Blasting-Zone.com recently conducted an in-depth interview with legendary SCORPIONS guitarist Rudolf Schenker. Several excerpts follow:
Blasting-Zone.com: At what point did you first realize the group had the potential to become an international success?
Rudolf: "I noticed very much from the middle of the '70s that we really had the potential to make it worldwide. Especially when my brother (Michael Schenker) left to go to UFO. With (former guitarist) Uli Jon Roth, we had a very strong guitar player that we could do a United States tour with, but to make a tour of the United States in those days, and I think this is still true today, you needed a lot of money, you needed support from the right management and the right record company. After trying already in the late '70s to get the right management and the right people, somehow we got in touch with DMA, which in those days was an agency that was booking bands. DMA had some good people working for them. The management managed AEROSMITH, TED NUGENT, MAHOGANY RUSH and AC/DC. In '79, after 'Lovedrive', my brother was in the band because he had left UFO. He played for three months. We played in Hamburg, they saw us in Hamburg in the Music Hall and they were blown away like crazy. They said, 'Hey guys, we want you badly.' We played our first show of '79 in May in Cleveland, a big festival with TED NUGENT, AEROSMITH, JOURNEY, THIN LIZZY. We played there, rocking like a hurricane. Then we started touring with TED NUGENT and AC/DC in the United States through all the big halls and we kicked ass badly. TED NUGENT was sometimes afraid that we would really take over. This was our time. '79 was 'Lovedrive'. The album was great, the touring was great and we made it. That was the time when we said, 'Yes, this is the way and now we are going.'"
Blasting-Zone.com: In hindsight, do you regret releasing the album Virgin Killer with the original uncensored cover?
Rudolf: "No. .We didn't actually have the idea. It was the record company. The record company guys were like, 'Even if we have to go to jail, there's no question that we'll release that.' On the song 'Virgin Killer', time is the virgin killer. But then, when we had to do the interviews about it, we said 'Look, listen to the lyrics and then you'll know what we're talking about. We're using this only to get attention. That's what we do.' Even the girl, when we met her fifteen years later, had no problem with the cover. Growing up in Europe, sexuality, of course not with children, was very normal. The lyrics really say it all. Time is the virgin killer. A kid comes into the world very naive, they lose that naiveness and then go into this life losing all of this getting into trouble. That was the basic idea about all of it."
Blasting-Zone.com: Taking into consideration the group's much-celebrated work with both your brother and Uli Jon Roth, do you consider Matthias Jabs to be the definitive SCORPIONS lead guitarist?
Rudolf: "Yeah, because we noticed that with Uli and my brother, we had not team players, we had solo stars. It's always difficult to build a career, a long run, with solo stars because the attention goes away. The singer is always really the man who is the frontman. On 'Lovedrive', we tried twenty or thirty guitar players in London to try and get somebody who was a team player that was good enough. We had tried many very good guitar players, many famous ones also, but I always had in mind that there was this new guy Matthias Jabs and that he could be the guy. I called him and told him 'Do you have time to play with us?' and he was like 'Oh, yes'. Then we come to find out he is very much into the SCORPIONS and can already play our stuff, so after coming back from London and not finding the right guitar player, we said, 'Okay, let's give it a try.' 'Lovedrive' was helped by my brother because there was a time when he had left UFO and he was more or less on a honeymoon. He came past the studio and he played some solos, did some guitar work and it worked out. 'Lovedrive' became a three-guitar-player album and gave us that shooting start for this career."
Blasting-Zone.com: Realistically, do you foresee the group working with Michael on a studio recording?
Rudolf: "This last album was already pretense to do that, but the problem was the timing again. He was on his way to Japan because he had to re-play a few shows. He was already close to saying 'Okay, I am coming. I'll fly over to Los Angeles and then tour Japan,' but we said, 'You know, that is too much. Then you are fucked later in Japan. Don't do that.' With Uli it was the same thing. We said, 'You know, when the time will be right, it will be right.' We have a very good career right now in which we can play and of course with this album, we've already noticed that we'll be able to let it live like it is. Maybe later on there will be a time when we say 'Yeah, now the time is right.'"
Blasting-Zone.com: In regards to the "Humanity - Hour 1" sessions, what led to the decision to work with so many outside writers? Was the group experiencing difficulty completing the material on their own?
Rudolf: "Let's say it this way: when we started to think about doing a new album, there were two possibilities. One of them was to make another album so that people know we are still alive and the other possibility was making a masterpiece for ourselves. So we contacted a few great producers and Klaus and I went over in February to meet with them. The one that came the closest to what we were thinking was (acclaimed AEROSMITH/KISS collaborator) Desmond Child. When we came in, we had a lot of new songs written, but when we got to the rehearsal space, Desmond already had his concept of 'Humanity - Hour1', including the album cover. Desmond told us about this more mature album. He felt that maybe we could help raise the collective consciousness about what's happening in our world. So we said, 'Yeah,' and then he said, 'In that case, I have some good people here, writers that I always work with. Let's do a masterpiece. Let's get everyone together and do something.' I think myself and the whole band was very surprised by the fact that he also mentioned that he would only be doing the vocals and that he would be bringing in someone new and upcoming, a guy named James Michael who would be doing the drums, bass and guitars. Desmond has a very great team around him. That was a very important part for us. The basic idea was to make a great album, a masterpiece for our own history, and to give a message in the songs."
Read the entire interview at Blasting-Zone.com.