By Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
German multi-platinum hard rock legends, The Scorpions are back with a brilliant new CD “‘Humanity Hour 1.’ Although, some fans have voiced their displeasure with Desmond Child producing this CD, and some have even suggested that Child “hijacked the Scorpions” to make the record he always want to make, the bottom line is that this is the most innovative CD that the Scorps have ever released. With songs like “Hour 1” “We Will Raise Again” and “Humanity” the Scorpions are a rejuvenated band and no longer need to reliant solely on their past laurels. With Child’s help the Scorpions are musically relevant in 2007.
In its first week of release in the USA, ‘Humanity Hour 1’ sold 10,500, placing it at #63 on the Billboard charts. I can assure you that many of the 10,500 are very happy and satisfied rock fans who most likely haven’t played too many other CD’s since their purchase.
The Scorpions are currently finishing up a short North American tour. The band will be back in 2008 for a massive world tour.
What follows is an exclusive interview with Scorpions guitarist Matthias Jabs.
Rock Music Star: Your new CD ‘Humanity Hour 1’ is a bold and adventurous CD, it must be very gratifying to have this one under your belt.
Matthias Jabs: Yes, it feels very good actually. Usually, we are quite happy when we leave the studio. And we don’t leave it unless we are happy. But that sometimes varies. Looking back sometimes we go, yeah, we could have done that better. But, this album for us has been out a while, it came out earlier in Europe. And I still like listening to it and that’s a very good sign.
It’s almost like a concept record. You really have to listen to it all the way through. How difficult was it organizing the tracks to make it so cohesive?
Before we even went to LA and before we contracted Desmond Child, we were thinking of what could we do this time. We did a few other things like the cross over project and acoustic project that’s not even released here, maybe one day it will and we did ‘Unbreakable’ last time in which we kinda of went back to our previous style. So we were sitting there discussing what we should do and the idea of a concept album came up, just because we haven’t done that yet. And then when we first met Desmond Child in LA he said that we should do a concept album and we were laughing because we hadn’t told him that we had the same thought. But, I don’t think you can really call the album a concept album, but it does have a theme and we were writing and thinking in the same direction and that makes things easier because if you know what you are writing about. But, things went relatively fast once we were all in sync with what we wanted to do.
What was the lyric writing process like on this release?
This time it was all different, we were working with various teams. Desmond has his team of songwriters that he works with and he writes lyrics as well. And so does co-producer James Michael (who is in Nikki Sixx’s project Sixx AM). Eric Bazilian from the Hooters worked on it, we worked with him before on ‘Unbreakable. And even before that. Also Marti Frederiksen was there, he produced Aerosmith and we worked with him in the late 90’s. Everybody knew each other and we were working in teams and working on the stuff and then we all got together and discussed which way it should go. And some of the lyrics were changed at the very last minute because Desmond was concentrating on recording the vocals and James Michael worked on the instruments.
Wow, that must have been a lot different from the way the Scorpions worked in 1978 on the first record that you did with them.
(Laughs) Yes, it was a lot different. It was very professional and very organized. We are very organized ourselves now, we are not exactly new to the business and we know what to do. We know how to get the sounds. We really took our time to get and find the right sounds we really wanted. We want it to take it a step further without over doing it. We wanted it to sound 2007. To give it enough spice so it sounds current.
Yeah you accomplished that. Now you mentioned that James Michael help with the sound of your guitar. What could he have possibly told you to do that you aren’t already doing.
Every producer has a certain influence, but basically I know what I want to do. When you have a lot of guitars in a mix it’s very important to find the sounds in right frequency ranges. He helped with the detailed stuff like that. Like “Humanity” we did like five different ways of recording that and then finally we went back to a basic recording of it. That was the best way to do it.
Were you still consistent on using your Gibson Explorers & Stratocasters in the studio for this one?
Yeah,um, I used lots of guitars for this time, we have lots of different tunings as well and for sounds I introduced my own guitar, my ‘Master Caster’, I call it. It’s taken from a Fender Stratocaster onto something I really need, for all my needs especially on stage when I have to reproduce everything I do in the studio. I have my own signature guitar with Fender but I took this one further so I can basically replace if I needed to, the Explorer. I used my Explorers, my vintage Telecaster and Stratocasters and also Les Pauls. I play a quite of few Les Pauls on that album.
The Scorpions have always been internationally recognized. You’ve pretty much performed in every part of the world, so you’ve seen first hand the condition and political climate of many countries. Do you think there is a solution to the current “mad” state of the world?
If there was a solution, you think someone would have found it already. It’s a complex kind of thing, it’s not easy to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. It makes it so complicated because of the different mentality, different religions and political foundations people have. You go into a big city and you realize people have no friends, they live on the 15th floor and they don’t know who their neighbors are. How much human is that?
Let me ask you this, how do you feel about the U.S. and George W. Bush and what he’s done during his time as president?
I don’t know how much of it is him. I don’t know how much of it is the advisor, how much of it is the whole industry behind it. I don’t know how exactly it works. He’s in the position of being the President, he’s the one to take the blame. It’s very complicated to say and I don’t know enough.
You’re currently on small North American promo tour. I just read that the band plans on doing a larger tour in 2008 in the U.S.A., right?
Yes. We’ve been 3 months in Europe already, we will go on to the 2nd half of October to Asia, the some more shows in Europe then the year is almost over. When an album is released you try to be everywhere simultaneously, which is practically impossible. You try to give it your best shot. It makes more sense to come around next year and we have new management and they’re planning at least 90 dates in the states starting in April.
Any talk of an opening band or bands yet?
We have some in England just for a couple of shows and I don’t think it would be the right package for America. We leave it up to management to propose ideas and I think they are looking for a younger band or two younger bands. We don’t know yet. I’m sure it will be fresher than the old package.
The Scorpions did some dates with ex-Scorpions members Uli Roth and Michael Schenker opening up. Does it upset you at all that some people seem to over exaggerate the significants of Uli Roth and Michael Schenker time in the Scorpions and don’t give you the credit you deserve?
We’ve been playing together since last year, we played a big festival in Germany 50-60,000 people, there’s a DVD coming out, all three of us on stage and afterwards we were sitting together and the one guy, Michael whose been in the band for 1 ½ years, Uli for 4 ½ and I’m in for 29. Never mind for the successful time as well, so enough said.