ACCEPT’S WOLF HOFFMANN: THE METALSUCKS INTERVIEW
Old-school thrashers Accept are back with new album Blood of the Nations and U.S. tour with King’s X, and that’s pretty much what they want you to know. Just listen to guitarist Wolf Hoffmann’s enthusiastic refrain of, “We’re back!”
After the jump, Leyla Ford talks with the legendary Accept axeman about getting the band back together, how they hooked up with new lead singer [and TT Quick frontman] Mark Tornillo, the band’s new album, their upcoming U.S. tour and more.
So I hear you’re back?
Yes! We just had some dates in Europe in Istanbul, Turkey and in Bulgaria.
I was actually at the airport in Istanbul when you were but couldn’t make it to the show.
It was a great night and I loved the city. I’ve never been to Istanbul and didn’t know what to expect and I was just blown away at how many people knew about us. That was a great one, one of the best days we had on tour. We only spent an afternoon and night there and had to fly out the next day and I hoped we could come back but no such luck.
You’ll just have to come back when I’m there again. Accept kind of has a history of taking long hiatuses between records. Are you back back or is this just a way to get the inspiration and songs out?
And then go back into another 14 years of hiatus you mean?
Well, I hope not but can’t help wondering…
I think we’re going to run out of time if we do that. No, I think we’re going to stick with this as long as we can. Nobody can look into the future and I’ve learned to be careful with predictions in life but if it’s up to us, we want to keep this going as long as we can. As long as we can stand up there on stage, that’s the goal. We already are talking about the next record and song-writing phase so we have long-term plans.
How excited are you about the new record? What brought it on?
The key moment was when we met [TT Quick frontman] Mark Tornillo by pure luck. The story is, Peter and I met up in May of 2009 and I was visiting him because I was in the area and we wanted to do just a jam session for fun to make some noise and let off some steam. So we did and we invited a local drummer and it was just the both of us, without a singer obviously, and it was then, in the studio, someone said, “Why don’t you give Mark Tornillo a call? He lives close by and is a great singer and might even know some of the older songs.” So we did and he started singing and Peter and I couldn’t believe it, he sounded so perfect! We figured, if Udo was not interested, and he wasn’t — he had just announced a few months prior that he would never be in Accept again — we thought why don’t we try Mark? We had never even thought about re-starting Accept; we always felt that maybe it wasn’t meant to be, maybe Udo is the only one. But when we heard Mark all that flew out the window and we decided to reincarnate the band. That led to the decision to write new songs.
So you had a couple dates in Europe in Turkey and Bulgaria, and there were rumors of a U.S. tour, so is that definitely going to happen?
Yes, just we announced it on our website, www.acceptworldwide.com, you’ll find all the tour dates. On September 9th we’re going to be playing at the Prog-Power Festival in Atlanta, that’s the official kick off, and we ‘re going to do several dates in the States with King’s X.
Will you be playing a mix of the old and new or keep to just new material?
We certainly wouldn’t do that [play just new material]. I keep telling the guys and myself, we’re not really doing these shows for us, we’re doing them for the fans. So what they want to hear we should play. Of course, we’re so excited about this new record because it’s great and the songs are so strong that ideally we’d like to play new songs but we have to take the fans in consideration, so maybe 3-4 new songs and a good dose of old.
You do like playing the older songs right? Not bored to death of them?
Oh absolutely, I mean I understand why Iron Maiden would do something like playing all new songs, and how it can get boring playing the same stuff over again but hey man, you gotta think about the listener.
We appreciate that. So why is “Fast as a Shark” the best song ever?
Well, because it just is. No, no I think a lot of people know it as the first speed metal song ever and you know, there is something to be said about that. It’s probably true! I’ve heard from many people that it’s what inspired them to start this whole thrash genre and to take it even further, and a lot of speed metal songs have been written after that but maybe “Fast as a Shark” was the very first one.
Back to the new album; any favorite, any titles that stand out that you’re raring to play and introduce?
We’ve already pre-released “Teutonic Terror” as a video and also live which was a huge success, and that surprised us because who could have known it would be such a big success? So people know that song already and we have been playing it live and it’s been going over really, really well, as well as “The Abyss,” so they’re up there already as favorites. But I can’t wait to try out some of the others as well. Personally I would love to play “No Shelter” a lot. That’s gonna be fun, and “Pandemic” of course. There are so many songs on this record that we want to try them all, maybe rotate them live, do a different set list every night maybe?
We’d have to follow you around the country then, to hear all of them.
Do you think this current line-up is what’s making everything come together so well? Making “the magic happen,” so to speak?
Absolutely. I think the band is in a better state than it has been in a long, long time, maybe ever. We’ve all been pulling in the same direction and we all know what this means to us. We’ve all done different things in life but getting the chance to be out there with our fans again is remarkable, we all really appreciate it. You have to remember that when we met Mark, none of us were actively making music, we were all doing something else. Here we are now, thrown back into the music scene, and it’s amazing especially for Mark, if you think about it. It’s almost like a movie; he gets a phone call and thinks he’s just going to do some jam session and maybe get an autograph or something and in the end he gets the job and the next thing he knows, he’s in Moscow in the Red Square and going to all these places he would never have otherwise been to, like Istanbul! And meeting all these fans… at times we’ve played in front of 80,000 people, all because of a phone call. Of course on a different scale this all goes for the rest of us, we were never really thinking about doing all this but now that we are, we’re totally excited.
Do you have any favorite places that you’d like to go back to?
I’ve always liked Scandinavia, especially Sweden. Of course, Germany’s my home. I’m from there and I know it very well so I’d like to go there. But yes, Sweden has always been a special place to me, I’ve always liked it a lot. And other than that, the more exotic the better. I’d love to go to Asia, maybe even Australia, New Zealand! How about that!
I’m sure you’re picking up plenty of good stories on the road. Any ones you’d like to share?
There’s so many of them and I can never remember when I’m asked. But when we all sit around and talk there are always stories. Peter and I have been in a band together for 30 years so we always have stories that make us crack up. Especially in the ‘80s when we toured with so many acts like Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest and Motley Crue. I mean there was always stuff happening. I remember Ozzy coming into a our dressing room once, dressed as a woman, I still have a picture of that. He wore Sharon’s dress. That was good fun.
So any last words to add? Anything you want to touch on, get more people interested in the band?
I mean quite honestly I just want spread the word that we’re back and we mean business. We want to stay around and for anyone who is interested, check out the video online at our site or go to Youtube or Facebook or wherever all these things are nowadays. You’ll find so much stuff about Accept online nowadays it’s really quite amazing. If you’re really interested, you’ll find it. Like I said, I’m totally thrilled to be back in the saddle again, to be out there doing what I love best, playing guitar and shredding away. There’s really not a whole lot in life that’s better than that.
One last thing, German band websites and I don’t have a good history. The Scorpions still owe me a shirt and Tobias Sammet’s sends me the same updates about 40 times a day. How is yours working out?
Don’t hold it against me! Blame it on me if anything goes wrong with ours but not the Scorpions [affects heavy German accent]. I have nothing to do with it! Haha, all those damn Germans they’re all alike right?