Joe Matera of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with SCORPIONS guitarist Matthias Jabs. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Ultimate-Guitar.com: The last time the SCORPIONS ventured to L.A to record an album was in 1990 for the "Crazy World" album. What led to the band's decision to return to L.A again for the recording of "Humanity - Hour 1"?
Matthias Jabs: It was because of the producer. With producers like Keith Olsen who produced "Crazy World" and Desmond Child who did "Humanity - Hour 1" these guys have their network where they live and work. So it provides the best surroundings and the best environment for them. And anyway, why should we drag them somewhere else? Also doing it this way, the producer can never blame anybody else if it doesn't work because they'll have the best stuff around the. And Desmond had a great team, a great songwriting team, great engineers and great everything. And L.A is the best for that anyway because there are studios on every block. And we had a really great time recording this album. But four months in Los Angeles is always good anyway. And it was a very good relationship working with Desmond Child and James Michael who was the co-producer.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Whilst the album does feature the trademark SCORPIONS sound of old, it also is heavily mixed in with a very contemporary sound particularly in the detuned guitars?
Matthias Jabs: Yes, we detuned the guitars for a few things. We have like a few drop Ds, drop Cs and drop C sharps and all of that. The way we decided upon the key of the de-tunings of the guitars for the song depended on the vocals. And sometimes if you play the guitar riff dropped to a D, it will not only sound different but play different. But what ever was the best for the vocals is how we proceeded. It is no point in recording something if it is too stressful for the singer to sing properly.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: After all these years, Klaus [Meine] can still hit all those high notes on the songs.
Matthias Jabs: I think the vocal performances on this record are excellent. Desmond hired a vocal coach for Klaus which we thought was a fantastic idea because every day before the recording, Klaus did about an hour of a warm-up session. Vocal cords are like muscles and you need to warm them up. Desmond was a visionary guy and knew if the vocalist is in good form, then he'll get what he wants from them.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Did you come up with a lot of songs in the studio?
Matthias Jabs: A little bit of both. Before we flew over to L.A we had a bunch of songs something like 30 songs. But once we were in L.A we started a new writing process. Some of the songwriters we were working with were working with different songwriting teams. So though some of it [songwriting] was done back home, a lot of the stuff was created over there. The first few weeks we were all working together in a rehearsal space, every day for eight hours. Then we started to arrange and record in different studios, like I would do the guitars in one studio with James Michael while Klaus would do the vocals with Desmond in another studio.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: With the remaining songs, did any of them get to be recorded?
Matthias Jabs: Some of them, but we recorded them only as demos. A lot of the songs were re-written, like a chorus was rewritten or maybe the lyrics were rewritten. Desmond encouraged us to write the songs to fit the humanity concept. But I don't see it as concept album as say PINK FLOYD's "The Wall" or THE WHO's "Tommy".
Ultimate-Guitar.com: I didn't get that impression listening to the album. I would say it had more of a common theme running throughout.
Matthias Jabs: Exactly, you said it exactly right. As that is how I see it as well. The songs are connected more on the lyrical side. The title song "Humanity" is to me one of the songs that has everything you can think of, the nice melody, the dynamics, the good riff, the good vocal chorus, the good hooky chorus, it's got it all. And I like it a lot.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Modern rock radio doesn't really embrace bands the likes of the SCORPIONS yet regardless of the lack of radio support or airplay you're still able to sell out shows, continuously tour and record albums whilst enjoying a successful career.
Matthias Jabs: We were always a live band and it is what we enjoy doing the most. I also do like to be in the studio creating new stuff but playing live is the best feeling of being a musician. It is what it is all about. As for radio, I don't know what's it like in America, but in Europe it's really terrible in terms of what they play. There is so much pop on the radio that it all sounds like a drum machine with either a girl singing or some guy that sounds like some JULIO IGLESIAS shit. But then again they also don't play METALLICA, they don't play AC/DC, they don't play AERSOMITH and they don't play us. And yet all those bands continue to sell out venues and sell out a lot of cities too.
Read the entire interview at Ultimate-Guitar.com.