for peace and freedom. In our times, in a world that gets out of balance more and more every day, we try to put this feeling into music.”
From the spectacular track “Raised On Rock:” “I was born in a hurricane/Nothing to lose and everything to gain/Ran before I walked/Reaching for the top/Out of control just like a runaway train.” Those are the words at the beginning of the song whose impulsive riffs and stomping beats are typical for the SCORPIONS’ sound. It stands for their career. “It’s a song that gets to the heart of what the band is all about,” says Klaus Meine. Grown up in the ocean of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a passion that still moves people and “that challenges us all to always set out to new worlds and always make music. Rock music is the reason why we are living our dream.” At the end, it’s a ballad that ties in with one of the most successful songs in SCORPIONShistory: “Sly,” three letters. And it’s not a coincidence that these three letters refer to “Still Loving You”: “She was born with a song in the air/In the summer of ‘85/The clouds just went and the day became so bright/A child of love angel like.”
In May, the SCORPIONS will start a world tour with their brand new album. The tour will take them from Germany to five continents over the course of three years. It will be the most adventurous if not greatest project of the band: hundreds of shows, hundreds of thousands of fans, countless miles on a plane and tour bus.
“Get Your Sting And Blackout”--that’s the band’s credo. One question remains: was the immense adventure SCORPIONS worth it? Matthias Jabs: “It’s a great feeling for me to go on the upcoming world tour, knowing we--over the last three decades--have built the most successful German rock band. The feeling I have on stage is just indescribable. Such a moment alone was worth all the effort.”
“Life has spoiled us with the fact that until today we are able to live our dream,” says Klaus Meine. “I think we have accomplished so much more and have seen so much more of the world and have played so many more shows and have recorded so many more CDs and have touched so many more people with our music, in so many parts of the world, than we had even dared to dream of at the beginning or our career. Our dreams have come true--and much, much more than that.”
“I wished for a lot in the beginning,” says Rudolf Schenker. “I envisioned myself to be part of one of the 30 best rock bands in the world. By now, we’ve been on stage with Aerosmith and KISS, with Metallica, AC/DC and I don’t know who else who we’ve been fascinated by--even with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Now we’re about to start one of the most spectacular tours of our career. It’s crazy; I never thought we would make it this long. I have accomplished more than I had envisioned.”
From the small town of Sarstedt to their current home in Schwarmstedt it’s 38.52 miles north, up.
Half a life time.
An entire world career.