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Why the Scorpions are still rocking 51 years later

SINGAPORE — “We’re going out with a bang, we’re going out with a bang, I said we gonna go out with a bang, bang, bang, bang.” The opening song of German hard-rock, heavy-metal band Scorpions’ 2015 album Return to Forever laid down its rallying call as the band (comprising Rudolf Schenker, Klaus Meine, Matthias Jabs, Pawel Maciwoda and Mikkey Dee) celebrated its 50th anniversary with a comprehensive world tour.

SINGAPORE — “We’re going out with a bang, we’re going out with a bang, I said we gonna go out with a bang, bang, bang, bang.” The opening song of German hard-rock, heavy-metal band Scorpions’ 2015 album Return To Forever laid down its rallying call as the band (comprising Rudolf Schenker, Klaus Meine, Matthias Jabs, Pawel Maciwoda and Mikkey Dee) celebrated its 50th anniversary with a comprehensive world tour.

Almost six years ago, the band had announced premature retirement plans — but these were obviously abandoned as the band seems to be doubling down on activities with a film documentary, promotion of album re-issues, recording of new material and, of course, a world tour.

Speaking to TODAY over the phone while the band was preparing to play in Osaka, Japan, on the Asian-Pacific leg of the world tour, lead guitarist Jabs, who has been a consistent member since 1979, stressed that this tour was not in any way a “farewell”. Scorpions will be playing in Singapore on Oct 21 at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.

“People don’t want to let us go,” he quipped. One thing that has changed though, is how young its audience has gotten. “Some of our songs are older than they are!” exclaimed Jabs.

Asked how the band has been able to maintain its popularity despite advancing years, Jabs said: “If I had to guess, I would say it has to do with the chemistry among the members, even with the changes in the line-up over the years.” He also attributed it to fans identifying with the personalities within the band, and of course, the songs themselves. “This seems to be the trend based on (social media) comments and fan mail,” Jabs added.

He believes that despite the emergence of electronic dance music and the laptop DJ, young kids today still want to watch a show that comes with the full works, and Scorpions certainly does that. But beyond the physicality and spectacle of performance, Jabs highlighted the sheer musical range of the band, which has brought them enormous fame and fortune.

“Some of our songs fit into the heavy-metal genre but most have more mass appeal,” he said. “Our ballads have been very successful as well, which also appeal to girls.”

However, maintaining the freshness of songwriting has been somewhat of a challenge over the years.

“In the 1970s, everything was new — riffs, song ideas, lyrics. But 40 years later, what is new today?” Jabs mused. “It’s not so easy to come up with guitar riffs now — I’ve played these a million times, nothing is new.”

Jabs accepts that for young people these days, life is very different and this has a significant impact on modern rock music. “Back in the day, we were only interested in two things — sports and music. Now, there are so many distractions — everyone is just staring at their smartphones.”

In that light, it became crystal clear why Scorpions have kept rocking.

“Yes, we love it and we are now doing it for fun, but in the past it was all about making a living,” Jabs shared. “For the first 20 years, everybody had to worry about that.”

I guess the band’s lyrics for Going Out With A Bang say it best: “Cause all those years of rockin’ hard, have taught us how to rise and how to fall, we’re still standing tall.” 

Scorpions’ 50th Anniversary Tour is on Oct 21, 8pm at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre. Tickets from Sistic.

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