Exclusive Preview: Second extract from Scooter: Always Hardcore
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 present a series of exclusive excerpts from the book. This time, “The Power Cut”. Above: H.P. Baxxter from behind at a 2001 Scooter concert in Denmark by Matthias Bothor. Read the first extract here, the third extract here and the fourth, here.
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)
Joko Winterscheidt – a German television presenter
Axel Coon – Scooter’s second keyboard player from 1998 to 2002
Heinz Strunk – a comedian and co-writer of the German film Fraktus
Holger Storm: Whether it was in Latvia, Lithuania, or Ukraine—whenever we went to Eastern Europe we would always be asked what ‘special requests’ the band might have. I never received these sorts of inquiries for other acts that I used to represent, so at first I was a bit confused. I’m a simple-minded man originally from a village in Schleswig-Holstein in North Germany, so I asked myself what these ‘special requests’ they were referring to could be. But it didn’t take long to figure it out: drugs and women. They wanted to know everything, whether they preferred blonde or brunette, what type of drugs…
Frank Lothar Lange: Backstage, Scooter used to go harder than Guns n’ Roses or any of the other bands I’ve ever worked with.
Holger Storm: That’s true, but nevertheless we never ordered any ‘special extras’. I should add there were always beautiful, young women around in the Scooter backstage area.
Kai Busse: How that came about depended on the situation, though. Sometimes when we spoke to the event organizers before a show, I would quite openly tell them that it’s always nice to have some ladies there that we can party with. Most of the time that worked out well. At other times, we’d just go into the crowd and speak to women and invite them backstage. They’re usually keen because they know that backstage they will get free drinks and will be able to hang around with H.P.
Holger Storm: It’s pretty obvious that some of the girls have the intention of hooking up with one of the guys. H.P. can see very clearly who has eyes for him and who doesn’t. If he’s agitated for some reason or he simply doesn’t feel like it, then of course he doesn’t give any of them the time of day. He really couldn’t care less, it’s not like there’s any shortage of women out there for him. What he gets up to after the show is a private matter for him.
Frank Lothar Lange: When we were in Iceland we went into a bar and H.P. was immediately greeted by three scantily dressed women. One of the women had a bottle of champagne in her hand and she stood up on the table, drank from the bottle, and then proceeded to stick her tongue in H.P.’s mouth. Then she screamed, “Welcome to Iceland!” That’s how you make someone feel welcome.
H.P. Baxxter: When it comes to our female fans, I generally act cautiously if I’m not sure what they’re after. I get the impression, though, that our fans aren’t your typical groupies but rather people that are really into our music and what Scooter is about. The women who you meet in clubs after the show are usually the ones who are more interested in you for your fame and just want to have fun.
Frank Lothar Lange: In Reykjavik, the audience tried to storm the stage. After the first surge had waned a bit, H.P. went right to the side of the stage and then let himself fall into the crowd. We were playing in a totally sold out arena and the crowd was a boiling soup of people. Everyone was going off. Our time in Iceland was insane—for three days and nights we just partied non-stop. A bunch of girls hung around with us and who needed to be entertained—none of us were sober for even a second while we were there. Reykjavik was absolutely wild. For forty-eight hours, MTV only played Scooter videos and for the first time in history the biggest arena in the country was sold out—even Elton John and Robbie Williams couldn’t achieve that. The hall fits 6,000 people—that’s almost five percent of the whole country’s population.
Rick J. Jordan: It’s awesome traveling to exotic countries as part of a band. You get a much deeper level of contact with the people compared to a tourist because you’re going around with local event organizers who want to show you their country and who are willing to open some of the most amazing doors for you.
Michael Simon: Playing live has become more and more important for us over the years, and we have a lot of success in countries like Finland, Norway, and Russia. I sometimes get the feeling that we go to those countries like five times a month. Northern and Eastern Europe are the strongest markets for Scooter. On the other hand, it’s a bit tougher for us in the south—in countries such as Italy and Spain. They don’t seem to really be that into Scooter, which is a pity. I remember being really impressed by Sydney. I personally never had plans to go to Australia but I was really taken aback by the mixture of wild nature and modern cities that I found there. Sydney feels like New York, but it’s right next to a beautiful beach. I sat with Jens [Thele] watching the surfers at Bondi Beach and then a quarter of an hour later we were in the middle of the city surrounded by huge skyscrapers. Of course I was familiar with New York and with beaches, but the mixture of the two was new to me. Touring overseas is too chaotic and sometimes also too fascinating to ever become routine. Of course over time some things become routine—going on stage and partying afterwards. So, yes, some of the processes we go through are routine, but it’s not like Groundhog Day, where every day is exactly the same.
Kai Busse: On tour there would be a particular daily routine, including all the official appointments such as interviews or photo shoots. The good thing from my perspective was that as long as the interviewer was decent, you could be certain that H.P. would get through to them and answer all the questions without any need for interruptions. You can be sure that H.P. knows how to react to every person and situation appropriately. He really doesn’t need any advice or support, which made things very easy for me.
Jens Thele: H.P. always takes an enormous suitcase on tour with him, even if he’s only going away for one day. In it, he’ll have countless ironed white and black shirts, numerous pairs of jeans, and a few pairs of shoes. H.P. doesn’t really do hand luggage, but he does sometimes bring two big suitcases. Just as well Zoran is there to do the ironing!
Michael Simon: We have to memorize certain processes, like who does what on stage, which dances go with which songs and how, when, and where everything is supposed to happen. These are actually the only real routines there are, but even then there’s a lot of variety because you’re always in a different country, staying in different hotels. That helps to keep things interesting. It’s not like sitting at the same desk every day for ten years pushing paper for the same company.
H.P. Baxxter: I always get bored pretty quickly when we’re on tour. You have the same routines day in, day out. For this reason I would always think of something that would help people stay in a good mood, like unusual recreational activities. One of the things I implemented in our daily routines was for us to all go to the city’s zoo. When I suggested it, everybody thought I’d gone mad and someone even complained “What the hell are we going to do at the zoo?!” So I immediately made it a compulsory part of the daily program and everyone had to come along.
Axel Coon: It didn’t matter where we were, in the plains of Eastern Europe or in some city in Ukraine you’ve never heard of, if there was a zoo there, we had to go.
H.P. Baxxter: That was only because people kept talking back to me! Anyway, it’s relaxing to take a break from the day-to-day routine of the tour. Going to the zoo turned into another Scooter ritual—in every new city we went to we’d go to the zoo.
Michael Simon: When we went to the zoo in Sydney, a TV camera crew came with us. We were in the enclosure feeding kangaroos and in the background you can see this amazing skyline.
H.P. Baxxter: Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for animals. At home, we had all sorts of animals: ducks, chickens, dogs, cats. Sometimes I was appalled at the conditions the animals in the zoo were kept under, for example in Ukraine. I thought, “those poor animals,” and it changed my feelings about zoos for a while. On the other hand, we have also been to some wonderful zoos. In Helsinki, there’s an old zoo built in the late nineteenth century on an island just off the coast. The Berlin zoo is pretty great too—it has one of the largest collections of different species in the world.
Marc Schilkowski: One time I traveled with the guys to Ukraine, where they played in the Olympic stadium in Kiev and in a massive concert arena in Odessa. In Odessa, it wasn’t possible for Scooter to do their warm-up ritual because the backstage sound system was broken. H.P. then flatly refused to go on stage, pointing out that the one-hour warm-up ritual—including loud music and plenty of drinks—was specifically written in the contract. So the organizers had no choice other than to send a roadie to the hotel to dismantle the second sound system that had been installed in H.P.’s suite and to bring it back to the hall and reinstall it there. After that was done, they had their warm-up ritual and only then they went on stage. It has to be noted that in Russia and Ukraine, it’s considered very bad manners to be late for a performance. The organizers were getting nervous and threatened the band that something would happen if they didn’t get on stage. They were worried that the crowd would get angry and start destroying the hall, but H.P. wouldn’t be swayed. Finally, Scooter went on stage more than an hour late—and they gave a spectacular concert.
Holger Storm: I’ll never forget the time we were in Odessa and we went to a club on the Black Sea that was decorated completely in white. After a long night of partying, the sun came up; the DJ was playing chilled-out music and there were countless beautiful girls walking around topless. I was thinking that we must had stumbled upon some kind of strange sect or that I had died and gone to heaven. We sat around there until midday just drinking and having fun. Rick fell asleep and later we had to wake him up. You’ve got to ask yourself how someone can fall asleep in a place like that.
Rick J. Jordan: I might have fallen asleep there, but I was wide awake when we were in Mongolia. That country has incredibly beautiful landscapes, but it’s a total banana republic. The Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Development was also the organizer for our show and the person we rented the PA from.
Jay Frog: Mongolia was pretty overwhelming. It’s a poor country and you still see people getting around by horse and cart, but the people are really polite and the event organizer was amazingly friendly. The food was great too, and they did everything to make sure that we felt at home there.
Rick J. Jordan: The Soviet period has left a major mark on Mongolia, and you see the kind of standard communist design that you’ll also find across Eastern Europe. It’s not so bleak though, because you also see a lot of blue, which is the holy colour of Buddhism in Mongolia. Everywhere you look there are blue flags tied to posts and fences. Our main contact person there spoke excellent German. That may seem a bit surprising, but actually during Soviet times there was close cooperation between the GDR and Mongolia, and a lot of Mongolians came to the GDR to study. It’s a funny place—we got to the concert venue early and looked out to see if anyone was there yet…
H.P. Baxxter: All we could see was a couple of kids kicking around a football. We asked the event organizer if he thought that many people would turn up. He told us that we should be patient—apparently there was major traffic chaos in the city and all the access bridges to get to the venue were clogged up.
Jay Frog: And he was right—eventually the stadium filled up with about ten thousand people and they were really in the mood to party. The minister had bought a massive LED multimedia screen for the event, bigger than anything we had seen in any other country in the world. Apparently he had a spare three million euros lying around.
Rick J. Jordan: In the middle of the show there was a power cut—but I think we were the only ones who it really affected. Everyone in the crowd just stood there and waited patiently talking to each other until the power came back on. After that, everything just went on as if nothing had happened.
H.P. Baxxter: At the end of the show, there was an incredible fireworks display. You would never see something like that here.
Rick J. Jordan: After the concert, we were told that the minister would like to have dinner with us, so we got in a car and were driven to a restaurant. As soon as we arrived, the power went out again and the whole place had to be lit by candles. The restaurant owner, however, immediately spoke to the minister, who then called up the electricity operator to get them to shut off the electricity in another part of town so that we could have dinner with the lights on. When we were leaving and went to say goodbye, the minister made a faux pas and told us that it had been an honor to him to have taken care of The Scorpions…
Holger Storm: When you travel as much as we do, sometimes you forget things like your room number or even the name of the hotel you’re staying in. You’ll be standing there in front of room sixteen trying to get in, but the key won’t work. And then suddenly you’ll remember that it was yesterday that you were in Cologne staying in room sixteen and that today you’re in Stuttgart in room twenty-two. That happens to all of us every now and then. People would call me up late at night and ask me where the hell we were staying. Occasionally, I wouldn’t know either! When you’re on tour, it’s like living in a different world— you lose all normal sense of time and your rhythm is all out of sync. When I would come back home after a tour, I was usually totally out of it for a few days and no one could contact me.
Michael Simon: It’s totally different when you play a show in your hometown. When you go on stage, and your friends and family are sitting there in the stands, and there are twelve, thirteen, or fourteen thousand people in the crowd, that’s something you’ll never forget. That was the case with our sold out 2010 show in Hamburg’s vast Color Line Arena.
Jens Thele: That concert gave me goose bumps. There were thirteen thousand fans in the arena, and people had come from different cities and even other countries to be there. The whole arena was shaking and H.P. was in really great form.
Joko Winterscheidt: After the show, we went backstage and saw H.P., Rick, and Simon standing there drenched in sweat, with massive smiles on their faces. They were just really happy that the concert had gone so well. At that time I wasn’t really close with the Scooter guys—we would exchange greetings when they appeared on MTV Home or The Dome, but that was about it. Regardless of this, we were welcomed as if we were part of the family. There was a lot of vodka and Red Bull going around, and after the RTL camera team had taken a few pictures and done an interview, we all got really drunk. That was a damn fine evening. We even got invited to come back to the George Hotel and continue drinking—with Scooter the booze never stops flowing.
Jens Thele: After our massive arena concert in Hamburg, it didn’t take long until we wanted to do a stadium show, which was a bit of a risky thing to do. If the stage is set up at the end of the stadium, it can theoretically fit fifty thousand people, but it was agreed that for Scooter they would use a stage set up on one side. That obviously shrinks the stadium’s capacity significantly, but it’s still a massive space. Nineteen thousand people came to the show, which was about five thousand short of a sell-out. Nevertheless it was to date the biggest single Scooter concert in Germany—only at big festivals do we get to play to more people than that.
Heinz Strunk: On that evening we recorded the Scooter scenes for the film Fraktus. The way things unfolded was absolutely magical—there was a dynamic to the performance that no one could have anticipated. Everything just went off and there was an incredible energy in the air. Everyone there was blown away.
Jens Thele: It may have been a great performance but, to put it bluntly, the show was a financial disaster. Scooter didn’t get any money at all and the organizers made a six-figure loss.
Heinz Strunk: After the concert we went with Scooter to party in a club. ~
Published November 11, 2013. Words by Max Dax.