Accept spelar på Sweden Rock. Här är en pinfärsk intervju med Wolf Hoffmann.
So you are writing songs again…
– Oh yeah, we are already working on album number three.
You call it album number three? I thought that one was done years ago in the eighties – this means that you look upon Accept today like a fresh new start?
– Absolutely. It feels like that. A lot of people know that we have had a long break. These three last years seem like a rebirth, a restart for us.
Back to my question. Is it the same thing now as it was in the eighties – writing songs?
– The process is slightly different. New tools, new equipment. But it is still basically the same, a good song is always a good song. It is still good melodies. If you have that you can write a song on whatever instrument. Today we use computers. That is new.
– So I start with a guitar riff, and then drum beats in the computer or a drum machine, and the vocal ideas upon that. Those are the buildings block.
The reception of Blood of the Nations was really good, Stalingrad was even better – do you feel pressure now?
– There is always some pressure writing an album. You do not want to go back, you want to go forward.
– But compared to when I was young, as a teenager, I did not feel quite so much. Now we have a lot of albums already written, and we do not want to repeat ourselves. But, we know exactly what we want, we have a certain style, and that is good.
– We are grateful for the great reception for the last albums. That makes me very happy. We are grateful that the fans are still around. We have almost more success now than in the 80s, and that is very rare, very remarkable.
Are you surprised?
– A little bit. Mostly happy though.
Is this because heavy metal is revived? In Sweden we talk about the New Wave of Swedish Heavy Metal?
– Those new bands would still not explain why Accept is so popular. I think there is a need for old stuff, and for Accept. But you know what. A lot of people did not believe in us when we came back. But I have no good explanation. It comes down to the fact that we have strong songs, strong line up, convincing on stage. Once they have seen us, they are on board.
– Of course not copy. But we go back for capturing that vibe. They are sort of innocent and enthusiastic, and that gets lost over time. That’s is why we go back. ”Let’s go back and think what we would have done back then?” We try to get in the same frame of mind. Which is easier said than done when you are like 50 years old, and you try to think like you were 23.
Is there any one song of the new albums that you are especially proud of?
– Yes. On this last one I really like Shadow Soldiers. And The Galley. You know, there are always a few songs that are more fun to play than others. A few licks that are funnier to play than others. But in the end of the day I’m always aware of the audience. If they like a song like Princess of the Dawn, no matter how simple it is or how often we have played it, it does not matter, if they are in to it, then we enjoy it.
Shadow Soldiers – do you remember the writing process?
– Cool guitar riff, great solo. For me it is fun to play. It sounds very typical Accept, it has certain parts that remind me of other Accept songs, and at the same time it sounds really new. It feels right. Cannot explain it better. My personal favourite.
On Youtube I read a lot of great feedback for your new songs – do you read those comments as well?
– Not so much to be honest, because I remember reading some stuff very early on when people where very negative that Accept were coming back.
– They wrote some nasty things even before we had made any music. That was weird. Their ambition was to ”destroy us”. What? Don’t they have a life?
– It pissed me off, they turned me off and I could not concentrate on writing songs when I got all this negative attention initially. So I tuned it off immediately. It is better for my mind. And it paid off. Since then I do not read, well I read something, but I’m not fascinated by social media. It is too easy to be sidetracked and I stay pretty much away from it.
– But when the record came out, everybody was positive. It turned 180 °.
Peter Baltes takes care of your Facebook page?
– He is the one, yes, he is the one who always posts on it. I try to, but he is the one.
When I look at pictures of you, it strikes me that you look very young and healthy – you look younger than your metal peers from the eighties. How come?
– Ha ha! I’m trying to be healthy. I’m not a freak, I do not eat nuts and raisins all the time. I eat what I want eat, and I drink beer like everybody else. But I try not to be stupid, and I try to exercise. I have a regimen that I do sort of everyday, it’s hard when you are touring though. Running, lifting weights, go to the gym. But nothing extreme.
And you do not do drugs?
– Oh no, that is another thing. I have never done that. I have never even smoked a joint, can you believe that?!
So, do people mistake you for Bruce Willis?
– Ha ha! I ’ve heard that once or twice. But no, it is not very often.
You live in the US – is that a better place than Europe?
– I love a lot about Europe. US is where I chose to live, I’ve lived in the US for over 25 years, in Nashville for 20. But I always miss certain things in certain countries no matter where I am.
– Peter lives in Philadelphia. Mark lives in New Jersey, they are both in the US so that is good. Like an hour flight away, we can get together and work on songs and stuff. But the other two guys, it is a little more complicated. They live in Germany and Switzerland, so we have to fly them in when we rehearse before a tour. It is difficult to get spontaneously together.
When you quit in 1991 – besides grunge, death metal and black metal took over the scene. Did you feel obsolete and passé, was that kind of metal a threat to you?
– I did not pay any attention. I’ve never paid attention to different metal genres. I do not even listen to many other metal bands. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I do not follow the music market. It’s my own choice.
– But I do get a lot of attention on every festival we go to from all of the younger bands, how much Accept meant to them.
Like the Swedish band Amon Amarth and Cannibal Corpse? Amon Amarth has made a cover version of Balls to the wall, and Cannibal Corpse has covered Demon’s Night. Have you heard them?
– Yes. I like those. I really like Amon Amarth’s version. I like it when they have a special take on the song. When they sound like themselves but they have our materials. I like that.
– I cut it before all the rest of you. I was the first. I was a trail blazer. Ha ha! Actually I was losing some of my hair, and I lost a bet with Peter about something. So we decided to make a statement. Let’s be bold and bald at the same time.
And they all agreed to do it?
– Oh yeah.
How long will you play at Sweden Rock? Two hours?
– Gosh, I do not know. We have a festival set, but most of the time we have to cut it short. I’m not exactly sure. Not too short.
That’s interesting. When you cut it short – do you cut away old songs or new songs?
– A little bit of both. We try to maintain a good balance. We try to keep the balance between old and new, and between the two latest records as well.
You are a photographer as well – do you practice while on tour?
– Not so much. I do not want to carry all my gear with me. And it is hard to do both. I’m either a musician or a photographer. I gotta concentrate on one or the other.
Do you take rock photos, or do you prefer something completely different?
– Completely different. I do photography for a living, so then you can’t do rock photography. I do commercial photography. I shoot people, CEOs for companies, advertising, anything like that with a decent budget. I am fortunate to have two careers!
If I’m going on a vacation to Germany – Will I find any traces of Accept where it all started, in your hometown Wuppertal?
– No! Ha ha ha! You wouldn’t find anything. Not any big monuments. But there should be. I can picture it, it would be two Flying Vs. I can see it. Like a big fountain or something. But it isn’t there yet.
Do you ever go back there?
– While my patents were still alive I always stopped there. And I have friends that come to the shows if we play in the area, so I hardly ever go back. Been five years since last time. It is a pretty lousy place. Much industry. Everytime I go back it strikes me that it is not very pretty.
I was reading a book a about the Swedish music magazine OKEJ the other night, do you remember a certain photosession…
– OKEJ! Yeah, I remember!
… with the band sitting on a horse… Do you remember this?
– Of course I do. Backwards on a horse. To this day I do not understand why. Someone said: “It would be a fantastic idea, let’s go do this.” I have not read the swedish text so I do not know why. We just went along.
You went along because you were young, so, would you agree to such a photo session today?
– Probably not. We have had many weird photosessions. Oh, not many but a few. What were we thinking? Another one is that back photo on one of the first albums, when we look like drag queens, everybody knows that. It is hard not to cringe when I see that today.
When we hang up – what then?
– Believe it or not, I’m gonna do a little exercising. I was in the middle of it when I remembered, ”Oh, nine o’clock, I have to call.” I will exercise, do a little guitar rehearsel today and get ready for the tour. I got my studio set up here and I’m going through the set list.