Accept were the quintessential Euro-metal band. Long popular in North America, Accept were often compared to Scorpions with whom they shared traits like being German, breaking internationally, working with Dieter Dierks, having so-called sexist covers and so on.
Accept were always heavier though, venturing into speed realms. Formed in 1971 in Solingen in Germany's infamous Ruhrgebiet, the band and Udo Dirkschneider had its roots in early incarnations where the diminutive front man Udo Dirkschneider had picked the group's moniker from a Chicken Shack album. An early version of the band featured Michael Wagner who would go on to produce bands like Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper and saw many line-up changes. Having made contact with the German label Brain Records, the band finally got the opportunity to record an album. The band's appearance in 1976 at Rock Amrhein Festival had already brought the band regional attention. The band's early albums made one thing clear, namely that Accept is here to say. The mixture of the ever-heavier metal, throaty vocals, double axe attack and a fantastic live show featuring the charismatic Udo in a paratrooper's outfit was just the icing on the cake of quality and memorable compositions. The band is augmented for the second effort with roadie-turned-drummer Kaufmann and later manager (and later Mrs Hoffmann) Gaby Hauke (a.k.a. Deaffy) who also helps with the song writing. While Hermann Frank is enlisted as a guitarist prior to the recording of 1983's Restless And Wild, it is Hoffmann who lays down the guitar tracks for an album that will become one of the greatest metal classics of all time with songs like Princess Of The Dawn, the title track and Fast As A Shark going down a storm. The latter song accords the band a fascist tag for its German folk introduction - something the band has to fight for years to overcome. The band now on a major label, releases Balls to The Wall with the title adapted from an earlier review of the band's music and this time has to contend with accusations of homosexuality given the suspect choice of cover and thematic lyrics. Seeming no worse for it, Accept marches on, having produced another classy metal affair, and even going as far as scoring a hit single with London Leather Boys (hmmm...). The album's title track is made into a video with the image of a singing Udo riding high on a wrecking ball not to be easily forgotten.
Metal Heart follows with as much success. The band has employed producer Dieter Dierks to give the band a more accessible sound. Jorg Fischer is back in the band and the album yielded yet another metal anthem with its brilliant title track. To capitalize on Metal Heart's more melodic sound, Accept tours America with Krokus. With the band at the zenith of its popularity, Accept surveys the land and liking what it sees releases Russian Roulette - an album that beats the day's speed metal up-starts at their own game. Russian Roulette was earlier announced as War Games, but with the producers of the American movie of the same name writing in via their legal team the band rethinks the title. Russian Roulette sees the band taking old friends Dokken on the road as support.
As oft happens, the band is hindered by a crisis from within at the height of its success. The members (here lead by guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes) are looking at capitalizing on their success and taking the band into a more radio-friendly direction better suited to the US market. UDO has a distinctly radio-unfriendly voice and is in favour of staying the course. It is easy, therefore, to predict that when Accept splits into UDO on one side and the other members at the other end complete with a new and American vocalist, it is with the former that the fans park their allegiance. In a strange twist to the story, it is the former band-mates who pen and play the tunes for Udo's first solo album.
While ex-Baby Tuckoo singer Rob Armitage is announced as Accept's new singer, it is the Yankee, David Reece, who gets the job. A cocky Reece is soon seen on Much Music reminding the audience that Accept and Udo could not have gone any further and all the audience had to do is take another look at Dirkschneider's height! Eat The Heat being a commercial flop and Reece's habits leading to blows with the band members on the road, the band invites Dirkschneider back at the end of 1992 and releases Objection Overruled in 1993. At this time, the band invited Arjen Lucassen formerly of Bodine and also of Vengeance to join as a second guitarist. According to the Dutch guitarist, he spent about a week with Accept rehearsing for a tour of one-and-a-half months, but upon returning home to pack his bags Accept's manager Gaby contacted him to inquire if Lucassen meant to remain in Accept full-time. Lucassen, concurrently having other projects, declined and was consequently dropped by Accept from the tour's line-up as well. Lucassen incidentally would have a similar experience as a member of Kingdom Come later. The band is not going to last much longer though and with the old problems rearing their heads again (Predator features Baltes on vocals on three songs - he had already sang on songs like The King, No Time To Lose, etc.), the band splits up for good. Udo and Kaufmann (his recurrent back problems had forced him to allow UDO's Schwarzmann play some drum tracks on the last Accept album) go on to success with UDO and preserve the spirit of Accept.
A collection of live material, compiled mostly by Kaufmann, appeared in mid-2002 to celebrate the legacy of the German heavy metal act. This DVD was entitled Metal Blast From The Past.
In late 2004, the band surprised the world by reforming for a string of live shows in 2005 including Wacken Open Air. The band's line-up featured Udo Dirkschneider, guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes, as well as guitarist Hermann Frank and drummer Francesco Jovino. The band would also play in Europe and Japan. New music was not planned. Later on former drummer (also of UDO and Helloween fame) Stefan Schwarzmann joined the fold.
Former bassist Peter Baltes opened a music school called the Rockfactory in Newtown, Pennsylvania in 2006. He also recorded music for the new white metal project of former Anthrax man Dan Spitz in 2008. Another one comes back! Former Accept And Victory guitarist Herman Frank was back in early 2009 to will release a solo record, entitled Loyal To None, on February 27th through Metal Heaven Records. The self-produced album features singer Jiotis Parachidis (Human Fortress and Victory), bassist Peter Pichl (Running Wild) and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann (Helloween, Udo, Accept And Krokus). Peter Baltes, who had been in the USA for the last 25 years, recruited friend Tim Laidlaw to form a new Christian band called 4 Inch Nails. Baltes was also involved with Dan Spitz of Anthrax in another Godly band later announced as Deuxmonkey. Following rumours in the middle of 2009 that Accept was reuniting without singer and founder Udo Dirkschneider the group picked up Mark Tornillo, former singer for New Jersey metal band TT Quick as a frontman. With guitarist Wolf Hoffman and bassist Peter Baltes jamming, the latter had earlier uttered words hinting at a reunion. A new Accept album was due later in the year. Guitarist Herman Frank and drummer and Stefan Schwarzmann were also part of the band. The group insisted that Udo was asked, and declined, to join the group. The founding singer would assess the band’s chances with the new singer as weak in a subsequent interview. Udo, in the meantime, would release his Dominator album in August through AFM. The new Accept, featuring American vocalist Mark Tornillo (ex-TT Quick), would appear live for the first time on May 8th, 2010 at New York City's Gramercy Theatre. The band had recorded an album tentatively called Blood Of The Nations with Andy Sneap and was seeking a label. The band had been booked for the Rock Hard festival in Germany and was performing ‘secret’ and not so secret shows in Europe. The band signed with Nuclear Blast Records. Recorded at Backstage Studio in England with producer Andy Sneap, Accept’s reformation studio album, Blood Of Nations, was the debut of new vocalist Mark Tornillo formerly of New York’s TT Quick. The album was due in September. The reunited Accept would be the opener for two AC/DC shows on May 25th in Hanover and June 13th in Stuttgart, Germany. The band was performing a 12-date tour of Europe following its May 8th sold-out show in NYC. A Twitter bug was then discovered by a Turkish Accept fan whose 'Twitter Pwns' statement lead to a torrent of followers and many follower counts being reset to zero recently while the social media resolved the issue. Nuclear Blast Records issued a single called The Abyss in May in advance of the band’s full-length. Accept signed a Japanese deal with Universal for the release of Blood Of The Nations album. It would be released in Japan on September 4th. Nuclear Blast issued a North American mail-order digi-pak of Accept’s Blood Of The Nations album, which featured the bonus track Time Machine. Blood Of The Nations, the new album from the regrouped Accept, debuted at #187 on The Billboard 200 chart, #170 on the Top Current Albums chart and on the #41 Independent (current) Albums chart. In Canada, the album debuted at #53 on the Nielsen Soundscan Top Hard Albums chart. Swedish sextet Sabaton would embark on its first tour of North America as direct support to label mates Accept. The tour was scheduled to begin in April, 2011.
Udo Dirkschneider recorded a Christmas song for the European music and merchandise mail-order company EMP in 2010. The track Jingle Balls was written by several EMP employees and was a version of the Christmas song Jingle Bells and the Accept song Balls To The Wall. UDO's own new album, Rev-Raptor, was now delayed to May following guitarist Stefan Kaufman's back injuries. Jingle Balls was released under the band name Evil Disposition and was available from Musicload and Amazon. All proceeds would be donated to PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals). Accept was touring Russia in March. The band was next hitting South America. Accept played as a four-piece at its concert in Houston, Texas on May 7th of 2011 after the band's guitarist, Herman Frank, suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung after falling off the stage in San Antonio.
In an interview with Fearshop former Accept/current U.D.O. singer Udo Dirkschneider revealed that he did not accept to be a part of another Accept reunion because he had asked his former band-mates to grant him the rights to the name should the reunion not go well. Apparently, in spite of Dirkschneider being the band’s founder guitarist Wolf Hoffmann has the rights to the band name. Accept had its show at this year's Bang Your Head!!! festival in Germany in 2011 filmed for a DVD release. Accept picked Stalingrad as the title for its next album, which was due out in April of 2012 through Nuclear Blast Records. The album was produced by producer Andy Sneap again. Queensrÿche, Accept, Dokken and Msg were booked for 2012’s South Texas Rock Fest, on Saturday, October 13th at Sunken Gardens in San Antonio, Texas. In 2013, Accept was headlining several European festivals, working on a new album and a live DVD and CD. The band was compiling material for an anthology documentary spanning the group’s history. Accept contracted with Hellbrecht Optics to launch the Accept line of sunglasses. Ironically, the band’s Blind Rage album was due in July through Nuclear Blast. It was produced by producer Andy Sneap. A European tour was to follow. Nuclear Blast signed Panzer. The new German project was comprised of vocalist and bassist Schmier of Destruction, guitarist Herman Frank of Accept and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann also of Accept. Panzer's debut album, Send Them All To Hell, would be released on November 28. Accept’s new album, Blind Rage, entered the German chart at the No. 1 position. Drummer Stefan Schwarzman and guitarist Herman Frank left Accept in late 2014. The duo would continue with Panzer. In an interview Frank lamented his not being permitted to write songs for Accept. The group announced the addition of guitarist Uwe Lulis (Grave Digger) and drummer Christopher Williams to the group's ranks. They replaced guitarist Herman Frank and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann who left in December of 2014 due to limited participation room and to focus on their own band, Panzer. Former Accept and U.D.O. singer Udo Dirkschneider would tour as Dirkschneider in 2016 where he would perform Accept songs for the last time before he closes the chapter on those songs for good. Accept, with new singer Mark Tornillo, was continuing on. Former singer Udo Dirkschneider was touring Europe only using the ‘Farewell to Accept’ monicker playing Accept songs one last time before ceaseing to perform those songs. Udo was also recording a DVD of the shows. Udo Dirkschneider would then also conduct a North American tour in January 2017 to play Accept songs one last time before completely moving on. Back To The Roots - Farewell To Accept begins on January 5th. Accept released a live package called Restless And Live on January 13th 2017 through Nuclear Blast. It featured Accept’s show at 2015's Bang Your Head festival in Balingen, Germany on DVD and CD.
There is little which needs to be said except that Accept is a heavy metal legend. Thanks to singer Udo Dirkschneider, guitarists Wolf Hoffmann and Jorg Fischer, bassist Peter Baltes, drummer Stefan Kaufmann and manager/song writer Gaby Hauke a.k.a. Deaffy (and later Mrs. Hoffmann), Accept is the soul, power and life of many a metal fan. This is why a long introduction is not necessary. For Accept's name is synonymous with a thousand words in its own right. This then is www.metallian.com's way of paying tribute to a band which will always remain the embodiment of heavy metal. Below is the transcript of an interview conducted by Ali "The Metallian" with Wolf Hoffmann. Lasting several hours, and ending past midnight on a cool spring night, the two reminisce Accept's story with the result brought to you with minimal editing. - 17.06.2002
WOLF: I can only tell from when I joined the band which was '76. It worked like this: the band was already named Accept. They had played locally and in social places. They were looking for another guitar player and so I joined. Six months later Peter Baltes joined on bass and, in my mind and everybody else's mind, the real Accept started to happen then, but there always used to be years and years and years before I joined there used to be this band called Accept. And Udo was in it too, but they kinda were more amateur and of course I was an amateur then too, everybody was. (From that point) we took things a little bit more seriously and after a few maybe a year or so things started to roll.
METALLIAN: Was it a one-guitar band or were you replacing someone at that point?
WOLF: I did replace somebody and it was always a two-guitar player band from the first.
METALLIAN: Who did you replace at that point?
WOLF: His name was Gerd Wahl.
METALLIAN: What was the story behind your joining the band? You didn't live in Solingen, where Accept was based, but in Wuppertal. How did you end up in a band in another town given how Accept wasn't a known band.
WOLF: Well, over there in Germany, all those cities are almost like New Jersey and New York. You just drive over. It's like a twenty minute drive. So I was really from the same, I wasn't from the same neighbourhood, but almost from the same area. In fact, the legal driving age is eighteen in Germany. I wasn't allowed to drive yet. Udo and this Gerd Wahl would pick me up from my parents' house for the first eight months for rehearsals.
METALLIAN: So you would have heard about Accept because the cities were close to each other?
WOLF: Yeah. Somebody told me, 'hey there is this band looking for a guitar player.' You know, you hang around music stores and people tell you and something happens.
METALLIAN: Where had the band name Accept come from?
WOLF: Well, Udo kinda copied it off one of his albums I think. I think it's this infamous Chicken Shack album that I've never heard and never seen. Nobody knows why he named it that and nobody could really figure out why the name Accept has the funny lines on the logo or what the connection was. I could never figure it out. But at that time it was already too late and nobody thought much about it. So we kinda just left it.
METALLIAN: Of course, by now the band is bigger than the name, so you could have been called anything.
WOLF: Yeah, thank God we never you know we probably would not have come up with anything that was much better. We never had to sit around and think about what we're going to name ourselves. It was always already the fact.
METALLIAN: I read years ago that Accept was initially called Band-X.
WOLF: No. That must have been one of Udo's little projects. You know Udo's always been like about ten years older than everybody else in the band. At that time, when I joined I was about sixteen or seventeen and Udo was already, in my mind, an old man at 28 maybe. So he was always telling me stories about what happened way back when with the band. He had this long he had been doing it for ten years and longer before I even picked up a guitar you know.
METALLIAN: At which point was (later Accept, Hammerfall, etc. producer) Michael Wagner in the band?
WOLF: I have nooo idea. It's all a mystery. Michael Wagner guitar playing he said I think to tell you the truth, I think he kinda doodled around with Udo in a sort of a living room there for like a few weeks and that was the extent of it. I don't think they ever played live, I don't think they ever recorded anything. It was just I don't know, they were just friends. Something, so he wasn't really ever in an official Accept band as far as I am concerned. But whatever, I don't care. You know what I mean? It happened aeons ago, before I was even in the band.
METALLIAN: Can you talk about your background including your family and childhood?
WOLF: Well, I was born a poor black child (laughs). No, let's see, I would say upper middle-class, no not upper middle but good middle class. You know in Germany there is this huge middle-class. My dad was a chemistry professor and my mom was a homemaker and brought her kids up. I went to good schools and was still at school when I joined Accept.
METALLIAN: What was the name of your school?
WOLF: Oh God, that's a tough name. It was called (spells it out) Wilhelm Doerpfeld. There is a different school system over there and that was my school for nine years. From age ten to eighteen.
METALLIAN: Is that school still there?
WOLF: Oh yeah.
METALLIAN: Have you been back?
METALLIAN: Do you have any siblings?
WOLF: Yes, a sister. She is one year older and her name is Christina. She's still in Germany.
METALLIAN: How did you get into this style of music? I understand it wasn't heavy metal per se, but it was getting there.
WOLF: The term heavy metal didn't even exist then. It was called "hard rock." People would say what we did was hard rock. Then somebody came up with the term heavy metal along the line which I think was for (pauses) Ozzy Black Sabbath or whatever. Anyhow, I got into it by accident in a way. I was never really, I mean was listening to different stuff. I was like a Jethro Tull kinda guy. I listened to Steely Dan believe it or not. I love AC/DC though always did. But I was never a sort of a heavy metal guy. It's just one of those things.
METALLIAN: You were not Uli Jon Roth.
WOLF: I loved him. He was great.
METALLIAN: I think I can hear that opinion in your playing on the song Down And Out.
WOLF: Down And Out, eh? Yeah, he was somewhat of an influence. Here and there I tried to play a little like him, but I could never really master it. He was really good a class by himself. Too bad he didn't write good songs and kinda flipped out. His singing was horrible and his songwriting kinda weird. But man, his guitar playing was unlike anything else. On his albums there were these little things when he just cranked it out, it was unbelievable, but the rest was terrible.
METALLIAN: Were you in any other bands before joining Accept?
METALLIAN: Did you have a music teacher?
WOLF: Yes, I had a music teacher at school, but of course it was all classical stuff and was boring and I didn't really participate and didn't play. I did have some guitar lessons. I did go to public lessons at almost like a community school, you know? It was like a community centre with guitar lessons where like on Tuesdays they have guitar lessons and on Wednesdays Arabic music and on Thursdays ballet or something else. It was like ten lessons for twenty bucks. I got the basics. So, at least, I knew where some of the notes are on the guitar neck, basic, basic things. No licks or riffs or anything like that.
METALLIAN: Do you remember your guitar teacher's name?
WOLF: Hell no!
METALLIAN: What was your area like growing up? How was the atmosphere in the '70s?
WOLF: My town Wuppertal was an industrial town, maybe a little depressed, but not terribly depressed. Depressed is such a harsh word, but it wasn't terribly exciting either. It was a pretty good place to grow up. Hardly any crime and we could go out in the middle of the night, get drunk and take the last trolley car. We always took the last trolley car back home. We would go and drink beer when we were fifteen or sixteen and have a good old time. It was fairly conservative my upbringing. I wasn't like nothing too exciting. I wasn't a foster kid or a run-away from home, none of that shit. Eat well, sleep and behave. My sort of rebellion against all this was the metal band. That sorta attracted me to it. It was pretty easy to make friends when you are in a band. You always meet somebody exciting. You meet the cool people and you want to be like them and all that shit. When you are a teenager you are easily impressed with the people in a band. I wanted to be cool as well.
METALLIAN: Who was Dieter Rubach?
WOLF: He was the bass player before Peter joined.
METALLIAN: Were you in the band at that point?
WOLF: Yeah, I was in the band with Dieter for about six months, like I said before, before Peter came in.
METALLIAN: Do you know where he went or what happened to him?
WOLF: Er shit, he joined some local band. I have no idea.
METALLIAN: Who was Birke Hoe?
METALLIAN: Birke Hoe.
WOLF: Birke Hoe (laughs)! That was another one of those obscure pre-members. I've never even met the guy. How do you come up with these names? Gosh! That's almost like a joke. We used to joke about this guy! Udo sometimes used to tell stories about this guy and we never met him and I have never met him.
METALLIAN: What did he play in the band?
WOLF: I have no idea.
METALLIAN: Let us move on then to Jan Kommet.
WOLF: Yeah, he was in the band for a short well, you know there was this whole Jorg Fischer in and out scenario? He left and we got him back and so the story was we fired Jorg and his first replacement, I think, was Jan Kommet. Yeah. He was alright, but didn't last very long. He was sort of, I think we played one show with him, maybe not even that. He didn't play on a record and then we got Herman Frank instead of him. Actually Jan wrote me an email there the other day. After all these years. I can't believe it.
METALLIAN: Where is he?
WOLF: He is in Germany and he has a sort of a music-related job. I want to say maybe a lighting designer or something like that.
METALLIAN: When was he in the band?
WOLF: Oh, I don't know. I can only guess. No man, I will probably guess wrong. I am just going to say '81. I could be wrong. I don't know.
METALLIAN: Stepping back, how and at which point did Accept get signed?
WOLF: That was actually a somewhat remarkable little incident. That only happened very fast. I joined the band one day and six months later Peter joined the band and another six months later we participated in a competition festival kinda thing with judges and a panel and all that stuff and the first prize was to be a record deal. We played this kind of a loud and aggressive, probably pretty bad, metal. We didn't win. But, there was this guy in the audience who was looking for talent who owned a recording studio and he brought us up to his place and recorded some demos and those turned into our first record deal. In essence we got our deal through playing at that festival.
METALLIAN: Was this company Brain Records?
METALLIAN: Did the demo become your debut or are they two separate recordings?
WOLF: Very similar. I am not sure that it actually became the album. I think we re-recorded most of it. But it helped us spend maybe two weeks making demos and another two or three weeks recording the album. Maybe we kept some of the demo stuff I don't remember.
METALLIAN: The early music comprising the debut and parts of the follow-up hints at boogie and AC/DC. Later you are described as Euro-metal. How do you see this?
WOLF: Well, I don't really see that boogie First of all I don't think AC/DC is boogie. I mean we've always been influenced by AC/DC, but in my mind probably more, way more later on. On the first record I don't hear any AC/DC at all. In fact, I don't think we knew much about AC/DC those days to tell you the truth. We had heard of it, but didn't know how to I would say we weren't much aware of AC/DC in those days. We were just playing songs that we had always played. It was material that had gathered up over the first few months and years of our existence and it was a mixture of all kinds of stuff. There are ballads there that Peter sang, sounds of war kind of songs, but it was in all different directions almost. It didn't have some sort of direction to it in my mind. You know, it was funny in those days. It was different, nobody expected us to sell a whole lot of records with the first record. I think we sold maybe 3,000 records. Then everybody though, 'ah, OK, let's try again.' Maybe number two or album number three will be better. Nobody was putting on the pressure like you have today. The first one has to sell or else. Nobody expected us to be a huge success overnight either. And then on record number two I remember we tried and everybody else tried to make it a little more radio-friendly maybe. Make a video for I'm A Rebel. That's the only song we ever covered. It was a song, there's an AC/DC influence if anywhere, written by one of the brothers from the Young (AC/CD founders) family. That I'm A Rebel song was a sort of a leftover AC/DC song. We were a little more conscious of AC/DC then.
METALLIAN: The writer you refer to is George Alexander.
WOLF: Aha. He got involved with Accept through the producer. Everybody after the first record said we have to have a radio hit. 'Guys you need a radio hit and we have just the song for you. Why don't you try this here?' Actually, I wish I still had that. That would be a rarity these days. They brought in a tape with (deceased AC/DC vocalist) Bon Scott singing I'm A Rebel! It was with that old AC/DC line-up! It was awesome. It was incredible and way better than our version. I mean I remember it today, it was way cool. We liked the song and said we'll try it. This George Alexander guy came in and coached us a little bit how he wanted it and we played it. In fact, we didn't really like the guy. I don't think he really cared. I don't think he liked us very much. We didn't like him pretty much. In those days we didn't know what he meant when he was talking about terms, legal terms. We were too green.
METALLIAN: Who was Lady Lou?
WOLF: I don't know. Nobody! Here is a story for you: before we went to Udo really didn't speak English very well in those days. Now he does, but then he didn't. He didn't learn it at school and he was just basically mouthing words that sounded like English. So a lot of times we used to perform live, playing songs and he didn't have any lyrics. They sounded almost like he would sing something, but a lot of times it was just (makes garbled almost baby noises), you know stuff that he made up that sounded like English! And I think Lady Lou and a lot of that bullshit comes out of those. I actually remember trying to sit down with a dictionary and trying to decipher what he was going to sing there. Half the stuff didn't really mean anything just syllables and blah blah blah. So I think Lady Lou came out of that nonsense. Lady la la lo'what are you singing there?' OK, we'll call it Lady Lou! Who cares? None of the lyrics means anything on that record pretty much. I mean it's all hilarious. People always think there's deep meaning in everything you do. I mean maybe with some artists there is, but certainly not with those early lyrics.
METALLIAN: The third album arrives and it seems to be your first major break. Your sound has changed here.
WOLF: Well (thinks), what were we doing differently that would have changed it? Maybe we knew that the old approach from the record before didn't work very well. So we were saying 'fuck it, let's just do what we think is right. Let's not try to be somebody else, let's not try to have a radio hit anymore.' That's probably what happened. Again, I don't exactly recall all those details.
METALLIAN: About this time there was an American album called Midnight Highway. Was that the US edition of Breaker?
WOLF: It's a bootleg. That's distributed everywhere. I have seen that thing everywhere. Is that the one with the motorcycle chick on the cover with the big nose? Yeah, she's got a big, ugly nose on her. That's not the American Breaker, oh no!
METALLIAN: Can you say a few words about one of my favourite songs here, namely Midnight Highway.
WOLF: Well, if anything maybe that was a sort of a semi-commercial attempt on that record. I remember it being fairly poppy and (sings the melody) a little too happy for my tastes. I mean I wasn't opposed to it, I probably helped write it but it was almost a poppy kind of a song.
METALLIAN: Yes, it is a catchy song. Also from the same period, is Burning actually a live song or just a studio dub of a crowd?
WOLF: Yeah, it was a fake. It wasn't live.
METALLIAN: Let's talk about the song Son Of A Bitch. Was there a version where the title was changed to Born To Be Rich and another version where again it had changed to Born To Be Whipped?
WOLF: No, the single version was just Born To Be Whipped. It was just another gimmick we came up with. We thought it was just cool to have all these swear words in a song. We had this American girlfriend who was over and was staying with us in Germany for a while. She was actually a girlfriend of Don Dokken in those days. Don Dokken, in those days, recorded in Hamburg and we knew him and she hung around us and blah blah blah. For a while she was or she wanted to be Stefan's girlfriend but she never was. But she wasn't a groupie either. She was just a friend. So we constantly asked her, 'what's the worst you can say? Tell us.' She would say words like Son Of A Bitch, Motherfucker, Sucking Motherfucker, all these things. We were like (mimics German accent) 'Cool, cool, cool,' and so a little bit later we made a song with all these words in it. That was Son Of A Bitch, because we were goofing around and were stupid and thought it was fun.
METALLIAN: Do you recall her name?
WOLF: She's dead now. She died later in L.A. I think. She was on drugs and she went down the drain. No, I don't remember her name. One of those tragic stories of someone not getting it together. No, can't remember her name.
Then obviously we thought we can't print those, because in those days we had the lyrics printed on the record. To get around it we thought we'll change the lyrics for the single or something. Oh no (recalls), that was for the British market. We had to change it because the British were so uptight about this kind of stuff that you couldn't possibly release the record over there with a song called Son Of A Bitch. So we said let's make it something similar and do it over. We just re-recorded the vocal tracks for that song.
METALLIAN: Am I correct that it is at this point in time that you lose Jorg Fischer? What brought on his departure?
WOLF: Gosh (thinks a little) I can't remember for sure when that happened. I think it happened after we recorded the album, or perhaps during the recording. I think (thinks somewhat) I can't remember, somewhere around those days (laughs). Well, he was sort of the lamest of us all. He was always late, he was always tired, he was always sort of not interested. That's right (remembers), he played on Breaker, of course. I ended playing a lot of the guitar tracks anyhow. Again, he was never on time, never had his shit together and was always more ambitious and I was always first in line. Yeah, finally we said we need somebody else. He is not contributing enough. We kicked him out!
METALLIAN: Something which always made me wonder is how the next album, Restless And Wild, sounds different from your previous work; yet it exclusively features your playing. One would have thought the new sound is due to a new guitarist called Herman Frank.
WOLF: Well, he did play on the record. We felt we always represented a two-guitar player band and we needed somebody else on the record and the album cover. He joined around that time, but being the new guy in the band there wasn't enough time for him to get adjusted and we asked whether the time would be better spent with me playing the album. Especially with two-guitar parts, they need to be identical or they sound pretty terrible. Rather than training someone for hours and hours to play, I said why not just do the guitars twice and we are done. We just trained him to do it live with more time and stuff. You know, studio time is more expensive than rehearsal time so we just concentrated on playing live with him. I think he did play some little snippets on the record somewhere or maybe not I don't know. But certainly most, if not all, is my playing on that record.
METALLIAN: Is this because you had a studio already booked and there was no time to show him the parts?
WOLF: Partly, maybe, the other thing was this was another new guy after Jan Kommet. So this was already the second time around that we tried to teach somebody to do it and I was getting a little tired of that.
METALLIAN: Where did you find Herman Frank?
WOLF: He was playing in a band at military clubs in Germany. Somebody recommended somebody and it's just one of those things. I remember going down there and checking him out and he was good, he could go, he could come. All these American soldiers are in Germany and they have these clubs with live entertainment and German bands play Top 40 music at these clubs. He was in band and played these clubs. That's what he did.
METALLIAN: In other words he wasn't a metal guitarist.
WOLF: Well, kinda, you know they played rock stuff. They played pretty heavy duty stuff.
METALLIAN: His later work with bands like Hazzard, etc. were rather good heavy metal.
WOLF: I don't think I have ever heard any of his material after he left. Yeah maybe I have heard Victory. Of course I have heard of them obviously. I can't really recall listening to them.
METALLIAN: It was around this time that you developed the classic Accept double Flying V pose. Was this a marketing move or did you stumble into it?
WOLF: Let's see. Gaby was joining the band as a manager and she was probably the one who worked on our live show with the double guitar thing and it became a distinct marketing and trademark thing. It was to bring attention to us and make us different than others. We deliberately worked on that. The Flying V's were kinda unique and we had choreographed. The movements on stage were kinda new and made the whole live aspect a bigger thing than it was before.
METALLIAN: Well, it worked. I remember all the posters of that pose from that era with Udo standing in the middle of the guitarists.
WOLF: Yeah, it worked. I mean it was Gaby's idea pretty much.
METALLIAN: Did the band actually play those Gibson Flying V's prior to this time or was that simply an image thing.
WOLF: Yeah, we kinda did. I mean some of the time.
METALLIAN: How did Udo's paratrooper outfit come about?
WOLF: That was actually an idea from a friend of ours. We loved the idea. It was unheard of. On the first couple of records Udo had long hair and stuff and this guy came and said, 'I know what you need. You need military uniform and short hair!' First we were going (makes a chuckling sound). Then we thought that it would actually be kinda cool. We talked Udo into doing it and he was game. Cool, here we are!
METALLIAN: Who was this friend of yours?
WOLF: Yeah, he actually was a musician himself. He made several records himself. I haven't even heard them. (Thinks)Alex Parche!
METALLIAN: Didn't Udo sing in his band for a while?
WOLF: He did something with them. I don't think he was in the band, but they were always good friends that's right. Alex Parche played in another local band with this guy called Veltinger. You probably didn't hear of them. It's very German, they sang in German and very punkish and kinda fun.
METALLIAN: Let's revert to Restless And Wild. Wasn't this the first Accept album to chart?
WOLF: I don't think so. I mean maybe here and there, like Readers' Chart or a magazine's charts. It certainly didn't chart on the Billboard.
METALLIAN: What can you say about the sound you achieved on the album?
WOLF: I never thought of it, to this day, sometimes I wonder why people like it so much! I mean I thought it was OK. Great, I am glad we did it. After the fact it got elevated to this status which none of us felt at the time. It was just another record. After the years went by more and more people came up and were saying stuff about the album that it was great, blah blah. We were like, 'yeah, really? Great!' You know what I mean? It was fun, but it didn't feel any different. We always tried to give our best and we always had a lot of pride in our musicianship and craftsmanship, but it never felt like this was a breakthrough or a milestone. Maybe after, looking back, we said maybe people have a point, but at the time none of us realized it. Looking back maybe we think Fast As A Shark was the first speed metal song ever, but at the time we sorta just had fun and we didn't think it was anything dramatically new. Obviously, maybe what was so cool about this time was that we weren't thinking so much. We were just ballsy and tried to do things without having much to lose. Later on in your career, you're always freaking out about what people are offended by and what people expect, about what the Japanese want and what do the others want. You always evaluate things, but in those days we didn't have all that. It was all fresh, it was fun and we just did it boom! You can't recreate that later by just trying harder. We tried that a million times later and said let's just pretend we are twenty-one again and you can't do it. It's impossible.
METALLIAN: Are you referring to a certain period later?
WOLF: I don't know - the later records. Any of those later records, we were always thinking what we should do and let's try to recreate how we were. As I said, the more past you already have, the more records you already have done the harder it gets to be fresh and independent and young-at-heart and all that stuff. You always have that baggage that you can't get rid of. You always think people expect you it's one of the hardest things that I found over the years. People expect you to be true to yourself, but at the same time they expect something new each time. How do you keep it new enough, but not boring and how do you keep it old enough? That was very difficult over the years. In the early days we didn't have any of that. Nobody was expecting much of anything and we were just writing and having a good old time.
I can see it in any band it's just the same. Totally. It's one of the reasons why people take so long (to record a new album) the further along their career they take four years to record a frigging new album, when early on it took four weeks. All of a sudden, everyone's super-careful, considering going to the next step, lawyers get involved and everyone has an opinion. Progress is really hard to make then.
METALLIAN: Two things that are always remarked on, beside the song itself when people discuss the song Fast As A Shark, are the screeching record and the supposedly-fascist reference.
WOLF: Well, we just wanted a, actually it's a moment of shame to tell you it was my stupid idea, but I just thought it would be nice to have a children's choir or some stupid, silly German folk song in front of that brutal double bass song just as a total contrast. Then I thought we would have record scratching and Udo screams and it would be a sort of in-your-face contrast. We were recording at Dieter Dierks house and studio and we were looking for a record to use. We went to his mother who was the grandma studio manager, she lived there and asked her if she has any records from when Dieter was a kid. She said 'I do actually' and had this old vinyl which was actually Dieter singing on there. He recorded a bunch of them as a kid with somebody. He wasn't a child star, but was a little singer maybe when he was ten. All these folk songs which were on there were in German and we immediately thought about the meaning of the lyrics and said we can't do this, and that sounds funny and doesn't make any sense and then we came across this section where he just went (starts singing with a shrill voice) 'Heidi Heido Heida' and we thought it sounds perfect because it doesn't have any lyrics. So we put that in front of the song and as a little side joke it's Dieter Dirks singing there. Later on we found out that the German army supposedly sang this song when it marched through Poland and bla bla bla. At that time we had no idea of any of that. It was just a traditional German folk song going back perhaps a hundred years or something.
That was a little frustrating, when we played countries like Hungary, or we tried to play Hungary they wouldn't even let us in because of this, but in Poland and Russia we had to give press conferences explaining our stand against violence, we are not one of them and it never stopped because of this bullshit thing. First of all, being a German band playing in Russia (Soviet Union at the time) it was difficult anyhow and then having this military touch along with it this shit didn't help. It was ridiculous. We always had to explain, but it was one of those things.
METALLIAN: Another song that needs to be mentioned is Neon Nights whose effects were unique.
WOLF: I was experimenting with different pedals and it's a Wah Wah pedal with three or four things all at the same time. I still have them all and still use them. It worked so well. The main ingredient is an octave divider and a Wah Wah pedal. While we were working in the studio I bought a bunch of pedals and, you know, I was always the guy that was constantly for all these years experimenting with new pedals, new guitars, new cords, new speakers, I never stopped doing this stuff. That was one of those lucky accidents where something actually worked well.
METALLIAN: Who was R.A. Diesel?
WOLF: He was a writer who helped us with some of the English words and translation. It was good to work with somebody who was native in English and is talented to put rhymes and words together for rock songs. He was American. Somebody brought him in.
METALLIAN: Whose idea was Princess Of The Dawn? This song is now a classic. Please talk about the distinct instrument one hears as well as the sudden ending.
WOLF: The sudden ending is an idea that didn't work so well. We thought it was a neat trick at the time and it didn't work (laughs). We didn't really have an end for it and we didn't want to save it either. We didn't want to fade it out, so we just thought to cut it off or something. We should have come up with a proper ending for it, but we didn't. It's based on that never-ending repetitious guitar riff.
METALLIAN: Are you saying it's boring?
WOLF: That's what I am saying (laughs).
METALLIAN: Let's go back to the string sound.
WOLF: Oh yeah, that's actually a regular guitar but is recorded at half the speed and played back. (Thinks here) we slowed down the tape and played it back an octave higher and you sort of get this Mickey Mouse mandolin sound.
METALLIAN: Was it played on your Gibson Flying V?
WOLF: Yeah, or the Stratocaster.
METALLIAN: What are the lyrics about? Is it about King Arthur?
WOLF: I have nooo idea. That was before Gaby got involved with the lyrics as well. I hate that King Arthur, castle and dragon shit.
METALLIAN: I originally bought Restless And Wild on cassette. Years later I went back and re-bought the album on CD. Why did that version have a different cover and why were there (again) no lyrics included?
WOLF: Well, I guess in those days we weren't really proud of the lyrics. Just that fact that they were such mumbo jumbo King Arthur nonsense. We all were kinda aware of that and maybe Gaby said we can't put that on the record forget it. I don't know, maybe she didn't say that! Maybe we were smart enough not to do it ourselves. That's when we changed. With (the next album) Balls To The Wall she was involved in the writing for the first time.
Remind me, what were the two covers? Hmmm, yeah why in the world did we do two covers? A lot of times it was the record company too. Hmmm I wonder now actually. Maybe it was one of those things for another country. I don't know. I honestly don't remember. I think we wanted the burning Flying V's. Or perhaps one cover is the back of the other version? I can't remember! Sorry.
METALLIAN: Before moving on to the next album, here is a question that's been on my mind for years: there was a poster of Accept playing an open-air show where the audience is standing on this sharply-sloping hill set right in front of the stage. I always wondered where that was.
WOLF: Now you know, Kalamazoo, Michigan in the US. That was the biggest outdoor show we played until, well perhaps ever. It was over 100,000 people and was with Motley Crue and maybe even Ozzy Osbourne. It was actually an old ski resort. You can see in the audience that there are ski lifts on that hill. This was 1984.
METALLIAN: At this point Accept is a known band with relative success. Yet, the press kept comparing the band to Scorpions. You were always referenced with them. What was the band's reaction?
WOLF: Yeah, it pissed us off a little bit. We didn't like it and Scorpions didn't like it either. We always had better publicity than them and they didn't like it. For one thing, we never played on a tour with them. We avoided that on purpose. We avoided other direct comparisons where we could. We were from the same country and after a while you get tired of hearing it. We didn't really have that much in common with them at all. It was stupid and such a clichÃ©. "The other German band," you know.
METALLIAN: Sometime in this time period, you ask Udo to leave the band. This was relatively unreported at the time and went unnoticed. What really happened?
WOLF: That's actually true. Udo left the band many times over the years unofficially. Man, because it was a struggle from day one. I mean even during the recording of Balls To The Wall we were going back and forth about it. It just wasn't being an easy ride. How can I say it in a nice way? Udo is Udo.
METALLIAN: Was it a personality clash?
WOLF: Yeah that, and he is not a musician-type singer. He can only do his one thing which is sort of frustrating for musicians who want to move on, try different things and expand their horizons and there is this guy who could do the one thing. I mean he's never been part of the band as such. There's always been the band at one end and then Udo. We've never been on the same wavelength as each other. I mean personally, yeah, we got along OK and such, but as far as song writing and creativity there was always two different worlds. Always was and it's essentially one of the reasons we are not together anymore.
METALLIAN: Was there a replacement for Udo at the time?
WOLF: We tried out different things and different guys I guess. We worked with different guys before we realized that the other guys have other mistakes and we didn't find the right guy and we didn't look very hard because we didn't look officially. We couldn't and somehow sort of agreed to try it one more time and it worked I guess. I have forgotten who those replacements were. It wasn't anybody that you would know. Right around when we recorded Balls To The Wall was the first time that I can remember that Udo left.
METALLIAN: What was Udo's reaction to all of this?
WOLF: I don't know. Maybe he wasn't even aware of it I don't know. Oh yeah he was aware of it, of course he was. I don't know. Ask him.
METALLIAN: What can you say about the Balls To The Wall album?
WOLF: Somehow on that album a lot of things came together really well. That's what I remember. I remember in particular about the song Balls To The Wall. It worked really well for me because I had some lyrics idea, some catch phrase and Gaby was doing that for this record. She had a little book where she put all her ideas in and when we would hear a cool phrase or a cool _expression that we thought might be a cool song title she would put it in that little book. I think it was out of a Kerrang article where we heard the phrase 'balls to the walls' for the first time and it said something like 'Accept's music is balls to the walls' or something to that effect and we thought that was cool and so it went in that book. I was looking in that book and I saw that title and I came up with the chorus, the intro riff, showed it to the guys and they loved it. They took it. So the article was the first time we had heard that phrase or idiom. The only difference we made was I added 'baby' at the end (sings 'balls to the walls baby') and when I heard it I said the 'baby' has to go and changed it to 'man'. It became 'balls to the walls man' instead.
METALLIAN: Who was Louis Austin?
WOLF: He recorded the album and then Michael Wagner came in and mixed it. He had worked with Judas Priest before.
METALLIAN: Now I need to bring up all the homosexual innuendo.
WOLF: Oh. Yeah.
METALLIAN: The reason, obviously, is the album cover and songs like London Leatherboys, Love Child, etc.
WOLF: I loved it! No, I never loved it that much, but I think it was Gaby's idea mostly. It was mostly just another idea to be controversial. It was just another taboo area that nobody talked about. You gotta remember that in Germany all that kind of stuff, nobody even raises an eyebrow. I mean people mention it, but they go on. It's mostly the Americans and maybe the Canadians and surely the Japanese, I don't want to say panic when you mention the word, but there is a homosexual phobia almost going on. Nobody in the band was gay or is gay or probably ever will be gay. It was like the lyrics were to play around with the people a little bit and to shake people up. I mean we wouldn't think people would even talk about it. It never crossed my mind that the cover was "gay" or anything. I think it's a little controversial if anything with a guy and a leg. It was out of an art book that had a similar photo in there that inspired us to do it. Perhaps it was a fashion kind of photo or art book I don't know what. So that's the cover. It didn't have a huge meaning. It just worked with that 'balls to the walls' idea. The whole thing was meant to be controversial more than anything not very meaningful.
METALLIAN: You are saying you knew there are gay references, but you consciously went ahead.
WOLF: Oh yeah, totally. The one song where we didn't recognize it and never meant it was London Leatherboys. That was really about a biker gang.
METALLIAN: It does not mention bikers.
WOLF: No, it doesn't. I mean yeah 'leader of the band' etc. kinda talks about it. I don't remember exactly because I wasn't involved with the lyrics. It sounded cool 'London Leatherboys.' It sounded so strong. So there!
METALLIAN: So Udo is not gay.
WOLF: Oh, he is married. He's got two kids. If anything he's not sexual at all. That's the funniest thing, people thought he was gay. It kinda worked well for us so we let it ride and people talked and it was cool. Some people talked about it more than others, but whatever.
METALLIAN: From your answer one understands that wasn't Udo on the cover either.
WOLF: Hell no! It was a boxer, a personal trainer, a muscular kinda guy. Did you think that was Udo?
WOLF: Oh wow!
METALLIAN: Was Screaming For A Love Bite a song you knew would attract controversy?
WOLF: I don't think so. To me it sounded like a Scorpions title it always did. I think Dieter Dierks loved that title so much. He defended it and loved it and we didn't care so we kept it. I was never a big fan of those words. What does it mean? How do you scream for a love bite?
METALLIAN: On the live front, Accept opened for Van Halen, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue and others at 1984's Monsters Of Rock in Germany. What do you recall of that event?
WOLF: It was awesome. Man, that was the homecoming of Accept in a way. It was awesome. We had been out on the road in America for months and months and that was the best year of our career, 1984. We had spent the year opening for these big ass bands like kiss and Ozzy Osbourne and in Germany you don't mean anything unless you have toured the world and then come back to Germany. Then you are a sort of a proven fact. Then people will accept you. If you are just in Germany and stay in Germany then it's much harder or it was in those days. These shows were the first German shows we did after having proven ourselves. That was awesome. The reaction we got was amazing. Goosebumps, you know.
METALLIAN: Do you have any particular memories from those tours?
WOLF: The first thing I think of is how green we were and how serious we took everything. When we were opening for Kiss we shipped this huge backline from Europe. We shipped a whole container over and we had these Marshall stacks three high. We brought everything but the kitchen sink from Germany because we thought we couldn't perform with anything less. Stefan had these huge bass drum chrome monsters which would go over the edge of the stage sometime when we didn't have enough room and it was just like from hell. They were all running too. Everything was wired, everything was blasting. We thought that's what you need to play an arena or a club or whatever. Then we watched Kiss perform and, of course, they had more gear than we had, but none of it was plugged in. It was all empty at the back. You know maybe there was one cabinet running. It was a world shattered for us. I was like vow, we can do that? Funny thing is it sounds a whole lot better if you do that than having six amps at once. It's less noisy, it's easier to control and more manageable. It was like two worlds clashing. We had to be bigger than life and Kiss were bigger than life and didn't have anything. It was all empty in the back. It was all dummies.
METALLIAN: Moving on to Metal Heart in 1985, whose idea was the cover and using two classical pieces to begin the album?
WOLF: The Beethoven intro (Fuer Elise) was my idea. The cover and the title were Gaby's idea. The theme was pretty up-to-date. We had read an article that someone was working on an artificial heart and that one day everybody is going to have a computerized heart. It talked, in general terms, about how more and more of humanity gets sucked out of the daily life and more and more replaced by machine. It's not a new thing now, but then it was new. Humans versus machine, was the general vibe of the record.
METALLIAN: Your classical intro. solo is very cleanly played.
WOLF: It's very easy to play. That part? No, not much (practice went into it). It's easy to do.
METALLIAN: Did you have a video for this album?
WOLF: Yes, there was one for Midnight Mover.
METALLIAN: I have a 7" single from this era, featuring Midnight Mover, which says Accept This Free on the cover and has a black and white picture of the metal heart above it. Can you confirm that this was inserted free-of-charge in all the Metal Heart LPs? I seem to recall that's how it came to me.
WOLF: Oh cool. Well, maybe I knew about it but I have forgotten.
METALLIAN: One year later Accept released its first live record entitled Kasizoku-Ban.
WOLF: That means bootleg in Japanese. This was disguised as a bootleg record. It was our first time in Japan (when we recorded that album).
METALLIAN: Was that tour organized by the famous Mr. Udo, the name-sake of your singer?
WOLF: Yes, it was.
METALLIAN: Why did you record your first live album in a country you were playing in for the first time?
WOLF: Traditionally they have made great live records over there and they are very organized. They have facilities at the live venues that they have already set up. It's very convenient. It was cool. It was great.
METALLIAN: A full-length video was later released with live material. Was this the exact same performance on video?
WOLF: Not sure. My memory is not all there.
METALLIAN: Was Staying A Life from that tour?
WOLF: Yes, partly it is. I am not sure. Most of that was 'home-recorded' on our little video recorder. I had bought a little video 8 which I thought was cool as shit in those days. We taped each other all the time and the live performance and Stefan later edited it all together.
METALLIAN: In 1986 you released Russian Roulette and the impression was that you are tackling and beating the day's speed metal bands at their own game.
WOLF: We weren't trying to do speed metal. We were more inspired by our own song Fast As A Shark. Maybe we were trying sort of go back to our natural and not polished Accept sound with that record. We weren't really all that happy with the polished and clean-sounding Metal Heart. I was sort of very happy with my guitar playing on that record and very happy with my parts, but I remember the whole vibe of the band was at the time that we don't want to go through this again with Dieter Dierks who had produced Metal Heart. You know, he was very rigid and a very time-consuming producer. It wasn't a whole lot of fun at times. It was very tedious and we thought we all want to capture the spirit of Accept better when we produce ourselves like on Balls To The Wall.
METALLIAN: Years later Scorpions complained about Dieter Dierks. They contended they were stuck in a contract with him. Is that similar to your experience?
WOLF: A little bit. It wasn't about (royalty) points with him. It was more about his way of working which was very tedious. He wanted to be a little Mutt Lange (Def Leppard producer). That was his idol. He wanted to be like him. He wanted to take one year per record and work on little milliseconds and do takes 700 times over. We didn't really like that.
METALLIAN: At this point, Accept broke up. There has always been speculation whether it was the intra-band tensions or the direction and speed of Russian Roulette.
WOLF: We didn't really break up. It was that old clash between Udo and the band. It wasn't really the band that broke up, it was Udo that broke up. Or we were tired of Udo and Udo was tired of us. But the band, the core of the band stayed together. We were just trying to find a new singer.
METALLIAN: The band never actually broke up?
WOLF: Well to the outside it looked that way. Actually, in a way, we were still friends with Udo and all that. We just wanted to go a different way and of course that never works.
METALLIAN: Who left whom here?
WOLF: Hmmm hard to say. I don't think we kinda both of us knew it. We didn't fire Udo and Udo didn't walk out. It was more a very mutual decision in a way. In fact, you can see that we helped Udo write for his first album while we were separated from each other. We said we don't want these sort of Accept-sounding songs. We don't want to do them. We said, "Udo do you want to have them?" and he said "yeah, sure!"
METALLIAN: It was a very civil civil war. In contrast which direction did you want to go?
WOLF: We wanted to expand a little. We were sick and tired of doing the same, you know, riffs that we had been doing. We wanted to try a little bit more melodic stuff, a little bit more radio-friendly, a little bit more commercial, acceptable something new. We weren't quite so sure what exactly it would be, and we were trying to find a singer, and to make a long story short, we never did find the right singer.
METALLIAN: Had the band moved to the USA at this point?
WOLF: Part of us did. I certainly did. We worked out of my house in Vermont at that time. I was there and the guys came and stayed with us for a few weeks. I lived in Vermont and Peter started to live in New Jersey where he still is.
METALLIAN: At this point you were auditioning vocalists. Whom were you considering?
WOLF: Nobody famous really. Nobody that you would know. We were listening mostly to tapes and tapes and tapes. Ideally we were looking for somebody who had the guts of Udo, without having the limit of Udo. Somebody who can actually sing a melody and stay on key and still have some sort of Udoness in him, but we didn't really find that.
METALLIAN: At which point was Rob Armitage admitted to the band?
WOLF: He was in the band I don't think he was ever officially in the band. He was more of an extended audition in a way. He was with us for several months and we thought that he is the one. But deep down and after a while we all felt he's not the one. He was a little kid from England, didn't really have any personality at all, had a pretty good voice, couldn't really use his voice very well though and it took a few months to realize all that. We were sorta working with him on the new songs all this time and kinda worked away which is why we lost so many months and months. That's why it took so long to come out with a record, because we lost that much time fooling with him and then we were a little bit in a hurry to find someone to replace him and maybe made the mistake of taking David Reece a little too soon. Maybe we should have kept looking. We kept looking for a while, but time was running away and we were getting antsy to get going. We thought we had great songs which, I to this day, think we did and so we decided on him. He was actually a pretty good singer I think.
METALLIAN: Where did you find him, one always wondered?
WOLF: I wonder too! Under a rock somewhere, I don't know. People sent in tapes and we were listening to tapes. We had it in magazines that send in your tapes to this address.
METALLIAN: Who was Jim Stacey?
WOLF: He was the touring second guitarist for the Eat The Heat tour. He never played on an album.
METALLIAN: Do you recall an Accept interview on MuchMusic where David Reece, and I am paraphrasing, put down Udo partly for his height.
WOLF: Really? Yeaaah, he wasn't the smartest in that sense. That sounds kinda vaguely familiar, because he either said it at that time or said it also at another time. Maybe he thought it was funny at the time. I don't remember it actually.
METALLIAN: Later he got into a fight with the band and is asked to leave.
WOLF: He fought with Peter. We record the album and go on tour and that's when shit happens. This period is a very unhappy time in everybody's life in a way. I mean the record finally comes out and nobody is that excited. I mean, I was a bit, but I had my doubts too. It had great moments that album. We go on tour to grow together a little better and it wasn't a very good tour. It was actually with W.A.S.P. Remember that band, W.A.S.P.? The tour was bad and it wasn't sold out which is sort of depressing to begin with and somehow those two guys got into a fight. I forget what it was over, something stupid and that was the last straw that broke our back. We sent him home and everybody went different ways. That's it.
METALLIAN: You decide to split up the band at that point.
WOLF: Yes. Another thing was that Stefan had left. I remember having the feeling that I was the last. The rats had already all left the ship and I was the captain trying to keep the boat afloat. Maybe with Peter as the second lieutenant or something, but it was just impossible to keep it going, the Accept ship going in the direction it should be going and we thought it's better to end it gracefully than have more shit happen. Stefan had left the band at that point, because of his back thing. So there was a new drummer, another guitar player and it was just me and Peter being the only original band members. It was sort of silly that's all.
METALLIAN: This was when Ken Mary of Fifth Angel had joined the band.
WOLF: Yes, that's what I am talking about. That's the drummer. He wasn't in the band. We just hired him to finish the tour with us. We had found him through our manager. He was very experienced and was really quick in learning. That was what we needed. Needed to work somebody in within two days.
METALLIAN: Had Stefan's back problems come on suddenly?
WOLF: Yeah, it was all very weird how it all happened. To this day I don't really know what happened.
METALLIAN: This tour finally ended because of a lack of ticket sales.
WOLF: No, well, it was not a very good selling tour to begin with, but it was cut short because of Peter and David Reece.
METALLIAN: The band went its separate ways and it is seemingly the end of the road for Accept. Yet, Accept is back in the classic line-up a few years later.
WOLF: That was actually brought about by the fans. We got a gazillion fan letters and we knew there was a big request. We knew that there was a big gap that wasn't filled. One day we all woke up and said we should try it again. We had all been in touch. We weren't bitter enemies. We got together in Germany. I moved back for a few months or a year or so with Gaby.
METALLIAN: This is a good time to bring up Gaby. She began as your manager and got involved with you a short time later. She used to go under the Deaffy alias. What was the background there?
WOLF: She had a music publishing company called Deaf Music and when she needed a quick name Deaffy came about. It was her idea I guess. She was, at the time, looking for talent. We got hooked up through an ad. in the paper. She had a promotion company and, she's had all sorts of companies over the years, and she placed an ad.
METALLIAN: Which city is Gaby from originally?
METALLIAN: Did she have any songwriting or management experience before Accept?
WOLF: Yeah, a little bit not really. She just jumped in out of necessity because our lyrics were terrible. She had a little bit of management experience before Accept. She had worked with many artists, mostly through a publishing company she worked for and then her own publishing company. She was always on tour with bands and doing the daily work of managing.
METALLIAN: Would the scene have objected to a female metal songwriter at the time?
WOLF: Yes, exactly.
METALLIAN: Did she work with any other acts while managing Accept?
WOLF: Never did and never wanted to.
METALLIAN: When did you two become involved with each other romantically?
WOLF: Pretty early on actually. We didn't go public until years and years later. It wouldn't have looked too cool and it was nobody's business. We wouldn't have had any advantage by going public. Even people close to us didn't know you know business partners. It doesn't look very good if you're trying to negotiate better conditions for a band and you're the wife of the guitar player or something. It takes away from your position as a powerful manager. For that reason alone we didn't get married for a number of years and didn't tell anybody that we are together. We have been together for many, many years. We probably got together in '81 and married in '89.
METALLIAN: Was there a conflict or was it ever a source of tension within the band that you and her were involved romantically with each other?
WOLF: Excellent question, there could have been very easily and for a brief moment right at the beginning there was. She handled it well and strategically, diplomatically and then there wasn't. We were extra careful. We never played it out. She actually went the extra mile, the extra extra mile, to be friendly with everybody and be on everybody's side and give everybody the extra attention almost sometimes more. She went overboard so that nobody would have the feeling that she is not on their side. That's why it lasted so long. Normally, this kind of a thing is a recipe for disaster in any other band. It's been many times. Man, we were both totally professional about it and never took advantage of it. We were always smart enough to know what's at stake.
METALLIAN: What does she do nowadays?
WOLF: She is a real estate agent.
METALLIAN: Going back to Accept's reformation. When was Vengeance guitarist Arjen Lucassen recruited?
WOLF: We had just finished writing and recording Objection Overruled. He was supposed to be the live guitar player with me. We had played all these songs all the time by ourselves and really enjoyed doing it. Deep inside we were thinking is this going to be more bother than helpful? Now we have to go and find another guy, show him the licks and to play the way we want him to and so we did find somebody and he was really amazingly good and at the last minute something came up for him where he said he had a conflict-of-interest and we weren't too happy about it and we were like, 'OK, thanks' and we just went out alone. Nobody replaced him. That was a big change from the past. We were no longer a two guitar player band, but I tell you, deep inside for many many years we had not been a two-guitar player band anyhow. I consider the most important time for a band to be when they play together in a studio or rehearsal facility where they develop the song ideas. We were incredibly well played-in with each other. That is Peter, Stefan and me. There was always one extra guy that tried to fit in. It was Jorg early on, and it was Jan and then Herman Frank and then Jorg again. There always had been us three and en extra guitar player, and Udo. The core of the band had always been us three who did all the writing, all the work, all the developing of the song ideas and all that stuff.
METALLIAN: It is difficult for the fans to accept that given the double guitar image, the posters, the image and so forth.
WOLF: That's the thing that you sell to the public. That's the image you are trying to portray to be better and cooler. What's going on behind it's the same thing with a band like Kiss. It's obvious there. It's Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley and the other two guys are just Jorg Fischer! I mean everybody knows it with them, but there are different scenarios with other bands that nobody knew. Nobody really ever knew that about Accept so much, but it's out now.
METALLIAN: You have, at www.wolfhoffmann.com, developed a respectable web site about Accept and your career hence.
WOLF: Yes, the band (Accept) is no longer active and nobody has done that sort of a thing. It's not all because of me, to tell you the truth. I have this great friend who is my webmaster. His name is Ed Aborn. He lives in Florida and came up to visit me three or four years ago and we've remained friends since. He is sort of a guy like you almost, you know, he called me and we talked and he wanted to meet. He wanted to build a website and I didn't want to get involved and didn't have the time. Somehow I got sucked into this whole thing and contributed quite a bit to it, but he did the vast majority of the work. I just wrote a bunch of stuff and photographed my guitar and all that kind of stuff. We wanted it to be tasteful and objective.
Business-wise the only thing we did was sell my classical record on there.
METALLIAN: What are you doing these days? Please speak about your activities and interests.
WOLF: I am actually a pretty normal and regular kind of a guy these days. I do commercial photography. I get up in the morning, go to my office, then rest, et cetra. I live in Nashville and when I am not shooting I do my office work. I take pictures for a living.
METALLIAN: Other than your photography website, at www.wolfhoffmann.net, where have people seen your photography?
WOLF: I get hired by magazines, for advertising and for music publishing like for album covers. What Hollywood is to actors, Nashville is to songwriters. There are many people who always need cool shots and I'd be happy to do it. I have been published in Newsweek, something for Time, Sony Records. It's nothing earth-shattering yet. I am working my way up there, but it's a lot of fun for me and I am happy to do it.
METALLIAN: Is your specialty black and white photography?
WOLF: No, it used to be. Nowadays I shoot pretty much mostly people and mostly in colour. I used to do black and white when I lived in Vermont. It was a passion. I used to do black and white landscapes, but quickly realized you're going to be a starving artist. I have always been one to believe in order to be satisfied you need to see progress. You need a reason to do stuff. I always need to have a goal or reason to do stuff. That's why right now I don't do much music, because I am still waiting for the inner-call to start again. I am also waiting for the reason to start again an impulse. It was the same when I was In Accept. I usually didn't make music for the sake of it, but to be part of the big project, keep the whole thing going and to write music for the upcoming album that needs to be done, in say, four months. That's when I got started when I had the pressure and the concrete goal. I don't have that right now in music. That's why I am not writing music everyday.
METALLIAN: Do you miss the stage?
WOLF: I do, I do. I might someday be back on stage. I am also feeling the itch more and more these days to start something. I just have to finalize in what form or what it is going to be. I have a vague idea, but nothing I want to talk about yet. Something might come up. I can tell you what it won't be. It won't be a rock band in the classical sense. I am not going to hire a bunch of guys, etc.
METALLIAN: You have released a solo album entitled Classical. Did you always have a taste for classical music?
WOLF: Yes, totally. You can hear it on Metal Heart and very early on. It was mostly a passion, a labour of love this record. Deep inside I was hoping somebody might pick it up, like a big label, but at the same time I had my doubts. It was such a highly personalized project that I couldn't really imagine selling many records. It was only released in Japan by JVC I think.
It's actually a shame because it's such a great record. I wish we would have found a good deal for it. Everybody who listens to it really likes it. It's one of the first records where, or the first record I have ever made, hundred percent of people who listen to it seem to like it. Accept has always had varying opinion. Half the people hate it, or more than half (laughs), the other people love it. We were always divided in a way. With the Classical record, everyone loves it. So it's a shame.
METALLIAN: Which guitar did you use on the Classical album? Was it the famous Gibson Flying V?
WOLF: I have always had about twenty guitars. I have never used just one guitar on any album. You want the truth? Here's a funny story. The one guitar I hardly ever ever used in the studio is the Flying V. Most people have this idea of me with the Flying V, but I mostly used that on stage because it looks cool. It's OK and it sound alright, but in the studio there are better guitars. I use the Fender a lot. I have an old, beat-up Stratocaster and actually I talk about that on my site. On the Classical more than any other guitar I used them all.
METALLIAN: Do you still get recognized as the guitarist of Accept?
WOLF: Hardly ever. I mean, now that I look so different with no hair hardly ever especially not here in Nashville. There are so many songwriters and musicians who have played on way more records and sold way more than I have here. Nobody makes a big deal out of it. It's a very down-to-earth place. Everybody knows somebody who's been on tour with somebody and everybody knows somebody who is the manager for somebody and they all have Gold Records on the wall. I am the smaller fish in a big pond here. The other thing is nobody's into metal. It's hard to find someone who has even heard of Accept in Nashville. If I find them or if they find me, then of course yeah.
METALLIAN: Are you an American citizen now?
WOLF: No, not yet.
METALLIAN: Do you want to become an American citizen?
WOLF: No, probably not.
METALLIAN: Did you happen to see UDO during their 2001 North American tour? How is your relationship with him today?
WOLF: First of all my relationship with Udo is good. He is not my enemy and I am not his, I hope. I always try to remember the good times we had. I try not to, contrary to what he is sometimes doing, talk about my own product in a bad way. Everything that we've always done we did with a mutual understanding at the time with the best of intentions. To go back and (makes an angry noise here) badmouthing your own product, I don't do that. I wish him all the luck. We had a pretty good run together for fifteen or so years and can't complain. That's a very long time in these days' standards.
I didn't see the tour. To me it's a little sad. If he would not be playing so many Accept songs I might go, but it's a little sad to see it that way. I don't know if you can understand. I remember it differently and I don't want to see it the way it's done. If you know what I mean. It's nothing new (for me) and nothing very pleasing for me to see in a way. I mean Udo, I am sure, puts on a good Udo show every time. You gotta give him that credit. Most of the time he's not somebody who goes through the motions and fakes it on stage. He gives it his best every night and that's the good part.
If the times are hard, like they are, you have to bow gracefully out of the whole scenario rather than keep it and beat it. It's better to live with the good memories rather than create bad, new stuff. I think everybody has to know when it's time to quit. It was great while it lasted and that's how I want to remember it.
METALLIAN: What can you say about the new Accept video package out very soon?
WOLF: I wasn't involved. I can tell you that much. I wasn't trying to stop it either. It's coming out mostly through Stefan and Udo. They have dug out some old stuff. It has to be interesting for you. It's some older stuff which I wish they hadn't published, but they did anyway. It might be interesting for the fans. I am sure it is. Some of it is kinda nice. Some of it is not too cool. It's just a funny thing. We don't have a whole lot of unpublished material. Not only not a whole lot, but zilch. Each time we recorded an album, we wrote ten songs and we never had any extras. They had to scramble quite hard to come up with anything that's not published yet. It's called Metal Blast From The Past I think. I haven't seen the whole thing yet.
METALLIAN: Thank you Wolf for your time and allowing us to spend time digging into the past.
WOLF: It was good talking to you. I haven't done something like this in a while.
Thanks goes to Wolf Hoffmann for donating several hours of one late spring evening to talk to www.metallian.com. More importantly thank you for sharing and immortalizing your talent, art, personality and presence with thousands of heavy metal fans.
If you enjoyed this, read UDO