The seasoned German dance group Scooter – led by peroxide-blond MC HP Baxxter (aka Hans Peter Geerdes) – may yet have the last laugh. Notorious for such riotous bangers as the Supertramp-sampling ‘Ramp! (The Logical Song)’, Scooter have long irked those techno purists who worship at the altar of Berlin’s Berghain nightclub. But, defying any novelty status, the Hamburg outfit have achieved remarkable longevity. Indeed, they’ve released 19 albums (!) since 1995.
In the ’80s, HP fronted a synth-pop band, Celebrate The Nun. However, with New Wave fading, they reconstituted themselves as the rave Scooter in 1993. They broke through with the happy hardcore anthem ‘Hyper Hyper’. Throughout the ’90s, Scooter were mainly successful in Europe. That changed in the noughties as they crashed charts in the UK and beyond. Scooter enjoyed a mega-hit with ‘The Logical Song’. It actually made #1 in Australia.
Scooter routinely reinvent their sound. They collaborated with the US hip-hop hypeman Fatman Scoop for 2007’s The KLF-inspired ‘Behind The Cow’. Today, even as Scooter declare themselves “the biggest techno band in the world”, they lean towards hardstyle.
In 2017, Scooter issued Scooter Forever, encompassing the single ‘BORA! BORA! BORA!’ (and a “joke” cover of Eric Idle’s ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ from Monty Python’s Life Of Brian). Yet, to mark their 25th anniversary, they also compiled a commemorative set, 100% Scooter – 25 Years Wild & Wicked. Ironically, HP is now Scooter’s last original member – being joined by relative newbies Michael Simon and Phil Speiser.
This September, Scooter will bring their full live show to Australia after a DJ run in 2007 (which saw them bypass Melbourne). When Music Feeds caught up with a lively HP for an early morning chat, he extolled Scooter’s cross-generational fanbase. “When we had the tour so far, especially in Germany, it’s from young kids up to really older people. It’s so mixed – there is two or three generations… I like if it’s mixed.”
Music Feeds: Scooter are finally coming back to Australia – it’s been over 10 years. What do you remember from your first tour in 2007?
HP Baxxter: Yes, yes, that’s true. I still remember that we really had a good time. Even if it’s already 10 years ago, I really had some nice pictures on my mind. Those days we had our first jumpstyle tunes and I remember when we were in Sydney that we just tried to do this dance [style] and we were filming and then we were posting it on our Facebook page. We went out a lot. We went to restaurants, clubs… We were at the zoo in Sydney, which was amazing – especially the view from the zoo to the skyline. We had a very long flight to Perth – I couldn’t imagine being in the same country after so many hours of flying (laughs). Yeah, they were really some special experiences.
MF: Are you familiar with the ‘Melbourne Shuffle’, the rave dance style we have down here? Because people often talk about shuffling to Scooter songs.
HP: Yes. Once we had a video, and a song, called ‘J’adore Hardcore’ – it’s like a French word game, “J’adore, Ich liebe, I love hardcore.” The song was really a pumping tune and we had the shuffle dancers and they were from Melbourne. It was Pae and Sarah, a girl and a guy, and we got to know them from the internet. We made contact. Our video director came up to Australia and did the video with those guys together and, when we were touring afterwards, we brought them to Germany. So Pae and Sarah, the dancers from Melbourne, they did the tour with us. This video is really one of the most successful videos we had, I think, also because of this shuffle dance.
MF: People still tend to think of German techno as being very serious and very ‘cool’. Are you reacting to that seriousness in the underground – or poking fun at it?
HP: Yes, in the early days, we had really hard critics and the scene didn’t take us seriously. They said, “Yes, Scooter is just crap.” But we always loved also the underground stuff. And it’s the same today. But, on the other side, I also like if it’s ‘party’ and party music… We always combine both sides. The beats and the basics, we always took from the underground, and the hook lines and the lyrics, it’s more, yeah, the Scooter thing (laughs). This together is somehow the key to our success. On the other side, we were not accepted by the so-called ‘serious’ German techno scene, but I think this changed a lot. Nowadays people are more open-minded also to other musical directions, like hip-hop or whatever. 20 years ago, you were enemies if you were a techno musician or hip-hop – it was impossible. But nowadays I think it’s more open-minded.
MF: Funnily enough, Kylie Minogue recently performed at Berghain in Berlin. I wondered if you have ever performed there – or if you can even jump the queue if you want to party there?
HP: No. I’ve been to Berghain a couple of times when I was in Berlin. Very late at night, I said, “Oh, I want to go out.” I went there. But we never performed. It was just that I was going there for dancing and to go out.
MF: You’ve now released 19 albums. Why do you think Scooter has endured? Because a lot of acts might release five albums and then stop and just tour. But you’ve continued putting out new music.
HP: Yeah, somehow I think we always had new influences – and then we changed all over the years. Of course, we’ve had our main style, that’s right. But we have our own studio and every day, when we are not touring, we meet at the studio – not every day, but I feel it’s like every day (laughs). We try out new things. Right now I really like psy-trance and hardstyle and so we try to put this into our own music; new influences… We never think too much about what we’ve done last year. We always look to what’s gonna happen next.
MF: A lot of the hip-hop coming out of America, the cloud rap, is very slow and sleepy. But you guys are high-energy. Could you ever do a style like that – very slow?
HP: Oh, yeah, it’s slow. I think this might be difficult. We had, I think, two or three album tracks which were really slow when we had a certain idea and we wanted to try it out. I think one’s called ‘The Leading Horse’ – it’s similar to a hip-hop tune. It’s also got a beat from Puff Daddy or something, I think… But this was just like an experience. That was not what we normally like to do. But ‘The Leading Horse’ is a funny tune. We also performed it live.
MF: You’ve got a giant box set, 100% Scooter – 25 Years Wild & Wicked. One of the songs on that is your collaboration with Status Quo, ‘Jump That Rock (Whatever You Want)’. How did that come about? It must have been very different for them to work with a techno act!
HP: Yes, this happened! We decided we wanted to do a tune with the guitar riff from that song [‘Whatever You Want’]. So we had already a version, a kind of instrumental, with the guitar sampled off ‘Whatever You Want’. Because it really fits with the hardstyle kick, this guitar riff – when the kick’s coming in, it’s amazing. At that time, we were touring in England with our label, All Around The World. In the backstage room, the [label] guys listened to this tune and they said, “Oh, I know the manager of Status Quo, you should do it with the vocals – you should do it together!” We thought they would never do it and so we didn’t have the idea even to ask (laughs). So we were surprised that, in the end, they agreed. They said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” So we did the video together and we had even a performance somewhere together. It was great because, when I was a kid, of course I also listened to Status Quo. I knew every song! I really liked it, working together.
MF: It’s amazing how far you’ve travelled. I know you’ve got a huge following in Eastern Europe – up to Russia. But is there somewhere you’d really like to go and you’ve never been?
HP: Well, we played I think only three times in the US – twice in Chicago, once in New York. Sometimes I think it could have been nice touring America and having success over there. I know there’s a scene, or there are also some Scooter fans, but it’s not as big as in other countries. But you never know – maybe it’s gonna happen. But, yeah, after 25 years, I think it’s not so easy if it didn’t happen now (laughs). Maybe when we come with The Wheelchair Tour, 2030!
MF: Do you think Scooter will go on forever? You seem to have a lot of youthful energy. Do you look ahead or do you just take it day-by-day?
HP: Yeah, we never look that far into the future. For me, it’s really [about] what’s going on now, what’s happening this year, where’s the next show, what is the next tour… I’m sure one day you know, “That’s it, now it’s over.” I’m happy that I haven’t even got to seeing or just thinking about it, but I’m sure one day this is gonna happen. But I can’t tell you when this will be. It depends, of course, if you are really healthy and fit – because the show [means] you’re jumping around all the time. One day maybe you cannot do it anymore. I don’t know.
MF: Well, no one’s told The Rolling Stones to stop – and they’re still going.
HP: Yeah, I hope! But, to be honest, I was there last year. [The Rolling Stones] played Hamburg – it was huge, 80, 000 people in the park – and, when I think there are 80, 000 people coming to watch The Stones, then I think they are right. If no one’s coming, then it’s strange. But it was a really huge show. Somehow I really enjoyed it. I’m happy that they are still there. But there are other examples where you think, “Oh my God – why don’t they stop?” I also had this in my mind when I saw some bands from my youth. But, yeah, I hope we’re gonna find the right time.
MF: What can we look forward to from the shows here? Will you be performing all the hits? Any new songs? What’s your plan?
HP: What we always try to do is have a really good mix of all our ‘greatest hits’ somehow and some special tunes which the fans like and also [tunes] from the early days – from the jumpstyle, hardstyle times, from the Millennium, and up to new tracks. So it’s a real mix of it all, but only the best tunes – the ones that really work live. This really works everywhere we play – and we’re gonna do the same of course in Australia. We are really happy that this time we are performing on stage. It’s not a DJ set like last time. This is what we like most – going out on stage.
MF: Is there a song that will never get stale for you – a song that will always sound great live? Because you must have performed some of your older songs hundred of times.
HP: Yes, of course, like ‘Hyper Hyper’, ‘Move Your Ass!’… – yeah, we play them now for so many years. But the very old ones, mostly we do some kind of medley and we reproduce it with the new kick drum so it sounds more energetic and not so dated – because, if you play the original, nowadays it wouldn’t fit the rest. But it’s still got the same character and the sounds, so we still like it and it sounds fresh. There are some classics, like ‘Call Me Manana’, which has really got a lot of energy, or ‘J’adore Hardcore’, with the shuffle dance… Yeah, there are some tunes, even if they are a bit older, I still really love them and [love] to perform them.
Catch Scooter’s full list of 2018 Australian tour dates right here.