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Spotlight on the rhythm section of Scorpions who came to present the twentieth studio album of the band!
DARIALYS - 25.02.2022 -
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It's been seven years since the release of Scorpions' last studio album, "Return To Forever". Since 2015, many things have happened, starting with the arrival of a new drummer, Mikkey Dee, and his masterful resume, intensive tours, and then, above all, a Covid episode that is still relevant. This parenthesis in time allowed the German band to take its time to compose a new record, which had not happened for many years. Even after 57 years of career, Scorpions is still in the game and comes back with its best. Mikkey Dee and Paweł Mąciwoda, the band's drummer and bassist respectively, did us the honor of coming to talk about it.

We like to start our interviews on Music Waves with the question: what's the one question you've been asked too many times and are tired of answering?

Mikkey Dee: "When are you going to stop?" (Laughs). That's the stupidest question ever! But I haven't heard it today!

And we won't ask it either... Your last concert was in March 2020 in Singapore, just before the first confinement. Mikkey, you who have been playing for almost 40 years with King Diamond, Dokken and Motörhead, how did you live this two years period, which I imagine must have changed your life?

Mikkey : We played in Australia and Asia in 2020, and we already had plans to record our album in 2020. The rest of the year was planned to record the album. In the end, we were pretty lucky because we were able to stick to the original plan. What we didn't plan on was that we wouldn't be touring in 2021! But it also gave us the opportunity to make a great album, because we weren't under pressure in terms of deadlines. We recorded our album live. Nowadays, we don't do that anymore. It's too expensive, it takes too much time. Bands can't afford it. This time, we worked hard to do it.

Paweł, you've been in the band since 2003. That's almost 20 years, which makes you the longest playing bassist in Scorpions. Did you think that your collaboration would last so long when you joined the band?

Paweł Mąciwoda: At first, when I knew I was going to audition to join Scorpions, I had the feeling that I would be chosen. Like it was my destiny. Those twenty years went by in the blink of an eye. I always told the guy that I would be the last bass player in the band, and I'm still here! If God is willing to give me health, and sanity, I will be the last bass player in Scorpions.

Exactly Mikkey, in 2017 you recorded three tracks that were included in a best of. But this time, it's the first time you've recorded a full album since you joined. Does it give you the feeling of being a real member of the band?

Mikkey : Yes. Luckily, we were able to tour a lot before making this album. It takes time to get to know each other. I had to gain their trust, and vice versa. That's not easy, especially in a band that's over 50 years old. There were new energies, new vibes, new ideas, new ways of playing! How is it supposed to work? We toured for almost four years before we talked about doing a new album. By releasing an album, I feel like I'm officially part of the adventure. What's even more important to me is that it's an album that was written and recorded by us. When the five of us said that it was great, the album was finished. This is the first time in my career that we've made an album and had time to release it. Usually, we always say: "Can we take three more weeks to finish? And we can't because we've reached the deadline, we have to release the album, blah blah blah... This time we could take all the time we need to make an album that we all like, and I'm sure people will like it.

You were part of Motörhead until the end, when Lemmy passed away. Did you have any doubts about starting with this other rock legend that is Scorpions?

Mikkey : I didn't leave Motörhead (Laughs). The band came to an abrupt end with the death of Lemmy. When Matthias called me, I thought it would be a real challenge for me, and a good kick in the ass (Smiles)!

Do you mean that you were in your comfort zone with Motörhead?

Mikkey : Absolutely ! After 25 years, we knew everything and we knew each other by heart. But it could be a little boring sometimes, and we had a very strict framework. Sometimes, Phil and I would write songs. Lemmy would come in and say, "This is a really good song, but we should give it to Rush! This is not Motörhead. There were rules.
Coming into Scorpions, it was a challenge, and I told the guys, "I'm going to Motörhead you a little bit! I tried to bring my vision of the drums. James Kottak (the previous drummer) was a very good drummer, but he's a different drummer than me.

Speaking of Motörhead, we recently met Lucas Fox at his place in Paris, and he told us that you were the best drummer Motörhead ever had...

Mikkey : I appreciate ! I remember he came to one of our last shows. All the members came from somewhere else, when they had the chance! The last time I saw him was at a Motörhead show where he bought his ticket! Tell him I said hello!

To come back to this record, your love of rock'n'roll is felt in the name of your new album, "Rock Believer". It is often said that rock is dead or in bad shape. Is this album meant to show that rock is alive and well?

Mikkey : Yes, but when you say that, I don't agree! Rock is never dead, it's the media that put it aside. It seems that it's being talked about a bit more now than it was a while ago. Rock will never die, and that's why we're releasing a great album recorded live by a band that has been playing for 57 years!

Paweł: When I see young people discovering old bands like Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, I see that we are still in the zeitgeist. People always come back to the basics and the roots.

You talk about roots, but at the same time, this album is recorded live and it's fresh. How did you manage to reconcile the two in 2022?

Mikkey : It's all about harmony. The band is in harmony, we inspire each other. We put a lot of ingredients in the recipe and it tastes great. Also, we don't want to make an album like "Blackout" (the album that propelled the band to international fame). We wanted to show what the Scorpions of 2022 was. It's not 1982 anymore. The band was completely different than now back then. We wanted to make music that was solid, groovy and not too complicated. The songs are strong and cover a wide range of sounds. There are very good mid-tempo songs, harder songs, beautiful ballads...

It seems to me that this is your heaviest album since "Crazy World" (released in 1990). What do you think about it ? And weren't you afraid to release an album like this, because some people listen to Scorpions for your ballads ?

Mikkey : Those people can go home and cry ! Don't buy the album ! (Laughs).

Paweł : Together with Mikkey, we are the rhythm section of the album. We are the blood and the heart of the band. Mikkey is a very melodic drummer. The way he approaches the songs is very melodic as well. When we started playing together, it was like we had been playing together for years. I never said to him: "You should change this or that".

Mikkey: It's very important what Paweł says because it's all from me. It's like a field hockey team or a soccer team. I have to be very solid, they have to trust me. I don't make mistakes, I know the dynamics of the songs. The other musicians have to follow us with Paweł and trust us. It takes several years to establish it. They have to learn to play with a drummer like me.

Paweł: You have to synchronize. Two drummers can play the same groove but they will sound different.

Mikkey: The first time we rehearsed for the first tour we did together, I remember that two days before we flew to Carolina, our first gig, I had never played a gig with the band before. We had to play to the click because our music was synced to a screen where the lyrics were displayed. Everyone was in a tizzy. They felt like we were playing too fast. It was the right tempo, but it was just pulsating! (Laughs).

How did you approach the drums with Scorpions? Did you have to adapt after playing for Motörhead and King Diamond?

Mikkey : Yes, and that's also why it worked out, because I played a lot of different styles of music. Hard rock is in my heart, but I've played a little bit of everything. When I'm not with Scorpions, I do a lot of sessions in Sweden. I do gigs of other styles of music. Yes, I have to adjust, but it's good because I've played the same way for 25 years. Joining Scorpions has been a great inspiration.

Paweł: Not many people know that Mikkey can play funk for example! Nobody knows it, but he can!

This album seems to gather the best of Scorpions. Did you want to gather the best of all eras of Scorpions?

Mikkey : We don't see it as a best of. When you make an album, you ask yourself how you will approach this new album. Rudolf, Klaus and Matthias write the songs and the lyrics. But we ask ourselves how to approach the album. We are trying to bring harmony and unity so that we are all ready when we enter the studio.

The cover, itself, can evoke a mixture between the one of "Lovedrive" and "Blackout". Is it deliberate or is it unconscious?

Paweł: A lot of people try to make comparisons, but you can't go back. Some things can remind you of things we might have done in the past because those are our roots and we go back to our roots whether we like it or not. But now we're focusing on the present. We have Mikkey, a new setup, a new sound, and we love it! We could never make the same albums as before. It was a different time, different vibes, different setups, different instruments...

Mikkey : And we were 40 years younger ! (Laughs).

What are your expectations with this new album?

Mikkey : Just to make a great album. If we can make people understand our approach when they listen to the album, that would be great. Let's say the label comes to us and says "We want you to release the new "Blackout"! Seriously, it was 40 years ago! It's like asking Motörhead to do "Ace Of Spades" again. It's impossible, it was another band. But what we can give you is the heart and soul of Scorpions, the real Scorpions. And maybe you haven't heard us like this for a long time because there were several other people involved in the composition process. There was pressure, every album had to stay in a kind of comfort zone. This time, we wanted to put ourselves in danger and write rock'n'roll.

We started this interview by asking you what was the question you were asked too often. Instead, what would you like me to ask you?

Mikkey: "What did you eat for breakfast?" (Laughs). No, I don't know... (He thinks). I don't know, that's a hard question.

I invite you to think about it, and the next time we meet, we'll start with this question...

Mikkey: I'll think about it, I promise!

Paweł: It's not a question, but I would say... Let's spread more love and compassion and change the world with music. Let's stop killing each other, let's try to understand each other!

This is a very nice ending message. Thank you very much!

Both: Thanks to you!

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