Jeffrey Easton of Metal Exiles recently conducted an interview with vocalist Mark Tornillo of reformed heavy metal legends ACCEPT. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Exiles: You made a comment about not wanting to fill Udo's [Dirkschneider, former ACCEPT singer] shoes and after listening to the record, I believe that you have kicked his out of the limelight. Did people actually think you should sound like Udo?
Mark: I have been compared to him, obviously, before this and some other singers as well, but I try to do my own thing. At this point, obviously, I am going to try to make [the classic ACCEPT tracks] sound as much as the originals as possible because the fans deserve that, but when it comes time for the new songs, I have to be my own guy.
Metal Exiles: One of the big surprises, I guess, for ACCEPT is how quick the music industry snapped to attention when you guys announced that you were going to do a new record. Were you surprised at how quickly the industry thought the band was still viable?
Mark: It just blew us all away; we did not expect it to happen like this. We are all very grateful and it is turning out to be a hell of a ride.
Metal Exiles: Are you surprised that you have moved so many units of the new record considering the downturn in record sales?
Mark: By all means we are. The record industry is very different than when we were all making records in the '80s and it is hard to say what good sales are and any sales are good at this point. It surprised us that it debuted at #12 on [the] Billboard [chart] in Europe; nobody was ready for that.
Metal Exile: I know the guys in ACCEPT are great songwriters. So what did you bring when you came on board?
Mark: When I first came in, I had no idea how we would work, but it turned out to be a total collaboration among Wolf [Hoffmann, guitar], Peter [Baltes, bass] and I. Peter only lives about 40 minutes [away from me] so we got together and wrote a lot and Wolf came up from Nashville quite a bit as well. I wrote about 90% of the lyrics as well as using some of their ideas. I had a lot more input than I thought I would have, let's put it that way. I did not know how it was going to play out, but they are a great bunch of guys to work with.
Metal Exiles: You have been in metal for years now so how do you keep your vocals in the shape they are in?
Mark: I have no idea. I take a whole new approach to it now than I did back in the day. Your throat is a muscle and just like any other muscle you have to know how to work it. I have had some training from a vocal coach and I exercise it as well. When TT QUICK started back in the day, we were a cover band and we do three long sets a night so I was used to it but I am older now so I have to approach it differently.
Metal Exiles: I know that European fans are stalwart about their metal so how were you received when you guys did your first tour?
Mark: The first show was in New York and I knew what to expect. Three days later, we ended up in Lithuania then to St. Petersburg and to Moscow down to Scandinavia into Germany and I had no idea what I was getting into. I did not know if I had to go out there with a shield or what. All of the people online were saying, "There is no fucking way they can do this" until they saw us and then it was a whole different ballgame. An audience has never disrespected me, they have embraced me from the beginning, even in Europe. They are just happy to see the band, they do not give a shit who is in it.
Metal Exiles: Well, I remember "Eat The Heat" [with David Reece on vocals] not getting a good reception.
Mark: Well, that was a different time and they tried to take it in a different direction then. The music scene was changing and their direction just did not work for them as well as they wanted it to. We are not trying to move anywhere now, we are just trying to be what ACCEPT was in the early '80s, just a fucking metal band.
Metal Exiles: Are we going to see more ACCEPT records in the future or is this a one-off?
Mark: We have every intention of making more records as we have signed a long-term deal with Nuclear Blast. The way things are looking now, we are taking some time off and in the first week of January we are heading back to Europe to start our world tour and hopefully by the end of 2011 we will be back in the studio to start our next record.
Read the entire interview from Metal Exiles.