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20 Jul 2005

Accept

Rockwave’s second part (8-9th of July) was intended to be hectic and hot and Rockpages knew that right away. The phrase “speed and concentration” would take an accurate meaning for some of the editors of our magazine. Wolf Hoffmann, founder and guitarist of German legends Accept, proved to be an excellent interlocutor with great sense of humor and even sharper comments on some facts concerning the band’s status. Read the following and you’ll know what I am talking about.

Interview: Sakis Nikas and George Anasontzis 

 

Rockpages.gr: Wolf, welcome to Greece. Have you had the time to wander around the city?

Wolf Hoffmann: Not really. We walked a little bit, but we didn’t have the time to go to Acropolis, where I remember is beautiful. I haven’t been here since 1993. I may go in the evening.

Rockpages.gr: You are visiting our country for the second time in order to do a show. It’s been 12 years since the last one. Which are the differences of those two live dates?

Wolf: There are two totally different circumstances. Back then, we were touring for the promotion of a new album. Now, we reunited for one final time, and although I don’t like to say that this is a farewell tour, it seems most likely to be one. Another big difference is that we now only play in festivals, while on the “Objection Overruled” tour we went almost everywhere we could. It was a very tiring tour, as we visited some countries for the very first time, like Bulgaria. This time is more like a vacation time for me. Accept is not an active band, so we are doing this mainly for the fans. When we go up on stage, we have a great time and there is no pressure at all!

accept 2005

Rockpages.gr: Did you keep on practicing with the guitar all these years?

Wolf: Yeah, sure. Especially, those last months when we decided to make the reunion tour.

Rockpages.gr: A very interesting thing is that when you first came to Greece, you had your first reunion and now you are having your second reunion…

Wolf: Yeah, we are a band of many reunions! (laughs) Back in 1993, we were trying to rebuild our career. Now things are pretty clear right from the beginning, that’s why we are only playing these big festivals. There are no plans for any recordings at all.

Rockpages.gr: Was the real motive of your reunion then, this whole new generation of metal fans who didn’t have the chance to see you at that first time?

Wolf: You are absolutely right. I am not saying that the money that was offered to us by the promoters was not a challenge, but we wouldn’t do it just for the sake of it. After all, we would be silly if we passed on such a great chance, but the ultimate judge is the crowd and when we saw that there was still interest in Accept, we decided to do it. The first plan was to do the reunion in 2004, but Udo didn’t want to do this. It’s not a secret that all the members of Accept are struggling with Udo’s behavior. Especially, when it comes to the circumstance of persuading him in doing something for Accept, it is obvious that he is not interested at all. What can I say? It is a constant struggle.

Rockpages.gr: Would you like to carry on?

Wolf: Of course. We all want to do another album and tour except for Udo, who is somehow seeing this thing as a competition with his own band. I don’t understand this. He regards his band to be more important than Accept, which is kind of weird, if you notice that in his live shows, he is doing so many Accept songs, that he has turned his band into an Accept tribute band.

Rockpages.gr: Are you in speaking terms?

Wolf: Yes. When we get up on stage, everything is forgotten. The hardest part is to get him up on the stage. If you succeed in that, it’s like the old days. The fans are having the time of their lives and the chemistry of the band is more than obvious.

Rockpages.gr: I can imagine that the very first time, must have been real tough…

Wolf: Very much. Udo was saying no to everything that we were saying to him. So, things were not progressing much.

Rockpages.gr: But, you are not thinking of repeating the experiment of “Eat the Heat” and carry on with another singer.

Wolf: No, that would be a mistake and the fans would not approve of such a move. The classic line-up of every band has always a very special place in the hearts of the fans. Take Deep Purple for example. This new guy might be a better guitarist, technically speaking, than Blackmore, but I will always want to see Purple with Ritchie Blackmore.

Rockpages.gr: So are we! And for the record Steve Morse is not a better guitarist. (laughs)

Wolf: I agree, but he could have been and still not gain the fans’ appreciation. You know what I mean. That’s why we don’t hire another guy, although the rest of the band wants to continue with music.

Rockpages.gr: And what do you do, when you have four guys who share the same vision, and a single one who is an obstacle to their wish?

Wolf: In a situation like ours, there are no many solutions. You break up the band, as I did almost a decade ago, when Udo again didn’t want to be a member of the band. You have to acknowledge that Accept is my brain child, and I didn’t want to see it going down like this. That’s why I ended the whole thing. On the other hand, I didn’t want to start a new career with a new band from the scratch. In my live shows, people would rightfully asked me to play the classic Accept songs and before I would know it, I’d become a tribute band to Accept, very much like Udo’s band. So, I started a different career in photography for the last seven years.

Rockpages.gr: Did you attend some relevant courses?

Wolf: Yeah, although I must tell you that I was always into photography, but not on a professional level. Now, I make my living out of it and I stay permanently in USA, although I am thinking of buying a house in Berlin. My origins are from Cologne, though…

Rockpages.gr: Let’s go back to music. You said that you are not planning of starting a new band. But how about doing a solo record?

Wolf: Yes, it is something that I will do in the forthcoming months. I think, it is the only logical step for me. I love what I am doing now with Accept, and a solo album is the next pleasant thing for me in music.

Rockpages.gr: Will that be an instrumental record, like your first one?

Wolf: Yes, most likely. Maybe, I will use an orchestra this time. We shall see…

Rockpages.gr: Is there an interest from a label or is it too early to talk about that stuff right now?

Wolf: There is an interest, but I must first o into a studio, choose musicians and prepare the “product”. We are still in the very beginning.

Rockpages.gr: But, you are not thinking of forming a band.

Wolf: No, I would have to find a singer with a certain career on his shoulder and who would share the same visions with me. This is very difficult, indeed.

Rockpages.gr: How was the response, so far, from the media and the fans?

Wolf: Absolutely overwhelming! Fans embraced us from the start, while the media has been very positive on this reunion thing. Metal fans can be very demanding and they want only the best. Fortunately, we get along very well on stage and fans have the time of their lives. That’s the most important thing, because I was away from the music scene for so long that I didn’t know what to expect.

Rockpages.gr: You are playing all your classic stuff. Many fans heard metal music from their acquaintance with those Accept songs. It could not have been a failure…

Wolf: Yeah, I know, but you still can’t be a 100% sure for the response. All things turned out wonderfully.

Rockpages.gr: When do you think was the peak of Accept’ career?

Wolf: To tell you the truth, this reunion tour is definitely a highlight of our career. We are playing in these outdoor festivals, which kind of reminds me the Monsters of Rock tour that we did back in 1984 in Germany. I think that 1984 was our peak year. “Balls to the wall” was at the charts, we were making a name in the music business and we were identifiable. People appreciated our music and that made us feel good.

Rockpages.gr: When you were entering the studio in order to record a classic record of yours, were you aware that you had a strong material which was meant to persist in time?

Wolf: No, we were always aware that we had some strong songs or with the “Balls to the wall” record we saw that all things were running smoothly but we never consider that our material was meant to become classic. At other times, I felt strongly about a record, but didn’t do much. So, the circumstances vary.

Rockpages.gr: You told us that you did the reunion mainly for the fans. Reading excerpts from past interviews that you gave back in 1993 you mentioned the same motive. What is different nowadays?

Wolf: In 1993, there was a new beginning for Accept, a new chapter in our career. Now, we are doing this for the final time, although I feel really awkward even to say that. I really hope that we would do some more shows in the future and not call it a day. I don’t want to call it a farewell tour, but I also don’t expect Udo to change his mind again.

Rockpages.gr: Doing an interview with Udo, almost a year ago, he told us that you were the main reason of his first departure from Accept, because you wanted to lead the band in more American musical paths? Is this a valid statement?

Wolf: I know…I’ve heard that excuse 1000 times. It gets quite boring after a while. The truth is that I don’t listen to them anymore.

Rockpages.gr: I am becoming now the devil’s advocate, but after “Objection Overruled” you did two records that weren’t faithful to the classic Accept sound…

Wolf: That is accurate! But, you have to realize that I was responsible for every musical direction that Accept took in our career. I keep hearing Udo that he considers himself to be the main factor behind the classic Accept sound and me to be the catalyst for the all the musical deviations. That couldn’t be more false. Udo hasn’t written a single note for an Accept song. It was always me, Stefan (Kaufmann) and Peter (Baltes) that always came up with the melodies and we had a little help from my wife with the lyrics (Deaffy). So, how can he claim that he was responsible for our musical style? He was getting all the songs ready for him. All he did was to sing them. I am a person who really believes that you should take risks in your life. When we did “Fast as a shark”, it was a song that no one has done at that point of time. The final outcome was very successful for us. I wish I could say the same thing for “Death Row” and “Predator”, but there were other musical styles dominant at that time, and I wanted to keep up with them. So, I was responsible for every musical direction of Accept. The good and the bad…

accept old

Rockpages.gr: Why Jorg Fisher and Stefan Kaufmann didn’t participate in this reunion?

Wolf: Nobody knows where Jorg is! I think that he is not into the music business anymore. Stefan has a long-standing problem with his back and he couldn’t play with us.

Rockpages.gr: Why he didn’t become a second guitarist? After all, he’s playing the guitar with Udo.

Wolf: Yeah, I know but we wanted to keep the 80s Accept atmosphere as close as possible. That’s why we took Herman Frank who has quite a history with Accept. Stefan was never the guitarist of Accept.

Rockpages.gr: You had written some tracks with political implications. Being yourself a German, what do you remember from the period of the fall of the Berlin Wall?

Wolf: I wasn’t at Germany at that time, but it was something that I didn’t imagine it could happen. It was an historical moment, because nobody expected this huge empire to crumble and fall. I was glad to see the Wall fall.

Rockpages.gr: Would you change anything in your career?

Wolf: Not a single thing! I am proud of what I had achieved with Accept and I am not a person who regrets his decisions. At that specific moment, they seemed right and that counts.

Rockpages.gr: Accept has been very influential to many European metal bands. Do you think that you had gotten back the amount of respect and reputation that you rightfully deserved?

Wolf: I think that we got back the reputation that we deserved and we had gained the respect of fans, media and musicians alike. We may have not achieved the commercial success that other bands did at that time, but that’s another story. Accept was always a short of an underground-cult band that draw near all the pure metalheads.

 

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