Since The Scorpions didn't reach great commercial success until the late '70s and early '80s, many people don't realize that some form of the band has been around since 1965. 45 years later, and massive hits from the '80s such as "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and "No One Like You" are still prominently featured at gentleman's clubs worldwide.
Guitarist Rudolph Schenker launched the band from Hanover, Germany, all those years ago and he ultimately made the decision for The Scorpions to retire after its current tour.
Speaking over the phone from Quebec, Schenker was kind enough to converse about a variety of topics--even answering a question we asked him in German.
Will this really be the final tour? Some bands like The Who seem to have had a least a dozen "final tours."
Look, we made the decision to retire. It was an instinct. We just had the feeling that it was the right time. The new album [Sting in the Tail] is a good way to go out. I think the new album really got to the essence of The Scorpions. After over 40 years, things get difficult. We tried to adapt to the music business--even changed our sound up a bit on a couple of albums. But it's better to be back and to end with our old sound. Klaus [Meine] and me, we are both 62. We have another three years for this last tour and we know that we can still deliver. We have a great set list and a fantastic production. We've sold out shows from Moscow to Prague and we are looking forward to seeing big crowds in the states. When we finish this tour, Klaus and I will be 65. To go onstage again and sing "Bad Boys Going Wild," well, it sounds stupid. It's better when you can control the situation. It's always difficult to make these big decisions. We know that we are all not getting any fitter. Right now, we can still deliver at 150 percent. In five years, I don't know.
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The band has been around, in some form, for 45 years. In that time, you've sold over 100 million albums. How do you account for the band's success and longevity?
We're Germans and, if you can make it out of Germany, you can make it. You have to find the right people. You have to have the right chemistry, to be strong enough to deliver the goods in foreign countries. We played a style of music that is normally associated with England, not Germany. You have to be better than other English and American acts and I think we did this. Plus, this band is composed of a bunch of friends and we've always spread an idea of friendship. When I first heard Little Richard, that music gave me a feeling that there was something to live for and perhaps our music had that same effect on some people. When I saw The Rolling Stones and The Beatles in Germany, I saw four or five friends playing together. That gave me my vision. The Scorpions have tried to make the right decisions. I think the writing team of Klaus and I wrote some outstanding songs. We didn't want to be a German band. We wanted to be a global band. I think we were positive role models for a lot of bands. I remember when Bon Jovi came with us to Japan, they were willing to listen and then they found success. It's all about vision and friendship. If you put it all together, you have a great career for forty years.
You said you were excited about the set list for the current tour. Does a band like The Scorpions owe it to the audience to play the hits?
Of course. Now, the set lists are a bit different when we play Europe. We play all the hits plus three songs from the new album. The feedback on our website has been very positive. Klaus did have the flu for a couple of shows and his voice was fucked up, so we had to shorten the list a bit. But now, it's back to two hours of our best music. It's a party, with big '80s production values.
The new album has a production style very similar to the band's '80s heyday. Was that because you did not want to mess with a successful formula?
It was really the producers, the Swedish guys [Mikael Andersson and Martin Hansen]. They really wanted to bring us back to that polished, American-style production. The producers were big fans. They wanted the big guitar riffs and good melodies. We wanted to connect with the people. For nearly 18 years, people have been asking us, why don't you make an album like Blackout? Sometimes, we have said that we've done that already, but I think the time now is right for a return to that sound. There seems to be an '80s comeback and we want to surf that wave. Then, we decided to make this the last one we will ever do. Of course, classic rock never goes away. Look at bands like Metallica and Green Day. They are basically classic rock bands now. Grunge and punk bands are now doing the classic rock thing. When you learn to play a guitar, you become a classic rock band.
When you play Dallas, are you going to invite fellow German Dirk Nowitzki to the show?
Who is that?
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He's the basketball star from Germany who plays for the Dallas Mavericks.
Ahh, why not?
Are you familiar with the German singer Heino?
I became a rock musician because I hated his music. That's schlagger music. I never listen to this kind of music but I know who Heino is.
I have a question in German. Wer mehr Frauen bekommt, Sie oder Heino? [Who gets more women, you or Heino?]
[Laughs.] Of course us! You know why? We are younger. Heino gets the women over 60. We have some younger guys in the band who attract the younger chicks and give us more possibilities.