SCORPIONS Guitarist: ‘Hard Rock Fans Are Very Conservative People’

On October 20, Radio Metal conducted an interview with guitarist Matthias Jabs of German hard rock veterans SCORPIONS. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Radio Metal: Is “Comeblack” going to be the very last record you’ll ever release?

Jabs: I wouldn’t say so. When we announced our farewell tour, we said that “Sting In The Tail” would be our last studio album with our own songs. But we never said it was going to be our last project. As a complement to the last tour, we are going to release a DVD of the final show. There’s also a movie team with us. The goal of “Comeblack” was to record songs that inspired us in the ’60s, when we started out. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, and now we have the freedom. I don’t know if that will be the only release. Maybe we’ll release something else next year, if we have the time to go in the studio, just to do something out of the ordinary. So far, we always wrote our own songs, recorded them and built a career on that. But as musicians, it’s fun to do something on the side. SCORPIONS never really did it. All the other bands do projects with other musicians and stuff. Now we have the freedom to do whatever we like, basically. So I can’t say it’s the last record. I’d rather say you should expect more projects to come on the side.

Radio Metal: Why did you choose to select just a few of your songs for this record? There’s only seven of them.

Jabs: Actually, we recorded a few more. You will hear some as bonus tracks. We recorded them over a short period of time, I think we did nine altogether. We also have “Big City Nights” and “Bad Boys Running Wild”, I think. I’m not sure about “Send Me An Angel”. We started to record it, then we left it, because we were running out of time. Maybe we’ll do something like that later. It was not that we don’t like the original recordings, but with today’s technology, the songs sound much more powerful. We just thought that if you listen to the old versions, you’re missing something. So just for the fun, we tried to record them again. We were still able to sing and play the way we were supposed to, and we had fun doing it. I hope the fans enjoy it, too. Personally, when I listen to bands I like, like AC/DC, for example, they always had a good sound, but I listen to the remastered versions. It sounds better in my car or here in my studio. I wish more bands would re-record their own stuff, so they would get an up-to-date sound.

Radio Metal: You picked songs that you play on this tour. Was it on purpose?

Jabs: We picked the favorites from the ’80s, apart from “Wind Of Change”, which was originally done in 1989 but released in 1990. We were taking songs from the ’80s, and the covers are from the 60s. Those are some of our favorite, which we also play live. People mostly want to hear those songs. When you’re in a band for a long time, the fans want to hear certain songs. Everybody has their own wishlist. We checked on the Internet, and we’re basically playing the top favorites, even if sometimes we like to play something totally different. Everybody would complain if we didn’t play those! You might have special favorite songs, and sometimes we receive e-mails from fans asking why we don’t play such and such song. But the times for being spontaneous are over, since we take a multimedia show on the road. For example, if we played a song like “Don’t Make No Promises”, from “Animal Magnetism”, it means we’d have no movie content. We would have to let the video director find something, and for that he would need ten days. Then we would be able to play the song. That’s how it goes with a professional show like this.

Radio Metal: On this record you made a French version of the song “Still Loving You” with Amandine Bourgeois. Why did you choose France? Do you have a special relationship with France?

Jabs: “Still Loving You” was a major hit in 1984-85. It was No. 1 in France for almost a year, I think. It was a big song worldwide, but it has a special connection with France and the French audience. The record company asked us to do a cover with a French artist, and they chose Amandine. She sings very well. She came over to our studio and recorded with Klaus [Meine]. We were very impressed. For the fans, it almost has a holy touch, it’s a song you just don’t throw away. But in this case, the result was so convincing, and she sings it so well, that we all agreed to go for it. The French record company knew that if the song had the French language in there, it would get played more on the radio. I think you have this restriction on your radios, there has to be a certain amount of lyrics in French. That was also the reason, I think. But for the band, it was an important thing musically. It’s like an homage to the French fans, who have been so faithful and loyal to SCORPIONS for many years — decades, even. It’s like, “Hello, thank you!”

Radio Metal: In France, there are mixed reactions about this song. Amandine Bourgeois came from a reality TV show, and most hard rock and metal fans hate that kind of shows. I actually saw a lot of negative reactions about this song, even before it was released.

Jabs: I can understand, to a certain extent. A long time ago, I noticed that hard rock fans are very conservative people. They only like what they like, they’re not open-minded. They’re very restricted in what they do. The good thing about it is that they like what we do, and they stick to it. But if any change happens, the first reaction is always, “No! Don’t like it!” Sometime later, they like it anyway. I remember when we went on tour in England in 1979. We were playing “Holiday” as an acoustic song, with acoustic guitars. And the promoter said, “You can’t do this, the audience is going to kill you.” We played it acoustically anyway, and people had tears in their eyes. So it’s always “no” first, and then later, when you listen again, it’s not so bad. But I can’t really tell; I just like the young lady and she has a very good voice. I know she comes from something like the French [version of “American Idol”]; we have those shows as well. But why shouldn’t we give a young talent a chance? You should also think about that. It’s difficult enough for young artists to get a proper chance these days, so if there’s an opportunity for a band like us, who’s already successful, to help a young artist, I think it’s a very good thing.

Read the entire interview from Radio Metal.