Ex-ACCEPT singer David Reece says that he doesn't believe his former bandmates were "thoroughly prepared" to replace Udo Dirkschneider at the height of the group's success three decades ago.
The current SAINTED SINNERS vocalist was recruited by ACCEPT for the "Eat The Heat" album in 1989 following the departure of Dirkschneider. Reece's higher-pitched delivery was in sharp contrast to Udo's distinctive style, and overall, the album was a critical and commercial disappointment. Midway through the "Eat The Heat" tour, differences between the band and Reece had come to a head, leading to the altercation between the singer and bassist Peter Baltes in Chicago. By the end of 1989, ACCEPT had hung it up.
Reece, who has also played with BONFIRE and BANGALORE CHOIR, told "The Classic Metal Show" in a new interview that he thinks external influences were responsible for the ACCEPT singer change that resulted in him landing the gig.
"I've thought about this, of course, my whole life," he said (hear audio below). "That was 30 years ago. And I don't think ACCEPT were thoroughly prepared to make that choice. They were being pulled by the ring in their nose by the labels in America. 'This band is set up huge in Europe. Let's cross over the pond and really break this thing.' So they were, like, 'Yeah, we wanna be more famous and richer.' I don't really think they considered how big Udo really was. Now, you've got [current ACCEPT singer] Mark Tornillo. He's a soundalike — I mean, he's an Udo copy — and that sound works inside that German thing. But I never really heard them admit that they were prepared for what they really did, and they blamed me for a lot of things."
Reece drew a parallel between his experience in ACCEPT and that of a legendary British heavy metal band which underwent its own high-profile singer change in 1979.
"If you think about the comparisons, a guy named Ronnie James Dio joined [BLACK] SABBATH and sang circles around Ozzy [Osbourne], but Ozzy is a character," David said. "And the same thing happened. And Ronnie said one time to me about it, when we talked about ACCEPT, 'cause he knew those guys, and he said, 'You know, when I joined SABBATH, it was kind of the same thing' — but on a bigger level, obviously. People were holding up sheets, 'Go home. Where's Ozzy?' And he said, 'I just went out there every night with the attitude that I'll stick my head in the lion's mouth, and if he bites down, there goes my effin' head.' And I just looked at him and I went, 'Wow!' And he was doing his solo thing again, and I went, 'Man, you made some records that are just unbelievable with SABBATH' — I think better than anything they did with Ozzy; I mean, musically. But he was crucified for joining. And they changed [their name] to HEAVEN & HELL and all that crap."
Reece also expressed his disappointment over the fact that the members of ACCEPT have never properly acknowleged "Eat The Heat" as the quality album that it really is.
"Why can't they just say, 'Hey, it's part of our legacy'?" David asked rhetorically. "I've heard Wolf [Hoffmann, ACCEPT guitarist] going as far as [telling journalists], 'Don't ask me about David Reece in interviews. Don't bring up that part of my history.' You know what, pal? I've got a couple of stinker albums in my collection in my life too. It gives a story. It's a story to talk about. You don't have to badmouth each other. You can say, 'It just didn't work. It was a great experience.' 'Cause I think Wolf Hoffmann actually got to play some pretty impressive guitar stuff ['Eat The Heat']… On that album, you get some David Gilmour tones with 'Generation Clash'. He's one of the greatest metal guitar players in the world, but he got to show that he can actually play. And I give him credit for it."
In 2018 interview with RockSverige, Hoffmann described "Eat The Heat" as a low point in ACCEPT's career. "That whole period with David Reece in the '90s, that was definitely a dip in the curve, I'd say," he said.
Several years earlier, Wolf told Sleaze Roxx that the collaboration with Reece "was just doomed from the beginning. It was just something that we were so committed to that once we got going it spiraled and we couldn't pull the plug on it... it was just too late. We were so far into it that there was no turning back. We realized in the process that our personalities and David's personality just didn't mesh, yet we moved forward. I was hoping that the songs would be strong enough to make it work, but they simply weren't there. It was a different time — that was  ago and things were just so different then."
Asked if he thought "Eat The Heat" would have fared better if it had been released under a different band name, Hoffmann said: "I would say probably not because we were ACCEPT then. The way I see it is that we were still the same guys in the band who wrote all the previous material; we just had a different singer. I think it just wasn't meant to be and there is no other way to put it. That leads into the present with the way things have gone with how Peter Baltes and I met Mark Tornillo, how [producer] Andy Sneap got involved, [it] makes me think that this is meant to be. Everyone just crossed our path and it worked out, like it was meant to be. This was the complete opposite of working with David Reece... we tried and tried, and nothing happened."
Back in 2017, Reece told Canadian rock journalist Mitch Lafon that he still looks back fondly on the "Eat The Heat" album. "You know what? It's weird, because the bad blood happened at the end of it, and I hated it — I hated everything about it," he said. "I knew it opened a bunch of doors for me, but… I, on a daily basis, get people telling me what that album means to them now. At the beginning, they hated me, but now it's, like, they have this rebirth of how great it is. And I listened to it the other day, and I went, 'That's a pretty dang good album for a first.'"
He continued: "Yeah, I'm proud of it. I mean, that's a… I mean, it's not ACCEPT — okay, let's be honest — but there's some cool stuff on there. And I still get paid royalties for that album. They [re-released] it on vinyl. I get these statements; people buy it from the old crowd and the new crowd. And I'm, like, 'Ooooh…' So it's got legs to this day, and that was '88… 1988, '89. Amazing."