helnwein archive

Omnibucket, US – June 15, 2000


Cyril Helnwein chats with Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker of the legendary rock band, The Scorpions, June 2006:

by Cyril Helnwein

Klaus Meine: "Blackout" was an amazing cover, it was so powerful, and it was a real piece of art. We were always interested in having rock n roll and art really close together. "Blackout" became a signature artwork for the Scorpions and it still is a classic to this day all over the world. It stands out as one of the best albums we did and we're very proud of it.

Cyril Helnwein: As Germany's biggest worldwide Rock export, do you
think it was important for the songs to be in English? Do you see
yourself as more of an English/American rock band rather than a German

Klaus Meine: I think when we started as a young band it was very
important to work with English lyrics because in the end they were like
tickets for a world career. It was always our vision as a young German
band to go all over the world and play to that audience. We became a
very international band, and especially in the 80s we almost became an
American band. There's not so much of a German influence in our music
since we were very much inspired by English and American artists.

Rudolf Schenker: At this time it was important to sing in English. We
see ourselves more as a global band with the possibility to musically
build bridges between different cultures, generations, countries and

Cyril Helnwein: If there were anything you could change about the past
(yours or someone else's), what would it be?

Klaus Meine: I think the way this trip went - it's been a long, long
ride and everything turned out fine. But of course there are some
things, when you look back, that you'd want to have done differently.
In the 80s we had a financial advisor who became something like a
manager and that was a big mistake. When we found a new manager and we
started all over again with a whole new organization, we never made the
same mistakes again.

Cyril Helnwein: I think that can happen easily - you always hear of
trouble bands have with record companies or managers.

Klaus Meine: Yea it's not so easy, especially when you're based in
Germany and have a worldwide career. In the past 30 years there
haven't been many German artists with successful international
careers like ours (Rammstein maybe).

Rudolf Schenker: Everything is good and right the way it is. We are
subject to a learning process that drives us to solve the problems that
haven't been solved yet.

Cyril Helnwein: What kind of artistic censorship did you have to endure
(for example a lot of your album covers were very sexual), and how did
you deal with it?

Klaus Meine: It was interesting - We ran into trouble with a lot of
covers, especially in America. Some were really great, but looking back
with today's point of view they were a little over the top. If you look
at a cover like "Virgin Killer" today you'd think about child
pornography and stuff like this, but there were many beautiful covers
too and your dad was part of this artwork history of the Scorpions.
"Blackout" was an amazing cover, it was so powerful, and it was a real
piece of art. We were always interested in having rock n roll and art
really close together. "Blackout" became a signature artwork for the
Scorpions and it still is a classic to this day all over the world. It
stands out as one of the best albums we did and we're very proud of it.

Rudolf Schenker: We always tried to grace our albums with unusual
covers. Looking back on it now, sometimes we may have gone too far,
especially with "Virgin Killer" - that's something we wouldn't do
anymore today. It was a visual representation of the lyrics of the

Cyril Helnwein: What was it like for you growing up in post-war
Germany? At that time, were you aware of the past or was it something
no one really talked about?

Klaus Meine: We were definitely aware of the past. In the 50s and 60s
they had this German "hit music" in Germany and the music we were
inspired by was English and American music. After the war there was a
kind of depression in Germany and the sad past with the holocaust was
something that were always aware of. We see ourselves as a sort of
musical ambassador to Germany, showing people that Germans can also
bring something positive into the world.

Rudolf Schenker: Due to Germany's past we were plagued by a shadow of
guilt and we grew up without patriotic pride. We were careful to
present ourselves in a positive way when we were in other countries,
and to musically turn around the German picture and show people that
not only war but also good music can come out of Germany (which has
been proven many times in the history of music).

Cyril Helnwein: At what point in the history of the Scorpions did you
get your big worldwide breakthrough and what was that like? Animal
Magnetism ('80), Blackout ('82) or another time?

Klaus Meine: "Love Drive" at the end of the 70s was a very powerful and
successful album, then of course "Blackout" was the next step that put
us up there and made us headliners in stadiums and areas all over the
world, it became a multi-platinum album. Japan went totally crazy for
the Scorpions and then America was just ready. We started touring as
special guests with many bands from Aerosmith and Ted Nugent to AC/DC
and then with "Love at First Sting" a young band by the name of Bon
Jovi became our opening act. In the early days we had an underground
following in the states in the 70s, but when we played in Japan the
word was out that the Scorpions were an international band. Our first
show was a big festival in Cleveland, in front of 70,000 people. We
were the opening act of course, and we supported Ted Nugent and AC/DC -
we learned how to play big arenas and entertain people, so by the time
"Blackout" came out we were ready to take the headliner position.

Rudolf Schenker: Our first feeling that we achieved a breakthrough was
1978 on our Japan tour, which was the first time we were celebrated as
stars. Then, of course, the breakthrough in America and worldwide with
albums like "Blackout" and "Love at First Sting". It was an incredible
feeling but also hid many dangers, which could only be overcome through

Cyril Helnwein: What were your feelings in 1981 when Klaus Meine lost
his vocal chords? Besides the vocal chord operations, what helped you
overcome it?

Klaus Meine: It was a very difficult time but I had very strong support
from my family and from Rudolf. I had my Vienna connection, not only
with your father but also with a wonderful Dr. Kirsten. After 2
operations he helped me build up my vocal chords and gave me the
confidence to use my voice the way I was used to. When I was really
depressed and told Rudolf to look for a new singer, he said "No way! Do
everything for your voice and we'll wait for you until you get it
back." It was an amazing triumph of friendship. It could have been the
end of the road for me, but really it was just the beginning of a
career that was taking off to the next level. Vienna played a big part
in it, not only the album, which was a very strong record, but also
that everything worked out. I remember meeting your dad for the first
time and we were all so excited and out of that came something very
special that still stands out today.

Rudolf Schenker: Friendship and a belief in each other.

Cyril Helnwein: The power of art and music cuts through everything else
that is "humanoid". As the first foreign rock band to play behind the
iron curtain in 1988, do you think you had something to do with the
fall of communism and the end of the cold war?

Klaus Meine: I know music definitely has its share in changing the
world. When we went over to the former Soviet Union, we played 10 shows
in Leningrad in '88. Fans came from all over the USSR, even Siberia, to
see a western rock band. It was still in the days when the KGB was
everywhere and they were watching us 24 hours a day. You could feel
there was a young audience and there was change in the air. A year
later, when we played at the now legendary Moscow Music Peace Festival
with Bon Jovi, Skid Row, and several Russian and German bands, we all
went down the Moskva river in a boat one night and it was like a vision
- the whole world in one boat, talking the same language - music. It
was just beautiful and when we played in front of 100,000 at the Lenin
stadium (they even lit up the Olympic fire), you could feel that the
time of the cold war was possibly coming to an end. We knew the world
was about to change - those people in Moscow were screaming and going
crazy for rock music and peace. It was an inspiration for one of our
biggest hits "Winds of Change" which I wrote on the way back from
Moscow, a few months later the Berlin wall came down. I'm not a prophet
all, but we all could feel that the old communist days were over.

Rudolf Schenker: We wrote the soundtrack for a peaceful revolution. An
incredible change had occurred. Music played a subconscious role here,
but it was not the underlying cause.
What do you think about contemporary pop music?

Klaus Meine: I like all kinds of stuff - I listen to whatever gives me
a good feeling -Coldplay, the Arctic Monkeys, U2, Johnny Cash, AC/DC,
David Gilmore, Metallica, Mark Knöplfer and Emmylou Harris' new album.

Rudolf Schenker: There is only good and bad music. In contemporary pop
music there are also very good songs and music, but my heart lies in
rock music.

Cyril Helnwein: What was the last CD you bought?

Klaus Meine: A best of from Janis Joplin.

Rudolf Schenker: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stadium Arcadium.

Cyril Helnwein: Bands like Bon Jovi, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Def
Leppard were your supporting acts. How did you influence each other,
did you learn things from them and they from you?

Klaus Meine: When Bon Jovi was supporting us we were on top of the
world, playing venues like Madison Square Gardens, the Forum and all
those places. Doc McGee, who was their manager and later on became our
manager in America, told Jon and the guys "You stay here and watch the
Scorps and I want you to watch every move they make", and sure - they
learned a lot in those days because we were on top of the game. Same
with young bands like Def Leppard when they supported us on a couple
tours. Metallica was supporting us on the Monsters of Rock tour when we
co-headlined with Van Halen many shows from east to west. They were the
young kids, the new generation, and what we learned from them was that
it was the end of the 80s and the beginning of alternative music. They
came on stage not dressed up at all, just jeans and t-shirts. It's was
the end of the hard rock heavy-metal mania with all the hair bands
going crazy with all their stage outfits. Looking at those pictures now
you go "wow, what the hell is this?" You could feel something new; it
was not only the new look but also new music. They were down to earth
and not dressed up like Las Vegas. We're still good friends with Bon
Jovi, AC/DC and Metallica, whenever they come around we go to see them.
A while ago we bumped into AC/DC in New York and they invited us into
the studio and Brian Johnson said "you guys sit in the control room and
now AC/DC will play just for you".

Rudolf Schenker: Subconsciously we all influence each other, so it's
hard to say who gives what to whom.
What special advice can you give to young people who want to become

Klaus Meine: No matter where you come from, you can make it if you just
follow your heart and really believe in yourself and don't listen to
people who tell you some bullshit. If you have the dream, you can do

Rudolf Schenker: Believe in yourself, be patient and practice a lot.

Cyril Helnwein: How did you overcome the difficulty of being away from
your family when you toured and was it something that created problems?

Klaus Meine: Touring as much as we did and still do, it's a miracle
that I'm still together with my wife Gaby. So many relationships with
band members didn't make it. It's not easy to have your family and to
have your rock n roll family out there, so you have to have a partner
that's very supportive and understands that rock music and what you do
means so much and is the love of your live. If you have the right
partner it really works and I'm a lucky man.

Rudolf Schenker: Meditation.

Cyril Helnwein: What are your plans for the future?

Klaus Meine: We're about to play the first show in our hometown
(Hannover) for many, many years. We're playing for the opening game of
the World Cup. They've built a big 40,000-seat area with huge monster
screens for the people who can't get tickets for the game area and we
are playing a show for the opening. Then we go to Russia, and at the
end of the month we go to America, Cypress, Germany again and then for
the first time to Mongolia. In fall we will hopefully go back into the
studio for a new album for 2007.

Rudolf Schenker: Currently we are on a world tour, we're working on a
new album and we are searching for more big challenges that make our
world seem colorful.

Cyril Helnwein: World Cup prediction?

Klaus Meine: I'm hoping for Brazil and Germany in the finals. Germany
has a very young team, but they are strong and maybe they can give us a
surprise. When you watch Brazil play, it's like they are from another

Cyril Helnwein: Thank you for the interview.

Klaus Meine: It was a pleasure; say hi to your family.

Rudolf Schenker: Greetings to your dad.