Pat Prince of Goldmine magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Wolf Hoffmann of reformed heavy metal legends ACCEPT. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Goldmine: The new album is just the right thing for old ACCEPT fans. The sound is a combination of "Restless and Wild" and "Balls to the Wall". You have that power metal of "Restless and Wild" in songs like "Locked and Loaded" and "No Shelter", and then the great riffs of "Balls to the Wall" with songs like the title track "Blood of the Nations". It's perfect for fans of your two greatest albums, really. It's easy to like this new era of ACCEPT. When you first told me about ACCEPT's reunion, I didn't know what to expect.
Hoffmann: 99 percent of the people, as it turns out, were skeptics at first, and convinced this wasn't going anywhere. A lot of people flat out said, "Without Udo they aren't ACCEPT. We've been through this before, it can't be done . … blah, blah, blah..."
Goldmine: That was different though. … the album the critics are probably referring to (1989's "Eat the Heat", with David Reece as vocalist). It was a different time then.
Hoffmann: That's what I keep saying. You're absolutely right about that. Just because it didn't work then, doesn't mean it can't work now. And you know how people are. They kind of prejudge us just because they think it can't be done. And now … wow. Boy, we now have people apologizing to us. And it's quite rewarding to see how they have all come around.
Goldmine: Did you intentionally go for that sound of the two classic ACCEPT albums I mentioned?
Hoffmann: Yeah, I think we did. But, then again, you try to be as good as the stuff you've done in the past, and try to recapture that stuff. I think that this time we succeeded because of the unique situation that we're in. We knew what fans wanted much more than ever before. We know better than ever before what ACCEPT stands for. And. to a large part, that's due to Andy Sneap [producer: OPETH, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, MEGADETH]. Because when he came on board as a producer, he was also coming on board as an ACCEPT fan. He really had a clear expectation of what he wanted from the band.
Goldmine: Well, he knows metal, too.
Hoffmann: He knows the metal of today. He knows all that stuff. But at the same time, he grew up listening to ACCEPT, so he had a clear idea of which songs he favored over others. He made sure early on, in the song selection and the arrangement phase, that we go for the ones he liked best. So I give him a lot of credit, too.
Goldmine: Sneap made the record a good balance. It recaptures the old ACCEPT sound but it's in-tune with today.
Hoffmann: Yeah, it has a modern sound, so that's good. He made sure we had that 2010 sound, but we have all the characteristics of the past. All the good riffs and the gang vocals. He also didn't want it to be too happy or too commercial. He kind of pushed us a little more into the dark side of things, which I think worked out really well. Overall, it was still us writing the songs. But it was a very good collaboration.
Goldmine: How is the songwriting for this album different than when Udo was in the band? You would write the guitar parts and Udo would write the lyrics?
Hoffmann: Oh no, it was totally different. Udo was never around when we did any of that. Udo, he can't write a guitar chord. He can't write a sentence of lyrics. We handed him over the finished product and he just sang on it. My wife Gaby (Hauke) actually wrote all the lyrics back in the day.
Goldmine: True. But I thought she started writing during "Balls to the Wall". She actually started before then?
Hoffmann: She was first involved in "Restless and Wild" to a degree [songwriting credit as "Deaffy" on the songs "Neon Nights" and "Princess of the Dawn"]. Even before her, we had a couple other guys that would go over the lyrics. But Udo never really wrote any lyrics. And Udo never participated in the songwriting. It was usually Peter [Baltes, bass] and myself, and sometimes Stefan (Kaufmann), the drummer at the time. We would work out the songs until we liked the arrangements for weeks and weeks. And then when it was all said and done, Udo would come and take it and perform it. With Mark [Tornillo, vocals] it is different. There was still Peter and myself writing the songs for this stuff, coming up with the basic song structure and chorus idea, the whole framework of the song, and then we gave it to Mark pretty early on. It wasn't all the way finished and he wrote the lyrics around it and sometimes he even did the vocal lines and stuff. Sometmes he changed them around. Other times he kept them. On few songs he even came up with complete vocal lines and parts and stuff. So it was good teamwork, really.
Goldmine: And you never got any feedback or a response from Udo about this new album? Anything, like "Good job" or "Good luck?"
Hoffmann: Forget that. Yeah, "Good luck"… forget that. On the contrary, he's really weird. Even though he was invited to be part of it, he acts like somebody that was invited to a party, turned us down, and then is pissed off that the party is a success without him. It doesn't make any sense to me but that's how he is.
Goldmine: You would think that reuniting ACCEPT would be a lot more appealing than his work in U.D.O. But hey, who can complain now? It's working out well without him.
Hoffmann: Yeah, I know. I mean, it was weird. We met him recently at a festival in the Czech Republic [Masters of Rock festival], and we were playing that night, and he chose to be there and play a song onstage but not with us. As a guest for LORDI. So he sat around all day at this festival and I went up to him to say "Hi" and wanted to hug him and say, "After all these years…" And he was really weird, like, "Don't touch me. Leave me alone." I don't know what the hell his problem is but I don't have time for it. We do our thing and wish him all the best and let him go.
Read the entire interview from Goldmine magazine.