“Enthusiastic Opel Driver” 

 

Matthias Jabs, do you sometimes have to pinch yourself when you look back at your crazy career?

MATTHIAS JABS: Everything that has happened is certainly crazy. We realize this again and again when we watch documentaries about our band. But this doesn’t have an impact on our everyday lives. We don’t really think about the success that much.

 

Even though you have sold over 100 million records!?

I believe it’s a lot more than that. I have been hearing this ‘100 million’ number for 10 years now. There are definitely a few million more you could add to it.

Live at the Hessentag arena Guitarist Matthias Jabs with singer Klaus Meine, who was been member for the German hard rock band since 1978.

 

Despite this enormous success, you have decided to wind things down. Why?

 

In 2010, we announced our last tour. We wanted to stop while we were still at the top of our game and everyone was still healthy. Ultimately, we are a hard rock band that runs around a lot on stage. If you’re a Blues musician, you can still sit on a chair if necessary. But that’s not our world. In 2015, we wanted to celebrate our 50th year as a band, so we went on a world tour again. We played concerts in Australia and Vietnam. They were extremely successful. We simply can’t stop, and as long as everyone is healthy, then there is no reason to either.

 

Why are bands no longer able to achieve the kind of global fame that the Scorpions have, for example?

 

It’s true: AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Kiss, and of course the Scorpions are able to fill stadiums. I recently spoke with a promoter of a large festival, and he told me that headliners are dying off right now. When AC/DC, Metallica, or the Scorpions stop playing, then people will need to think differently. You won’t be able to organize such large festivals anymore.

 

What is your most heavenly moment on the concert stage?

In 1983, we played in front of over 320,000 people at a festival in the United States organized by Steve Jobs. Although no special effects were able to be shown on stage, we did have an idea: We called a military base nearby and during our performance, they sent us five jets that flew low above the stage, over the audience, and then over the mountains and disappeared. It was crazy.

 


Rüsselsheim in 2003 Band members James Kottak, Ralph Riekermann, Rudolf Schenker, Matthias Jabs, and Klaus Meine (from left to right) each receive a Speedster Turbo in the Scorpions special edition.

This Opel Shreds:
The “Speedster Scorpions” Edition

 

On August 2, 2003, the Scorpions took part in the Classic Open Air festival in Rüsselsheim. For this occasion, each band member received one of 80 special “Scorpions” limited edition Speedster Turbos. This version was different from the normal speedster thanks to its black-painted rims, the window frames that were black instead of silver, the “Speedster Scorpions” lettering on the rear, and the “Scorpions” lettering instead of the four-digit limited number engraved in the dashboard.

In addition, it was delivered with an almost complete package consisting of floor mats, a footrest, black leather upholstery, a hard top, a central locking unit, and a radio with a CD player. The special extra feature of this edition, however, was found on the back seat of each car: A Gibson Flying V electric guitar signed by the band.

 

 

breit_Speedster

The special edition The Opel Speedster Turbo including an electric guitar on the back seat was limited to 80 pieces.


And now you are playing at the Hessentag in Rüsselsheim. Of course we want to know: What Opel did you drive?

 

We have played in Rüsselsheim before – it has to be 15 years ago now. Back then, we performed with an orchestra. It was really wonderful. We were all given Opel Speedsters as a gift.

 

Oh, and do you still drive it?

 

No, not anymore – that was a long time ago. But I know that we were enthusiastic about the cars. There was even a Scorpions version that was delivered with a guitar. My father drove an Opel Rekord and a friend and I drove a Diplomat on vacation in our younger years.

 

When you take the stage at the Hessentagsarena, several thousand people will await you. Does that actually still make you nervous?

No, not nervous. But playing in Germany is always very special. There was a wonderful atmosphere at our last Hessentag concert. The state of Hesse has always been very good to us; we have often played at the Festhalle in Frankfurt. It has always been a good stomping ground for us.

 

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that most people – at least in Germany – think of the song “Wind of Change” when they hear the name “the Scorpions?”

 

It is a little one-sided. The Scorpions already had a major career before this song existed. And we are a rock band after all. “Wind of Change” is a departure from that; it’s a rock ballad. It became so successful because it came out right when the Berlin Wall fell. The song was actually written in Moscow because we could feel the change in the world. It is a great song and it caused a sensation around the world. However, it is very one-sided if people are going to be assessing us based only on that tune.

 

Is there any wish that you still want to fulfill with the band?

 

One of our wishes only recently came true. We had never played in Australia until October of last year. No one could believe it, but it’s true. Now that we have done it, we will also play there more extensively next year. I have to say, after such a long period of time, there is actually nothing with respect to concerts and record sales that we haven’t already achieved. I hope that we remain healthy.

 

 

The interview conducted by Christian Preußer was first published in Rüsselsheimer Echo on June 1, 2017,  © Frankfurter Societäts-Medien GmbH; Photos: Alex Heimann, Opel Archive