Before Tampa show, Scorpions’ Klaus Meine talks building walls, connecting with fans

The classic metal band plays Amalie Arena with Queensrÿche.

click to enlarge Scorpions which plays Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on September 14, 2018. - Marc Theis
Marc Theis
Scorpions which plays Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on September 14, 2018.

"They came with tanks to Leningrad," Klaus Meine told Creative Loafing Tampa.

The Scorpions frontman is talking about his parents' generation and the way his band approached shows it played in Soviet Union. His band is not political, but it has played in politically charged situations (like Scorpions' recent shows in Tel Aviv). Meine, 70, however, has always just defaulted to songs instead of standing on a soapbox onstage.

"So when we played in '88, today it's St. Petersburg, we said, 'Our parents came with tanks. We're coming with guitars.'"

For 15 minutes, Meine reminisced about his band's last Tampa show (Brian Johnson came by. He joined us onstage for 'Rock You Like A Hurricane,' and I remember, I jumped on his shoulder like Angus Style, and he went with me all the way in the audience"), his since-passed friend Lemmy (Scorpions does an "Overkill" cover in the set) and the prospect of a new album from Scorpions ("We have no [touring] plans for 2019, so we'll see what happens.")

He also felt really bad about having to postpone this Tampa show due to a bout of laryngitis. Read our Q&A and get more information on Scoprions' Tampa show below.

Scorpions w/Queensryche. Fri. Sept. 14, 8 p.m. $45.75 & up. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Dr., Tampa. amaliearena.com.


You sound like you feel guilty about postponing the Tampa show, but you can't help it if you get laryngitis.

Of course, you feel guilty in a way. You don't want to let the fans down. You want to be up there every other night and play the best show that you can. Then something like this happens, a virus strikes or something, and you have no chance. Your vocal cords show you the red card, and they send you back home. You always feel not good about it, but it feels even better now that we have a chance to come back and reschedule the dates. So that feels really good.

How is your voice feeling? What do you have to do to protect it?

I mean, not to do too many interviews. Haha.

Hey, I tried to get an email interview.

Haha. No, what can you do? I do my warm ups every other day, and you do everything you can to keep your voice in perfect shape, especially when you're out there touring. We just came back from 22 shows here in Europe. We had a fantastic fun in the summer heat, every day was over 100. It was really hot, but we had an exciting run between Barcelona, Athens, London, Paris. It's been a great tour, we had a short break, and now we pick it up again in the United States.

And last month you played Tel Aviv, what was it like to bring a tour called "Crazy World" to Tel Aviv considering the political climate there?

Yeah, we've been there many times. It's a great crowd there, and we had a fantastic time in Tel Aviv, like always. We're one of the few bands who play in the Middle East. Later this year we'll play Lebanon before we go to Australia, and so it's an exciting year. Still a long road to go.

Yeah, your bands not a political band, but you haven't been shy about political stuff. Is it weird to play Tel Aviv? Do you get an urge to get on a soapbox when you are there or do you stay away from the politics of the conflict when you play Tel Aviv?

Yeah, you stay away from politics. In Tel Aviv we play for the fans, and it's the same goes for Beirut, you know? Our experience, from all those years, in the world of music, and in the world of emotions people react pretty much the same. With politics and in real life, it's completely different. In the world of music, and in the world of emotions people are very much connected and it just feels great to go and play paces like Tel Aviv, Israel, or, you know, we've played the pyramids of Egypt, you know, which was also an amazing experience. So in the world of music it feels just great to feel the power of music and how it brings people together all over the world.

Yeah, and I think in some other interviews you've talked about the relationship between Germany and American, you’ve said that your country owes a lot to mine. In a little way, is Scorpions’ rock and roll tour a small way to repay us?

Well, we grew up with the Berlin Wall, so in a divided country for many years. We're not a political band, but of course we have a different view, and we feel that having a chance to bring people together with music is just another dimension. Like when we went to Russia in the late 80s, with the old Soviet Union days — of course, it had much more meaning for us to play in a country where, for our parents' generation was in war. They came with tanks to Leningrad. So when we played in '88, today it's St. Petersburg, we said, "Our parents came with tanks. We're coming with guitars."

Same with all the bands who played along us, like Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, you know? For them, it was, "Oh great we rocked the Soviet Union," but for us it had a whole new side of it. A much more deeper emotional side.

Right on. By the way congrats on your recent birthday, happy birthday...

Thank you.

You're welcome. You’ve also been critical of Trump’s desire to build a border wall here. You just had your 70th birthday and are old enough to remember when a wall divided your city. Could you talk about how it felt to have the Berlin Wall be a part of your life? Was it sad? Confusing? Did you feel safer?

Well, we lived through it for a good part of our lives. It is what it is. Almost 30 years ago, there was such a positive and hopeful look into the future. It seemed like the days of Cold War were over. It was a whole new generation of Russians, and it was like people were joining together. It felt very positive. Almost 30 years later we have a totally different situation around the world, so it is even more important to add a little bit, in this big picture and puzzle, to bring something positive to the world — and that's music.

And could we talk about the show? Some of your songs are almost 40 years old. How do you keep them sounding fresh in rehearsals and onstage? How big of a role does Mickey D play in that department?

Oh yeah, with addition of Mickey D is just fantastic. He's an amazing drummer, and he added a whole new shot of energy to the band when he joined two years ago after the end of Motorhead, and I think he gives the Scorpions a little harder edge. We can feel it every night when we play. He's a great guy, and it's a lot of fun to have him around. Great musician, very powerful, and he keeps us going. Great power, he gives us life onstage. We also pay tribute to our good old friend, the late Lemmy when we do "Overkill," Scorpions' versions of Motorhead tracks, you know. That goes down very well with the fans since there are a lot of Motorhead fans in the audience as well. Maybe Lemmy looks down on us, you know, and hopefully he's proud of what we're doing. It feels great every night. Mickey is a wonderful musician, it's a lot of fun to play with him.

It’s a 70-minute set for you guys — have you figured out the perfect setlist?

Well, we have a setlist that is designed around our massive LED walls, and the footage and stuff we have every other night. Every now and then we change songs in the setlist, you know, but overall it's the classics, big hits, some songs we have to play wherever we go. Some new material from Return To Forever, and we also play some vintage stuff from all the way in 70s. It's a great mix of music, and in a way it's a "Best Of" set for Scorpions. It's a great. It goes down everywhere, and I am sure it will be the same in Tampa.

Actually, I remember when we played Tampa last time, we had a very special guest. We met with Brian Johnson, who came by.

Wow.

He joined us onstage for "Rock You Like A Hurricane," and I remember, I jumped on his shoulder like Angus Style, and he went with me all the way in the audience. It was the last time we played in Tampa.


Tampa, once again is the last show of the tour — do you do anything special for the tour closers?

It's always great to have Queensryche with us. It's such a great band, and they will be our guest, and it's a lot of fun. Sometimes, at the end of a tour, and it's not the end of this tour, it's just the last date in the U.S., sometimes the crew will play jokes, come up with crazy ideas — you never know. The stage is not really a safe place, anything can happen.

And I know we're running out of time, but since you mentioned this idea that anything can happen. Rudolf said that the band is open to making a new album is the inspiration comes. Who in the band will be the first to sign on to the idea and the last to agree?

I think all of us are on the same page when it comes to making a new album, but what Rudolf said was it has to be the right moment. Everybody has got to feel confident about it and they have to feel like they have this album in yourself. The songs, the right material to say, "OK, let's go back into the studio and go for it. I think we're all pretty much on the same page because when we are through with this tour, the end of this year, there are no plans yet for 2019. It would be the perfect moment to take a deep breath and go back into the creative land and come up with some new song ideas. But it's really a matter of the right moment and if everyone feels good about it, but we're all on the same page there. But we'll see what happens next year.

Last time, when I talked with Matthias, we ended up talking about Manny Neuer playing for Bayern in that Chelsea match. I'm assuming that you watched the World Cup. What's your take on Germany, and what needs to happen?

What can I say, unfortunately it was a disaster. I mean, I think the Russians did a great job, even Russia, the Russian team played very good, but at the end of the day, Germany has been on top for quite a long time, and now it's the French. They deserve it very, very much. They played a great tournament, and congratulations to our friends in France.

Alright, well thanks for letting us talk to you and exercise your voice. We'll see you in Tampa when you close the U.S. leg out.

Yeah.

Have a good day.

Alright my friend, Ray. We'll see you in Tampa then, alright?


About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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