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Accept

Sinds de reünie in 2010 zit het legendarische Accept weer flink in de lift. Zo bracht men in ‘Blood Of The Nations’ en ‘Stalingrad’ twee sterke albums uit en is tussendoor uitgebreid op tour geweest. En nog maar twee jaar na de laatstgenoemde komt de band rondom gitarist Wolf Hoffmann deze maand de derde plaat met vocalist zanger Mark Tornillo (ex-TT Quick), ‘Blind Rage’. Een typisch Accept album die niet alleen aan alle verwachtingen voldoet, maar deze zelfs overtreft, en bewijst dat de band nog lang niet uitgeblust is. Ondergetekende was één van de gelukkigen die één van zijn jeugdhelden, gitarist/bandleider Wolf Hoffmann, mocht spreken inzake de nieuwe plaat. En uiteraard bleef het daar niet bij.

Door: Nima | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

band imageHow are you doing Wolf? You’ve been quite busy in the last couple of years…
We’re actually having a great time right now. Thing are going really well and everybody loves the new record and it’s exciting times.

Before we get more into the new record, how do you look back on 37 years of Accept?
Oh man, has been really that long? Please don’t mention it, I don’t want to hear it, haha. But yeah, we have indeed been doing this for a long time, but it feels like we’ve just started somehow. Probably it’s because we’ve had this long break in between, so it all feel fresh and new again and I really don’t have the feeling that we’ve been doing this for almost four decades.

Do you feel like the band is living a second youth?
Oh by all means, of course we are. I mean who would have ever thought a few years ago that this would ever happen? Nobody did, including us. When we got started and wrote the ‘Blood Of The Nations’ we really didn’t know what was going to be in front of us. We just pretty much jumped into it head first without really knowing what was going to come out of it, to be honest.

Do you think it was a risky decision to make a new Accept album without Udo (Dirschneider)?
No doubt that it was a risk, and that’s also what everybody told us. But at the same time, for us, it didn’t feel like we were risking anything because we didn’t have anything to lose. We had this or nothing, you know? I mean, Udo wasn’t there and for the rest of us it was making this music or no music. So we decided to go for it with full force. When we met Mark (Tornillo, Accept vocalist since 2009 – Nima) and heard him sing for the first time, we knew that if it wasn’t going to work with this guy it was never going to work. So we said we have one more fight in us, so let’s just do it and do it well; which meant with a new record, full tour, and not some half-assed warm-up. And we wanted to show everybody that we can do this. And that’s what we did.

Needless to say that it was the right decision, and both ‘Blood Of The Nations’ and ‘Stalingrad’ were received very well by both the fans and the press, and you were immediately back on the top of the scene. For both albums you also did expansive touring and now the third record in only four years is a fact. So you’ve been keeping the pace up quite a lot… How do you explain this energy that is both on the record and also on stage, and keep this power of conviction and keep things interesting for yourself?
We definitely have keeping the pace up, haven’t we? It’s just amazing. But I don’t really know how we do it. It’s just know that we feel this way. It feels like maybe, initially, we realize that we have a lot to proof to ourselves, to the fans and the whole metal community, and also to prove all the naysayers wrong. So we had something we had something to overcome, and sort of forces you closer together, and you fight. And we haven’t let go of that vibe, want to keep the pace up and go at full speed. And at the end of the day we do this because this is what we enjoy to do. If we didn’t have fun in what we did, or if we were feeling old or bittered or whatever, then it wouldn’t come across. But we’re not like that and we’re having the time of our lives.

I think you can hear that also on the new record, because it is again so energetic and it’s Accept just as it should be. It’s also more old-school and has an even more 80s vibe to it than the two previous albums in my opinion, but it’s still contemporary and relevant.
Yes! I think what’s attractive here is the fact that it sounds fresh and contemporary thanks to the way we recorded it and the production. But it sound old-school because of the old-school way of songwriting itself. We could have written some of these stuff thirty years ago, and that was also our goal with ‘Blind Rage’: we wanted to be as old-school as possible, but with a modern sound. I think one of the reasons the album sound so relax and fresh is because we had all this material written before we went into the studio. When we did ‘Stalingrad’ for example, we were dealing with deadlines and sort of a time-crunch – don’t get me wrong because I’m very happy with that record and I’m proud of it, but still I wish we had more time.

So this time we said let’s not set for a release date until at least we’ve started recording. I mean last time we were already recording the first half of the album, while the second half wasn’t even written yet. And that was tough, you know. And that’s the only thing we wanted to do different on this record. Other than that we didn’t want to do anything differently. We wanted Andy (Sneap, producer who also did the two previous albums – Nima) to produce it and the whole thing to be the same. And that’s why the album sound so consistent. And of course we also have this consistency because there are the same guys writing the songs. I mean Peter (Baltes, bass – Nima) and I have been doing this together for like eternity, and we’re the songwriting team for life. We’ve been doing this for so long and we’ve always done it in the same way, and there is the consistency.

You just mentioned that since the new beginning you had something to prove, and you definitely did that with both ‘Blood Of The Nations’ and ‘Stalingrad’. Did you have the same passion and also the same pressure as you had on those records?
Well, there is always some pressure. The first time around it was overcoming the doubts and wipe off all the questions of whether we could do it or not. The second time, after the album became a success, many people thought it was a one-time thing and that we couldn’t do it again, and so we had to overcome that. And now with this album is was no different. It’s like there is always somebody waiting for us throw in the towel and say that we’re done and spent, but that won’t happen, haha.

Was that also one of the reasons to go for a more old-school approach?
Not really. That was something we wanted to do, but at the same time something that comes naturally. I mean, even though if you want to go to a certain direction, you can’t really discuss that up front. You just look at the material you have and see what songs work best together, and you pick the strongest ones. I mean for example, I would never throw out a couple of good, more mellow songs, because have have to put on some faster songs that aren’t as good, you know? I never let the speed or heaviness or whatever dictate what kind of songs I need to take or right. I mean if a song is good, then it’s good and will be accepted by everybody. If it turns out more melodic or more heavy, or slower or faster then so be it.

And again speaking of having something to prove and pressure, as you know Accept is e of the most influential bands in the history of hardrock and heavy metal. So was there also some pressure on that matter?
Of course! You always think about what the fans and also the critics or anybody things of the album. But in general most of the pressure we put on ourselves. It’s not like a constant fear in your mind or doubting whether you can or can’t do this or that. But you have to be your own biggest critic sometimes. If I hate anything in life that the kind of slacking and too relax attitude of “aaah it’s gonna be fine” or “nobody’s gonna notice”, if you know what I mean. I’ve heard all these kind of excuses many times before and I really hate that attitude. If I think something could be better, then I will re-do it. I know that I’ve always been a pain in the ass to other people on that matter, but that’s just who I am. And I think you have that obligation as an artist, towards yourself and towards your fans, to squeeze yourself and get the best out of yourself. I never believed in this “one-take wonder” bullshit. And it doesn’t matter who you are, you should always challenge yourself and do your best, goddammit. Said Wolf, haha.

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When was it actually that you realized that Accept has had such a great influence on the scene?
That was actually quite late in life. It wasn’t until many, many years later that we found out how many people around the world had actually heard ‘Restless And Wild’, thanks to the tape-trading era mostly. So we didn’t see that in our record sales at all. It wasn’t until later that we had a big following and a big influence on many musician. And ah well, musicians never actually buy records anyway, they just copy them from their friends, haha. But anyway, it was after many years that people started telling us that this or that record changed their lives, or that they decided to become musicians when they heard ‘Fast As A Shark’. Also some very well-known and big names in the genre, from who you would have never imagined. What can I say? It’s just amazing and it makes me very proud, of course.

How do you see the band’s influence on and its place in the scene nowadays? I mean, we’re almost four decades further and tons of bands have come and go and the popularity of heavy metal has always remained great. And Accept and has always remained Accept…
I don’t know. Are we still influencing people, or is it something that just happened earlier on because we were one of the first bands that were metal or called ourselves metal, especially in Germany? Good call though, good question. I don’t really know. I have no idea how much attention others pay to us nowadays. I don’t even know how to answer this. I do see some kids playing and practicing our riffs for example, which is surprising to me sometimes actually, but so there has to be some sort of influence.

I’m not sure if I find it surprising actually. I mean, the popularity of old-school metal has become bigger and bigger again during the last couple of years, and a lot of kids are going back to the roots as well, finding out what started it all… and I think with albums like ‘Blood Of The Nations’, ‘Stalingrad’ and definitely also ‘Blind Rage’ you are again showing how real heavy metal is done.
Interesting point! And old-school metal has indeed made a big comeback lately. But you see, don’t forget that we’re from the first generation where everything was man-made. As I mentioned earlier, we have for example this old-school approach on songwriting, which seems almost unusual nowadays. I mean, a lot of contemporary bands worry too much about riffs and groove and come with riff after riff after riff, and it’s not really about songs structures like we do it anymore. I think from that perspective we’re still different from a lot of other bands. We have a more straightforward approach and come up with recognizable choruses and sing-along melodies, and hardly any contemporary band does that anymore.

Has your vision on the band and the music change over the years? I mean, when I listen to your records and also ‘Blind Rage’, it sound fresh and yet Accept every time. How do you look at it from a creator’s point of view and the vision and idea about the music?
If there is anything that has changed is that everything is clearer nowadays. I have a clearer view on how I want to sound and how I want a certain song to feel. I’m more secure nowadays and a better musicians, and can feel better if something is right or wrong. It’s always a learning process, and you get to know your strengths and weaknesses. And that’s called experience, so. But you can only gain experience if you make a few mistakes along the way.

this is a bit of difficult, and also a bit of a shitty question, but speaking of making mistakes and getting experienced, do you every think to yourself that you might have done something in the past different if you had the same knowledge and experience back then as you have now?
Of course! That’s what you call life experience. But the reality is that you don’t get that chance, so you learn to live with it, do what you do and move forward. You know, who doesn’t make any decisions, doesn’t make mistakes, but who does take decisions will make mistakes along the way, and move on. That’s just how life is, and it really is no big deal. All you have to do is pick yourself up, learn from it and move forward.

After doing this for so long and being in the scene as long as you are, what’s there left that you still want to do that you haven’t done so far?
Musically I’m satisfied with what we’ve done, where we stand and what we do. Alongside Accept there are still some musical things I’d like to do, like making a sequel to my ‘Classical’ album (Wolf’s solo album from 2000 – Nima), but that’s something that’s been in the making for a long time. And I want to take Accept to new levels and see what else there is in terms of success. Who knows? The sky is the limit.

And for now you have another big tour coming up in the fall…
That’s correct. We’re gonna go all over again and it’s going to keep us busy for a couple of months. But that’s good, I really can’t wait. And when I look at the crowd I see people from ages 16 to 70, which is amazing. I don’t know how the young kids find out about Accept, but they’re there and that’s what matters. I think it’s really cool, because we have multi-generation of fans nowadays.

Speaking of live shows, there hasn’t been a new Accept DVD since Mark has been in the band. Are you planning on something of that order?
Yeah, we actually are. We’re going to release the footage from Chile that we recorded last year, and it will be as a bonus disc with the digipak-edition of the new album. A documentary has also been in the works for a long time, but that is going to take a while longer until it’s ready. We’re collecting all sorts of material at the moment, and we’ll see what we do with it when the collecting-period is over. But at the moment it’s still in the works.

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