The Scorpions plan to hang up their stingers, if you will, in 2010. But the band’s swan song, Sting in the Tail, reveals an act that is going out on top, and with a bang. New anthems, like “Raised On Rock,” are up to the high standard of many great Scorpions’ hits from the past; a legacy that includes “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” “No One Like You,” “Wind of Change,” and “Still Loving You.” As founding rhythm guitarist and songwriter Rudolf Schenker explains, the Scorpions may be the only band responsible for both sonic booms and baby booms.
Dan MacIntosh (SF): I notice on your new single, “Raised on Rock,” the first line is “I was born in a hurricane,” and I wonder: is that a sly reference to your “Rock You Like A Hurricane”? Or do you just like to use hurricane as a metaphor in your songs?
Rudolf Schenker: We have three songs that came out very, let’s say, sexual. Of these, “Rock You Like A Hurricane” became an anthem. I think “Rock You Like A Hurricane” is a perfect rock anthem, which talks about attitude and sexuality. So in this case, it shows our rock side. The other side was, of course, “Wind of Change,” which was a kind of message soundtrack to the world’s most peaceful revolution on earth. And there was “Still Loving You,” the song of love, where we created a baby boom in France. But we didn’t believe it, either, you know? We were on a TV show in France between recordings, and the host, a very famous guy that interviews us each year, goes, “Hey, guys, you know that you are responsible for the baby boom in ’85.” We were laughing like crazy! And yes, it’s been measured by the government. It’s unbelievable, I tell you. Of course, “Raised On Rock,” is little kick from “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” That’s what we did on this album in general because of the Swedish guys that produced it, Michael (Nord Andersson) and Martin (Hansen). They said, “The Scorpions are all about great guitarists, great melodies, and great vocals. We have to go back to this.” So, If you take the best song elements from the ‘80s albums, and put these on one album, you come up with the Sting in the Tail album. So in this case we tried to re-invent the Scorpions sound from the ‘80s, using the same DNA after putting in a modern twist, to make it sound like today’s music.
And now classic rock is back. Even bands like Green Day and Nickelback play classic rock. That’s what it is. In this case, we picked the perfect time to release an album. Here we are, Scorpions, with a new album, and every song has a special kind of, let’s say, feeling. Rock music has been our soundtrack, and there’s a reason why we have so many songs with titles like “Spirit of Rock” and “Let’s Rock.” It’s because we, after a 40 year career, can really say, ‘Yeah, rock is great.’ After the concept album Humanity Hour 1, with its big message, we said, ‘Okay, we don’t want to go for Humanity Hour 2. We’ll go for let’s rock!
SF: How did you come up with “Rock You Like A Hurricane”?
Rudolf: I would say it actually dates back to ’83 – which is also when I came up with “Still Loving You.” So “Still Loving You” was already a baby born several years before. At first, nobody could play it (“Rock You Like A Hurricane”) really good, and we wanted it to have the perfect feeling. So “Rock You Like A Hurricane” was waiting for two years.
Rudolf: Yes. Then I started at it again in the rehearsal studio preparing to record Love At First Sting. But some of the guys in the band said, “Oh, no, you can’t say ‘Rock You like a Hurricane.’” I said, “No, this is perfect. ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ is perfect.”
It’s very important to recognize the tension between the verses and the chorus. I think Klaus (Meine) went over the lyrics around 8 or 9 times because the first lyrics of the song went something like “blah blah blah blah.” And we said, “No! The song is not feeling right.” But at the 9th or 10th time, it came. The lyric goes: “The bitch is hungry, she needs to tell, so give her inches and feed her well.” This was the tension between the “Rock You Like A Hurricane” chorus, and the words to the verses. This is what makes the song great. And the funny thing is, the girls, when they’re talking about “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” they say, “Oh, I love your song ‘Rock Me Like A Hurricane.’” (laughs)
SF: Oh, that’s a different thing, huh?
SF: You talked earlier about “Still Loving You” triggering a baby boom. What can you tell me about the birth of that song?
Rudolf: I came up with the composition’s melody and everything. It took about six years of trying to get the song somehow on the album. Matthias Jabs came in with the guitar part, and the feeling was immediately right, so Klaus (Meine) noticed it was right. Therefore, he wanted to write something very special. He told me about how one day he went out into the fields in the snow, and it was then that he came up with the lyrics. He came back home and threw them down, and here we are. It’s a story about a love affair where they recognized it may be over, but let’s try again. It’s the old story; always the old story. I mean, what can we use? We can’t reinvent the wheel. What we always do, is say something which has already been said many times, in our own way.
Rudolf: It’s been said before us, and will be said after us. But the question is: How are you saying it?
We had a big single with “Nobody Like You” in ’82. People asked us, “Why are you guys coming from Germany, and you have this Number 1 single in the United States? What is this secret?” I said, “Maybe it is because we see things in a different way. We explain things differently, and we go very deep inside with the music and the lyrics, and we have a different view. And people start liking this view because it’s not the same as the views of other people.
SF: So, it’s perspective that really sets you apart.
Rudolf: Exactly. In the beginning of our career, we had a problem in Germany because nobody expects a German band to play rock music. With rock music, there are more bands from England or America, which are more exotic than the Scorpions, who are from Germany. But when we went to America in ’79, we became the exotic ones. They said, “Hey, what kind of crazy guys are these?” (laughs) We were already exotic, with a different view, and we also play our rock music with a little bit of an ethnic touch. You’ll notice that Americans come from the blues side, whereas we come from the classical side, which is different.
All these blues musicians, all these bands, like Aerosmith and those guys; I love them. But on the other hand, for Americans, it’s something special or different with bands coming from Germany. And that’s great.
SF: One of the saddest things about doing this interview is that it might be the last time that I interview you as a Scorpion. What can you say about the future of your music, and will you be continuing to write songs in a different formation?
Rudolf: First of all, we are very excited because the album’s doing very, very well worldwide. It’s Number 14 on the world chart. And it’s at #1 on the rock chart. And it entered Billboard at #23. It’s very emotionally great to see that we came back at just the right moment. Our manager heard the new album before it was mastered, and he was excited. We were excited. He said, “You know, guys, you can’t beat this. This is something very special. I think this could be the great thing to end on a high note.” We thought he was joking, but when we started thinking, we said, “Hey, he is gonna be right.” Now we are talking about the end of our career, which is very emotional, and we are on top of the world. No question about this, we know when the last day comes up it will be not so funny. It will be a hard moment. But on the other hand, there will be many possibilities, opportunities, adventures coming to us. One possibility, of course, is the pairing of my brother (Michael Schenker, who was with the band from 1970-1973) and me - we brought out the V guitar, the Schenker Brother guitar. But after that, of course, fans may be asking for a Schenker Brother album. We were already very close to start with it, but then the end of the Scorpions career came between us, and we said, ‘Okay, we don’t want to do a side project now. We want to put all the creativity we have into this Scorpions album, and then we may do something else after this tour is finished. And Klaus (Meine) already mentioned that he would love to be a guest for one or two songs, which we would love very much, too. In addition to making music, I also put out a book called Rock You Live, which was released in Germany and also in Switzerland. Sooner or later, it will be out in Brazil and in Russia and in other countries, so I plan to promote this book. It provides ideas on how you can manage your life and make sure that you have a happy life. That’s the very important point.
SF: Sure. So you’re not going to retire from making music? You’re just going to retire from being a Scorpion?
Rudolf: “Raised On Rock,” is our soundtrack. And it will be our soundtrack until the end of our days. It’s the reason why we formed the band. We don’t want to die in front of our audience. We want to give the last picture, which is one where we’re on top. We know how hard it was to keep this dream alive in the ‘90s. You know how it is when you do things and try to create and create, and nobody listens except a few fans because the format is different. We don’t want to go through that again. We have an album now, which is so great. So, in this case, the best is yet to come, the last song on the album (“The Best Is Yet To Come”) is, on one hand, ironic because you have to see that every part of your life is something special. And if you see that the next step is better than the step before, then that’s a great future. But if you look back, you fall down because you won’t see the next stone in front of your eyes. The next thing is the best yet to come.
We spoke with Rudolf on April 6, 2010. For all things Scorpions, including info on their farewell tour, check out their official site.