Live Bits is the new live album of the Scorpions. It's the 3rd live album in their long history. Drummer Herman Rarebell and guitarist Rudolf Schenker (who came a little bit later) told me about the reasons. They are professionals, just a few questions and they are talking about everything.
This is your 3rd live album, is it like presenting a phase of your career?
Yes, it's the completion of a period, the period Polygram. Polygram wanted a studio album, but we thought a live album fits better in our career now.
World Wide Live is 10 years old.
Our first live album came out in 1978, Tokyo Tapes. On this live album we have songs which we didn't have on the others. Only In Trance which is on the first live album. Many fans told us to play old tracks, too. On the last tour we played In Trance and He's A Woman She's A Man.
When The Smoke Is Going Down haven't been on a live album before. I think it's good to record this song in a more modern version and release it.
You recorded a Spanish song, Ave Maria No Morro. Why do you do that?
We played in Mexico City, most of the concert we recorded in Mexico City. It happened. The people ask us in the after;noon, if we could play it, we rehearsed and in the evening we played it. We just want to show our respect, we wanted to give a tribute to the people there. Winds of Change we recorded in English, Spanish and Russian.
Russia. You played in Russia several times. What's the difference?
Russia was communistic when we played there the first time. That was in 1988 in Leningrad. It was planned that we play 5 shows in Leningrad and 5 shows in Moscow. In the end we played 10 shows in Leningrad. It was around the 1st of May and in Moscow they feared that it could a revolution during the parade at the 1st of May. I thing that would have happen. One year later it happened, do you remember? Then we played there at the Music & Peace festival. Two days we played in the arena in front of 130,000 fans. It was incredible, it was amazing, especially when we were on stage. We have it on video.
On the live album there is also a song which is recorded in Russia, Living For Tomorrow. We recorded it in '88 in Leningrad, it was the perfect song, it was what it was all about for the Russians.
The feeling must be totally different then playing in a Western nation?
Totally different, you know. We had so much fun. We were the first Western band which played there. We invested ca. 400,000 $ into our Russian experiment. All thought that we were totally crazy. The whole show, we took our complete lightshow with us. There been 4 generations of music fans! It was incredible, the people came from all over Russia, also from Siberia! It was very special to them and to us. The people are so naturally, they waited all there life for it. And than it happened!
Still Loving You was a big hit in Russia and later Winds Of Change became a big hit, too. That was after our visit.
Do you want to go to Russia again?
We would love to go there again. Last August we got an offer. But the concert agency told us not to come, 'cause they couldn't guarantee our safety. We hope the political situation become stabilize soon. But you know it's getting worse, it's very sad!
You worked with Dee Cooper. Do you know Dee before you worked together?
I enjoyed it. Dee is a long time friend that's why I produced the instrumental album. There I met Ralph Rieckermann first. Ralph played the bass tracks. I searched a bass player for the recordings. So Ralph Riecker;mann got his job.
It seems to be very difficult to find a new band member after such a long time.
No, it ain't. The drummer of Bonfire told me about Ralph. He said, if you need a good bassist, I knew one in L.A. I called Ralph, told him that I need a bassist for an instrumental album and he joined us and we recorded it.
I thought that it could be very difficult to integrate a new member.
The change was very easy. We didn't checked out many bass players. Ralph was perfect for us from the beginning. He was like God given. I called the rest of the band and we flew to Hannover. We rehearsed and that's it! It works!
Often it is a problem to find someone who fits into a band not just musically more personally.
It wasn't. He was the only one we checked out and it worked. In August I know Ralph for 3 years. Time moves very fast.
You are in the business for a very long time. Your first live album been released in 1978. Many of your fans didn't know the old material, the old songs.
*Rudolf Schenker comes in and first he want to now my opinion about the new live album.*
What do you thing about our 3rd live album?
I think it is good that you recorded a few old songs, too.
That's great. It's a good feeling for us. We was a little bit afraid that we didn't meet the expectations of the old fans. World Wide Live was the second successful live album of all times, just Peter Frampton was more successful.
The people like the album and we like it, too.
Live you are limited temporal. Often there is not enough time for the old songs.
We won't get old songs into it first. We see our history in different chapters, from 1972 to '78 and than until '85 and until today. We didn't want to repeat us, only In Trance we recorded twice because the people wanted it.
For some fans it will be something new, not everyone knows the old stuff.
It fits into today's trends.
Again it is up-to-date.
The scene changed and the old stuff got modern again.
The 70's are hip and the song is from that days.
How you see the change of the scene?
Everything returns, in about 1 ½ year the 70's sound is modern and the classical rock bands are back. Van Halen put out a very good album. We enjoy it. Then you will hear AC/DC, Krokus, etc. When these bands stick to it, it will be the next big thing. The people are come back to the traditional, the classical rock music. Bands which are grown together and have a strong live presents.
Again Russian. You been the first who play there. You have a special position.
That's true, all consultans warned us: "Are you crazy! It will cost you 400,000 to 600,000$! You can't do it!" We told them that we don't mind, we want to play and we want to give our best. We did it!
That will change when the albums are released officially and then there are the first tours which take place.
That's something different. It will take a lot of time until they reach it. We were the first and everyone who is playing there later, just repeat what we did.
We will never see a settlement.
For us it's important that the people can listen to our music. Russia is a kind of developing country and we support that. We never expect that we get a settlement from Bangkok, Indonesia or Malaysia where piracy was the normal condition. Now Thailand is settle three times a year. With the last three records we got 3 x platinum in Thailand, 4 x platinum in Indonesia, 5 x platinum in Malaysia, etc.
The market in Asia is very good for us.
Also South America.
We just been in South America.
With the next album we will tour there again.
You played nearly everywhere that must be amazing.
We love the exotic. We get our creativity out of it. The people e.g. in Indonesia are more natural. A member of our record label there sung Scorpions song on Karaoke.
It was unbelievable!.
This impressions influence your songwriting, right?
It's good for the songwriting, you got inspirations from it.
The different cultures and music in the diverse countries.
That's why we recorded most of the album in Mexico City. The vibe was extremely good in that hall, I thing you can hear it.
Is it a reference to the fans there?
Sure, especially the Spanish song on the album.
Again you are the first.
It is a tribute to Mexico.
In 1978 we tried it with a Japanese song. It was a try, a gesture. There is a German band which have the chance to repeat it, to have the success: Fury In The Slaughterhouse. They could make it, wait and see.
You been the first rock band from Germany which had international success. You have a exceptional position. Do you thing that you influenced people, encourage them?
Surely we encourage many, but no one was able to repeat it. In America, in Asia, in Japan, everyone ask us why we are the only one? We won't be the only one. We hope the next thing starts soon. We opened it, now the others can follow.
You hadn't problems, the things just happened. You got a substitute for Francis Buchholz easily.
Ralph was God given. You know why? The secret is everyone is a transmitter and a receiver. When you count on, it works. You are nothing else. When the people tell you that you are a fantastic composer, then I tell them that I'm not the one. I'm just a mediator. I met Keith Richards once and he thinks like I do. He says: "I'm a receiver, a transmitter." When I have an idea, a vision then I send it out. When I want to get heart or want to know something then I receive. The whole thing is a reciprocal action. When I sit down as a composer and start playing, sometimes I ask myself 'how did I make it?'. I can't understand. Why? I was on receiving position, I played it and it developed. It's fantastic. Keith Richards feels exactly the same.
You keep much more inside of you as you expect.
Herman, what's the name of the band which we played with in São Paulo?
You mean the tribe?
Really amazing! What an energy, what a feeling came from this people. It was fantastic.
It was a tribe with lots of percussion, amazing.
The natural instinct. You feel that something very special develops. We will do something like that in Jamaica, when we record the next album.
It's going beyond the lingual communication. I think it's similar between you and the fans when you are playing live.
You can hear it on the record, it's obvious. You can hear that we enjoy it, we like it. We are very glad that the fans like the live album, too.
Today a live album not as important as it as 10 years ago. Music channel like VIVA and MTV changed a lot. On MTV you can see live concerts. We have a long band history and we have the ability to document parts of our career. We have the possibility to make a live album, but imagine there is a new band and they should release a live album. Nobody would notice.
They have just on record out and release a 55 minute long live show.
We can do something like that, it's great. That's the rules of the business.
Even the audience, there are young fans and fans from the first days. It works, generations meeting.
That's right. The enjoyment of playing live is the most important thing.
Everybody can see that you still enjoy what your doing.
The people feel it, you can't fool the kids. You know?
In the studio you can do a lot, but live is real. Next there will be a new studio album, sure. Do you have time to do other things, like the work with Dee?
Dee Cooper is a very talented guitarist and Herman wanted to help him.
I have no chance to do things like that, I have to much to do with Scorpions. I'm involved into the band, it's my life. It's the same for Klaus. I see Herman as a free part, he has the freedom to do what he want. It's up to him. Scorpions will always be a co-production, if he has time he can do what he want.
You don't have political songs. At the other hand you make things like White Dove to help Rwanda. You fight for it.
Scorpions are just political when you see politic as part of fight for the human rights. Then I agree. We ain't a political band. Scorpions is a band which tries to do something productive. White Dove happened. We wanted to do something, but not that way. An idea developed, we read the articles, saw the reports, saw what happens in Rwanda, saw the kids - totally done, nearly dead. Then we got a letter and the headline was: "We want to help, we want to make a concert." Other German bands and musicians want to play, too. Then Klaus and me were invited from Omega to Hungary and to make music with them. It was an arena show with about 80,000 people. They played a song there which impressed us a lot with the simplicity. We looked at each other and knew that is the song we take for the charity project. Klaus worked on the song and changed parts and we were a part of it. It was the right song, but suddenly the other bands and musicians couldn't find a way to work together. So the initial idea flopped, we still wanted to do something. So we did it our own way. Until now we collect about 300,000 $. In the end we will got about 1 million $ through the single and the live album where we also put on White Dove. We want to document what we do and what happens with the money. Important is that we couldn't deprive ourselves from this. We felt that we had to do it. We won't be like Mother Theresa, we just want to do things which we had to do. Nothing else.
Scorpions don't have political words, that's not what I said. I said that you act instead of talking about.
Just humanity. I think it's important and it's important that the people spent money for things like that. The people want to know what happens with the money. We will take a camera team to Rwanda and will show how the money spent there.
I think that's a good idea, 'cause the people are sceptic what happens with their money.
We want to show the people that there is now excuse. We want to show them who gets the money. When we were working on this project our hometown Hannover became twin town of UNICEF. Our mayor wrote us a letter and ask us, if we would like to support that.
That was like a square peg in a round hole.
That was it. We reached a world-wide co-operation with UNICEF. UNICEF is a company with a fantastic productive quote. When they take care about the money we got for them we know that the right people get it. We take more, we will fly to Rwanda and show the people what happened, perhaps not all of us, but parts of the band. Other ones should do the same.
That is a good impulse.
The rockers from Hannover try to reach something through their success. Not just talking, acting. Help and humanity are big words, but they try to make it true.