Rudolf Schenker : rock is an attitude !

Do we really need to introduce Rudolf Schenker, the tall blond, sixtyish and –incidentally – rhythm guitarist and founding member of legendary band Scorpions? Right in the middle of their farewell tour, and just two hours before getting on stage, we met him backstage to ask him a few questions. It seems he’s as down-to-earth as ever and admits he’s glad to be back in France, and to see their shows still sell. This cool and collected man has such an aura, even a hyperactive kid from hell would be left speechless.

The Scorpions getting closer to retirement, Rudolf is thinking back on everything that’s happened to them over the years, and wonders how to best finish this adventure. But, rest assured, between this three-year tour, and the 800-plus hours of live and studio footage the band has been keeping, the adventure is far from finished. Nevertheless, Scorpions is a popular band which hasn’t shied from its share of risk-taking and innovating experiences, music and stage-wise, like playing rock-‘n’-roll in Asia or in high altitudes! Rudolf is far from nostalgic, and doesn’t believe rock is dead at all. Indeed, Rudolf keeps an optimistic eye on the evolution of our genre and on its future which he believes to be full of promise, especially with bands such as… Nightwish, Angra or Linkin Park!

« The South American tour was very tough because we played the highest concert ever in rock history. The stadium in La Paz was 3000 meters high. That was something very outstanding and very tough because the air is very thin.« 

Radio Metal : The Athens show had to be cancelled because Klaus was suffering from laryngitis, so how is he feeling now?

Rudolf Schenker (guitar) : He is feeling good. The point is that we had not enough time between the  different continents which are always long flights. Mostly, the effect is that you can get a virus because of the air conditioning in the plane. When somebody is sick it’s flying around . The South American tour was very tough because we played the highest concert ever in rock history. The stadium in La Paz was 3000 meters high. That was something very outstanding and very tough because the air is very thin. The airport is 4 200  meters high and we had to go out, we had oxygen there to make sure that no one has a problem. We made it well and the whole South American, West American and Canada tours were fantastic.

2010 was a dark year for rock music : Ronnie James Dio, Peter Steele from Type O Negative, Paul Gray from Slipknot and more recently Steve Lee from Gotthard all passed away this year. This situation has created a kind of paranoia among the fans. Did you feel it was necessary to immediately reassure the fans informing them about the nature of Klaus’s illness and publishing messages for their attention?

You have to inform people if you know what the problem is. Klaus knew already before the Athens show. So what we had in mind was to inform people before they going there. It is also important because Sophia was an Open Air and Klaus said that it was impossible. Consequently we had to announce that or else it would have been unfair if you said “okay go, go, great, see you!” No!  The important is to let people know early enough so that they can make some plans.

In August you said in an interview that your Get Your Sting And Blackout Farewell Tour is only a farewell to tours. You said the band is open to play one-off gigs after the end of the current tour. Is it true?

I said in all my interviews that this is the last album and last tour. It will be three years long and that’s what we do!  We want to make sure that until the end of the tour we are in good shape, that we can jump, we can run…Klaus and Me are 62, after 3 years on tour we will be 65, then after a break we would be 66. 67: coming out with the new album and then Get Your Sting And Blackout again and with 67 it is difficult to play “Bad Boys Running Wild” and stuff like this and jumping around. We don’t want to die in front of our audience, we want to finish in a high note!  What we felt when we worked on the album was that we had something very special in our hands, we found  back to the DNA, to the essence of the Scorpions songs from the 1980s and the success gives us the right point. Here it is before Gold in France, in Germany it is before Platinum and in other countries we are doing very well too. We are also using the come back of the 80s which we have now with the twist  to finish. We had a great career,  great times over the years, we had a lot of fun on tour, on stage, especially now we had a circle by doing an album, going on studio,doing an album going on tour and so on and so forth and now it’s cut and we have seen every show now in a different perspective.

You have mentioned that a large final show is being planned with former members and will occur sometime in 2011. Have you got more informations to reveal on this subject? Any confirmed guests? A place? A date?

That’s a possibility yes, but it is not planed because we don’t plan anything. First of all, we will support our album Sting in the Tail and then we will find out what the next possibility is. So far the album is selling very good, now  we have a second edition out. I think it is coming out the next day in France. We want to support that and then we’ll be coming up with something else.

When we met Matthias Jabs, he told us about his dream of playing a final concert in a stadium that would be completely free. Is this something feasible according to you?

Everything is possible, I’m sure when the time is right ideas will come. The location has also to be special. It is not like when you do an album or a DVD somewhere in a normal location, here it has to be something very outstanding and we are looking for this.

« Asia was already a very outstanding place for us. Even when they had no record companies we said  let’s play there!« 

Do you believe that the band succeeded in saying everything which was possible or do you keep in mind some frustrations at things you didn’t have time to experiment? I think for example of the musical direction you took with Humanity Hour 1. Many people were waiting for a sequel.

Everything was said. When we came out with Humanity Hour 1, Likin Park came out at the same time with their “Minutes to Midnight”which took the same kind of direction. So everything was said!  We said already: “people please make sure that you are doing everything right,” then crisis came in. So after that everything was said. Why would you have to say everything again and again? Then I said the best way is to do a rock and positive album, Let’s Rock! Let’s these money things and crisis stuff away and let’s rock! So we started to write and somehow things came together like “Raised on Rock”. “Spirit of Rock” and “The Best Is Yet To Come”  were already from Unbreakable session. Everything came together and somehow we noticed that’s us! This is our world, that’s our songs from our live,  that’s also maybe the reason why we said it would be the last tour and the last album because we said everything.

There’s a Get Your Sting And Blackout Farewell Tour Blue-Ray/DVD on the works. What can you tell us about it?

Yes,  as I told you before, we will do a DVD from a very outstanding location, we are still working on it,  it is not like doing a concert in Bercy or whatever. We want to have a super location and we want to have a super moment maybe with some guests etc.

Apparently you have more than 800 hours of never released footage dating back to the early years of the band and that you want to release. What are your thoughts when you watch some of the footage of yourself and the band at its very beginnings?

Everything was good at the time. The energy was unbelievable, we did some outstanding things in festivals such as Rock In Rio, we did the Berlin Wall, we did Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra which is one of the best orchestra in the world, we were invited by Mikhaïl Gorbatchev. Every step has its special thing. The nineteens were a little bit difficult especially in Europe and in America because of  Grunge/ Alternative. We went other ways, we didn’t go where the money was but we went where the adventure and the fans were. Asia was already a very outstanding place for us. Even when they had no record companies we said  let’s play there! We already played there in the 1980s and when the Grunge and Alternative came in the 1990s we played in big stadiums in Malaysia and Jakarta. We had 20 times Platinum  in Thailand. We had lots of success there and then we played in Russia and in this case we could really do something in Asia. When Grunge/ Alternative went down, we went to the United States again.

Are there, by any chance, any unreleased audio material, maybe some unreleased songs, from the band that we can expect to be released in the future?

Of course, we have radio footage, around 800 hours. When we have the time, after the last concert, we will sit together and make some stories : History of the Scorpions, Scorpions in Russia, Scorpions on the pyramids… We have a lot of material! Scorpions in Mexico city… A lot of stuff! When you have the time you can think much better. Also to re-release World Wild Live as a  DVD including raw materials from the time would be fantastic.

« I do not agree with many people who are saying that old musicians were always the best.« 

The Scorpions have inspired more than a generation of musicians. What do you think of the new metal scene?

I will tell you one thing, I do not agree with many people who are saying that old musicians were always the best. They were very good at the time but I think that young musicians find their own way to do their music. Of course, we had our heroes too like Jimmy Page or Jimmy Hendrix. We know that we inspired many new bands like Van Halen ok, it is not a new band, it is an old one but also Green Day, Nickelback and System Of A Down. New scene means new people. I think Ramnstein is a very good band, no questions about this even if it is not so new, 3 doors down is also really good…and Nightwish! The scene is changing so much! Edguy is a great band too! There are so many new bands coming out with a new sound, with new playing, it is good!

So do you think that music is in safe hands?

The rock family is a very tight family. They are not open for new things, they are  believing in the very old new school, no questions about this. I found out lately that we had so young fans because now they go back to the old stuff from their parents saying “hey what this? It’s fantastic! Hey listen to this! The Scorpions? They are still playing? Oh I go there!” So yes I think it is in safe hands! As long as there is guitars… Rock music actually is attitude, it is pure attitude! There are so many ways you can do with guitars and drums! Lately we were invited in a place called Manifesto, a club in Sao Paulo, I saw a band from Brazil, I forgot their name but they were fantastic! I know they played last time in Wacken. They play unbelievable, the drummer is unbelievable, they are doing music in a different way, the drummer can be the hero now, they are playing so fast! Their music is fast and powerful, the singer was fantastic. There is always something.

You are paying tribute to Ronnie James Dio during your shows. Did you have a personal relationship with him?

We know each other already for many years, from The Rainbow days and from his days when he played in Dio. When we played 2002 tour co head-line with Deep Purple in the United States, Ronnie James Dio was the opening act so we did whole tours together. We had some fantastic dates! We celebrated his birthday in Chicago. We had some parties together, one day Deep Purple was involved in a tequila Night, we did the German night with leather pants and beers and Ronnie did have wine night. We did some great stuff, he was a fantastic guy,  so is his wife. We had fantastic moments! I remember always when we met with Klaus and Ronnie they came up saying, you know, we are the Heavily Brothers of Rock’n’Roll! He was a great guy!

« I remember always when we met with Klaus and Ronnie they came up saying, you know, we are the Heavily Brothers of Rock’n’Roll!« .

Interview prepared by Isabelle, Spaceman & Metal’O Phil
Conducted by Isabelle in Dijon, on october 19th, 2010

Transcription : Isabelle

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  • Its was Torture Squad he was talking about and the drummer is Amilcar Christófaro, not fucking Aquiles Priester!

  • Hey … he’s talking about TORTURE SQUAD because Rudolph said about a band that played in Wacken and Hangar never play there.


  • Probabily, he was talking about TORTURE SQUAD but the drummer Aquiles Priester (HANGAR/ex-angra) was playing in it.

  • So, I would like to say one thing. He wans´t refering about Angra when he said « I saw a band from Brazi ». He has joined a jam actually with HANGAR and TORTURE SQUAD. So it´s hard to say about who he was talking about. I hope you understand my bad english

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