The most successful German rockers of all time have sold more than 100 million records and given thousands of concerts. They expected to be done in 2012, but things turned out differently. In this interview, singer Klaus Meine, guitarist Rudolf Schenker and lead guitarist Matthias Jabs talk about saying farewell to the farewell, the challenges of unplugged concerts, the band’s upcoming 50th anniversary, the DW documentary film “Forever and a Day” and the album they’re currently working on.
DW: In 2010, you announced you would end your career together after a three-year farewell tour. In early 2013 came the decision to keep going. Why?
Klaus Meine: When you start a three-year farewell tour, you know you’ve got a long time ahead of you. But that long period went by much faster than we imagined. The closer we got to the goal – Munich in December 2012 – the stronger the feeling was that we hadn’t come to the end at all. There were so many images in our minds and so many emotions in our hearts. Everything we experienced between 2010 and 2012, the 200 concerts – it was all so powerful. You stand on stage, look down and see so many fans – including the younger generation, who are really getting into it and saying: ‘Guys, this is so cool. We’re seeing you for the first time. When will you be back?’ It’s so motivating and inspiring to play for three generations. We’re all having too much fun to put down the guitars.
Rudolf Schenker: The success of the farewell tour bowled us over. When you see you’ve got a whole new generation in front of you – lots of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds – then you get a whole new kick out of it. Essentially, we announced the farewell tour because we didn’t want to be standing on stage and not able to deliver what people expected from us.
Matthias Jabs: At first, there were plenty of arguments in favor of stopping. But we were quickly overshadowed by the feeling of how much fun it all is. It doesn’t matter where we went, the shows were packed – in South America, the US, throughout Europe. So, we just thought: This can’t really be the end.
Then came the offer to play an MTV Unplugged concert in Athens, which would later be put out on CD and DVD. What does the Unplugged series mean to you?
Klaus Meine: It was early 2013 when we got the MTV Unplugged offer. That really brought out the thrill of the chase in us, and we said: ‘MTV Unplugged? Are we supposed to say: too bad, but we just quit? Of course not.’ So, we all quickly agreed that it was the next challenge. MTV Unplugged really is a brand, even if MTV is no longer what it was during its 80s glory days. But there’s a really strong story there. Really the best musicians in the world have participated, and you want to be part of MTV Unplugged history. So, for us, that was an invitation we really couldn’t turn down and accepted with total passion.
What’s the challenge when it comes to MTV Unplugged?
Matthias Jabs: The acoustic guitar is completely unforgiving. You have to play with much greater concentration and precision. With an electric guitar, particularly with some distortion, you can just go at it, and the sound lingers. But with acoustic guitar, every note has to be played at the right time. That just makes it tougher.
What role does social media play for you?
Klaus Meine: For a live band as globally present as Scorpions, the internet has become an ally – in the sense that people can watch songs on YouTube after almost every concert. Then young people see them and say: When Scorpions come to my country, I want to go check it out with my friends because it’s definitely full-service rock’n'roll, and we’ll have a good time. Then they leave the concert and talk about having seen it and how cool it was – that it wasn’t just some old man rock combo on tour, but a band whose music really spoke to them.
Next year, you’ll celebrate 50 years of Scorpions. What are you planning for the anniversary?
Klaus Meine: In 2015, when we celebrate – and it’s almost hard to say it – the 50th anniversary, then of course we’ll want to put out a strong album. We’ve been in studio the last few weeks, continuing with what we started in 2011. We’re calling the project “Outtakes.” We’ve gone back and listened to songs from the 80s, going through our archives, opening all the drawers. We found a lot of material – many tracks we never released, including some we didn’t finish composing. There were also drafts of lyrics, and I sat back down and wrote new ones. There was a gem or two in there. The album will also have new material – songs we’re putting together now. It’s a really exciting project.
What’s the latest on the documentary film “Forever and a Day” that DW and German broadcaster ZDF commissioned from director Katja von Garnier?
Klaus Meine: It’ll also be released in 2015. A camera team followed us around the world in recent years – in Bangkok, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Los Angeles and Moscow. Recently, we had a screening of the final version of the film. It was really crazy because there’s so much material we couldn’t even remember, like Scorpions on tour with the old band bus in the early 70s. There are so many pictures there that no one but us has seen. I think it’ll be a really special film for our fans.
Rudy,Klaus and Matthias were interviewed:
The event is breathtaking and beautiful, and Scorpions founder Rudolf Schenker sat down with Goldmine Magazine to talk about how the show came to be, why the band never did MTV Unplugged during their 1980’s heyday, and how he wanted other musicians to arrange the songs for the special event since he was ‘too close’ to them, as their creator.
During the interview, Rudolf admits the band is still on the ‘Farewell Tour’, and they are indeed beginning their descent into retirement. However, he also tells of a documentary and a new album that are in the works, assuring the Scorpions will continue to sting us with new releases, at least for a few more years to come.
This interview was conducted by Jeb Wright from Goldmine magazine
Full interview – http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/show_interview.php?id=1053
Statement from James Kottak:
After years of drinking alcohol, on April 3rd, 2014 my addiction finally caught up with me during a 5-hour flight from Ekaterinburg, Russia to Bahrain via Dubai, during which I consumed 5 or 6 glasses of wine. While at the airport in Dubai I approached an airline representative to check on status of my flight. The representative informed me that I was in the wrong place and I replied “WTF?!.” The representative then called the police and reported that I was intoxicated (which I was) and that I made a lewd jester.
One of the police officers recognised me as drummer of “The Scorpions”. When the police asked me to show my ID., I showed them the “Rock & ROLL FOREVER” tattoo on my back, instead of my actual ID. which was in my back pack my friend was carrying for me. Apparently, the police did not find this funny and I was charged with “Drinking Without a License”, for which I pleaded guilty and received a one-month sentence and a 2,000 Dirham (300 USD) fine. I was also charged with insulting Islam/Muslims by making a lewd jester for which I pleaded not guilty and did not actually do.
Upon returning to the United States on May 6th, I immediately reached out to Bob Forrest, an addiction specialist known for his work with musicians and “Celebrity Rehab”. I have been meeting with Bob on a regular basis. He has guided me to the MusiCares Organization, which provides musicians with help for mental health and addiction issues.
I am determined to come to grips with my alcoholism and am doing everything on a daily basis to beat this relentless disease. This entire incident caused me to realize that it is time to stop drinking once and for all so that I can become the father, musician, and friend that I know I can be.
I am glad to put this unfortunate incident behind me and move onward and upward with my life. I would like to send out a HUGE thank-you to my family, friends and fans around the world for their incredible loving support…you kick ass! I would also like to send a sincere apology from the bottom of my heart to everyone I have affected and look forward to seeing you all!!
with love, James Kottak – Tomorrow is a brand new day!
German hard rock veterans SCORPIONS have confirmed that their American drummer, James Kottak, arrived in the U.S. last night after spending a month in a Dubai, United Arab Emirates jail for insulting Islam. The band added in a statement posted on Facebook: “[James] will have to find the time to sort out his problems.”
Dear fans, at this point we want to hear personally from James what happened in Dubai…we let you know…Hopefully there will be better days ….. Scorpions
For SCORPIONS’ recent concerts in Germany, Swedish drummer Johan Franzon filled in for Kottak.
“Dear fans, when James Kottak arrived in Dubai on April 3th, he ran into problems at immigrations and got busted. Whatever happened is totally out of our control and we don’t know any details about it at this point. For the concerts in Germany, Johan Franzon, a Swedish drummer, will take James’ seat. Please understand, we keep you posted.”
Read more at http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/scorpions-release-statement-regarding-drummer-james-kottaks-arrest-and-conviction-in-dubai/#xXfhoHE4374wLG41.99
Here is my two cents. Even though James is a great drummer and has been with the band for 18 years. If he made those comments about Muslims. The band has no choice but let him go. The band will become a terror target at every show going forward if he stays in the band. Here is the Scorpions chance to reach out to Herman Rarebell and bring back the greatest drummer the Scorpions have ever had in their 43 year history. Anyone who has seen Herman play in the last couple years with Michael Schenker knows he can still play the drums real well live in concert. Plus the band doesn’t play anymore then 50-70 shows a year these days. So age should not matter anymore. If the band is indeed on their farewell tour. They can’t bring in a new guy to play drums. Herman has expressed the last 5 years that he would like to rejoin the Scorpions if James left. This is the perfect opportunity for the Scorpions to conclude the farewell tour with a past member who had a huge hand in their career success.
Now we know why drummer James Kottak missed the Scorpions‘ performance earlier this month at the 2014 Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix — he was in jail.
The 51-year-old reportedly consumed five glasses of wine on an April 3 flight to Dubai, and then allegedly began shouting derogatory remarks at other passengers once arriving at the airport. Kottak is now spending a month in a Dubai jail, after being convicted this morning of insulting Islam.
Witnesses claimed that Kottak “started swearing and talking about ‘non-educated Muslims’ before he flashed his middle finger at passengers.” Police also said the drummer lowered his pants, exposing his rear. Another witness, who worked at the airport, added: “When he saw the Pakistani and Afghani passengers, he covered his nose and said that there was no way he will travel with them.”
Kottak, who has been in custody since April 3, denied the allegations: “I don’t remember saying these words and I did not flash my middle finger. … There is no way that I would say such a phrase about Muslims, whether I was drunk or not.” He also denied pulling down his pants. “This is not true. I just lifted my shirt up to show the tattoo on my back” as a “spontaneous act.”
In addition to his one-month sentence, Kottak was fined approximately $545 for drinking alcohol without a license. “I confess to drinking alcohol,” he said, “but I refuse the other two charges. I did not do them.”
Kottak was previously in Kingdom Come, a former opening act for the recently unretired Scorpions. Helloween’s Mark Cross filled in for Kottak during the April 5 Scorpions performance at the Formula One concert.