Were you taken aback when you read news of another full-length album from the Scorpions years after they announced their retirement plans? Don't feel bad -- the band was surprised, too.

"We only wanted to finally record some song ideas for the fans, which we had worked on in the past but never put on an album, and then release them without much fanfare," guitarist Matthias Jabs recalled in an article posted at the official Scorpions site. But the sessions, helmed by producers Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hansen, quickly turned more productive.

"We quickly had eight songs, which partly had to be finalized first and were then recorded from scratch. During the work, increasingly new song ideas were added from our end, as well as from [Andersson and Hansen]," continued Jabs. "We had so much fun working and suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of the songwriting process once again. And in the end, it turned out to be a brand new Scorpions album after all."

The new album, 'Return to Forever,' arrives Feb. 20, 2015, as part of a 50th-anniversary celebration that includes a run of new tour dates. For guitarist Rudolf Schenker, it's all a little surreal.

"Not long ago I found an old cash account book of my mom's, in which she meticulously recorded the earnings and expenses of my band Scorpions 50 years ago," he said. "My parents had lent me the money for the first equipment back then, and it had to paid off in installments from the earnings. Fifty years are a long time. Apart from us, at most the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys or the Who managed to do that. In that sense, the timing for the new album is perfect, we're celebrating half a decade of Scorpions with the record and the upcoming tour."