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article imageInterview with former Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell Special

By Adrian Peel     Nov 30, 2013 in Entertainment
The German musician remembers his time with the iconic band and talks to Digital Journal about his current professional activities.
Having co-written some of The Scorpions' biggest hits during his 20-year tenure with the legendary five-piece, 64 year-old Herman Rarebell is still held in very high regard by fans of the genre in which he made his name, as an appearance on VH1's That Metal Show in 2012 proved.
Since leaving perhaps the biggest rock group to ever come out of Germany (Rammstein may dispute that claim) in 1995, the Schmelz-born star has enjoyed a successful solo career and continues to perform all over the world, recently with fellow-ex-members of his former band, Michael Schenker and Francis Buchholz.
In July this year, Rarebell, now predominantly based in the English seaside town of Brighton, released a new album - a collaborative effort with some of rock's finest vocalists - entitled Acoustic Fever. This rounds off a hectic couple of years for the experienced sticksman that also saw him publish his autobiography And Speaking of Scorpions... in 2011.
"Well I used to live in the UK from 1971 to 1977, before I joined The Scorpions," explains the man himself, chatting to me from Munich and recalling how he came to relocate permanently to Brighton in 2009. "I always loved the music in England. For me as a rock musician it's fantastic because everything comes from England, especially The Who, Brighton Pier, Quadrophenia, the whole thing...
"I also write lyrics, so it's good to be there on the off-time of touring because last year, I toured nearly five months with Michael Schenker. We toured all around the world and it was good to come home to Brighton and spend some time there. I also come to Munich when I have to play here, but otherwise I'm either on tour or in Brighton."
"For me it's good," continues the life-long fan of the drumming of John Bonham and Keith Moon, set to hit the road again with Michael Schenker - starting in Japan - in March 2014, ruminating over life as a solo act. "I have many friends in the music business, so when I tour with Michael I have a lot of fun. I have a lot of fun when I tour with my own band; I think that's what music is all about."
Discussing Acoustic Fever, a 13-track CD packed with some very familiar tunes, Herman states, "Well I had the idea for a long time in my head to do all my songs which I wrote or co-wrote with my old band, but this time acoustically. So I said to myself, 'Who could I invite to sing those songs?'
"I had the idea to contact old friends like Bobby Kimball from Toto, Don Dokken, Jack Russell, the singer from Santana, Alex Ligertwood, and Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin, so I had a lot of very good professional singers to sing my songs."
From the late 1970s to the early 1990s (the period where The Scorpions were arguably at the 'peak of their powers'), Rarebell, who joined in 1977 before the release of the well-received Taken by Force, was often called upon - because of his excellent English - to pen the lyrics.
Bona-fide classics he had a hand in writing - or wrote alone - include "Rock You Like a Hurricane," "Loving You Sunday Morning," "Blackout," "Tease Me Please Me," "Bad Boys Running Wild," "Arizona" and "Make It Real."
Which particularly stand out for the prolific tunesmith? "Obviously for me, "Rock You Like a Hurricane"... That's the most famous song The Scorpions had, although "Wind of Change" became big. Then "Passion Rules the Game" is a song where I wrote the music and then you have "Another Piece of Meat," where I wrote the music and the lyrics - but most of my work with The Scorpions was writing lyrics."
As there were five members in the group, I wondered that when 'Herman ze German' left the fold in the mid-'90s, whether one of the reasons for doing so was so he could have the freedom to write and record more of his own material?
"Yeah, absolutely. That was one of the reasons, but I think also after being together for 20 years that the creativity point was a little bit out... I left at the point where I felt it was the highest point of the band, and it's still my opinion nowadays. It was time to do something else and I feel quite happy in life that I can be finally doing all those things. Don't forget, we were a long time together."
"There were really great concerts," he continues, looking back on nearly two decades as part of the million-selling outfit, "like Madison Square Garden; we were the only German band to ever play there. Then we played The Wall with Roger Waters in 1990... That was a great show as Germans, playing there in the middle of nowhere between East and West Germany, where people were killed before, and then suddenly you have 400,000 people sitting there. That was definitely something to remember..."
These days The Scorps continue to tour and record, releasing their most recent collection of new material, the critically-acclaimed Sting in the Tail in 2010), and I was curious to get Herman's opinion of their albums post-1993's Face the Music (the last LP on which he appeared).
"I liked the last album, I didn't actually like the albums before - it was like looking for something, experimenting. But the last album is a classic Scorpions album, and I think this is the reason why they had a good comeback because the songs sound like The Scorpions again.
"When I buy an AC/DC album, I want to hear AC/DC - I don't want to hear opera. There were many years of experimenting between my leaving and this last album, and I feel the last album, for me, is a typical Scorpions album again. I told them, Rudolf (Schenker, guitarist and sole original member), Klaus (Meine, lead singer) and Matthias (Jabs, lead guitarist) when we met."
In 2006, Rarebell - along with Jabs' predecessor in the band, Uli Jon Roth, and the aforementioned Michael Schenker - joined his former bandmates on stage at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. Could that happen again at some point in the future?
"Yeah, could be possible. Let's see what the future brings for all of us. Don't forget, Rudolf Schenker already played with us in 2011 at the High Voltage Festival in London. He came on stage and we played "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and a song from the new album, so everything is possible."
"Music is my first love, so to speak," concludes the active globetrotter, when asked to comment on what keeps him so focused and driven after all these years. "I do it with passion and I still love it. I would never do it for any other reason."
Acoustic Fever is out now.
For more information, visit Mr. Rarebell's official website.
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