With more than 100 million records sold worldwide, German hard rock / heavy metal band The Scorpions are one of Europe’s most successful musical exports.
Best-known for a seemingly endless stream of hits including “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” “Still Loving You,” “No One Like You,” “Wind Of Change” and “Send Me An Angel,” 2015 is a milestone year for The Scorpions as it marks the group’s 50th anniversary.
Fortunately for the group’s fans, retirement isn’t in the cards just yet.
In addition to the release of Forever And A Day, a documentary that captured the band on their last world tour, the group is also celebrating the release of their latest studio record, Return To Forever. The album is their 18th studio effort.
To promote the album, the band is embarking on a 16-city North American tour, which kicked off in Massachusetts on Sept. 10. The Scorpions’ sole Atlantic Canadian tour stop takes place at the Moncton Coliseum on Wednesday evening.
Reaching the 50-year milestone is a feat relegated to only a handful of artists. Fresh from a recent tour of Korea, Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker says no one is more surprised at his group’s longevity than the band themselves.
“None of us in the band ever expected to still be playing music after 50 years,” Schenker begins. “Before the recording of our first album Lonesome Crow, people would constantly ask me about what I was going to do with my life. When I told them I planned on pursuing music, more often than not, people would tell me that I needed to stop dreaming. I heard bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and thought to myself how great that would be to travel the world making music with four or five of my best friends. That’s what I wanted to do with my life.”
While most 67 year-olds are spending time with family or mapping out where to take their next big trip, Schenker acknowledges that he isn’t quite ready to give up on his dream of making music.
“At my age, people are thinking of retiring if they haven’t already done so, but The Scorpions are working harder than ever. I see that as a very good thing though. In the earliest days of the group, all we wanted was to bring our music to the world. We always wanted to bring our music to the world. It has helped us build bridges across oceans as well as across generations of fans.”
Growing up in post-war Germany, Schenker’s obsession with music took hold early in his life, thanks to a shortwave radio through which he was introduced to the likes of Little Richard, Elvis Presley and more.
Although they did not musically influence Schenker, hearing these exciting new sounds coming from the United States was a life-changing moment for the musician.
“Up until that point, there was no music channel that we could tune into to hear the hits of the day. Schlager music dominated most radio stations. That was what inspired me to see what shortwave radio had to offer. And what I heard on there just blew my mind.
“People weren’t overly friendly towards rock and roll in the post-war era. It was very much something for outsiders, which I identified with. I didn’t want to be normal and fall in with the general population. I relished being a bit of an outsider,” he says.
Indeed, The Scorpions should be overly familiar with outsider status. While they ruled MTV in the early half of the 80’s, the arrival of grunge in the early 90’s served as a death knell for many acts.
Rather than trying to directly compete with the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, The Scorpions wisely turned their attention to other territories in the world. It was a move that paid off in spade: Not only was the group easily able to sustain their careers, they were introducing their music to a new generation of listeners.
Although The Scorpions briefly flirted with the notion of retirement early this decade, Schenker says the reception afforded to the group with their 2010 album Sting In The Tail and subsequent Unplugged release showed the group their fans weren’t about to let them enter retirement quietly.
Schenker acknowledges that nothing is forever, but for the time being, the band is still enjoying what they do.
“I don’t know what’s next for the band,” he says. “We want to continue making music, but if we were to face another musical revolution like we did with grunge, we just might take that opportunity to retire the band. Who knows? For the time being, we are going to continue to enjoy ourselves.”
What: The Scorpions with Queensryche
When: Wednesday Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Moncton Coliseum, 377 Killam Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $59.50 plus service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Moncton Coliseum Box Office, by phone at (506) 857-4100 and online at tickets.moncton.ca