Accept – Wolf Hoffman (guitars)
German metal band ACCEPT are back. The Teutonic Terrors are tearing it up again with their new album in over a decade. Blood of the Nation has garnered rave reviews from critics and fans all over the world, and guitarist Wolf Hoffman and the rest of the band couldn’t be any happier.
Most fans by now already know that original vocalist Udo Dirkschneider was very adamant about not rejoining the band, after all, he does have a successful solo career with his band UDO. So, by chance one day, Wolf and bassist Peter Baltes were introduced to former TT QUICK vocalist Mark Tornillo, and after an impromptu jam session, they were both floored with Mark’s ability and felt they had their new singer.
With the album out and tour plans in the works, ACCEPT are ready to prove to the world that they can still rock. Calling from his home in Nashville, Wolf filled me in on a few things about their new singer, their new album and their renewed enthusiasm for the band.
I think by now everyone knows the story about how you found Mark, but how exciting has the whole process been since then?
Pretty darn exciting. I don’t think we’ve had anything as exciting ever really happen to us. To come back from hiatus after all these years and to have this. The whole story is like a roller coaster ride. At first, there was a wave skepticism, nobody believed in it at first when we announced it. And now that everybody has seen us live and has heard the record, now everybody is excited like never before.
Are you pleased with the fans’ enthusiasm and acceptance of Mark?
Absolutely. We’re totally blown away by how much they do embrace him and how much they like Accept with Mark. It’s been phenomenal where ever we’ve gone so far, over seas, even when we did that show in New York. It was awesome. We were nervous, as you could imagine going out there doing the first show being on stage with Mark. I knew we had a great record and we were pretty confident, but at the end of the day, you never really know. It’s sink or swim. And no matter what the results was, we knew it would be on YouTube the next morning, and it was. Luckily it went super-well and people loved it and we had one of those unforgettable nights and it’s been pretty spectacular ever since.
By now, everyone knows that Udo didn’t want to be a part of Accept, but it seems like that started a fire under you and made you more determined to create a classic slab of what Accept was remembered for. Is this a fair assumption?
Totally. Especially after he turned us down and we go and found somebody else and announce to the world that we’re going to do this, and everybody says, “This can’t be done.” We thought “Why can’t it be done and how the hell can you prejudge something that you haven’t even heard yet?” So we were all fired up to make the best possible record under the sun. We tried really hard and wrote more songs than we ever have and made sure we did the best we can.
This new album has all the classic Accept trademarks. How easy did the material flow once you started writing it?
Super easy. I couldn’t believe it. Peter and I had written something like 40 songs easily, then (producer) Andy Sneap came in and nudged us along in the right direction and picked the best ones. So, ideas weren’t really the problem. I’m still amazed at how secure Andy was in picking the good stuff and not the so good stuff. Everything we write, to me, sounds like Accept because it’s all coming from me and Peter and it all sounds familiar. Him being a long Accept fan and having grown up listening to this stuff, he had a keen sense from a fan perspective of what really separates the great from not-so-great over the stylistically typical German metal that he liked to the maybe not-so-typical stuff. So, he really had a good sense of all that and I’m super happy he was there.
What’s the concept behind the album title and artwork? It’s such a strong image.
We struggled a little bit to tell you the truth. We struggled with the whole naming the record. We had a collection of 12 to 14 strong songs then we just were thinking about calling it Teutonic Terror, but at the end of the day, Blood of the Nations really survived the selection. The our designer Mark Whitaker came up with the bloody hand, which was a symbolic, strong image. And we liked it. We felt it was the typical Accept of what we could have done in the past. Of course you can interpret this any way you want. The song itself is about bloodshed and war. But, I wouldn’t want to go too deep and interpret all kinds of political ideas into it. It’s just mainly a strong statement visually and good ‘ole blood and guts. You know when you have a title called Blood of the Nations, there better be blood on the damn cover! (laughing).
In my review of the new album that was recently published on SMNnews.com, I boldly stated that Mark’s voice seems to be an even better fit with the Accept sound now than when Udo was in the band. Not that I’m taking anything away from the Udo-era ACCEPT, but there’s just something more relevant with Mark’s voice. What’s your opinion on that?
I think that’s really for the fans to decide. I have to be careful because I don’t want to slam Udo or anything, but I’ll just tell you that I just really enjoy working with Mark. For me, it brings the whole songwriting process the whole band to a level that we haven’t really been before. That’s surely because of his vocals, honestly, there’s no other way to say it. Because we’re the same. We write the same kind of songs that we’ve always have, but when he comes in with his stuff on top of it, I think it’s something that we’ve never seen before.
We did a short reunion with Udo, it wasn’t a reunion but some festival tours with the old lineup in 2005. It was Herman Frank on guitar and Stefan Schwarzmann on drums. So we were familiar with those guys five years ago and we knew we would make a good team. So they were the first people we called. Peter and I decided to get going again and we called those two guys. We figured those two are family that have left of us. Because Jörg Fischer, the original, original, from early on, disappeared from the face of the earth and I don’t think he even plays guitar any more, so he’s out. Stefan Kaufmann can’t play the drums any more, so he’s out. So it was really those two guys that were the closest to the family and we’re glad we made that decision because we get along great and we have a really good team now.
Andy Sneap is a legendary guitarist and producer, and he did an amazing job on the new album. Were you absolutely confident in your choice of producers? And now that the album is out, was it everything you expected it to be?
Oh yeah, and more. The choice of producers sounds kind of funny because we didn’t really go down a list and pick the one we had most confidence in. Just like with Mark, we happened to stumble upon Andy, or I should really say he found us. When he heard that we were reforming, he contacted us through a mutual friend and we met him and loved him and I’m so glad we went with him. After we met him, it was quite obvious he was going to be the man. Because he is a fan, because of all these thing he brought to the table, he was better than anybody we ever could have found. We have worked with other producers in the past, but some of them don’t really play guitar, some of them don’t really have this whole metal background. They’re all good in their own right but they all brought nothing along, but Andy had it all going for him. He felt like he was just one of us. Everybody loves him too, that’s kind of remarkable too. Everybody who’s ever worked with Andy or anyone who’s ever met him. He’s just an overall great guy and really knows what the heck he’s doing.
With your upcoming US Tour with Kings X opening for you, how excited are you to tour after being away from it for so long?
More than ever. That’s really why did all this. The whole point of the exercise of making a record and coming back with a singer, in the end, it’s all about wanting to go out and play live. So now, we’re actually coming closer to our goal. To be touring in the US again, that’s just amazing. We did a bunch of touring and traveling in the summer months. We played a bunch of festival shows. Played some shows with AC/DC and some Monster festival in eastern Europe. And that was wonderful, but it was all this airline travel that just wore me out. We had to spend something like 22 hours on airlines to get to some of these places. But to be able to hop on a bus and tour the US, it sounds mighty fine to me, man. We’re totally excited to be back in the scene and we’re as energetic as we were 25 years ago. I haven’t been as fired up about anything in a long time. Now that the record is finally out, it’s so great to see how people still appreciate our music. It’s great to see the fans again when we play and hopefully we’ll be doing this as long as we can. So I can’t wait to see everybody out on the road.
By Kelley Simms