Scorpions interview (Klaus Meine)

"We came to Greece to share these concerts with the world to show the world this is a beautiful country with wonderful people"

13/01/2014 @ 14:39
There can be no denying of how important and influential Scorpions have been in rock music. The release of "MTV Unplugged In Athens" CD/DVD was a great chance to conduct an interview with Klaus Meine, who spoke about the unplugged concert and its recording, but also about the special place that Greece and Greeks fans have in the hearts of the members of the band.

ScorpionsHello Mr. Meine, this is Theodore from! How are you?
Ι’m fine, how are you?

I’m fine too! it’s a great honor for and for me personally to conduct this interview with you!
Ok, fantastic!

Now that the “MTV Unplugged In Athens” is out, how do you feel about it?
It feels great! We had a wonderful time in Athens in September and the fans were just amazing. From the very beginning we wanted to go to Greece for this project. Αll those years, in the long history of MTV Unplugged, they always recorded it in studios with a rather small audience, so we convinced them that we wanna take this to Athens with the Greek fans and the beautiful amphitheater, it turned out to be a historic event, because it was the very first MTV Unplugged under the open sky, it was at the right position and the fans were just amazing. Great memories on the week we spent in Athens doing those shows. It was very exciting and it was fantastic to see our fans be so happy for the fact that we came back to Greece for this project and also for the songs we played! We went all the way back to the Scorpions history.

Scorpions - MTV Unplugged In AthensI know, I was there in the first day, the show was great and the final result as I can hear on the disc is also great. Are you satisfied with the result? Has it fulfilled or even overcome your expectations?
Yes, absolutely. I think it turned out great. On the DVD you watch all these songs and also the entire show, we also have a special on there, like documentaries, making of, visits from the fans and information all around these concerts. I think the overall package is great. All those years we received so much love from our Greek fans and this is our way of giving it back.

So we thank you! (laughs) Comparing it to “Acoustica”, do you think that this is a step forward of just something different?
Both! I think it is a step forward and it’s very different at the same time. Knowing the way we produced “Acoustica” in 2001, this time we had with us our Swedish producers and the whole Swedish “gang” musicians around us, especially in the arrangements of the songs. We were focused from the very beginning not to repeat ourselves, we wanted to surprise our audience we songs we never performed before and for the classics there was completely new arrangements. In songs like “Hit Between The Eyes” or “Speedy’s Coming”, “In Trance” with these strings in those arrangements, it feels there is a little bit like an Arabian touch there. Ιt varies from the way that we put instruments there, from accordion to steel guitar, harmonica and all these. Many of those songs like the ones we never played before like “Born To Touch Your Feelings” and “Where The River Flows”, have ever a western kind of feel, because of the accordion and the harmonica. It’s Scorpions music on a new dimension, I think it’s very much a step forward.

Klaus Meine (Scorpions)That would be my next question. I really love all your stuff, especially from the ‘70s and early ‘80s, but for me personally the best moments on it are “Born To Touch Your Feelings” and “Where The River Flows”, which has that blues/country/western feeling.
Yeah, absolutely! I think we had never played “Born To Touch Your Feelings” live, and I thought it would be nice to have some spoken words in the end of the song like we did on the original version in the late ‘70s. Like on the record, there are spoken words. We found Dimitra Kokkori, a great Greek young actress and she did a great job. It was a very emotional part - especially when you watch it on the DVD - it turned out really great. And you’re right; it’s a bluesy almost like western type of music, with a country touch. Ιt turned out beautiful, especially on these two songs.

Well you know that no matter how long and how rich any of your setlists gonna be, some fans will always complain that there are still some songs missing from your first albums with Uli, but also some from your entire catalogue. What was your main purpose when you made the setlist?
The main purpose was to go all the way back and make a mix form setlist. Τhe setlist was pretty much like a whole new show. We wanted not only to rely on big hits or on the ballads. We wanted to make a really dynamic set with a lot of up tempo songs like the new songs “Dancing With The Moonlight” or “Rock ‘N’ Roll Band” and bring some new material there as well. I mean of course we probably missed some song going all the way back to our first album, songs like…

Rudolf Schenker (Scorpions)There were no songs from "Lovedrive" for example...
Yeah, from "Lovedrive". "In Search Of The Peace Of Mind", that’s a song from our first album. There could have been also beautiful versions for this program, but in the end of the day I think we’d be checking around 30-40 songs and in the end we turned out with 25-26 songs for the show and we played two and a half hours. I know it’s there enough, (laughs) but what can you do? We always came together with our Swedish producers and when we had all those songs and we said “you try to pick them you think they work musically the best” and I think they did a great job on that. Over a period of six months we were working on this set, putting some songs together in a few studio sessions between Hannover and Stockholm. I think it turned out great, but you always have the feeling that there also other great songs.

The show was great, the songs were great, but despite the excellent performance from the band and fellow musicians, I would definitely say that the highlight of the unplugged is your vocal performance. It was really amazing!
Oh, thank you, that’s very kind, thank you!

No, believe me, it’s not kind, it true!
You know, the thing is that in an unplugged concert the vocals are so much up-front and you’d better have a good day for your voice because of course you wanna make it and come up with a great performance, but especially in unplugged concerts like these it’s a long set and especially it’s a challence for the singer. I’m glad it worked out great and everybody had a great time and I was very happy at the end of the day with my performance too, so I didn’t have to go back to the studio to fix vocal parts, this and that you know. It was unnesaccery and I’m very glad about that.

Matthias Jabs (Scorpions)Is there any chance these songs to be recorded in the studio in full-band hard rock / electric versions?
I think there were a few brand new songs and there were songs like “Dancing With The Moonlight”, where I just wrote new lyrics to a songs Matthias wrote some years ago and we recorded the rock version of that earlier - and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Band”. Τhe only thing that changed was that I was on a set of new lyrics. On these songs we recorded rock versions already, and since we love the songs, they would be perfect for the unplugged concert. Οn top of that Matthias came up with a brand new instrumental, “Delicate Dance”, Rudolf wrote a song with "Love Is The Answer" and so did I ("Follow Your Heart"). It was a good mix but you are right. With all those new songs, when we go back to this project we started like a year ago, when we go back to the ‘80s material, we said it would be great for our die-hard fans at some point to bring out some stuff that never made it to the record. We started working on that before we had that MTV Unplugged concert. I’m sure next year at some point we might go back in the studio to finish that project and those new songs are definitely part of it.

So it will be some kind of joint release from unreleased tracks from the ‘80s and these new tracks?

ScorpionsIt will come out on '14 of '15?
I have no idea. It depends on when we go back into the studio and when we will have time to make this (hopefully) great record. But it takes time to go back to these songs. It’s not that we changed now to take away the magic of the ‘80s. The point is that those songs back then were working versions, they were never finished songs. Some of the lyrics at that point were “bla-bla-bla-bla-bla-bla-bla” lyrics to work with the songs, so they weren’t even finished. On some of the material there is a great great track and you have to work it out. For my part it has to start with the lyrics because some of them were unfinished at the time or had working lyrics. There’s plenty of work, but I think some of them will come out pretty strong.    

We’ll be waiting for that for sure. Rudolf once had said: “I give the edge and Klaus gives the melody, that's the reason why we make for a great combination.” I would say that your success until today lies on something more than that. What’s that?
It’s a lot of things. It’s that he’s rhythm, I’m the melody, Rudolf said that he’s the moon and I’m the sun (laughs). It’s a lot of things what makes the success. Of course it’s the fact that we don’t only play just hard rock songs, it’s the fact that we have this mix and that we musically are wide open. What makes the Scorpions different, is that we have songs with strong melodies that people can sing along and some songs that turned to be real rock classics, survived all these years and are still all over the world classics and the fact that we have some ballads that hit really big. I think that’s also part of the longevity of the Scorpions and it brings us a whole new audience in the concerts because the kids watch them on YouTube back home, they see our concerts on YouTube and they come to see us live and they walk home with this emotion and this is only when you go to a live concert because Scorpions is a live band and this is where we really get out our best. But there’s no magic tricks, it’s just people working together and everybody’s participating, bringing his best, creativity, inspiration and if a great new song comes out it’s wonderful. All these years we’ve reached the young generation with our music, that’s fantastic and you could see it in Athens.

ScorpionsSince you have visited Greece several times and you know who the Greek fans and the Greek people are, how do you think we can overcome the current negative situation?
I think that our Greek fans are simply wonderful, because they have a heart for our music, they have a heart not only for the big songs in the mainstream, they know all of our songs from all the way back and they are supporting us from all the way back. That’s why we said let’s go back to Athens, especially in a moment when Greece is going economically and politically, with the whole Euro Crisis, though rough times, and to make a statement. It’s like here we are, we come to Greece to share these concerts with the world to show the world this is a beautiful country with wonderful people and this is culture, this is a place where democracy started. We wanted to come to Greece to make this statement out off our Greek fans saying it’s easy to celebrate when times are great and you have a good time, but it’s difficult in rough times and then you choose who your friends are. That’s the way how we feel about our Greek fans. We wanted to be there, especially in these times and go all over the world. We released the DVD and CD in fifty countries all over the world, so it’s quite a statement I think.

ScorpionsSo we thank you and we’re waiting for you to come to Greece once again in the near future.
Yeah, we would love to. We always like to come back, but now this was such an amazing project which took so much time for preparation until we get to Athens and now this is our turn, we’re all excited to get the feedback from all around the world. There are a few more shows at the end of 2013. Then we take a moment to catch our breath (laughs) and see what life will bring. We’ll do a few shows next year, but there are no major plans right now. We have few MTV Unplugged shows in Germany and France so we’ll see. Other than that, of course this project with back to the '80s songs, we’ll be part of it, pick it up next year hopefully and then we’ll see what life will bring, but we love to come to Greece anytime, always!

So after all, and closing to the end, do you see a "Wind Of Change" blowing again over Europe and all over the world?
The winds are changing every other day and we hope that the wind will blow into the right direction, bring people together in a peaceful way making the world a better place, finding a way out of this crisis, not only for us, but also for the generations to follow. We’re just musicians but our intention is to just bring people together with music, to bridge with music, and hopefully to play our part as artists for make this world a better place. It’s our future all together. We wish that we all find a way to peace.

Klaus Meine (Scorpions)I hope so, too. The last words belong to you. Maybe you have a message to the Greek fans.
What can I say, I’d like to say thank you to our Greek fans for all the love and support for so many years and the wonderful time in Athens. You proved again you have a strong heart and soul for art and for music. We feel very much and strongly connected with you and we can’t wait to see you again.

So, I thank you very very much for this interview. See you next time!
All right Theodore, it was nice to talk to you. Thank you too!

Theodore Xouridas