Scooter: Always Hardcore is a new book documenting one of the world’s most successful—and polarizing—bands. Written, in close collaboration with the band, by Electronic Beats Editor-in-Chief Max Dax and Robert Defcon, we’re excited to be exclusively publishing a series of excerpts from the book—starting with “The Warm-Up Ritual”. Photo of Scooter (first line-up) in 1994 by Katja Ruge from left to right: H.P. Baxxter, Rick J. Jordan, and Ferris Bueller. Want more? head to the second, third and fourth extracts.
H.P. Baxxter – founding member and singer/shouter of Scooter
Rick J. Jordan – founding member and keyboard player of Scooter
Jens Thele – founding, but passive member and manager of Scooter and their label Kontor Records
Michael Simon – Scooter’s current second keyboard player
Holger Storm – ex-tour manager of Scooter
Jay Frog – ex-second keyboard player of Scooter
Mark Schilkowski – Scooter’s long-term cover designer
Kai Busse – another ex-tour manager of Scooter
Frank Lothar Lange – Scooter’s long-term photographer (ex-Bravo)
H.P. Baxxter: When I was young, every Saturday my friends and I would gather and have drinks in my room before heading out to the disco. We called it the warm-up ritual. We’d listen to the unbearably loud music that I’d put on, which, I have to admit, made any kind of conversation among us impossible. Often, my friends would seek refuge with my parents in the living room because it was extremely loud in my room. My parents actually always thought it was great that these young people were around and they’d chat to them.
Rick J. Jordan: Before the rave I would always get the night going with friends by emptying a six-pack of beer. I only ever needed my beers. I’d also make a pot of espresso, add milk and sugar, and drink it down in one gulp. Later, I would eat one of those guarana chocolate bars—and I’d definitely be awake all night.
H.P. Baxxter: A good friend of mine once mentioned that the Scooter backstage area was an extension of my teenage bedroom—and he was kind of right. The only difference is that instead of going to the disco after the warm-up we’d directly enter the stage and perform. The same friend thought that the best description of my job was actually “professional party host”. Look at it this way, I have turned my hobby into a career. I get paid for celebrating.
Rick J. Jordan: There’s nothing in our rider that you wouldn’t find with other bands. Of course, in the pre Red-Bull-days we didn’t have any Red Bull. Beer, though, has always been there. One day I started liking white wine. Nowadays, I actually always fancy a cool Riesling, if possible from the Palatinate region. I became addicted to it through our previous band mate Jay Frog. I’m always surprised, we could be playing in Scandinavia or Russia and they would still manage to get a chilled bottle of Palatinate Riesling for us. At some unknown point tomato juice also became a part of the rider, but I’ve no idea why. The vodka must always be Grey Goose or Absolut, simply because of the quality and taste. The Red Bull has to be with sugar of course, because there’s no point doing things in half measures. Every now and then we’d also have Jägermeister, that was important for Axel Coon. Jay Frog on the other hand would frequently opt for a Baileys.
H.P. Baxxter: Before the show I always down a vodka and Red Bull because it gives you an energy boost. In private I don’t really overdo that—at home I usually prefer vodka and lemon or a gin and tonic. If I really have to perform though, the mixture of Red Bull and vodka leads to impressive results. After two or three glasses of that I’m always sharp on the edge, regardless of how weary I was feeling before.
Michael Simon: Zoran, H.P.’s personal assistant, knows exactly how his drinks should be served—what type of glass should be used, how many ice-cubes, and the exact ratio of alcohol to mix. As Rick said, the invention of Red Bull gave everything a boost. Only sometimes, perhaps when H.P. can’t see it any more because the tour has gone on for too long, will he drink vodka and lemon. When that does happen then it has to be Schweppes—if you’re offering him something else then you are going to hell—or at least you’ll get a glass to the head. You know, it’s the little things that annoy him. H.P. always goes nuts when something doesn’t suit him, that’s part of who he is. I asked him once why he always freaks out over every stupid, little thing and he said that it’d calm him down. Only in an environment of total chaos can he find inner peace. On the other hand, when everything is going smoothly and everyone is relaxing, that’s when he gets restless. That’s why he needs to constantly terrorize tour managers.
Holger Storm: One time, when we were in Odessa, I had to fly in an extra two pallets of Red Bull from Turkey just for H.P., at a cost of 450 deutschmarks.
H.P. Baxxter: Ecstasy was never a question for me because I have no idea what sort of chemicals they put into those pills. If I don’t have complete control over something and I can’t figure what will happen to me as a result, then I leave it well alone. I also know myself too well, I have an addictive personality. It’s a case of simple self-protection. That’s also the reason why I never started with cocaine.
Rick J. Jordan: Back then I even read a standard university textbook on the topic of drug consumption. That gave me a basis of what was OK and what wasn’t. Reading the book was the main reason why I never started taking ecstasy, speed, LSD or cocaine, which were the most widely used drugs at the time. Before Scooter I used to smoke weed with friends if someone was passing around a joint. But I’ve always maintained a healthy respect towards the harder stuff.
Jens Thele: I don’t want to end up like Ozzy Osbourne, who once snorted a line of ants because he was running low on cocaine. To this day no one believes that Scooter don’t take drugs.
Jay Frog: Maybe that’s what makes the warm-up ritual so important.
Marc Schilkowski: Other musicians load up with energy by taking uppers, Scooter substitute the kick by making their dressing room quake with sound for an hour.
Jay Frog: Before every show we’d have a proper sound system built specifically for us, whether it was for our trailer or the dressing room. In my time we always had four of those big JBL PA active loudspeakers that really punch out some sound. Real monsters.
Holger Storm: The sort of speakers and equipment that Scooter set up in their backstage area, others would use to fill a thousand capacity venue—that’s how powerful they are. Over the years everything has just gotten bigger and bigger. We started out with four or five people, then we were ten. Nowadays I have no idea how many people come along when Scooter go on tour. Countless. But one thing never changes: the technicians always have to set up the backstage sound equipment first.
Jay Frog: The warm-up ritual is kind of like a second stage for H.P., who always carries a CD case packed with his favorite classics. From time to time he would even play something by Led Zeppelin. Other times it would be really current stuff. Also, I would always have mixes featuring the latest tracks, always around an hour long so that we had something to get us going even if nobody wanted to deejay. Sometimes we would bang out loud mixes from other DJs as well.
Jens Thele: The warm-up ritual is not only about having fun. Rituals are very, very important for H.P. He is East Friesian, that is, he originates from Germany’s North Sea coast, which means he’s essentially stubborn. He wants things to always be the same, without any changes. That means he will turn the music up really loud backstage and act as the DJ. He changes tracks and plays around with the mixer—he’d light a cigarette, turn the bass up, plenty of crossfader, and soon you’ll notice his foot starting to stomp with the rhythm.
H.P. Baxxter: It’s the little rituals that make life beautiful, regardless of where you are. It’s these routine, unchangeable parts of life that you can always look forward to and rely on.
Kai Busse: The warm-up ritual always has to last for one hour exactly. If there’d been delays during the day which would lead in H.P. and the band turning up at the venue half an hour before they’re scheduled to go on stage, they’d still want to have their sixty minutes warm-up. If you kindly suggested that they have thirty minutes instead, they wouldn’t listen. At festivals, Scooter’s trailer would be shaking so violently that from the outside you could see the metal latches vibrating. People walking by the Scooter trailer would shake their heads. But there are also those who know our habits by now. They see the trailer and figure it out—Scooter’s here! One time we played at the same festival as the Turkish artist Tarkan and he was scared because the bouncer at our trailer—our security guy—looked like an absolute hooligan. The combination of our incredibly loud music and a two-meter tall giant sitting by our door seemed to frighten Tarkan so much that he considered pulling out of the festival. Those are the sorts of situations that are actually really funny.
Jay Frog: I’m sure I lost a few degrees off my hearing range hanging out in the Scooter backstage area. I mean, the music was louder than on stage! Other bands might have a ghetto blaster but with Scooter it has to be a proper club system.
Kai Busse: H.P.’s ears are a phenomenon. I often had the impression that he had hearing difficulties, but when I think about it, he’s only deaf when somebody wants something from him. He can actually hear very well, still.
Jay Frog: Only a very small number of people are allowed to come backstage. If somebody knew people in whatever city we were playing at, they were sometimes allowed to come by and quickly say hello. But we always wanted to have the hour before the performance to ourselves.
Kai Busse: For me, as the tour manager, the warm-up ritual was actually always the most relaxed part of the evening. It was the hour when I could find some peace. I could go through everything with the lead technician one more time while the band had their hour-long session of boozing and pure sound exposure.
Michael Simon: During the warm-up ritual, I am often envious of our roadies, as this enormous acoustic irradiation isn’t a requirement for them. How many times did I sit there in that infernal racket and get really bored because I couldn’t talk to anyone! I had to be there though because for H.P. the warm-up is supposed to be a “family affair”. So I’d just play Tetris or poker on my iPhone to kill the time. Everyone has their little habits or routines and that was mine.
Frank Lothar Lange: Directly before a performance H.P. would often come to me and whisper: “Hey Frank, I can’t go on stage tonight”. Then he would let out this high-pitched, staccato laugh, as if he wanted to laugh away the nervousness. No one laughs quite like H.P. ~
Scooter: Always Hardcore is published on November 18th. Scooter’s exclusive 20th anniversary performance takes place in Hamburg on December 5th (win tickets here) and will be live streamed on our site.
Published November 04, 2013. Words by Max Dax.