SCORPIONS frontman Klaus Meine spoke to Pat's Soundbytes Unplugged about the band's upcoming studio album. Tentatively due in 2021, the disc will mark the German hard rock legends' first release since 2017's "Born To Touch Your Feelings - Best Of Rock Ballads", which was an anthology of SCORPIONS' new and classic material.
"It's such a bummer," Meine said. 'Right now, we were supposed to be in Las Vegas to play a residency at Planet Hollywood. And we were so excited about this plan. And since, in 2020, we are focusing on making a new album, the plan was to go to Los Angeles in May and June to work with our producer Greg Fidelman, who used to work with all those great bands like METALLICA and SLIPKNOT. So we wanted to be in L.A. in May and June, and then go over to Vegas, play the shows. And for the off days, we booked a studio in Vegas already for the guitar players to go in and lay some tracks down and then maybe go back to L.A. in August. So now we're here, we're stuck in the lockdown and we're stuck in Germany, and it's not so easy. It's pretty crazy. But the good thing is, through this Zoom thing, there is a way to work.
"The whole month of May until early June, we were working in a studio in Hannover — just the three of us: Rudolf [Schenker, guitar], Matthias [Jabs, guitar] and myself — with Greg coming in via Zoom every night," he continued. "For us, at dinner time, and for him, it was, like, around breakfast. And we worked together, going through the songs, talking about the arrangements and everything: 'I like this song', 'Maybe this we'll keep for later.' And we made great progress with the record, believe it or not. So it's pretty crazy, but it's been working so far very well.
"I must say, especially in this COVID-19 pandemic, it's a blessing, as artists and musicians, we can take a deep dive in our creative world and create some new stuff, some new songs — to write lyrics, to compose songs. It feels so good that we can work and not sit at home, staring out of the window. So it's wonderful that we can be very active and very creative, hopefully to do something where all the fans hopefully will enjoy next year when we come back out on the road again with hopefully a couple of great new songs."
Meine also addressed his previous comment that SCORPIONS' upcoming album will see him and his bandmates returning to the heavier edge of the group's early offerings.
"The thing is, when you make a decision to make a new album, it's kind of crazy," he said. "After so many years, in 2020, to talk about, in a band to say, 'Guys, we do a new record.' 'Really?' It's quite a challenge, to tell the truth. And you ask yourself, can I really, after all these years, write another great rock song? Can Rudolf come up with cool rock riffs? Is he still the riff master? And Matthias coming in with all those beautiful solos and lead guitar stuff in there. And now with Mikkey Dee [drums] in the band, and Pawel [Mąciwoda], our bass player. So that's the first thing you ask yourself. And once you make the decision we make a new album, then you ask yourself, so what do you wanna say? What is this all about? And also with a producer like Greg Fidelman, who comes really from working with bands like SLIPKNOT and METALLICA, this is the road we go — it's gonna be on the rough side. SCORPIONS always [made albums with] a couple of ballads, but we try to focus on the DNA from the early days. So many years later, who knows what it comes out at the end of the day. You never know. But we try to catch the attitude and we try to find the DNA of the early days, find the DNA of songs [like] 'The Zoo', 'Make It Real', 'Lovedrive', 'Blackout', 'Animal Magnetism' — the heaviness of songs like 'The Zoo' and 'Animal Magnetism'. We have a new song that picks up the vibe with the heaviness. We might be missing one or two more really fast songs. I think Rudolf is working on it right now, or Matthias. And I wrote tons of lyrics. And we worked the other way around this time. Normally, I would wait for Rudolf to come with the songs, like a demo. So he would sing a couple of lines, but then I would write the lyrics on the track. And this time, I started with writing lyrics and gave them to Rudolf. I said, 'This is what I wanna say. This is what you're gonna do.' And he said he felt inspired, the other way around, to pick it up that way and write a great song to the words, which inspired him."
According to Meine, SCORPIONS' new LP will feature "no outside writers at all," unlike 2015's "Return To Forever", which was largely co-written by the album's producers, Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hansen.
"This is a hundred percent SCORPIONS DNA," Klaus said. "And we wanted to keep it that way and make it really something that is pure SCORPIONS. And with Greg on our side, he's a fantastic producer and a great guy. It's so inspiring to work with him. So far, it's such a great journey to make this album. But now we're on a very important crossroads, because we cannot go to the U.S., [he] cannot come over here, so how can we work this out? Mikkey is in Sweden, Pawel is in Poland, in Krakow. Until now, there were heavy travel restrictions. It's kind of complicated, but it's a crazy journey so far. In some place in my heart, [I feel] we'll get through this and we'll find a way out of this to make it work, and it will be even more special at the end of the day."
Fidelman began his career as the guitarist and songwriter for RHINO BUCKET before launching his career as a producer, engineer and mixer, finding an early mentor in Rick Rubin.
SCORPIONS' last full-length collection of new recordings was the aforementioned "Return To Forever", partially comprising songs the band had in the vault from the '80s. It was the final recorded appearance of SCORPIONS' longtime drummer James Kottak, who was dismissed from the band in September 2016.