Herman RarebellHerman Rarebell shares his 'life as a Scorpion'
By Naughty Mickie  notymickie@earthlink.net
 
I had the amazing opportunity last year to sit and chat with one of rock's history-makers. Herman Rarebell was the drummers for the Scorpions from 1977-1995 and has been recently touting his audiobook, "My Life as a Scorpion" (Dark Star Records). He also has released the album, "Take it as it Comes" (Dark Star Records), under the moniker Herman ze German, a nickname he was given when he was hanging out at the Rainbow in Hollywood during the '80s.
 
Rarebell is noted for writing Scorps' songs such as "Another Piece of Meat," "Passion Rules the Game" and "Falling in Love" and also wrote the lyrics for "Rock You Like a Hurricane," "Make it Real," and more. After parting ways, he still remains friendly with the band.
 
Rarebell lives in Munich, Germany and has a home in Brighton, England. We met in a hotel room in Hollywood and were soon chatting like old friends... and musicians. I asked him to begin by telling me about his earliest interests in music.
 
"Of course when you are five or six years you play on pots, but that's not serious drumming, that was just the first time for me to bang on something," begins Rarebell. "I fell in love with the drums when I was 12 or 13, when I went to a wedding. After mum and dad and everybody was probably drunk and the band finally stopped playing at one or two in the morning, I was sitting behind this drum kit just tripping out and then I noticed this new kind of instrument, I fell in love with the drums then.
 
"Then the Beatles came around and everybody played the guitar so I started to play the drums. I played in a little band when I was 13 and 14. When I was 15, we made our first good band called the Mastermen. I started to really take it more serious and by 16, 17, my school headmaster said, 'What do you want to do? Do you want to become a professional musician?'
 
"I studied music at the Music School in Saarbrucken for two years. I studied piano and drums, classical of course, and then in 1971 I left for England. As a young man I decided to join the next heavy metal band, which was in England waiting there for me," Rarebell laughs. "I wanted to go there since I was 17.
 
"In 1971 I had my dreams of becoming a big rock star and I went to England with $2,000 in my pocket and of course after four to six weeks the money was gone and I had to become a taxi driver. I was a gardener, I was a barman, none of those big heavy metal bands were waiting for Herman, but in 1974 I  started doing studio jobs in England and I made myself a name with it. Then in 1977, Michael Schenker, who was already in England with me because he played with UFO, said to me 'My brother is coming over, he has a band from Germany called the Scorpions and they are looking for a drummer, why don't you go to the audition?'
 
"I went and there was another 50, 60 guys there and we each played three songs and after the three songs, came the famous don't call us, we'll call you. I thought sure. But it turned out the next day they called me up and said, 'Yeah, do you want the job? Can we take your drums with us to Germany?' I said I'm going to have to talk to my girlfriend because she doesn't know I'm going to go to Germany now this is my new job," Rarebell continues. "Anyway I let them take the drums and two weeks later I was in Hanover. I joined the Scorpions on the 17th of May 1977. Klaus (Meine, vocals) got married on that day, that's why I know that. Then I moved to Germany and that summer we started to write music and in fall '77 I recorded my first album with the band called 'Taken by Force.'"
 
Here, we pause to discuss what we like to do when we're not working.
 
I live by the sea, so my hobby is obviously walking," shares Rarebell. "I love long walks along the sea, I like swimming and snorkeling. I love snorkeling where the water is warm and you can see what's happening under the sea. I can snorkel for hours. I enjoy fitness, I work out. I'm trying to keep myself fit for drumming."
 
Returning to the business at hand, I ask Rarebell about his writing process.
 
"It depends really on the story I'm want to tell," Rarebell responds. "For example, if you take the song like 'Another Piece of Meat' that I wrote, obviously it's from real life experience, the same way like when I wrote 'Rock You Like a Hurricane,' the biggest Scorpions' hit. It happened literally in the morning- 'It's early morning and sun comes out, last night was shaking and pretty loud,' it was a heavy party night, 'My cat is purring and scratches my skin, so what is wrong with another sin' obviously during lovemaking this girl is scratching me and in the morning the sun came out and I wrote 'Rock You Like a Hurricane.'"
 
"Which do you write first, the music or the lyrics?" I ask.
 
"It depends," answers Rarebell. "With this song 'Rock You Like a Hurricane,' Rudolf played me this song. He said, 'Listen I have this song, do you have any ideas for lyrics?' I said,
 
'Leave me the tape.' I woke up five or six o'clock the next morning, the sun came out and then I wrote it down right out of inspiration, being with the girl the same night so everything was fresh, the smell of love was still in the room and it was just the time to write it because it's a very sexual song. This was the mood I was in when I was writing.
 
"The same with 'Another Piece of Meat.' I was in Japan touring and the girl I was with then was really crazy and she was totally into kickboxing and the more blood ran all over the stage, the more turned on she got, so in the end I had to get out of there. I said, 'Come on let's go, don't put on a show, you're just another piece of meat.' 'Passion Rules the Game' I wrote the music, I had no idea for the lyrics so I went to Klaus Meine and I asked 'Do you have any ideas for this song?'"
 
I want to know more about Rarebell's album, "Take it as it Comes."
 
"I'm basically the producer of this album." Rarebell says, "I have, for the first time, the luxury in my life to sit back as a producer and tell my band and my musicians I want to listen to all your songs you ever created, so they each played me their songs and I had 60 songs to choose from. I said, 'This is great' and I've written a few songs on there, but basically I said to myself that, being a drummer, you have to have definitely one or two great songs on there.
 
Herman Rarebell"'Wipe Out' is a classic and I found this version in my brushup books, I recorded it in 1984. Then the record company told me that this version is too wild, make us a more commercial version, so the 1984 version which we know from 'Herman ze German and Friends' first album is not this one, this one is the one which is the wild one, which has the drums solo and the very wild guitar solo. And the song, 'Drum Dance' I did with my drum friends, Pete York and myself and it was we had fun doing it.
 
"When I heard 'Take it as it Comes,' which was written by my friend Thomas Perry, I said to him this is my life really. You have to take it as it comes because now in this world, when you look at it, if you don't take it as it comes, you may go crazy," Rarebell continues. "You have to think positively because I know there's recession, there's depression, but my philosophy is take it as it comes, live your life because you don't know how long you're going to live, tomorrow could be your last day. It could be over in the blink of a second.
 
"I think live your life every day to the fullest, don't look back because you cannot change the past, you only can think ahead and be positive and if we all think like this then we get out of this shit. And I think take it as it comes, live your life, this philosophy and when you listen to the lyrics, that's what I mean. And I wanted to make sure of all the songs that I had chosen as a producer that every song has a potential to become I hit. I didn't want to have any album fillers. I said make a great album with songs so when you listen to the album you don't get bored, every song is good."
 
I remark that "Take it as is Comes" is a fun effort.
 
"It's a fun album," assents Rarebell. "You can play it at a barbecue party outside, you can crank it up. That's what I like about this album. I wanted every song to be good."
 
About 12 different musicians appear on the album. Stefan Erz provided vocals on five songs and Claudia Raab, Rarebell's wife, played saxophone.
 
"It was a great challenge to integrate the saxophone in hard rock because it hasn't been done and I think she does a very good job," says Rarebell.
 
For "Rock You Like a Hurricane" on the album, he wrote another verse and changed the solo, making it low, deep and dirty. This remake has garnered a lot of different reactions from Scorpions fans.
 
"I have mixed opinions, a lot of Scorpions fans come up to me, 'Fantastic, Herman,' then you have die-hard fans, 'You should have never touched it.' It's my song, I can do with it what I want," Rarebell says. "And you can't touch the original, it's still great, it's proven, it still plays all over the world today. As we talk right now, there's probably 100 stations playing it somewhere in the world.  That shows me that it's a timeless song and that song was voted number 30 of the 100 best ever rock songs of all time."
 
I note that the songs on the album seem to have a big touch of humor in them.
 
"It's intentional because that's my nature, I like to have a good laugh," Rarebell tells me. "I think in general there is nothing to get depressed about in life, you should always have the attitude that you'll take it as it comes. If you can't laugh any more, there's something wrong with you. Humor is very important."
 
Rarebell shares that recently Vince Neil told him that "Another Piece of Meat" was his favorite song. Neil gave Rarebell a copy of his own cover of the tune. Interestingly enough, years ago, Rarebell was approached by Tommy Lee and Motley Crue to produce them, but he turned them down because he had to go back to Germany to work on a Scorpions album.
 
They told Rarebell he lost a million dollars, he laughs. He would have loved to produce them.
 
We move our talk to the subject of Rarebell's audio book, "My Life as a Scorpion."
 
"I didn't want to make it like a serialized audio book where I just sit there and read my book and put it on tape. I got together with a voice imitator, Klaus Gorsch, and my friend Pete York, another drummer  who used to play with the Spencer David Group, interviewed me," explains Rarebell. "So in the interview there's also the voice imitator, he imitates, for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger. As Arnold says to me, 'Tell me Herman, what was it like with the groupies?'  Listening to this interview you have the feeling that you are sitting in a German beer garden, drinking beer and eating sausages and sauerkraut. I made it more funny and entertaining. You hear my whole life, what I did before the Scorpions and about the Scorpions and of course my future, at least what I wish for my future."
 
So what's in Rarebell's future? He wants to tour the United States either on his own or with another band on the bill. His touring band will be Herman on drums, Erz on vocals, Raab on saxophone, Thomas Perry on guitar, James Jackson on lead guitar and Jens Peter Abele on bass. He is also writing for his next album, which will be predominately his own songs. He has quite a stack of material already, but he may use a few from his band members as well.
 
"I have a band now, so it's very important that those people also have a chance to write and express themselves," says Rarebell. "When I go on the road, I don't want to be the big boss and dictator, I like to have a band where everybody is the same. If somebody plays me a great song, I take it because when you hear a great song nobody's asking who wrote it, they just go 'Great song.'  That's what I want to do, just put great songs out."
 

As I prepare to leave, Rarebell and I talk about the future of rock music.
 
"I think the circle is closing again now and rock is back again because people are tired of all the computer stuff, they want  to play music again. I see a lot of kids nowadays are actually learning instruments, when only 10 years ago it was like putting one finger on the computer and the computer doing everything," Rarebell states. "I think rock will stay because it's timeless.
 
"I love what I do very much," Rarebell goes on. "When Klaus and Rudolph told me they would like to retire and were planning our farewell tour, 'Are you crazy?' I said, 'I don't want to retire. I want to play the songs that I want to.' First of all, what else am I going to do, retire and sit at home? I would be bored after one day. I'm going to go on."
 
Find out what Herman Rarebell is doing now at www.hermanrarebell.com
 
Also visit my blogs at http://mickieszoo.blogspot.com and www.insidesocal.com/doodah and follow me on Twitter @mickieszoo

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