Interview with Klaus Meine
Interview, questions and pictures by Marko Syrjälä
Transcription by JP
One of my longtime favorite bands Scorpions came to Finland in last
August to play in Ankkarock festival. I was lucky enough to have an
interview with lead singer Klaus just before the show. There hasn't been
too much talk about Scorpions in the last couple of years but things
might be different in the future..?
the recent years you have released a bunch of albums: MOMENT OF GLORY,
ACOUSTICA, DVD's and Best Of albums, but it is four years since your
last real studio album. Why did you made all these releases and when can
we hear some new Scorpions music?
We needed a new…. some kind of new kick (snaps fingers) a new kind
of inspiration. After our last studio album, (Eye To Eye, in 1999) the
(fan) confusion was bigger than before to be honest. So this opportunity
to work with the orchestra, The Berlin Philharmonic, that was not a new
idea. They approached us in '95 …way before Metallica did their album.
So we thought about this many times. In all those years we never had the
right guy. So I think between '99, we found Christian Kolonovits a great
composer and arranger from Austria. He did the right arrangements and
everybody said, "This is great!"
So, the timing for us was great…to do the project and play at the
Expo in 2000. It all came to us at the right moment and it gave us a way
to use our very best material for a very exciting project. We learned a
lot from this experience and it was very inspiring and motivating. So
even though it was not a typical Scorpions rock album we worked with our
best material and it became successful. It gave us a whole new world to
It gave you new life.
Yes, It gave us new life. So demand was on the upswing again and it
created demand for an unplugged record. It (the demand) basically came
from Asia and we had the same team. We had Kolonvitz and we built a
band, an acoustic band, around the Scorpions and it gave us a lot of
opportunities to work with different styles around our music, but you
are right; It was quite a while ago since our last album. BUT…we did a
lot of touring and then classic rock came back in America in a big way.
So in the last 12 months we have played over 120 shows and over 80 in
How was the tour with Whitesnake?
Klaus:. It was fantastic! But what I want to say is that really there
was no time to start writing a new album. This might be the biggest
…but the new album is still coming someday?
Of course! It's coming….
Well, with the side-projects and adventures…we did it. Very
successfully and we enjoyed it, but what we got out of it was that there
are many fans around the world, not only in Finland but in places like
…Scotland! They appreciate us, they like what we are doing and they
say, 'thanks for the shows', and they know that we are playing with the
best orchestras in the world…'Acoustica the DVD is very nice'…'we
like it a lot'….even in America, but they say, 'the best thing for us
is if you come out with a new rock record'.
So after all these project we did, it takes you right back where you
come from. What are the strengths of the band? The strengths are 'Rock
you Like a Hurricane" . BUT…the strengths are also 'Winds of
Change' or 'Still Loving you' so you know…. It's like Bryan Adams said
way back, years and years ago. He said, "You guys could have a very
successful record if you had 'Rock you Like a Hurricane and 'Winds of
Change on one record. It would be smash." (laughs) And he's right.
Have you already decided who is going to produce the record…Keith
We haven't been in touch with Keith for quite a while…
Or Dieter (Dirks, ex-long time producer of the Scorpions) maybe?
Well .. of course…we recorded a couple of songs at Dirks studios
and because…all the fights of the past…it's all gone, and everything
is cleared up after so many years. So, we said let's go to cologne for a
couple of days and work with Dieter and just have some fun. We recorded
a song called "Because I Love You' and 'Bad For Good' which
basically came out in America on the Bad for Good compilation last year.
It was good and it was weird at the same time, (laughs) like a time
travel kind of thing. We worked with Dieter for so many years and it
worked. So we said, 'when we are going to do a new album, we might come
back'. Right now, we will definitely do something with Dieter. I don't
know if we will do the whole album but will definitely do something.
Have you written all the songs for the new album?
We have written a couple of songs. There is some new material… tons
of new material actually. There are not so many songs fully worked out.
We are in a session with an American songwriter called Eric. We wrote a
couple of tracks a couple of weeks ago before we started to go back into
the touring thing. But we said that after all the touring we did, last
summer flip-flopping headlining with Deep Purple, we did three months in
the States…then we went on a BIG tour of Russia in the fall and played
shows everything East of Moscow, between Novosibirsk and Vladivostok
(Editor: over 10,000 km from Central Russia near Siberia to the Pacific
Ocean near China) We did it all!
happened to that planned gig in St. Petersburg? Why it was cancelled
after all? It did get a lot of attention in internet because you were
going to play for Russian government …
No, the thing is we didn't cancel it. We were invited by the
government to play at the summit and of course to celebrate 300 years of
St. Petersburg. That gig was a one song performance for President Putin
and all his guests from around the world…all the leaders from around
the world. So we thought that when we were going to St. Petersburg we
didn't want to play just for President Putin we wanted to play for our
fans. So we tried to put up (organize) another show and with the
promoter there was a possibility of doing another stadium concert.
So that was nice. We were to go to St. Petersburg and play this big
stadium show for the fans and then go play this one song show as part of
the celebrations for President Putin…and then the government cancelled
it. The security in St. Petersburg is amazing as you can imagine…
…of course it has to be. It's Russia (laughs)
So it was cancelled. We went a played this little gig with Luciano
Pavarotti and other artists from around the world…Russian artists…so
it was nice but…we felt sorry for the Russian fans…BUT…we played
St. Petersburg last year, we did the big arena…we played all over
Russia like nobody did ever before.
I was going to ask…you have kind of special relationship with
Russia because you were one of the first rock bands ever and you still
play there very often.
Yeah! And we are going to play there again in September!
How did you come up with the idea to play in Russia in the first
place? It was really strange thing to do in the mid-80's.
It WAS totally strange. Maybe because we were a German band and we
were never allowed to play in East Germany, the old DDR as you probably
You were sort of banned?
Yeah, we were banned. They wouldn't let us play there. So we started
with all the success we enjoyed with the western world in the 80's, so
we were already touring in the east and played shows in Budapest in
Hungary and the promoter said, 'You guys have so many fans in Russia,
you should go and play there.' And we said, 'We'll go, no question! So
he arranged it and we played in 1988 the first shows in Leningrad and a
year later was the Moscow Music Peace Festival. Throughout the 90's we
played some shows in Russia but we always played Moscow and St.
Petersburg. And then, last year after we played two shows at the Russian
palace, the Kremlin, a guy we know…who owns an internet company, he
said…we were in his office and there was this big map of Russia. He
said, "Do you know how BIG Russia is?" and we all said,
"Yes of course., and he said, "You have no idea'. He said,
'Look at this, you have played Moscow and St. Petersburg. You should go
all the way!" and we said "all the way? (laughs)
Yeah. You did live broadcasts from every show on that tour?
Yeah, on the internet, from Germany from Samara and Omsk and cities
you have never heard of before…that WE had never heard of before
(laughs) some of them were bigger than Helsinki! (laughs). There are
millions of people, we played Samara, Ufa many cities all over Siberia…
Novosibirsk, Celabinsk, ….
Were you ever scared to play in those places?
No. I mean, we are a very good organization. We had bodyguards
everywhere…security guards and bodyguards. We had no chance to go out
of the …
Did you always get paid? That is the rumour that when working with
Russians you don't always get paid…
You know…we got paid. We played EVERY show. We had a big jet…other
wise we couldn't make it. You know there was 3000 miles between
Krasnoyarsk and Vladivostok, maybe more …I don't know. When you are in
Valdivostok you are an hour from Tokyo! (laughs). So we went all the
way, it was exciting it was a big adventure. We felt like pioneers again
AND…the great thing was we played all summer in America. We played
EVERYWHERE in the States for three months and then we went to Russia and
we played EVERYWHERE in Russia…and it was like the 80's…except for
playing everywhere in Russia. Back then it was the Soviet Union and it
was a different thing but what I want to say is…both poles America and
Russia are very much a part of our lives.
Of course we have many fans in Europe and we like to come to Finland
and whenever Eric Thomson the promoter gives a call (snaps fingers) we
you played in Oulu? (a city in northern Finland) in 1998? Or was it
No …was that the festival with Motorhead…?
Nummirock festival. No, THAT was '99.
Yes! That was '99.
But you were also in Oulu in 1998?
Was that 1998? It seems like a long time ago.
Yeah, yeah, it was five years ago.
Klaus: Time goes by.
A couple of words of your former band mates. What kind of
relationship do you have with those guys? First of all: Herman. I heard
he has a new band and is making a tour soon. Am I right that Herman was
a guest player on "Eye to Eye"…he made some things for you?
No? I thought he was credited with some cymbals or something….for
No…maybe…. (thinking back) Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes…I remember
something. Yes. You are right. You're right. But yes, we have a good
relationship with Herman. I just talked to him a couple of days ago.
When Rudolph had his birthday he invited all the old drummers and we had
a jam session. It was fantastic. Even Johnny, the drummer who played on
the first Scorpions record. So we had a great, great time. We have a
good relationship. He has a new band now and he has just sent me a copy
of the new CD.
Is there a change that you might go over some new songs with him
in the future?
Klaus: Ummm… you mean playing?
Oh , yes. There is a chance. Herman is very creative guy and we wrote
some great stuff together. Yes, there is still a good vibe and he is a
great guy. He is a creative man.
Francis? (Referring to ex-bass player)
With Francis? No way. Francis… no way.
Ok, let's keep going.
Unfortunately…as for what he is doing, I have no idea.
Ok, next one..Uli? (Jon Roth)
Ummm…Uli lives in England and we are not so much in touch. There
was a festival…they wanted all the guitar players, Schenker, Uli Roth,
they wanted us to join together for a couple of songs. It was last year,
but it didn't work out. I think he is doing great and when I look at
Japanese magazines like Burrrn and I see Uli and I say, "Ok, yeah!
Michael, Michael: I just saw Michael. We played in Phoenix, Arizona,
that's where he lives now. When we came through with Whitesnake he came
to the show with his band, all the musicians and we all had a nice talk
that night and unfortunately it didn't work out that we jammed together
but on that tour with Whitesnake we had some special guests. First Brain
Johnson, who joined us onstage for 'Hurricane' in Tampa….
I have heard about that!
You heard about that?
Yeah, I read about it.
…. Vince Neil came on stage in Las Vegas and in Detroit Ted Nugent
Yes, it was very cool.
Ok, I now we have to stop but I have one last question. I have to
ask, do you, yourself know how many best of records you have released?
(laughs) I have no idea. Because so much of that is record company
business. I really have no idea. Sometimes I sign albums I have never
seen before! On an international level…
Yesterday I saw some guys from EMI and they were saying that you
are still on EMI, but now you are on BMG? You just made a deal a couple
of weeks ago?
No not a couple of weeks ago, but we did make a deal with BMG and the
new album will be on BMG.