Exclusive Interview with Klaus Meine, Legendary Lead Singer of the Scorpions!

The Scorpions! (l-r Rudolf Schenker, Paweł Maciwoda, Klaus Mein, Mikkey Dee, Matthias Jabs)

There’s nothing like a family reunion, especially when your crazy German uncles show up and rock the place silly! The Scorpions, the multi-platinum selling sonic steamroller from across the pond, returns to visit their San Antonio family on September 7th @ 8pm at the Freeman Coliseum with special guest, Queensryche! We’re one of the stops on their short North American tour of make-up dates going back to last year, when frontman Klaus Meine suffered a severe case of laryngitis and the band was forced to cancel the rest of the tour. The band felt terrible about canceling the dates, and were adamant about coming back and finishing what they started, a testament to their dedication and commitment to their beloved fans. We had the honor of speaking with Meine, one of the most revered and iconic voices in rock, about returning to San Antonio, his favorite Scorpions songs, his history with the band, and what it feels like to be an ambassador of music throughout the world.

Here’s the full audio from our interview! (Klaus begins by talking about places he’s been near Corpus Christi, and I tell him about Tejano/Conjunto Music!)

 

Rob Gomez– Thank you very much, Klaus. This is South Texas Sound Project. We are a South Texas-based music community, a rock community, and we love taking the time to do interviews with artists and get you guys closer to your fans. We really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today. It really is an honor!

Klaus Meine– Yes, thank you!

RG– I’m a huge fan, have been all my life. We are so excited to have you back in San Antonio, especially after you had to cancel the end of the tour last year, when you got laryngitis. We’re really glad you recovered. Do ya’ll enjoy playing San Antonio? Are there any special memories playing here?

KM– I mean, we have many, many memories. We’ve played there so many times! I always had a good vibe about San Antonio. It’s such a rock city, you know? Texas maybe is in general, you know, but in San Antonio you feel the southern part of it. The “southern touch”, it’s better to say, I think. I don’t know… it has a really strong and pretty wired rock audience down there. That’s why we always liked it, from the very beginning, in the early days. The Freeman Coliseum, the ATT Center, all those places… and the beautiful Riverwalk, whenever you come to town. We still enjoy it, you know. Have a little walk down the river. (There’s) so many memories in that town!

RG– I’m sure! Especially with you guys playing here so many years. This Crazy World Tour 2018 that you guys are on has coincided with your 70th birthday! Happy Belated Birthday, Klaus!

KM– Well, thank you!

RG– You guys recorded your debut album, Lonesome Crow, back in the early 70’s. Did you see yourself still fronting this band all these years later?

KM– No, of course not. Back in those days, it was really like an adventure to walk into a real recording studio. We were lucky when met Conny Plank, our first producer. Then it was like, let’s see what we can do, you know? When this album came out, we sold maybe 10,000 copies. It was a huge success, and (it was) wonderful. But nobody could tell that this journey would go on until 2018! No way! We also had a few bumps in the road on the way to the “rock Olymp”. There were a few bumps in the road, (like) when Michael Schenker left the band for UFO in the early days. It was after we had our first record out. It was almost all over! There was no band anymore, and we really had to start all over again with Uli Jon Roth. Francis (Buchholz, former bass player) joined the band, and later on we had a million drummers until Herman Rarebell came in the 80’s around Tokyo Tapes, around that time. Then we came to America for the first time. We had an amazing run throughout the 80’s, and then we went to Russia, which was a whole new page in the book. Then alternative hit the big time, and grunge, and again, it could have been over right then, at some point in the 90’s. The world had changed. The world of music had changed so much. It’s a miracle we’re still around, along with a few bands who can say they’re out there for fifty years, plus.

RG– It’s a small club.

KM– Yeah, it’s a very small club. When you promote it for the first time, and put it on the poster, “50th Anniversary”, it’s like “Oh, God! Oh, no!” You don’t want to read that, you know? Really, 50 years? It sounds so damn old!

RG– (laughs) Where did it go!?

KM– Yeah, where… exactly! Then, you find yourself playing in front of three generations, and the young kids, the young rock fans go crazy! They say “C’mon, Scorpions! We saw you for the first time. When are you coming back?” That’s such a big compliment, you know? It feels so good, and you realize 50 years is also something you’re very proud of.

RG– Absolutely. Going back to that, with the children telling you to come back… Your band has said that they’re almost ready to hang it up a couple of times, but you’re still here, and we’re really happy you’re still here. Would you say that’s what keeps you inspired?

KM– Yeah, I think so. You realize that, with the Scorpions, coming from Europe, being a German band, it’s not a mother language to produce with English lyrics! It’s a very unique story of friendship, a very outstanding story. (There) are all these crossroads, where you (think) “Is this maybe a good moment to call it a day?” and then you realize you don’t want to throw this away, because it’s so unique. In the last couple of years, playing in front of three generations, we’ve gone all over the world, and not only that, (but to a) couple of places we’ve never been where we’ve always wanted to play. Like in China, Vietnam, or like Australia. Some of those old dreams came true! The amazing thing is inside this band, after so many years, there’s still this kind of passion to move forward and to find out what it’s like to play in places you’ve never been before. We just played a couple of months ago in Uzbekistan. It’s pretty much out there near Afghanistan. It was ama-zing! We’d never been there before, and we played just one concert, and it was like “WOW!” Some years ago, not too long ago, this music was forbidden in this country. Rock music was forbidden. So you come to a place like that and you see the enjoyment. When you play in Tel-Aviv, as we just did a couple of weeks ago, and we go back to Beirut, to Lebanon, in October, you see how much people are connected in the world of music and the world of emotions. That’s such a powerful thing, and we all know, in the real world, we go through troubled times. It’s wonderful when music brings us all closer together, and (it’s like) we’re this band from Germany, and people crazy in Moscow! We have our most loyal fans also in the United States, and we’re coming back now and playing those rescheduled dates. That’s simply wonderful, and you don’t want to give it up, unless you have to.

RG– It’s really hard to just let it go.

KM– And believe me, it has nothing to do, in the first place, with business. Business, of course, is part of it, as well, but how can it be, after all years… it cannot be the major focus of musicians whether to keep going or not. It’s the joy of it, you know, after all these years. Especially growing older now, (we have) proof by numbers! (laughs) You know you’ll just keep going. You’re living your dream, and it’s a privilege that we can do it. It’s really a privilege that we’re still out there and doing what we love to do and playing music.

RG– It’s a privilege for us to be exposed to all your music for so many years over so many albums and so many tours. Like you said, the proof is in the numbers, and you guys are still around. We still want you around! We’re still ready to see you! Even if a date gets cancelled and made up the next year, we’re still going to be there. We still want the Scorpions!

KM– That’s fantastic! We have fantastic fans, and, believe me; it really feels bad when you have to cancel gigs. I really take good care of my vocal chords, but when some virus hits, there’s no chance, and your body shows you the red card, and this is it. But (now) I feel like “Yes! Now we’re back!” I know people were hoping we’d come back, and I’m sorry it took so long, but we’re back!

RG– We’re just glad to have you back.

KM– Yeah, we’ll do those shows, so that feels really good.

RG– The feeling wasn’t just of disappointment, but of concern, because we knew you were sick. We knew you didn’t just cancel this for no reason. It wasn’t business related. It was “Oh, Klaus’ voice!” So everything I read on Facebook was like “’Oh, Klaus! Prayers to get better.’ ‘We hope you feel better, Klaus!’ ‘We can’t wait for you to come back!’” It was all positive. It was all love.

KM– That’s fantastic. Of course, these days (everything is) through Facebook. We have around 7 million people out there on our Facebook site, and so we pretty much communicate every other day, especially while we’re on tour. So it’s a very close communication with people from all over the world. It’s simply wonderful how they cheer you up when you’re not feeling well, or they send all their congrats for the birthday, or whatever it is. You really feel very connected with your people, with your fans. That’s what it comes down to. When we go wherever, just in the last couple of weeks, we played all over Europe, between Paris, London, Athens, Portugal, Spain, Barcelona, Verona and Italy. We had a wonderful time, and all these people over here speak a different language in every country. They sing along to our songs and those young kids know the words by heart. Whether it’s “Send Me An Angel”, “Wind of Change”, or “Blackout”, or “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, all those big songs. Even the new ones, like from Return to Forever, go down well. When we play the medley from the 70’s, it’s hard to believe those kids had ever heard those songs before! The fans that grew up with us from back in the 80’s are sitting in the back of the arena going “Yeah!”, and feeling good, (remembering) the days when they went crazy in front of the stage when they saw us for the first time. It’s a wonderful thing, and, like I said, music brings people together and we have the most wonderful fans. We never forget how much it always meant for us to play in America, and, to this day, we hold up this flag and feel good about it, knowing we have a very loyal audience. We just hope the new kids in America would join the party a little more! Definitely, in other parts of the world, we have a much younger audience, and it’s a much stronger mix, also, which brings the new kids in. In America, it’s, for a large part, the 80’s family. But hopefully, through radio, we’ll bring the new kids in, as well. It always goes around in circles, so hopefully the young kids will join the party in the US, as well.

RG– Hopefully! I’m sure they will. Klaus, you’ve written the bulk of the Scorpions songs we know and love, many of them with Rudolf Schenker and Herman Rarebell. What are some of the songs you’ve written that you’re most proud of?

KM– I’m proud of all those songs. They’re like your babies, and they bring you back to the moment in time when I wrote “Rock You Like a Hurricane” with Rudolf and Herman. Of course, a song like “Wind of Change” has a very special meaning. First of all, I wrote it. I wrote the music and the lyrics and it’s very much connected to a very historical moment in world history. The end of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall came down around that time, and it’s very connected with this moment in time, so of course it has a very special meaning for me.

RG– Are there songs like that, that you’ve written, that you feel resonate more powerfully in the “Crazy World” of 2018 than when they first came out?

KM– Well, there are songs that maybe weren’t hits, but they became so strong, like “The Zoo”, for example, (which) became an all-time classic. “Send Me An Angel” is one of the songs that’s very close to my heart. Of course, “Still Lovin’ You”. That’s also one of the “Big 3”, “Wind of Change”, “Still Lovin’ You”, and “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. “Holiday” is one of those songs that was always very popular with the fans.

RG– It’s a great song. I just listened to it yesterday, actually. (laughs)

KM– Really?

RG– Yeah, I was cutting my grass and listening to some of your older 70’s (albums), and I listened “Holiday” and I listened to In Trance. They’re just good albums, great albums.

KM– Yeah. I wish we had a chance to go back to those old records and pick a couple of songs and squeeze them into the set. But, there’s just so many songs you can play every night, you know? I think we have a wonderful set right now, but there’s just so many songs! Like you said, “In Trance” is also one of those songs that brings back great memories from the 70’s. “Kojo No Tsuki”, when we played in Japan, still with Uli Jon Roth. Songs like “Sails of Charon”, with Uli. “The Yellow Raven” was another Uli Jon Roth song. I got a couple of songs from that era that I really enjoy, when I have a chance to listen back. I’m becoming really close to our set right now, but I think songs like “We’ll Burn the Sky” have been, for a long time, also in the Scorpions setlist. It’s a beautiful song. There are a lot of masterpieces from that era, and I’m just glad we have such a big catalogue to pick songs (from). I know that fans sometimes complain about setlist, and (say) “Please play different songs!” and all that.

RG– There’s so much music!

KM– Yeah, it’s just so much to choose from, and it’s not so easy when you find something when you have this big production, with all the LED’s and all these contents, and the technical side of it. We’ve put in so much thought and so much creative work in there, and it’s not so easy to change it from here and come up with a new setlist and squeeze in, like, five new songs. That’s not so easy these days!

RG– I’m sure! Like you said, you have a lot of music, especially from the 70’s, the early days, that are just solid. “Sails of Charon” is one of my favorites. That Uli Jon Roth intro (solo) is just jaw-dropping. Ah, man, that’d be great to see live!

KM– Yeah, picture it live, you know?! There are many songs from the Scorpions, version/part 1. (laughs) It was a long, long time ago, and I know Uli is also very active out there, playing Scorpions material, and so is Michael. They’re all out there, doing their thing.

RG– I think Uli and Michael just came to San Antonio. I don’t know if it was either earlier this year or last year, but they just came recently. (Michael came this year on 3/31 and UJR came 3/30)

KM– Really?

RG– Yeah, both of them came through within a few days of each other, I believe.

KM– Oh, really? So you got the full package! The full Scorpions package.

RG– Yeah, now we get you guys!

KM– Ok! That’s wonderful.

RG– You’ve toured the world countless times, and you’ve played for generations of fans in every country, but is there one thing you’ve accomplished that means more to you than everything else?

KM– Well, I think when it comes down to family and to your private life. But, when you talk about the professional life, being musicians, then I would say the fact that we became, in a way, ambassadors of music. Bringing people together with music in so many parts of the world, especially going east. That’s because we’re a German band, and we grew up in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. So that, I think, was always part of the Scorpions being music ambassadors. That’s something for our legacy that I think would mean a lot.

RG– Definitely. It’s also pretty common to see a guitar in your hands during a Scorpions show. Do you play guitar pretty often, or is it something you enjoy doing every now and then?

KM– Every now and then. When it comes to composing songs, then I grab a guitar and I find much inspiration for writing new songs playing and twiddling around on a guitar. On stage, maybe it’s time to add another song where I play guitar. “Coast to Coast” is such an all-time classic, and it’s still a lot of fun. It’s the guitar attack, and I join Rudolf, Matthias, and Pawel, and it’s always a highlight at every concert. It’s a beautiful instrumental that I’ve played for so many years, and that’s my moment of fame being a guitar player and joining the gang.

RG– There you go! Obviously, the Scorpions is your life’s work, and it’s something anybody would be extremely proud of, but do you ever wish you had a side project or another band that played different music?

KM– Like the Hollywood Vampires for me, yeah? (laughs)

RG– Yes, exactly!

KM– Something like that. Yeah, I know a lot of people like Joe Perry and Steven Tyler has a new side band, as well. It’s going a little country and western, I heard. It’s cool, when you have a little side project going on. So far, there’s been no time for me, really. My life with the Scorpions is very, very busy, and all those years, whenever I have a break, my vocal chords were always ready for a break! (They need) to recover from the crazy Scorpions life on the road! Therefore, I never had the desire, in my private life, in a break with the Scorpions, to start a new band or something. It was always more like, good to get away from it for a moment, and be ready for the next run. I enjoy my private life, my family life, as well, away from my rock-n-roll family, the Scorpions. You have to find a good balance in your life, and I think I found that. But, that doesn’t mean I would not do something like this in the future. Who knows, you know? It’s something for your creativity, and it’s really inspiring, even if it’s just a project to work with other people. Just a whole new shot of energy and to do things differently.

RG– Do you have any favorite memories or crazy stories from being on the road with the Scorpions?

KM– Crazy stories about the road? Well, what’s a crazy story these days, when the world is so crazy?! (laughs) Just watch the news, it’s a crazy world out there! So, we just played recently in Athens, and some years ago… well, the fans in Greece are very emotional, you know? You can tell, and we’ve played there many times. I remember playing a show in Thessaloniki, I think, and there was a guy crying so hard in front of the stage, and his girlfriend, or sister, I didn’t know (which), was shouting at me and going crazy! Going mad, because the boyfriend or brother was crying so hard! But what could I do? Nothing! (laughs)

RG– (laughing) The show must go on!

KM– The show must go on, dude! Some years later, I told this story when I was asked in Athens, at a press conference, “Why do you like to come to Greece so much?” I said “Well, the people are so emotional” and I told that story. So, one of the journalists gets up and says “Klaus, that guy was me”

RG– (laughs) That’s awesome!

KM– Yeah! And I said “That was you? Please, don’t start crying again!”

RG– It’s going to be ok!

KM– “It’s gonna be ok, just don’t start crying again!” Yeah, it’s funny, and I think, because I’ve told this story a few times, when we played in Athens recently, I think I ran into this guy again! I think it was after the concert, and I was on my way back to the hotel, and he said “Klaus, Klaus! I want to die, I want to die!” But I had no chance to talk to him, really, but it’s so funny! Some people, you can tell, have their own lifelong relationship with the band. They keep following us around, and it’s so wonderful to feel the love of the fans in that way.

RG– I know you have to go, but before you do, do you have any advice for the aspiring young musicians out there who dream of sharing the stage with the Scorpions?

KM– You just have to follow your dreams. If you feel the talent inside of you, and you’re lucky to run into a couple of guys that share the same vision and the same dream, then go for it! Don’t let anybody tell you aren’t good enough! Just go for it and find out yourself. You’ll figure out the minute you’re onstage, whatever you do, whether you’re a singer, a drummer, a guitar player, you find out yourself very soon in the feedback if you make the connection with the audience. Then you build from there. But, be patient! Give yourself time enough, and don’t expect you’ll be a hero on your first gig. You have to learn a couple of lessons, and if you have the talent, you (have to) believe in the right things. If you believe in creativity, you believe in enjoying life, and putting some positive vibes out there, instead of going for the money. Don’t follow the wrong advice, don’t follow the wrong path. Just try to figure out what is the right way for you, and maybe you have it inside of you, and it’s got to come out. You will see. You have to believe in your own dreams and your own talent, and just go for it, and check it out!

RG– Thank you for that, Klaus. That was beautiful, man. I’m sure that’s going to inspire a lot of young people in this area! We can’t wait to see you in San Antonio on September 7th. Is there anything you want to say to your audience here in Texas before you go?

KM– Yeah! Well, what can I say? Thanks for being so patient with us! Sorry it took so long for us to come back, to reschedule these dates. But we’re warmed up by now. We’re ready to go, and we very much look forward to coming back to our San Antonio, to Rock You guys Like a Hurricane again! Make sure you’re ready! We’ll see you out there!

RG– That’s right! Thank you so much, Klaus. Klaus Meine of the Scorpions, everybody! See him on September 7th at the Freeman Coliseum here in San Antonio!

Tickets for the show are available here. Special thanks to Amy Sciarretto at Atom Splitter PR.

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