In a new interview with Goldmine magazine, SCORPIONS guitarist Matthias Jabs spoke about what it has been like for him and his longtime bandmates to work with drummer Mikkey Dee, best known for his work with MOTÖRHEAD and KING DIAMOND — on their latest album, "Rock Believer", following the departure of James Kottak in 2016. He said: "With James, we usually recorded the modern way. He played last, because we had done all the arrangements and recordings to programmed drums, a programmed drum track. That was the way the Swedes [producers Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hansen] were working. You know, it saves time, it saves money: It's one of those, fly the drummer in, he knows the complete arrangement because he could rehearse it and get ready, and the album is done in two days and that's it. That's that way of thinking. With Mikkey, we did it the other way around, playing live with the drummer there, the old-fashioned way, which brings in what the drummer has in terms of arrangement ideas. But first of all, Mikkey's a great drummer, plus he's a very positive personality and he has a lot of energy, which you can hear on the album. But also that means you can play with him for six to eight hours and he doesn't get tired. He's one of those powerhouses. Of course, we know him from MOTÖRHEAD, but he's smart enough and a musician enough to know that when he plays for the SCORPIONS, he knows what to play and what not to play. We've played together now since 2016, like countless concerts, and he's really great; he fits right in. The chemistry is wonderful and yeah, you know, a very fun guy, too."
A year and a half ago, Dee spoke to the "Drum For The Song" podcast about the main differences between playing with MOTÖRHEAD and touring with SCORPIONS in terms of how he paces himself for each individual band's setlist. He said: "A lot of people say, 'Hey, listen, Mikkey, you're probably sleeping through the [SCORPIONS] set.' And I'm telling you, this is so much more demanding than MOTÖRHEADever was, physically. Because, as you know, if I was starting to lose my breath here and there with MOTÖRHEAD, I could just shout at [guitarist Phil Campbell] or Lemmy and go, 'Hang on, boys. Have a drink,' and pretend to tune up the snare a little bit. And Lemmy and Phil, they were not very hard to [convince] to get a break. They went around their stacks and took a drink, and we said, 'Cheers,' and you could even actually have a chat on stage for a while. But with the SCORPIONS, it's all on a click track, because of our screens — the production. And I do play around the click, but it has to work with the lyrics and stuff on the screens and what's going on with the production, which we never had with MOTÖRHEAD."
He continued: "So every show [with the SCORPIONS] is exactly the same length — on the fucking second or minute… Klaus [Meine, SCORPIONS singer] cues whatever he says. So it could be one or two minutes difference between the sets, on two-and-a-half-hour sets. So it's very demanding. It goes up and down, the set, and there's a part in the set after we've done the acoustic medley, and then we come up and do 'Wind Of Change' — I'm actually freezing on stage. And then it's about 40 minutes, 45 minutes of non-stop… We do heavy, heavy songs, and a drum solo, straight into 'Blackout', straight into 'Big City Nights'. I mean, there's 45 minutes where I don't even have a chance to change drum sticks. So that is very, very demanding for me. But it's great — it's a challenge, and I love it. But the more tired I get on stage, the better I play."
Mikkey added: "We usually did 90 minutes, with MOTÖRHEAD, and when we played with other bands, it could be 60 or 70 minutes. But MOTÖRHEAD, we controlled the set ourselves, and here and there, Phil ran outside and changed his guitar or took a piss, or Lemmy disappeared off stage and no one knew what he was doing. We could run it ourselves more in a different way."
SCORPIONS kicked off their North American "Rock Believer" tour last Sunday night (August 21) at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Earlier this month, WHITESNAKE pulled out of the North American tour with SCORPIONS due to singer David Coverdale's "continued treatment for a persistent upper respiratory infection."
The SCORPIONS tour is scheduled to end on October 21 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"Rock Believer" was released in February. The LP was recorded primarily at Peppermint Park Studios in Hannover, Germany and was mixed at the legendary Hansa Studios in Berlin, Germany with engineer Michael Ilbert, who has earned multiple Grammy nominations for his mix work with producer Max Martin on albums by Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.
SCORPIONS originally intended to record the new album in Los Angeles with producer Greg Fidelman, whose previous credits include SLIPKNOT and METALLICA. However, because of the pandemic, some of the initial work was done with Greg remotely, after which SCORPIONS opted to helm the recordings themselves with the help of their engineer Hans-Martin Buff.
SCORPIONS' new album marks their first release since 2017's "Born To Touch Your Feelings - Best Of Rock Ballads", which was an anthology of new and classic material.
SCORPIONS' previous full-length collection of new recordings was "Return To Forever", partially comprising songs the band had in the vault from the '80s. It was the final recorded appearance of Kottak, who was dismissed from the band in September 2016.