If singer Udo Dirkschneider was once considered the face of the legendary German metal band Accept than lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann can easily be the metal heart and soul. When the band called it quits in the 90s, Udo went on to fortify his solo creation, U.D.O., while Hoffmann went on to become a very talented commercial photographer. Thing is, Hoffmann always had Accept’s legacy on his mind. Yet, even after a brief Accept reunion in 2005, Udo was more concerned about the future of his solo music.
Now in 2009, Wolf Hoffmann and other important Accept musicians such as bassist Peter Baltes and guitarist Herman Frank have reformed the group with a new vocalist, Mark Tornillo, formerly of TT Quick.
Last week, Wolf Hoffmann gave Powerline A.D. an update:
Powerline A.D.: Word has it the new album is almost finished. Is that true? If so, any word on a release date? Title? etc?
Wolf Hoffmann: Right now we are recording at Andy Sneap’s studio in the UK. It’s going great. Andy is an incredible talented producer and we all are enjoying the recording process very much. Actually, we just finished recording drums. Release is planned for early 2010.
Powerline A.D.: New singer, Mark Tornillo, is exciting to fans. He has a good Bon Scott raspiness to his voice. A much more appropriate replacement for Udo than, say, another David Reece. His arrival into the history of Accept happened pretty fast, no?
Wolf: Yeah, very fast indeed. Peter and I were jamming one weekend near his home in Pennsylvania — this is all after Udo had just announced there was no chance of a reunion with him. So, needless to say, we wanted to let off some steam and just shred. We were tossing some ideas around like we always have. Peter and I have always been a good team when it comes to writing songs. Of course, jamming is a lot more fun with a singer and somebody suggested to give Mark Tornillo a call to see if he would join us. He lived around the corner and when we called him he said he had tough cold that had been dragging on for some time but he was gonna come anyhow. One thing led to another and before we knew it we were jamming Accept tunes. Turns out Mark knew a bunch of the Accept classics from having covered them back in the day with his band TT Quick. Mark started singing and within a few moment Peter and I looked at each other: Are you thinking what I am thinking?… A couple of songs from this impromptu jam session were later posted online.
Powerline A.D.: Did you ever have a chance to speak to Udo about joining the new reunion?
Wolf: There were negotiations and talks going on for quite some time – mostly through his management. Udo finally stated publicly — on his website — that he was not interested in leaving his own band U.D.O. for Accept. After a 20 year career with U.D.O. we had to respect his decision. No bad feelings from our side.
Powerline A.D.: Did you enjoy the reunion gigs with Udo in 2005? At the time, did you think it would amount to anything further?
Wolf: Yes – I loved every moment of it, honestly … but it was made clear by Udo right from the start that he would only do a certain amount of shows and no more. We would have loved to keep going …
Powerline A.D.: Herman Frank (guitar) is back for this new Accept line-up, but no Stefan Kaufmann (drums). Health problems still prevent him from playing drums? Stefan Schwarzmann is the definite drummer? Was Jörg Fischer available?
Wolf: It worked so well with Herman before so we are happy and proud to have him on board once again. He is a great player and a good friend. The same goes for Stefan Schwarzmann, who replaced Kaufmann back in 1994 after he quit during the recording of the Death Row album – due to health problems. As far as I know Kaufmann has not played drums since – he is now Udo’s man, meaning his producer, songwriter and guitar player. No word on Jorg, – for us he has disappeared 20 years ago without a trace.
Powerline A.D.: Hiring Andy Sneap as producer for the new album is a good sign. A sign that the new album will have a real heavy sound. Perhaps like the early classic LPs: Breaker and Restless and Wild?
Wolf: You’ll be surprised, let’s just wait and see…
Powerline A.D.: On your next tour, I’m hoping you will be playing plenty of stuff from those two classics. To me, that is Accept at its best.
Wolf: You bet. There will be plenty of songs from the Restless, Breaker, and Balls era.
Powerline A.D.: Some might say that’s the beginning of true speed metal or power metal. Do you like Accept being known as the forefathers of speed metal, power metal?
Wolf: I leave it to fans to decide what Accept is known for. But I think it’s true. “Fast as a Shark” inspired a lot of other bands who took it much further and started what become known as speed metal. If we had anything to do with that – well, that’s just great and a great honor, isn’t it?
Powerline A.D.: I have to ask: What was up with that cross tattoo on Udo’s chest on the “I’m A Rebel” album’s back cover? And the band’s make-up? Was that Accept’s short-lived glam period? Lucky for you, that original back cover is out-of-print.
Wolf: I get asked that question a lot, actually. Here is the ugly truth: We were doing one of our first photo sessions ever, maybe THE very first one. And there was this makeup chick who insisted to put make-up on all of us. We were reluctant but she and the photographer insisted. Don’t worry, it won’t show on film . It will just enhance your features. We do it with everybody … The result is the drag queen look on the back cover that was immortalized to this day. Live and learn (laughs).
Powerline A.D.: People may not know this but you’re a very talented professional photographer as well. I guess both photography and music will always be a part of your life. When did you first get into photography?
Wolf: I started taking pictures on the road with Accept in the 80s. Just fun stuff, documenting travel and so on. It all developed from there. When Accept called it quits in 1996 I was confronted with the infamous: ‘now what?’ I guess I could have started another band. But to me, it’s all or nothing. Accept or no music at all. At least nothing that competes with the past. You have to know when it time to bow out and leave with your head held high.
So I started my own photography business and I have been a professional photographer for over 10 years. I like photography a lot but honestly my first love is and always will be music. Nothing compares to it.
Powerline A.D.: Are you going to document this new line-up with your photography, from the studio to the tour?
Wolf: Yes, I have always done that. I have an extensive archive, some incredible stuff from way back. I’ll keep bringing my camera wherever we go.
Powerline A.D.: Is the classic Accept icon — the white flying V guitar — going to be there on-stage this tour?
Wolf: You know it. I still have that same beat up old V that was on the cover. She is very road worn and sounds better than ever, ready for action .
Powerline A.D.: Accept live shows always had great choreography, almost Priest-like. Will the live show have the same Accept choreography the band is known for? And, any flying Vs going to be lit on fire?
Wolf: Possibly … not the good one though.(laughs)
Powerline A.D.: When can we expect a tour?
Wolf: We are planning extensive world wide touring in 2010 and beyond.
Interview by Pat Prince