Apr 20th 2022

“We’ve Been On a Very Long Encore”: Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs Testify to the Power of Electric Guitar

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Rock Believer, Scorpions’ new album, has been a long time coming. It’s their first release in seven years, since 2015’s Return to Forever, and, happily, it is exactly the record Scorpions fans would want, bringing elements of their most successful albums, 1979’s Lovedrive and 1984’s Love at First Sting.

As it happens, that was no accident. The band deliberately set out to channel the forces that were at work back then, even resorting to using the same guitars and amps that were used on those landmark Scorpions albums.

With estimated total album sales of around 100 million, Scorpions are a huge live draw around the globe.

Just ask rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker. “We’ve played in 88 countries,” the founder of the German hard-rock group notes.

“I remember James Hetfield being asked by an interviewer how many countries Metallica had played in, and he replied that he wasn’t sure, but he knew it wasn’t as many as Scorpions.”

Schenker and Scorpions singer Klaus Meine may be well into their 70s, but they are showing no signs of slowing down the pace of their live work.

The band were in the middle of intensive rehearsals when Guitar Player tracked down Schenker and lead guitarist Matthias Jabs to discuss the new album. They were in fine spirits, overflowing with enthusiasm for the record and the chance to get back onstage. 

Rock Believer is one of the strongest records in your catalog. What accounts for that?

Matthias Jabs I’m really delighted with the result. The circumstances were different from how we recorded in the past, because the pandemic forced us to work by ourselves, as the producer that we’d chosen couldn’t come to Germany, and we couldn’t go to L.A.

We decided that we’d have to produce it ourselves, but that turned out to be the right move, because we had no outside influence and could really concentrate on doing exactly what we wanted to do.

Rudolf Schenker Yes, we were in our own bubble in the studio, and we could work on it as long as we wanted – but without overworking it, which can sometimes be a problem. We knew exactly what we wanted though, which was to capture the DNA of [1982’s] Blackout and Love at First Sting.

It’s very much the record every Scorpions fan would want to hear.

Schenker We wanted to make a rock album that was not too polished. We wanted to go back into the center of what Scorpions should be, because sometimes we have been a bit too polished. We wanted to make a rock album for the rock community.

Jabs I think so too. Looking back, I think we found our signature sound in the early ’80s, and you can hear, without any outside influence and advice from producers, that is still what we sound like.

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