Par Chante Basma le 24 février 2015
Rédaction : Chante Basma / Crédit photos : Boris Allin
He do rock his life and Scorpions as well! We had the pleasure to meet the one and only Rudolf Schenker, a few days before the release of their brand new record, "Return To Forever"!
Hello Rudolf how are you?
Rudolf Schenker (guitar): Oh good! Because we're getting feedbacks for the new album and it's amazing! Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Asia and South America, people are completely surprised and that's good, that's the way how to enjoy it again after farewell, being here back again. We didn't knew that was going to happen but sometimes life has a different idea of what you have to do. We're following this line because it's surprising but also it puts us in a situation to be very creative again by going out the routine doing studio/album/tour - studio/album/tour and you may don't notice that you're going down instead of going up. Seeing what we mean to the fans and what they mean for us, it's unbelievable. People crying at airports, coming with flowers that's crazy. In this case, somehow, when MTV came and asked us an unplugged album, then there was the bonus tracks album coming into the 50 years anniversary. Of course we had to celebrate this it's something not many bands can celebrate except The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Beach Boys. When you're coming from Germany there's so many potential in it. We maybe later regret it by not doing it.
"Return To Forever" is your brand new record. First a word about the title?
R: Because we came every week with a new title, the record company was confused with all of them. "All the titles are great but not great enough" and then one of the record company's guys called me and said "Rudolf why you guys not calling your album "Return To Forever"" "Oh!” Because our movie is called "Forever And A Day" that fits perfectly into the whole image "Yes why not!" I mean it's a statement because our music will live forever.
What about the link between the crown and the title?
R: It's a symbol of 50 years of rock n'roll and friendship. When I was a little kid, what I thought as a naive guy, I thought this four five friends travelling around the world and playing music and playing music and that was kicking my ass, I wanted to do the same thing. By taking this road, I was looking for good musicians but also people with who I can build a friendship with. And that was the basic idea of this whole band from 1965 to nowadays and that's the reason why this is the 50th crown. We built this house on a rock, like the track. We also put lyrics from our rock n'roll life like on "Gypsy Life". I think that's a good thing to do when you have a 50-year career.
You reworked some old demos. Isn't that process different, regarding the vibe of the songs? For example a song written in the 80's reworked today, would the initial song turn into something completely different?
R: The good thing about it is that we started this project as a bonus. So we thought when we finished the farewell tour to give people this as a giveaway, something that didn't make it on an album. But when we came back from the "MTV Unplugged" sessions, when we were listening to the stuff we prepared already we were surprised "that sounds great!", so in this case we were connected to our most creative time: the late 70's / early 80's. It was the perfect thing to start writing songs because we're already connected in this kind of vibe. This was the trick about the whole thing because going out of the routine and seeing old songs, seeing old fans we already wrote with the same vibe but also because our producer was pretty much happy because Mikael Nord Andersson was growing up in north Sweden and one of the first album he bought was "In Trance" (1975) and he became a Scorpion fan and was very close to understand the DNA of our music. With "Sting In The Tail" (2010) we was put into the direction to our strongest points. We came back to our roots with a twist. The twist made the young fans, the 80% between 16 and 28, it's 80% of 6.5 million. They gave us the possibility to refresh our music and we have now young fans not forgetting the old ones but they're mostly at the back of our gigs.
Did you once again try to reinvent the sound from the 80's? As you said when "Sting In The Tail" was released.
R: That's what I explained with Mikael's situation. The guy went into our music and saw that when we write music in a certain way, we are the strongest. In this case, it was very natural and you know, when somebody see you know and see pictures of you from 25 years ago he goes insane "hey man, what did you do?" "Maybe change this suit to a leather jacket and don't wear this normal shirt, put T-shirts on" so you see it? "And maybe put the glasses, oh and your haircut, what's happening with it?" "Ok you remember the old days but if the hair is not like before, maybe do it that way" You're getting it again but with today's little changes.
(Looking to our photographer) Oh you got some old stuff there! The Hasselblad right? On the latest release, I did all the pictures by myself. I was the selfie-man. (laughs) Already with the timer, putting the stand on, placing everyone, clicking on it and then running to be in front of it. (laughs)
How much material did you have? Were choices hard to make?
R: We had 3 CDs to find out. We did 2 songs for an American release (2002): "Bad For Good" and "Cause I Love You". In this case we had the three CDs and we gave them to the Swedish guys. "Look guys, you from the outside, know our DNA, let us know which songs have the quality" and he came up with the songs, we went through and then everybody started changing things here and there and here's the result.
As you said, Scorpions is celebrating their 50th anniversary. Even with all those years, did you have the same feeling and energy while entering the recording studio?
R: Of course! We came out of the routine noting that we mean so much for the fans and also by the farewell tour and the success we had, same with the "MTV Unplugged". Somehow time is behind us now. Of course you get creative coming out of the routine, the backbone was the old material and then using it and adding new stuff, which was the perfect situation for us where we didn't have to force ourselves. We had some many songs that we even made new ones we haven't done because the producer came in and said "look guys we have to finish the record because if we start this song and that one, we won't bring the album out in time".
Any specific songs that you like on this album? Like a top 3.
R: The top 2, I'll say "We Built This House" because it's the story of the Scorpions and the song is fantastic. I like the way of the verse, you think the next thing is the chorus already but it's not, it's a chorus before the chorus and I like this very much. Everything in this song is a strong statement. A perfect rock song! And then of course I like "Rock My Car" which came from 1985. Why? Because I had this idea that coming home after tours, travelling by planes, limousines etc. and then just taking your car and driving pushing the pedal crazy. (laughs) And for the third one, I'll choose "House Of Cards" and "Gypsy Life". "Gypsy Life" because it's our life and maybe it's our last bet during the farewell tour and "House Of Cards" because it's also a great song which was already left from 1999.
Last time we did an interview with Klaus, for the "MTV Unplugged", he said that there were talks about French unplugged gigs but nothing happened why?
R: It became too expensive. The promoter said "guys it's too much to organize" even if he liked it very much with all the musicians to bring in etc. But here's a good thing, Scorpions was the first rock band to play Bercy in 1984 and now after renovations, we'll be the first one again to play Bercy! That's fantastic! There's always a link between the past and today!
By the way Europe will support you!
R: Yes! I know that Europe was inspired by the Scorpions as I remember, we had the same management 20 years ago. I like their songs. "The Final Countdown" is outstanding! That's the problem, if you have one outstanding song, you know that there is no chance to make a song like this again or you must be very very lucky. I remember Joe playing some unplugged stuff too. We asked for Europe on our German unplugged tour but the promoter had already put so much money that we couldn't make it with another band. We're looking forward to this tour!
Did you ever imagine the band celebrating a half century of rock n'roll?
R: Actually no. I was always dreaming making my whole life in music but I never thought that maybe this 50 years will be reached at some point. Last time we did an interview, Klaus was sitting here and the journalist asked us if we had the next plan in mind. Now everything will come up to us. MTV came to us, now there's the 50 years together. By making so many things in the past, now things will reach to us. The stage production for our tour will be huge. We discussed about it with the record company and we'll celebrate it by putting some songs we haven't played, going through history; it'll be fantastic! Of course we want to enjoy and we’re starting this tour on the 1st of May in China! That's fantastic!
Do remember the first time ever you picked up a guitar?
R: (Thinking) Yes. It was my first Framus guitar. When I was a kid, I showed him the picture of a bike that I wanted but he said "you want to kill yourself! I won't be the person buying this!" Then the Stones and the Beatles came and I was very much into soccer and I couldn't make a decision between music and soccer. Both were difficult to do because music was on Saturdays and soccer on Sundays, anyway, so I went to my father and said "look there are the Stones and the Beatles, I also want to be a musician, I want to have a guitar" he said "Okay. I didn't want to buy you a motorbike but a guitar, ok, come on." Then I was picking up the guitar already and I wasn't sure what to do with it. I noticed it wasn't not so easy to play. But those huge bands helped me to do it, to create music, find the right people, the right chemistry and that's the reason I brought my brother into playing guitar because it was so boring to play alone. Before I found band members, I played with him.
Which advice will you give to young bands?
R: Believe in yourself. Follow your feelings and get the right people together. There's no reason to play music with assholes because nothing can came out good. You have to make sure that the right chemistry is there, that there's friendship. Music has nothing to do with beating egos. Music has something to do with friendship, heart and soul. That's what it's all about. If you have the right people, you can write the right music and if you right music, you'll have the right fans. When you have the right fans, you'll have the right career.
And the last question which is a special one regarding you: we are "RockUrLife", so what rock Rudolf Schenker's life?
R: Life. Because it's so interesting, the possibilities of what you can do with your life. The point is what you build up in the first place. Because some people, what they're doing in the first place is to do the less possible to get as much as possible money wise and they end up by having nothing. My father and I were looking for the right job and he said "don't get crazy, do something that offers you fun, the money will come by itself" that's important. My life has always rocking me in the way of believing in myself, finding the right people and have adventure. That's the basement of 50 years of rock n'roll. For example when we first played in Asia, that wasn't only for the money, we went there for the adventure. Make possible what isn't possible in a first place and then creativity will give you the sign to realize it. That's the reason I never had a plan B. When you trust yourself that's the basic secret, that's the way life function.