German hard rock legends Scorpions might have over half a century behind them on the clock, but that hasn't stopped them kicking up the pace with barn-storming new single Peacemaker.
The first song to be taken from the band's 19th studio album Rock Believer, Peacemaker taps into 80s-style arena rock anthem territories whilst serving as a call for unity after the anxieties and horrors of the pandemic.
"We try to capture and reactivate the Scorpions DNA from the 80s with each new album," admits vocalist Klaus Meine.
"It doesn’t always work, but we were ready to go back to the old days and with Mikkey Dee in the band since 2016, we wanted to make an album that could bring back some of that attitude and power. Peacemaker allowed us to focus on the hard and heavy elements of Scorpions – the one thing we knew for sure was that we didn’t want any more ballads than needed, we wanted an album that rocks."
Asked about the message behind the new single, Meine grins. "It’s about peace! I wasn’t out to write a political song, but I was hooked on the line ‘Peacemaker, peacemaker bury the undertaker’," he explains.
"So many people died during the pandemic, but even before that there were wars and horrible things happening that meant the undertaker was working overtime. Maybe it’s time we give him a break! It's about all of us, without wanting to go down the route of writing a peace anthem, but I do think we should work together, particularly in music. As musicians, travelling around the world for so many years, whether we play in the Middle East or any other place where war isn’t too far away, you really feel how much the music means."
Listen to the single below.
Work for the band's 19th studio album Rock Believer began in 2019 following the end of the band's tour (which included a date at the UK's Bloodstock Festival). Initially the band planned to work with producer Greg Fidelman [Slipknot, Metallica] in Los Angeles but were ultimately forced to change plans when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
"The nine-hour time difference between Germany and Los Angeles really killed it," admits guitarist Matthias Jabs. "We’d be exhausted from the day’s recording, but he’d just be getting up for the day with his coffee. We weren’t on the same page, so we decided we couldn’t continue like that and we couldn’t wait for the pandemic to end either because otherwise we’d still likely be waiting now.”
Instead, the band set up at Peppermint Park studios in Hanover and worked on the record intermittently between lockdowns. The record sees the studio debut of ex-Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee, who officially joined the group in 2016 following the firing of James Kottak. "Mikkey is a fantastic drummer, very musical," Jabs enthuses. "He has a power and energy, but is very conscious about how things fit together."
In addition to the release of Rock Believer, 2022 will also see Scorpions celebrate the 50th anniversary of their debut album Lonesome Crow [released January 22nd 1972] and embark on a world tour, kicking out with a nine-date residency in Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino.
"We’ve done it once before," Meine says with a smile. "In 2016 we did five shows, but now we’ve got nine. It’s great, especially for the beginning of the tour we can try things out and see what works. It’s a great meeting place and we can have plenty of fun when we aren’t playing!"
Scorpions are also set to embark on a six-date arena tour of Germany with support from Mammoth WVH - the band of Wolfgang Van Halen.
“It’s really good to have Wolfgang out with us," Jabs says. "We had a connection with Van Halen going back to the 80s when we played the Monsters of Rock tour, as I got to know Eddie [Van Halen] and we’d just sit jamming or telling stories. We got along great, so it's good to play with his son now.”
With their 19th studio album set for release on February 11 2022, Scorpions are showing their appetite for enormous hard rock riffs hasn't waned in the past 50 years. Rock Believer isn't just a catchy title though, but a steadfast belief in the music that made the band global stars.
“There was a time you'd hear AC/DC or Scorpions in the supermarket," Jabs says. "Those days might be gone now, but the music lives on. You look at all these big festivals, stuff like the ones in England, Hellfest in France and Copenhell; places that can pull 80,000 people, all for one genre. It might not be as established on the radio and TV these days, but the fans are still there in large numbers. We see that when we’re on the road and it’s still such a huge privilege to see fans from all around the world.”
At this, Meine pauses. "For years, we’ve heard that rock is dead," he starts. "But the truth is there are so many rock believers out there that means there’s always a new generation ready to continue whatever genre they connect with. We’ve been doing this for so long: we survived punk, we survived alternative and this album is dedicated to the true rock believers out there who are still with us. We see them every night on-stage, the rock and heavy community is still alive and well, after all these years.”
Rock Believer is out February 22nd 2022 via Vertigo.