ACCEPT Guitarist On New Lineup: 'We Are Re-Energized And Excited!'

The legendary heavy metal band ACCEPT from Germany has officially reformed with new lead singer Mark Tornillo (ex-TT QUICK) and is planning to hit the road later this year. A new studio album is also in the works.

"It all happened in minutes," says lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann. "Peter [Baltes, bass] and I were working on some tunes in a studio in New Jersey. Somebody suggested we give this guy Mark a call to see if he would join us on vocals. So when he arrived we started jamming on some old ACCEPT tunes — just for fun. As soon as Mark started singing we looked at each other and realized the impossible just happened: we found a new voice for ACCEPT! The timing could not have been better! Now or never... We are re-energized and excited..."

"I want to point out," says Gaby Hoffmann, the longtime ACCEPT manager, "that Udo Dirkschneider [original ACCEPT singer] has always been our first choice and was asked again to join us for touring and recording. However, after a career of more than 20 years with his own band U.D.O., we understand and respect his decision to focus on his own project and hope that all his fans continue to support U.D.O. as they have until today! More music is better for the fans; there is room for ACCEPT as well as U.D.O. We wish Udo all the best and thank him for his continued inspiration NOT to give up ACCEPT and for reviving out 'metal hearts!' Mark Tornillo knows he has big shoes to fill but he has proven to us at first sight that he can expand with ease the level of ACCEPT's well-known songwriter talent. Wolf Hoffmann, Peter Baltes, Herman Frank [guitar] and Stefan Schwarzmann [drums] have been ACCEPT for a long time and are looking forward to jump back into action and produce great music."

"We can't wait to go out and play again," says Baltes. "Just because Udo isn't available doesn't mean we'll have to sit idle any longer. We feel Mark is the perfect fit. Mark is an experienced veteran singer who is aware of the ACCEPT legacy and his voice fits the sound of ACCEPT perfectly. We can't wait to hear him on new material. Wolf and I have already begun the process of writing songs for a new studio album. He and I have always been a great songwriting team — most of the classic ACCEPT tunes were written that way; together with Deaffy, a.k.a. Gaby Hoffmann, as a lyricist."

Hoffmann and Tornillo were guests on this past Friday's (May 15) edition of Eddie Trunk's "Friday Night Rocks" radio show on New York's Q104.3 FM, where they discussed the new ACCEPT lineup and their plans for the future. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On the new ACCEPT lineup:

Wolf: "I'm so excited. These last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I mean, this has been really extraordinary, I tell you. "

On whether he wanted to keep ACCEPT going after the band's 25th-anniversary tour in 2005:

Wolf: "We had a great time [on the reunion tour]. I personally had a ball in 2005, and I always felt that it would be great if we could do this again one day. And we tried. And unfortunately, it just didn't work out, and we can understand, because Udo has his own career for the last 20-plus years, and there's no end in sight — he's doing great. The word came that he wasn't ready to do it, and probably never will be. So in walks this guy, Mark Tornillo, out of nowhere. Like, here he is! I couldn't believe it; what a coincidence."

On how Mark made contact with ACCEPT:

Mark: "Well, they contacted me through some mutual friends of ours. Peter Baltes, the bass player, lives in Pennsylvania — really, only about 40 minutes from me, which is just totally bizarre. He was doing some work down at Shorefire studios in Long Branch [New Jersey] and had mentioned to Joey, who owns the studio, that they were looking for someone to take Udo's place, I guess, and they had been looking for quite some time. And I guess Joey mentioned my name, and [Peter] seemed to recognize who I was from us all mutually working with [producer] Michael Wagener. And one thing led to another, and he got my phone number, and they called me, I went down and we did a little impromptu jam at Joey's studio, and Wolf came up from Nashville, and I guess the rest is history, 'cause we all hit it off like we'd known each other for about a million years."

Wolf: "Actually, I was at Peter's house over the weekend writing some songs, without even knowing about Mark and stuff, and like Mark was saying, Peter [knew] this guy [who owned] this great studio out there in his area, and he happened to ask the sound engineer/producer out there — when we got word that Udo wasn't gonna be part of this, that he basically turned it down. Peter just happened to speak with the sound engineer and he said, 'Man, I've got this friend Mark. I've known him for years. He's great. Why don't you give him a call?' And we were like, 'Well, sure. Why not? I mean, we're here, and let's just jam, and let's just have a session, and maybe, if nothing else, we'll have a lot of fun.' And boy, we hit it off right, just from the get-go. It was amazing! It was just meant to be, right away. . . I didn't think there was any guy in the world who can pull off this old material and do these old Udo numbers, but boy, he can! Everybody should check it out. We've got a new web site out and we actually posted a jam session that we did that first day, we posted a couple of old tunes for everybody to see how he can do it, and it sounds pretty incredible."

On whether fans can expect to hear new music from ACCEPT:

Wolf: "We're trying to make this a long-term thing. We wanna make a new studio record, we're already working on new, exciting tunes, and we've got some really promising stuff going on. It's really all still a work in progress, and those new songs are gonna be really incredible. I've got a great feeling about this."

On ACCEPT's ill-fated attempt in 1989 at working with American singer David Reece on the "Eat The Heat" album, only to part ways with the vocalist during the tour in support of the LP:

Wolf: "We did this in '90... Oh, I forget the exact year. We made one record without Udo. Unfortunately, we didn't hit it off... We never found the right guy. We didn't really connect personally with him. He had a great voice — his name was David Reece — but it just wasn't meant to be on a personal level; we never really connected on that level. But I've got a great feeling about Mark, and his voice is really more along the old ACCEPT, as everybody knows it from the '80s, so he's gonna be incredible on this old material, as well as on the new... I hope! [Laughs]"

On fans' expectations from the new singer:

Mark: "I've got some big shoes to fill. I'm gonna personally try to go out and give people what they wanna hear. If they wanna hear the classic ACCEPT stuff, that's what they're gonna get. But we're gonna give them the new stuff with a new twist, too. It sounds like ACCEPT — it sounds way more like ACCEPT than it sounds like TT QUICK, let me tell you that! And that's what it's gonna be — we're gonna stay true to what the band is."

ACCEPT 2009 is:

Wolf Hoffmann: Guitar
Peter Baltes: Bass
Herman Frank: Guitar
Mark Tornillo: Vocals
Stefan Schwarzmann: Drums

Two audio samples featuring the new ACCEPT lineup are currently available for streaming/download on the band's web site (taken from a jam session recorded on April 26, 2009 at Shorefire Recording studios in Long Branch, New Jersey):

"Balls To The Wall": Audio Stream, MP3 Download
"Flash Rocking Man": Audio Stream, MP3 Download

The audio samples can also be heard below.

ACCEPT in 2005 completed a 25th anniversary tour with a touring lineup of original members Udo Dirkschneider (vocals), Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Frank and Peter Baltes, along with Stefan Schwarzmann.

In a 2007 interview with Lords of Metal e-zine Dirkschneider stated about the 25th anniversary trek, "I didn't see it as a reunion. A reunion, to me, is coming back together, getting to rehearsals, doing shows and writing songs together and eventually mak[ing] an album. That wasn't the case with ACCEPT. It was just for the fans and for fun. We had a great time together and shared a lot of drinks and old stories. But, anyway, when we got back together [in 2005], nobody was talking about a new studio album with ACCEPT. Even if you wanted it somewhere deep inside, you still had to wait for a magic moment to let it out. But such a magic moment never came, at least not for me. . . A real reunion, with a new album and a tour to support it . . . means that I have to start writing songs together with Wolf Hoffmann and that would be a problem. You know, it's easy to play the old songs, because they already exist. Especially for me it was easier, because I still do those classics with U.D.O., but for some of the guys it was a bit harder. But everybody did a great job on stage. I understand that people want a new ACCEPT album, but composing songs together would have been a disaster. That way we would destroy more than we would create. We have a good relationship now and it's best to keep it that way."

Speaking to in 2005, Udo said, "I think that after doing all these [reunion] shows [to celebrate ACCEPT's 25th anniversary], [Wolf] was really thinking about doing something more with ACCEPT. The thing is that if he really wanted do something like that, why he never came up during all the shows and say, 'Hey, Udo, I got some new songs, do you wanna hear them?' or something like that. There was nothing. Music-wise, he was maybe thinking something and I was like, this is very hard to explain but I felt inside of me, 'Don't do it, don't do it!!' I think that this was a perfect way finish ACCEPT."

Udo added, "I think [Wolf] did lot of very boring interviews [after we completed the ACCEPT 25th anniversary tour]. When I read [Wolf's comments in the press about a possible new ACCEPT studio album], I was wondering what was coming up from his mind. I mean, when he started doing interviews, he said, 'I have no problem to do ACCEPT but Udo doesn't want to do it. There will be no real reunion because of Udo.' Still, it wasn't too long time ago when he said 'No ACCEPT — I don't wanna do it because I hate that business. I don't wanna be in music business anymore.' . . . I think this is some kind fear of him, you know. I mean, he knew that I was working with U.D.O. and we had a new album coming out and he know what I was thinking all the time. From my side, there wasn't [the possiblity of a full-fledged] reunion at any point and he knew that right from the beginning and now he's changing the story. . . He changed his mind. If he wants to, he can still do ACCEPT but with a different singer. [Laughs.]"

TT QUICK was a popular club band during the 1980s in the New York and New Jersey area and was known for the guitar work of David Dipietro and the powerful vocals of Mark Tornillo. Dipietro's skills were especially singled out as he had given lessons to both Zakk Wylde of the OZZY OSBOURNE band and SKID ROW's Dave Sabo.

TT QUICK disbanded and later reunited sporadically and released a few more albums, including a live CD from one of their reunion gigs ("Thrown Together Live") and a studio effort, "Ink", which came out in 2000.

"Balls To The Wall" - 2009 version (featuring Mark Tornillo):

"Flash Rocking Man" - 2009 version (featuring Mark Tornillo):

Mark Tornillo (photo by Brian Rademacher):


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