Interviews anglais

SCORPIONS (09/12/13)

Version française

Let’s begin 2014 with a legend: Klaus Meine from Scorpions! RockUrLife met him in Paris, during a promo tour for their “MTV Unplugged”, so we got the chance and have a little chat. Here it is!

Hello, how are you?

Klaus Meine (vocals) : I’m fine, thank you.

You released the “Scorpions – MTV Unplugged: Live In Athens” in Europe, not yet in North America. First of all, are you satisfied about the result?

K : Yeah very much; this came pretty unexpected earlier this year, the offer for “MTV Unplugged”, and we talked about this in the eighties, that’s a long time ago but now we were definitely ready. It’s an honor you know, even if MTV is not the same as it was back in the eighties but this “MTV Unplugged” brand is very powerful and high quality, so to do one it’s a real honor when you become part of this illustrious family of artists, which is incredible so you have to make it special and that’s what we tried to do.

You said that you got the opportunity in the past, but why did you wait for so long?

K : We didn’t wait for so long, it didn’t really worked out in the eighties and back then this format was very new and we were busy with touring around the world, so it never really worked out and they never came back to us and to our surprise, they made this offer. This is something we wanted to do, a new page and it’s fantastic.

How and why did you choose Athens, Greece for it?

K : Because we have many die-hard fans in Greece for so many years, we could say this about France as well and many other parts of the world, but we were also looking for a place where we can do an outdoor show and be sure a 100% that we’ll leave the umbrella at home. When we played the gigs in September, the venue hasn’t roof at all, it was the first ever “MTV Unplugged” with open sky which was fantastic! And also, we had so many shows in Greece and fans were asking “come on Scorpions, why don’t you put out a DVD from these great shows”, so the time was right.



What were the main difficulties around an unplugged set? How long did you work on arrangements? Because there’re also violins, keyboards, accordion etc.

K : First of all we got a great team from our Swedish producers: Martin Hansen and Michael Nord Andersson and they came back to us with another two musicians, so a great set up of musicians and Matthias went to Stockholm, we were working between Sweden and Hanover, and we made a list of songs, starting arrangements and they came back to us and we picked the ones we liked, throwing the ones we didn’t, there was a lot of material, and at the same time I tried to set up a set, a show. They recommended instead of a string quartet, to use an octet, to make it more rich and powerful and those guys play so many instruments, we called them the “Swiss Army Knife”. We were looking for songs that we never played live so we didn’t want to focus on the hits, if it was just us, we wouldn’t even played them, just to try and make a show that is strong enough without them. We went back to the seventies, eighties and we knew that the Greek audience like our early releases. The emotional part was very important for this decision “where to go?” Down there in Greece, we knew this would be a whole emotional issue and that’s what you’re looking for when you do a concert like that, it’s what you want and especially when it’s not the big rock show, screaming guitars, it was a two and half hours show trying to reach the people with the music and that’s why it was important to find the right songs for the set. We had three sessions starting February until June/July and basically we recorded an album without doing it; just recording and listening to the result of those versions.

You also have some guests on a few songs, how did they end up with you for these gigs?

K : Well for the guests, for MTV, they don’t only request that the artist must be seated, the audience as well, they also requested the guest situation. Basically, for a show like this our position was: we don’t need any guest, but MTV wanted to. Our feelings, the names that came out were more hard and heavy like Lemmy, Richie Sambora, Slash, Doro etc. but MTV in Berlin gave us a list of people that most of them, we didn’t know but it was more like “let’s have some German artists” and we kind of liked the idea of having young German artists with us, giving them a chance to present themselves on an international stage.  

What kind of feelings did you want to generate regarding your fans? Most of the tracks made our skin crawl. Is it the strength of unplugged version? Is it the best way to express feelings?

K : There is something in our music that travels the best, when it’s in an acoustic way. With all those songs, it might be a reason with “Send Me An Angel”, “Holiday”; to this show, we always had a small part where we play unplugged and those are stronger in acoustic version and it also shows the quality of the composition if you just need a guitar and a voice, that’s it. Basically, if you have a strong composition then it travels to people strongly; that’s why I play “Follow Your Heart” with my acoustic guitar without everybody.

Did James have to calm down behind his drums? With this different intensity during the show and knowing that he usually express himself with a lot of energy.

K : Yes James had to take himself a little bit back right, and Peter the keyboard guy, is a cool showman and a wonderful player; together they put out some great things, normally it’s James on his own doing his “rock n’roll forever” so it was kind of different for him to get into this kind of music, but it was a challenge for all of us, a lot of work to get in this set and these arrangements.



Do you think that the whole “MTV Unplugged” is something to do, for each band that can make it?

K : I don’t know if each band can do it and I’m not so sure if thirty years ago, when we talked about “MTV Unplugged”, I don’t if we were that good for it, we were growing as musicians, as artists and I think it need some experience and need definitely a good catalogue of music, having the right songs; there must be a reason why AC/DC didn’t do it. (laughs) But we are a melodic band, in the tradition of band like Queen, for example, we go all the way and we enjoy it.

You’re doing also shows in Germany next year, could we see more European gigs in this configuration?

K : Well, some German promoters came to Athens and saw the show of their life and they said that they’ll bring it to Germany and we agreed to do a few selected concerts, and of course right now, a French promoter is here as well and we’re talking about show in Paris maybe, maybe more, I don’t know. It’s a lot of people, a lot of musicians we’re talking about and it’s a show that you can’t play five times a week. So we have to find the right setup but to play a few shows here in France, it would be nice, we don’t want to keep going like the old fashioned “another tour” and again etc. that’s not the point, but if people want to see us, if this project is successful, a few shows we might do. We know that we have very strong and loyal fans here.

There’re shows in Spain and Portugal, so what are your next plans? A new album with unreleased songs will come out and after that? Everybody is asking themselves “Will they tour again?”

K : We’ll do some more shows because we figured out that when we ended the tour, we haven’t play everywhere even with two hundreds shows. We haven’t been to UK, to Japan, to Spain for a long time and the show in Madrid was sold out like this! And we added another one; but we also want to go to England, it’s been a while knowing that we played more than fourteen shows in France, so they go like “you don’t like us anymore right”. So a few countries are on the list and then we’ll go back to the studio to finish the outtakes we started in 2011.

About the shows in Spain, the opening band is Steel Panther, do you know them and their music?

K : I know the band, even if I don’t know them very well, but I’ve heard about them for sure.




What’s the secret of such a career? Any advice to the young bands?

K : Believe in yourself and follow your heart. I mean, it’s all I can say. If you’re the young singer of a band from Bordeaux for example and you go like “I want to travel all around the world with my music”, people will just laugh at him, that’s what happened to us and we said “we do, the sky is the limit”. My advice would be: just do your own thing and believe in yourself and find your artistic DNA, listen to your heart.

You have a big influence on many bands. Which bands are you listening to recently? From the “new” generation of rockers.

K : You wouldn’t believe it but recently I’ve been listening to the young French artist Zaz. I like her very much, some of her songs are pretty cool. Of course I don’t speak French but I like artists from the good old days like Edith Piaf, this vibe in the music is beautiful. Zaz has in her songs a little bit of that. It would be great if we play Unplugged in Paris and if I could say “ladies and gentlemen would you welcome please Mr Johnny Hallyday” that would be cool!

Is there anything that you haven’t yet done in your career? Metallica played in Antarctica yesterday; does that kind of challenge interest you?

K : All of us, we live in this crazy dream to take our music to place where nobody could think of. We played shows between Siberia and the Amazon. Now Metallica goes to Antarctica and then we have to go to the North Pole. (laughs)

Finally, we are “RockUrLife”, with a U and there’s no link with Rudolf’s book, so what rocks your live Klaus?

K : Well, what rocks my life? I guess it’s still the music. Sometimes I remember, when we were kids and when I was inspired by The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, it was such a strong inspiration and when you think about it, it was grabbing me by the throat, the inspiration and the passion. We know, of course, that the end is near. And then, the Stones! Jagger turned 70 and then I thought if they give up, it’s easier for us but they popped out in London and played like amazing shows, how can we stop then? We’re all pioneers and all these bands, Ozzy with Black Sabbath, playing stadiums and arenas, they still enjoy it, at this age, and nobody knows how far we can take it because nobody did it before, the Stones are on the far front, still big rock shows, and us, I’m 65 now, and in front of the stage there are young everywhere, screaming, crying, “are they coming to us?” it’s hard to believe. Where are those kids coming from? It’s fantastic, it’s wonderful that our music is strong enough to reach new rock generations as well.



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