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Category Archives: 1980’s

A Father’s Day Thank You

Sorry Bones. I got the last laugh!

Sorry Bones. I got the last laugh!

It was a warm June day in 1984 when I again asked him the question..

“Dad? Can I PLEASE go with Bones to the concert?”

Bones was my brother –  two-years my senior and someone who was already becoming well versed in the concert ‘experience’. I mean, here was a dude who had already seen The J Geils Band and The Doobie Brothers perform at the Allentown Fairgrounds and The Kinks at Stabler Arena. To say that I was a little jealous for having been relegated to just listening to vinyl records is a bit of an understatement and to be honest, I half expected Dad to tell me “No” — just like he did the last time.

The previous summer, I asked begged my father to let me go with Bones to see The Kinks. After contemplating it for several minutes (along with listening to my brother’s very vocal protest against me going) Dad made it very clear — “No.” Now was not the time to let his 14-year-old son attend his first concert.

But this was now 1984. NINETEEN-EIGHTY-FREAKING-FOUR MAN!!!! I was going to start high school in the fall — and quickly becoming a man of my own. Heck, I had even started showing interest in playing guitar, and what better way to learn than by seeing how its done first hand, right Dad???

“So Dad? Can I go to the concert with Bones?”

Much to my brother’s chagrin, he had to accept the fact that on June 16, 1984 he was going to have to chauffeur me to the Allentown Fairgrounds to see The Scorpions and some up and coming band calling themselves Bon Jovi.

As luck would have it I was familiar with Bon Jovi; having already bought their debut album with my saved up lawn mowing money. At the time, they were mostly known for their song “Runaway” which was getting quite a bit of airplay on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40.  But that wasn’t the song that really appealed to me. As a soon to be 15 year-old boy there was only one song on that record that I could immediately relate to. It was the third song on the album: “She Don’t Know Me”.

I can’t even begin to tell you the countless times those lyrics came into my head during my adolescence. Especially in certain situations where the female persuasion was involved — I’d always find myself thinking: “If only she would look my way…. but She Don’t Know Me.”

It’s kind of ironic (well, actually no surprise) that the first two songs I learned on guitar were “Rock You Like A Hurricane” by Scorpions and “She Don’t Know Me” by Bon Jovi. The other thing that’s kind of cool is that Richie Sambora is playing the same guitar I had in this video…. 🙂

Over the subsequent thirty years I’ve seen a plethora of concerts. Some of the best include: REO Speedwagon, Survivor, Night Ranger, RATT and Mötley Crüe — all of which had huge albums and were at the TOP of their game. I saw Bon Jovi several more times along with shows by Bryan Adams, Whitesnake, Firehouse and Vixen. Then there’s the classic rock giants Boston, Foreigner, Styx and Journey. I saw AC/DC perform at Stabler Arena (a rinky dink college gymnasium) and Def Leppard twice on the Hysteria Tour. So many GREAT shows.

Although I could ramble on dozens of more examples I like to think that first show was the one that laid the foundation for my life as a music lover and metal head.

So, on this Father’s Day I would like to say a special thank you to my late father for the “Yes” answer he gave me thirty years ago.

A day I will never forget.

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They Deserve The Right: Madam X Returns With New Single, Reunion Show

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It’s been more than twenty years since the four original members of Madam X performed on stage together and thirty years since their debut album, “We Reserve The Right” was released. That’s a literal lifetime for metal head fans like me.

And even though they’ve individually gone on to other successful projects over the years; guitarist Maxine Petrucci, drummer Roxy Petrucci, vocalist Bret Kaiser and bassist Chris Doliber still occasionally entertained the idea of doing something new for diehard Madam X fans. But for whatever the reason, the timing just wasn’t right and the stars never seemed to align.

Until now.

Madam X will soon release a brand new single: “Another 80’s Rock Song (The Party Never Ends)”. Recorded at Metro 37 Studios and co-produced by Kevin Sharp the new single (written by Chris “Godzilla” Doliber and Greg Stryker) is an anthemic stadium rocker and marks the first time the classic line-up of Madam X has reunited since 1992!

Click Here For A Sneak Peak of “Another 80’s Rock Song (The Party Never Ends)”

In addition to the new song, Madam X has planned a full-fledged reunion show which will take place on May 4th at The Diesel Concert Lounge in Chesterfield, MI. From there, they’ll embark on a trip overseas to perform at this year’s Sweden Rock Festival!

While they haven’t committed to anything long term beyond Sweden, the band does acknowledge it has a few more surprises in store, but fans will just have to wait and see. In the meantime, it doesn’t get much better than experiencing new music from one of the best bands to come out of the 80’s. Welcome back Madam X!

I spoke to the band about their new single, reunion shows and what excites them the most about the return of Madam X.

I suppose the first question to ask is what sparked the Madam X reunion?

Roxy Petrucci: I was performing at Firefest in England last year and during a meet and greet session I noticed a lot of Madam X stuff coming across the table: records, pictures, things from European magazines. It was a nice surprise to see that the Madam X fans were still there. So when I came back home, I asked Max about the possibility of releasing a new single for the fans. We called up the guys and discovered that they were both on board with it too!

Maxine Petrucci: Our original intention was to release something new just for the fans. We never had any intention of playing live. But once we posted about our plans for a new single, it started leading to more things – including an invitation to perform at the Sweden Rock Festival!

Bret Kaiser: Everyone thought the idea for a new single was a great one, so we started putting our heads together. That’s when Chris came up with this song that’s going to be a huge!

Madam X (l to r): Chris Doliber, Maxine Petrucci, Bret Kaiser, Roxy Petrucci

Madam X (l to r): Chris Doliber, Maxine Petrucci, Bret Kaiser, Roxy Petrucci

What can you tell me about the new single, “Another 80’s Rock Song (The Party Never Ends)”?

Chris Doliber: I‘ve always been writing and have years of music stuck in my head and my heart I knew I had a purpose for. It’s a song about loving the 80’s and about not going out without kicking and screaming. It’s definitely a Madam X style song. Bret recorded his vocals at The Salt Mine studio in Mesa, AZ and we got Ted Jenson from Sterling Sound in New York to do the mastering. It’s a great big stadium anthem and a song that the audience can chant back. I feel it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the band’s ‘We Reserve The Right’ album. Looking back now, what thoughts come to mind?

Bret Kaiser: We were ahead of the curve. We all had it in our minds that we were going to go to LA and get a record deal. And after all of the hard work we did traveling back and forth from the east coast to the west, playing six nights a week and sometimes as many as four sets a night – we did it!

Maxine Petrucci: I think we were rushed when we recorded that album. At the time, our record label [Jet Records] had so much control over us that we often felt we were hurried along just to get it done. We didn’t really have closure with it.

What’s the origin of the song, “We Reserve The Right”?

Chris Doliber: Back when we were recording the album, we used to go to this little Asian restaurant. There was a sign hanging in the window that said “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” One day I went in and there was this little oriental lady who refused to serve me just because of the kind of shirt I was wearing. When I asked her why, she said “We reserve the right to refuse!” I remember going back to rehearsal and in my frustration just started playing and singing the line that eventually turned into the song.

Why do you believe there’s been such a resurgence of great bands from the 80’s?

Maxine Petrucci: I think people are a little tired of the dark sounding, fabricated music that’s out now. They want the fun time from the 80’s back, which was more about partying and having fun. People can relate to that and that’s what those bands recapture.

Roxy Petrucci: The shows and the music stand the test of time. For many years the question was always, “Where’s the rock and roll?” or “Where’s the entertainment factor?” People really missed that. So whether the radio wants to play it or not, rock and roll will never die. There will always be a demand. People want to go to a show and hear great music and that’s really what it’s all about.

Chris Doliber: Everything comes full circle. Our demographic may have evolved and grown up but now they’re able to take advantage of being an adult to satisfy their quest of reliving their youth.

Brett Kaiser: The music is like a time machine that brings you back to a time when you didn’t have to worry about things like paying bills or picking up the kids from school. People naturally feel at ease with that. You never forget that feeling. It may lay dormant for a while but once you get hit with the rock and roll disease, you never lose it!

MadamX

What are you most looking forward to about this Madam X reunion?

Chris Doliber: For the last decade, we would occasionally get calls asking us to play, but in every case we weren’t all on the same page. For whatever reason, all of the stars are now aligned. I’m very excited about playing with my friends again. This show is not only for the fans, it’s just as much for us.

Roxy Petrucci: I love playing with Maxine. We’ve been playing together for so many years and have a natural bond. Whenever we get in a room, there’s just a feel that we both have together.

Maxine Petrucci: The passion that everyone has for this project is incredible so we’re going to go along for the ride and see where it goes. No matter what happens, it’s going to be awesome closure.

Bret Kaiser: This whole experience has been uplifting for me and given me a whole new outlook. Even though we took an extended hibernation, we’ve never lost our stride. We just click together so well. Of course, it won’t be the same hair reaching up to the sky but who knows, maybe it will! It’s like I’ve always said: The higher the hair, the closer to God!

Will there be more Madam X stories to tell when you return from Sweden?

Roxy Petrucci: There will always be Madam X stories. Some of the good ones though are saved in the vault and we still have more to write. Right now, we’re just going to enjoy being on stage together and taking things a day at a time. “X” marks the spot!

For more on Madam X be sure to check out their Facebook page by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Dave Meniketti Discusses Y&T’s 40th Anniversary

Y&T (Photo: Jill Meniketti)

Y&T (Photo: Jill Meniketti)

You’d think a band that’s been around for 40 years might just be going through the motions at this point.

But for Dave Meniketti and Y&T, that’s hardly the case.

The band’s current lineup — Dave Meniketti (guitar/vocals), John Nymann (guitar), Brad Lang (bass) and Mike Vanderhule (drums) — continues to bring its own unique blend of hard rock to legions of fans around the world.

Since finalizing their first lineup in 1974, Y&T have performed more than 3,000 shows, released 18 albums and three greatest-hits packages — and they’ve sold more than 4 million units. Many of the biggest acts to come out of the Eighties became popular by opening for Y&T, including Metallica and Mötley Crüe.

Add years near-continuous touring and songs like “Mean Streak” and “Summertime Girls,” and it’s no wonder fans say that Y&T sound better than ever.

With another steady year of touring ahead and talk of more new music, Meniketti and company show no signs of slowing down in 2014. I recently spoke with him about his playing, the band’s anniversary and a few surprises they have in store to celebrate the occasion.

GUITAR WORLD: What are your thoughts when you think about Y&T’s 40th anniversary?

It’s an odd feeling when you say it or stick it on a piece of paper. Throughout our career, we never looked past a year in advance wondering what we were going to do. So it’s a little weird thinking I’ve had this gig for 40 years. But it still feels great to be in this band and play songs for crowds who are always so cool to us. Why would I ever want to stop doing that?

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Read the rest of my Guitar World Interview with Dave Meniketti
By Clicking Here!

Better Days Comin’: Reb Beach Talks Guitars, New Winger Album and More

After forming in the late Eighties, Winger soared to success with their self-titled debut, a platinum-selling disc that included the hit songs “Madalaine,” “Seventeen” and “Headed for a Heartbreak.”
Winger (l to r): John Roth, Rod Morgenstein, Reb Beach, Kip Winger

Winger (l to r): John Roth, Rod Morgenstein, Reb Beach, Kip Winger

Their followup album, 1990’s In The Heart of the Young, maintained the momentum with the successful singles “Can’t Get Enuff” and “Miles Away.”

But the advent of grunge and changes in the musical climate, coupled with being the target of two notorious cartoon characters (Beavis and Butthead) eventually led the band to go on hiatus.

In 2001, however, Winger reunited, and they haven’t looked back since. They repeatedly win back fans and critics through their relentless touring, strong musicianship and inspired songwriting.

Winger’s new album, Better Days Comin’, which will be released April 22, is another testament to the band’s legacy and perseverance. Guitarist Reb Beach — who also plays with Whitesnake — and vocalist/bassist Kip Winger have put together a collection of songs that combine tasty riffs, infectious grooves and unique arrangements. The band is rounded out by John Roth (guitar) and Rod Morgenstein (drums).

Better Days Comin’ is available for pre-order now (See the link below), with a deluxe edition that includes a bonus track and a DVD that features a “making of” documentary and videos for the album’s first single, “Rat Race,” and the title track.

I recently spoke with Beach about the new Winger album and his early years and session work. He also gave me an update on his next solo album.

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Read the rest of my Guitar World Interview with
Reb Beach by Clicking Here!

I Wanna Go Back

Me“I wanna go back and do it all over, but I can’t go back I know.”

“I Wanna Go Back” was a song written thirty years ago by Danny Chauncey, Monty Byrom and Ira Walker for their band, Billy Satellite. It was the band’s debut single and peaked at #78 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

But it wasn’t until two years later when Eddie Money covered the song on his 1986 platinum album “Can’t Hold Back” that a then seventeen-year old boy man finally stood up and took notice. For me, the song resonated about innocence lost and the longing for the impossible: a return to a much simpler, less complicated time. Of course in 1986, I had no experience in such matters and absolutely no desire to return to anywhere. Every day for me was new and exciting.

Here’s what a typical week for me was like in 1986:

It was the summer when I got my first real car. A 1973 Toyota Corona. A laughable clunker when I think about it now, but it was my Rolls Royce then.

Weekly guitar lesson: Shredding on everything from AC/DC to Zeppelin.

Dreams of being a rock star: Heck, it even says so on my yearbook picture!

High School: Which started out every morning with Concert Choir and also included Music Theory and Art in addition to the mandatory English and Math.

“I recall hanging out on Friday night”

Friday always…ALWAYS meant going to the mall and perusing through the latest album releases at the record store. I’ll admit, I was also one of those habitual bachelors who passed by the Orange Julius in hopes of seeing a gaggle of cute girls. Then using the last fifty cents of my lawn mowing money trying to obtain the high score on Centipede in the arcade and if I was lucky, one of those “out of reach” girls would be playing a game right next to me. {SIGH}

“Back then I thought that things were never gonna change”

So, thirty years after Billy Satellite originally released it, what was it that made me think of the song this morning? I suppose it was the culmination of everything that’s been going on in the world in recent days. Here are just a few examples. Take your pick:

1. Terrorist attacks throughout the world.

2. Elected representatives voting their party rather than the people they’re supposed to represent without fear of repercussion.

3. The media’s never-ending quest to fear monger the weather and make the slightest storm out to be doomsday.

5. Neglected and abused animals, women, children and veterans.

But despite what your local newspaper, talk radio or favorite extreme Facebook group might say, the real problem with this world isn’t the fault of one particular country, political party or extended forecast. Rather, the real problem is we, the people. We’re the ones who are to blame for the mess that we’re in. And nothing showcases this example better than The Walking Dead. Yes, that’s right. The zombie show.

In a post-apocalyptic world where it’s just humans and undead walking around, the humans can not seem to overcome their own desire for power and greed in order to survive. Instead of pulling together for a common purpose (like finding out what caused the apocalypse or better still, how to cure it), they’d rather build loyalties and fight skirmishes with both humans and zombies in order to pillage whatever they can and gain an advantage. The undead themselves are actually just pawns in their cruel game. Is it too far-fetched to believe that if this happened it real life, that’s the way we would react?

The answer to fixing our problems is so simple, so why can’t we do it? It all starts (and ends) with US.

People often wonder why I still have a fascination with 80’s music, Godzilla and breakfast cereal and I could ramble off a dozen examples of why I think it’s cool or how delicious a bowl of Lucky Charms is. But perhaps the most accurate reason is because it reminds me of a much simpler time. A time when I didn’t have to care. At least, not as much as I do now.

Sure, I know now that things will never be the same but…..I wanna go back.

Original MTV VJs Alan Hunter and Nina Blackwood Talk New Book, Van Halen, Ozzy and the Eighties

VJCoverIt was 12:01 a.m. August 1, 1981.

The music business was in the toilet when a fledgling channel named MTV hit the airwaves to start the engine again.

Throughout the decade, MTV became one of the biggest things on the planet and revolutionized the music industry with a new medium — music videos.

Viewers would regularly host their own MTV parties, tune in for Friday Night video fights and experience unprecedented musical events such as Live Aid. The MTV phenomenon was so big that Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler referenced the channel, incorporating its “I want my MTV” slogan in the band’s massive 1985 hit, “Money For Nothing.”

Four of the original MTV VJ’s — Alan Hunter, Nina Blackwood, Martha Quinn and Mark Goodman — have written a book about their experiences, VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave.

The book, which is co-written by Gavin Edwards, is a narrative-driven oral history of MTV, complete with behind-the-scenes tales and anecdotes as told through the VJs’ own voices (NOTE: JJ Jackson, the fifth original VJ, died in 2004).

From stories on how each VJ landed their job, the channel’s historic launch, the changing dynamic and their eventual departure, the book details the triumphs, pitfalls and everything in between. Today, in addition to acting and producing their own syndicated radio shows and films, the four original VJs can regularly be found on Sirius’ ’80s on 8.

I recently spoke to Hunter and Blackwood about the book and their days at MTV. They also discussed their favorite guitarists and other projects they’re working on.

gw_logoYou can read the rest of my Guitar World Interview with
Alan Hunter & Nina Blackwood By Clicking Here

Beautiful Colors: Author Andrew Golub Discusses Unique Duran Duran Book

BeautifulColorsAuthor Andrew Golub is not your typical Duran Duran fan. Over the course of three decades, the Pacific northwest native has amassed a rather impressive arsenal of band memorabilia. It’s a collection that includes everything from rare articles and artifacts to carefully restored posters and prints that document every chapter of Duran Duran history. Selections from Golub’s archive have already been showcased in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as well in an A&E Biography, two film documentaries and several public exhibitions.

Golub’s 260-page book, “Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran” presents an interesting perspective of the band’s career as well as his own fandom. Through the use of full-color posters from 1978 to the present, Beautiful Colors documents the band’s evolution through vintage artwork and stunning photography by Christine Born.

The book has received overwhelming praise from members of the fan community as well as from Duran Duran themselves, with keyboardist Nick Rhodes contributing a touching forward. Beautiful Colors is a book for any fan of Duran Duran or those with a penchant for 80’s nostalgia. Moreover, the book is a true testament to the power of music.

I spoke with Golub about the book and his fascination of all things Duran Duran.

Golub3What was your primary motivation behind the Beautiful Colors book?

A book was always a possibility given the breadth of my collection and I’ve received many gentle urgings to produce something like this from friends and fans over the years. From exhibitions to my website, I strived to make my collection more accessible to the global fan community as well as the band. Due to their sheer size, posters tend to be the most dramatic category in the archive and the type of memorabilia I feel most proud of. So the concept behind Beautiful Colors felt like a natural decision.

How did you determine which pieces to include?

Since the collection is bursting with treasures, selecting posters for inclusion was a challenge. But once I decided to focus only on official promotional posters (from record companies, concert venues, etc), the choices became clear. Posters are designed to capture attention and ignite the imagination. They represent memories and milestones, for the band as well as the fans. I feel as if I’m working to preserve history through a medium that would otherwise be lost in time. My book may commemorate Duran Duran’s history, but the memories on each page belong to fans around the world.

When did your love of Duran Duran begin?

The first strains of Fab Five Fever nestled into my DNA when I was 13 – the later part of 1984. The combination of charismatic photo sessions, captivating videos, and spectacular, memorable music was all it took to activate my inner Duranimal. My days were soon filled with trips to supermarket magazine racks, brainstorming on how to fund purchases of DD material and of course, taking good care of the items in my growing collection. Hard to believe there was a point when my whole collection fit inside my bedroom. A fortunate thing since my mother refused to build an annex on to the house for memorabilia maintenance [laughs].

What was it about their music that really interested you?

Nick’s soaring keyboard arrangements against Roger’s rock-solid beat, John’s velvety funk-infused bass, Andy’s electrifying guitar licks, and Simon’s lush, wonderfully cryptic lyrics. Every song offered something fresh and exciting with each new listen. “Seven and The Ragged Tiger” was my first album, launching a full, swift occupation of my senses. The synthesized rapture of “The Reflex” captured my imagination first, followed by the harmonized bliss of “New Moon on Monday,” and the rest of the record overwhelmed with awesome. I found Duran Duran’s music stayed with me long after I stopped listening, and I felt myself yearning for more—discovering other albums, learning about the members, and essentially assembling a portrait of the artists behind my favorite tunes. The music was my gateway drug.

Golub hard at work, peeling off layers of excess paper from the back of a rare poster.

Golub hard at work, peeling off layers of excess paper from the back of a rare poster.

What made you decide to start collecting pieces of Duran Duran memorabilia?

Being attracted to Duran Duran’s strong visual style, acquiring memorabilia seemed like a natural direction. Photos offered glossy, handsome images and magazine articles were often accompanied by fan-friendly, full-page pin-ups. But posters took Duran Duran’s exciting, photogenic persona to an even higher plane. While I’ve enjoyed filling out the archive with many odd and fascinating artifacts, the posters have always been the heart of my collection and the clearest visual representation of Duran Duran’s professional history.

How do you acquire pieces for your collection?

Much of my effort revolves around careful networking, reaching out to those within the concert promotion industry and building credibility with my archive. The biggest challenge comes with every new tour, when the whole world becomes a potential harbor for poster production. That is also when I become most aware and appreciative of all the wonderful friends and fellow fans keeping me in mind across the globe!

Do you have a particular favorite?

Without picking a single, most prized item, I would highlight the posters I’ve been able to find from the band’s earliest chapters. Whether testing new material in Birmingham clubs, cutting their teeth as a support act or exploring their New Romantic roots, Duran Duran’s formative years remain the most elusive to document through posters. I have moments of quiet incredulity and deep pride when I look at the first chapter of my book, populated with more posters than I ever expected to include.

Have you ever gotten to meet the band?

I have met the band on several occasions and each encounter has been intensely meaningful and ingrained as a life highlight. Every time I am fortunate enough to meet Duran Duran I am reminded of why I do what I do, why the band deserve nothing less than absolute lifelong celebration and I walk away with renewed commitment to my archival work.

The entire band captivated by Golub's poster in 2005!

The entire band captivated by Golub’s poster in 2005!

What’s your favorite Duran Duran song? Album?

I was introduced to Duran’s sound through the Ragged Tiger album, particularly “The Reflex”. That record and single will always occupy a premium spot for me. However, Rio is bursting with some of my biggest faves. Especially “Lonely In Your Nightmare”, “Save A Prayer” and “Hold Back The Rain”. Timeless classics which never fail to elevate my heart rate, tap my emotions, and transport me to a very happy place. In the band’s recent years, All You Need Is Now is nothing short of crazy-awesome, having re-captured the same visceral, joyous feel that got me hooked in the first place! “Runway Runaway”, “Blame The Machines” and the title track are pure brilliance that I enjoy down to the molecular level.

What has the band had to say about your book?

The band has been incredibly supportive through Twitter and Facebook, and after a recent trip to present the book to Duran’s management in New York I learned the band assessed Beautiful Colors as “magnificent.” It was important to create something that both the band and the fans could be proud of. In addition to charting the band’s history, I set out to honor the bond between the band and their faithful following as well as my own connections within the global fan community. This passion is a powerful common thread we all share, and I feel blessed to be part of something so special, enduring and so much bigger than myself.

For more information on Andrew Golub and
Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran Click Here!

To See Golub’s portion of an American Collector’s documentary
(38 minutes in): Click Here

Guitarist Matthias Jabs Talks Scorpions MTV Unplugged

ScorpionsSince forming in Germany in 1965 the Scorpions have become one of the most successful international hard rock bands of all time; selling upwards of 75 million records worldwide while playing more than 5,000 concerts in over 80 countries.

Known for colossal hits that include “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” “No One Like You” and “Wind of Change”, the band was ranked #46 on VH1’s “Greatest Artists Of Hard Rock” special, while “Rock You Like A Hurricane” came in at #18 on the channel’s list of “Greatest Hard Rock Songs”.

In 2010 the band announced a final studio album, “Sting In The Tail” that would coincide with an epic Farewell World Tour. It’s a tour that to the delight of fans has been going on for more than three years. Late in 2012, just as the band was finishing up their final show of the year, they were approached about doing an intimate, all acoustic project they had never done before. The result: Scorpions MTV Unplugged.

Taken from two dynamic acoustic performances from the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens, Greece, this deluxe CD + DVD package and Blu-Ray features new acoustic versions of the band’s best-loved classics as well as five brand new songs.

Scorpions (Photo: Torsten Hilse)

Scorpions (Photo: Torsten Hilse)

The Scorpions is Klaus Meine (vocals/guitar), Rudolf Schenker (guitars/vocals), Matthias Jabs (guitars), Pawel Maciwoda (bass) and James Kottak (drums). Additional musical support on MTV Unplugged includes contributions from Swedish musicians and producers Mikael Nord Andersson (guitars, mandolin, lap steel, vocals) and Martin Hansen (guitars, harmonica, vocals).  The duo is also responsible for the arrangements on MTV Umplugged.

I spoke with Matthias Jabs about MTV Unplugged and got an update on the band’s current activities. We also discussed the 30th anniversary of the band’s monumental album, “Love At First Sting”.

What made the band decide to undertake an unplugged project?

It was something that we had never done before and something that we had missed out on in the 80’s because we were so busy. Now that we had the time, we went to Stockholm and worked with Swedish producers. They’re also great musicians and ended up being on stage with us.

How was it arranging the songs into an acoustic format?

In some ways it was easy, but for some of the songs that everybody knows it presented a much greater challenge. We also chose some songs that we had never performed live before. We really wanted to make it special for the fans with the acoustic guitars and classical orchestra. The end result is quite good. It’s interesting and different, especially with all of the guest musicians.

Did you find it more challenging performing songs this way?

Playing in an acoustic setting is very unforgiving and the arrangements were done in such a way that you couldn’t just pick up one guitar and play the entire set. There were many different tunings and capos that we used. And the deeper we got into the project, the more instruments and tunings would come out. We ended up adding piano, mandolin, accordion and even a harp. We also had close to 56 acoustic guitars on stage with us!

Why did you choose this particular venue?

MTV originally wanted to release the album in the late fall before Christmas. Summer is always vacation time in Europe so to be outside in September, we decided to go to Greece. They have the best climate and great audiences. The temperature was so perfect you didn’t even have to think about it. The amphitheater actually sits on top of the highest mountain in Athens. From the top, you can look down at the city and see the millions of lights below. it’s almost like looking down into Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills. It’s a stunning view.

Is the band planning any U.S. tour dates this year?

Yes, we’re working on playing some U.S. shows maybe in late summer.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of “Love At First Sting”. When you think about that album, what comes to mind?

We knew we had something special. Even though “Blackout” was very successful and our first major success as a headliner in the U.S., “Love At First Sting” topped it. Songs like “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Still Loving You”, which became a big hit in Europe. “Big City Nights” was another song that was played on the radio a lot. There are so many good songs on the album that made it so strong. I remember it was a bit hectic recording and we almost missed the deadline, but once we heard the first mixes we had a very good feeling about it.

How did Rudolf come up with the riff for “Rock You Like A Hurricane”?

Rudolf and I were actually talking about it before hand. I had told him to try to find riffs that used pauses and accents. Not ones that just play continuously through all the time. So we talked about it, and that’s when he came up with that riff. At the time, I remember being more concerned about writing the lead guitar intro for it, which was something I had already done for “No One Like You”.

What was the process like for building the intro?

The rule was find a riff, then put a melody on top and then play it in harmony. I still remember the first time I played it for the producers and band when we were in the studio. I played the first line and then the harmony part and everyone went, “OH, YES! HERE COMES THE SUN!” [laughs]. We knew we had something great. I felt the exact same way with “No One Like You”. It instantly sounds like a hit, even when you hear it for the very first time.

In the 80’s, new bands like Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi supported Scorpions before making a name for themselves. What was your criteria for choosing them?

Good songs are what made the difference. All of the bands you mentioned that supported us, starting with Def Leppard in 1980, Iron Maiden in ’82 and Bon Jovi in ’84 all became huge, but we chose them because we liked their song material and attitudes. That’s what was the deciding point.

What can you tell us about the band’s new album of unreleased 80’s material?

While we were digging into the archives we found a lot of unfinished songs that we didn’t use for various reasons. Mostly material from the Blackout and Love at First Sting era, which was our most creative time. We now have 12 basic tracks down that we’ll finish recording sometime this summer and maybe even include a few new songs as well. The ideas are from then, but the album’s from now. We’re hoping to release it next year.

Matthias Jabs

Matthias Jabs

What are some of the biggest highlights of your career?

The US Festival in 1983 was amazing because it was so unexpected. All of a sudden, we were coming out of the studio to play in front of 300,000 people. Then there was Rock in Rio in ’85, the Moscow Music Peace Festival, Monsters of Rock in ’89 with Van-Halen and Metallica. There are so many highlights, it’s hard to find a dull moment. But I think the biggest highlight is that we’re all still together and are still friends after creating this great career. We’re still having fun making music both in the studio and playing live. That’s the real highlight.

In retrospect, do you think that “Sting In The Tail” and The Farewell Tour might have been a bit premature?

The original idea was that this was going to be the last studio recording. For the last 35 years we’ve been recording an album, going on the road for 2 1/2 years, coming back home, recording an album…. It’s become routine, but we never wanted to stop making music. We just wanted to scale it down a bit. We also said that we’d be open for special projects, like MTV Unplugged and digging down for older, unreleased material. Those are things we don’t do everyday. The fans love it, and that’s reason enough to do it.

For more on Scorpions, check out their official website by Clicking Here!

Look What I Found: Rocker’s Profile – February 8, 1989

529223_10151534435774339_780686317_nI’ve decided to start a new series here on the blog called “Look What I Found.”

I’d like to use this topic whenever I stumble upon something cool or unique from my past. Not only will the nostalgia of finding these treasures remind me of a much more innocent time, but writing about the things that I discover will really help put in perspective what my goals in life were at the time.

During the mid to late 80’s I kept semi-regular journals describing what was going on in my life as well as the things I had in mind for when I made it to the big time. One of the things I often liked to do in my journal was pretend that someone was doing an interview profile of my life for my fans to enjoy.

This one was from ironically enough, 25 years ago today. A journal entry from February 8th, 1989. In it, I ask myself questions and answer them. Enjoy!

Rocker’s Profile 1989

Rocker’s Name: James Edward Wood

Age: 19

Birthdate: October 5th, 1969

Instruments: Guitar, Vocals, Piano

Years Playing: 3 years

Date Started: May 24, 1985

Favorite Guitarists: Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Randy Rhoads, Van-Halen

Favorite Bands: Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon

Unfavorite Bands: Slayer, Megadeth, One hit wonders

Favorite Songs: Dust In The Wind (Kansas), Armageddon It (Def Leppard), All of Hysteria & Pyromania, Too many others to list

Favorite Album: Hysteria, Pyromania, Blizzard of Ozz, (Ozzy Osbourne), Appetite For Destruction (Guns n Roses)

Favorite Food: Cheese Fries, Country Club Melts

Band Experience: Silent Rage Mar 11, 1988 – July 6, 1988

Favorite Guitars: Gibson Les Paul, Gibson Explorer, Fender Stratocaster

Hobbies: Songwriting, Teaching Music

Current Goals: Become respected for music

It’s interesting to see how much things have (or haven’t) changed in a quarter century. Obviously, you could tell that I was (still am) a huge Def Leppard fan. It’s also worth noting that at the time this interview was taken I had only ever been in one band. As of today, I’ve been in six. And in 2006, after more than twenty years of waiting, I finally was able to purchase my very first Gibson Les Paul.

But if you were to ask the dude being interviewed if he ever saw himself working a 9-5 job in the 21st century, I’m sure he would have laughed in your face. Because the truth is, all I saw at the time were gold records, tour buses and a sea of women calling my name. Responsibility? HA! That was the furthest thing from my mind in 1989.

Such was the naivety of youth.

Metal Method’s Doug Marks Talks “Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar”

DougMarksSince its beginnings in 1982, Doug Marks’ Metal Method has become one of the most successful rock guitar courses of all time.

What started out as a supplement to help him achieve his own dreams of rock stardom, Marks’ lessons have taught guitarists everything from fundamental shapes and barre chords to improvising leads and writing songs.

From his early days of snail-mail cassette tapes and booklets to today’s digital downloads, Marks continues to inspire and make thousands of guitarists better players.

I recently caught up with Marks, who told me about “Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar,” his first new lesson in years. In the program, Marks uses his easy-going teaching style to present rapid-fire three-note-per-string patterns that increase essential skills. Marks also discussed his Hawk project from 1985, which was associated with some very familiar musicians.

GUITAR WORLD: What prompted this new program?

Last year, I started giving Skype guitar lessons. It was the first time I had given actual private lessons since I put together Metal Method. As I watched students work through the course, I was able to see first-hand one of the biggest struggles most students face: lack of precision due to a lack of focus. It was working with students through Skype that really inspired me to get to work on something new.

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You can read my complete Guitar World interview with Doug Marks and see a demo for “Speed and Accuracy” by Clicking Here!

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