Accept, who once had their origins in the city of Solingen, a city of sound, have been a worldwide music phenomenon for more than 40 years. They still impress with razor-sharp guitar licks and a steel-hard sound. The band created all-time metal classics like “Balls To The Wall”, “Metal Heart” and many more. Countless world tours and headline slots at the biggest, cutting-edge festivals cemented the band’s reputation as one of the best, hottest and loudest live acts ever. The veteran metal act return with their latest album “Too Mean To Die” which has turned out to be yet another slab of riff infested old school heavy metal. We talk to guitarist and longtime member Wolf Hoffman about the new songs, the changes in the lineup and how to keep things fresh after more than 40 years.
Andrew: So how have you been? How have you been dealing with Cov and all that stuff?
Wolf: Oh man it’s been rough, I mean not personally but business wise it’s rough of course. Personally I’m fine, actually I think I’m slowly getting settled into this new kind of doing nothing-retired mode, it’s strange! At first it’s like everything came to a screeching halt but then I guess over time you get used to it but I still hate it, I still wish we could go out and do what we’re supposed to do, go out and travel the world and play concerts.
Andrew: Yeah that’s exactly it, it’s been a rough year for bands like yourself and I guess with the recording itself that was affected by Covid as well right?
Wolf: A little bit yeah, we still made it work though, it wasn’t really as bad as it sounds, we kinda did ok with that. But of course it wasn’t ideal, I mean the good thing was we had the time to do it properly because normally we would of all been on tour all summer long. Andy Sneap our producer is part of Judas Priest now so he would of been with that band on tour playing festivals and we would of done our thing and god knows how we would of found the time to finish this album properly. So now we had the time but nobody could travel anymore so we made it work by him being online while the rest of us were together in the studio without him so it was a little weird but we made it work.
Andrew: I had read somewhere that you had initially started recording the album and then when Covid hit you kinda postponed it and came back again so I guess that’s how you finished it, was sort of having Zoom calls or whatever you do these days.
Wolf: Yeah we didn’t interrupt because of Covid, we just quit a little early but we would of interrupted anyhow because we didn’t have all the songs together at that point yet. So we were always going to do two chunks basically but we would of worked a little longer had Covid not happened but I guess at some point the news got a little bad, we were watching TV of course everyday like everybody was and every day got worse and worse and we thought nobody wanted to stay in the studio for much longer, everybody wanted to go home while they still could and be with their families. Which is good because pretty soon afterwards no travel was possible anymore.
Andrew: I guess it’s been difficult to not get out on the road and hit the stages and stuff so what have you guys been doing in the mean time? Waiting around or just working on the album promoting and stuff like that?
Wolf: Yeah the album has been done for some time now, it’s really been in the can since late summer. I think it was mixed in August and then ever since it’s been delivered to the label and just been sitting there on the shelf and I can’t wait for it to finally be out. Now we have another two week delay because of Covid because some manufacture facility had a delay I guess so now it’s going to be finally out on the 29th of January and finally, finally everybody gets to hear it. Because I don’t want it to get stale and just be sitting there, I want it to be out and enjoyed by the fans and everybody. I mean it’s still going to be somewhat weird because we can’t tour with it right away, just normally what you do as you know. You make an album, you go on tour and promote the album but we have to promote the album without a tour. I don’t know how it’s going to work but we’ll do it anyhow.
Andrew: I know a lot of bands have been doing the whole live streaming thing, have you been thinking of doing that at all?
Wolf: Briefly but we kinda nixed the idea thinking how weird would that be to play to a bunch of cameras, I mean if you don’t see any audience…I think an exception, probably most shows but our shows in particular are depending on the audience to get into it, to sing along, to participate and to fire us up on stage and if you can’t see anybody then how weird is that? I don’t know.
Andrew: Yeah I guess part of the experience is having that feedback and interaction with the crowd.
Wolf: Oh it’s not part of it, I mean it’s the main thing. This is why we love it so much and this is why we go out but if you imagine you go out there and you play a song and there’s dead silence and just a bunch of camera guys, what? I don’t know if this would even be possible to be honest.
Andrew: Yeah certainly interesting times but you got the new album that’s going to come out on the 29th of January as you mentioned and I had a chance to listen to it last night and I gotta say I don’t know what it is but you guys always seem to knock it out of the park, especially with the last few albums. You must be pretty happy with how this has turned out.
Wolf: Yeah we’re really on a roll I think. A lot of people say this album in particular sounds really fresh and exciting and full of energy.
Andrew: Yeah it does, it sounds heavier as well. You’ve really stepped it up as far as the heavier aspect of Accept as well.
Wolf: Well good! So I don’t know what to say, we’ve got some new guys in the band and maybe that helped bring in some fresh blood and fresh energy, it felt that way to me but if that comes across to the listeners of the final product then wow, awesome! So that’s gotta be it, I don’t know what else it could be because we kind of do the same thing with each album. I mean not the exact same thing obviously but we’re having the same goals of always want to write old school songs, just brand new ideas.
Andrew: It’s interesting as well because you mentioned the change in the lineup with new members come in and old members leave the band, has that been difficult to deal with the last few years?
Wolf: Yeah, well it’s never pleasant. You don’t want this to happen and when it happens it’s always a sad day, especially with Peter [Baltes, bass]. Peter has been my bass player for 40 years so when he left the band I was kind of heartbroken and I thought it was a sad day for metal, sad day for rock and roll in general but I couldn’t help it, he made that decision and that was it. What am I going to do? Nothing, just move on. But I’m glad we found a great guy to replace him and he brought in some fresh energy and enthusiasm and actually delivered a bunch of cool song ideas. So I think it helped the overall…I mean as much as I hate to say it because I would of preferred Peter to stay on but I think the album actually turned out really good with the new guys.
Andrew: Yeah it definitely sounds as you mentioned, very fresh and very relevant even though it does have the old school Accept sound. It sounds very new, even the production is very nice. I mean Andy Sneap always does a great job on the production stuff.
Wolf: Doesn’t he yeah, he’s the man.
Andrew: He is, he’s a great guy. I’ve spoken to him a couple of times, fantastic guy. The work that he puts into it, I mean you guys have been working with him for quite some time right?
Wolf: Yeah and I like him a lot personally and I also like his work ethic which is very similar to what I personally like to do. If it’s not right you stay on it until it’s right and he does that too when he mixes an album or when he works on some little nuance that nobody else will ever hear probably but he hears it and he wants it right and he works on it until it’s right. I’m the same way when I work on my guitar overdubs or guitar solos, I do ridiculous detailed work sometimes that I sometimes myself don’t hear the difference. I spend like an extra day working on something that a week later I don’t even know what I did because it almost sounds the same to me but at the moment I’m into it and I’m zoning in and I’ll get obsessed with it and I’ll fix it until it’s proper.
Andrew: Also I’ve noticed you introduced a third guitarist in the band and I’m interested to see why you guys decided to do that.
Wolf: It was sort of a why not kind of a thing, because we got to know Phil [Shouse] and got to see what a great player he is and what a nice person he is. ‘Cause he filled in for Uwe’s [Lulis] slot on the tour 2 years ago when we did a special run through Europe with an orchestra and we played a bunch of classical tunes from my solo albums and we played some songs rearranged for orchestras during those shows and Phil was a sit in on that tour and my god he was an amazing guy and really knocked it out of the park and we all felt it would be a shame to let him go back and not use him again after this tour. So we thought why couldn’t he be a permanent third guitar player in the lineup, it enables us to do a few more tricky things we normally can’t do with just 2 guitar players. I don’t think it’s going to change the band dramatically but it certainly doesn’t hurt and it helps to bring another flavor and another color into the whole thing.
Andrew: And was he on the new album, the new recording as well?
Wolf: Oh yeah because now that we have 3 guitar players, we really wanted to make extra sure that it’s not me everywhere on each song so yeah we gave Phil a lot of room on this album for sure.
Andrew: Nice well that’s cool to see, trying to do different things as well. Because obviously you guys have been doing this for a very long time now so I don’t know if it becomes easier or if it becomes more difficult to come up with new ideas and to stay fresh. I mean how do you handle all that stuff these days?
Wolf: Don’t know, it certainly doesn’t get any easier it seems because we’ve already done a bunch of stuff. But at the same time maybe you know that and you know it’s going to take some time to come up with new songs, I’m not driving myself nuts. Because sometimes you write songs and you got basically no ideas, it’s just not happening and other times it just keeps flowing and I’ve learned to deal with that and I’ve learned to accept the fact that it is what it is and you can’t force it in so you gotta let it happen and sometimes it takes time and you gotta stay on it. I guess I’m quite familiar with the beast of song writing now which follows it’s own patterns, the worst thing you can do is I guess if you set yourself a goal and say, ‘Alright I got 3 weeks and I write 12 songs no matter what’, and that’s tough because like I said, you can’t force it. You might get lucky and you might come up with 12 cool songs but if you’re totally honest, it might be better if you wait a little while and let it sit for a bit and go back into it and then chances are come up with better songs. I don’t know, it’s really hard to put a time limit on these things.
Andrew: Yeah I guess it has to be more organic, it has to be let out natural and not force it which I think is the right way to go. Creativity just sort of comes and goes I suppose as you probably know over the years.
Wolf: It’s crazy, sometimes you hate everything that you do. You’ve got the dreaded writers block, any writer knows that feeling. You’ve got that feeling, ”What if I never have another idea in my life’. You sit there, you hate everything you did and you think, ‘Alright, I’m spent, I’m done, I’m empty. There’s nothing left to give’. I don’t know, everybody knows that sinking, weird feeling but you gotta just let it go and get back to it next week and the world looks different, that’s what I do.
Andrew: So what now for Accept? I know the touring is not going to be happening for quite some time but do you think this year at some stage you might hit the road or how is it looking so far?
Wolf: You tell me, I don’t know. Nobody knows, it’s different in each country I think but overall it’s pretty grim, we’ll have to wait and see. I guess you could tour China now or something [laughs].
Andrew: [laughs] Or you could come down to Australia because I know you did an exclusive show here a few years ago and we’re pretty good with the Covid stuff at the moment so that’s always a possibility.
Wolf: So it might be that we just play select places at some point before the rest of the world is ready. I don’t now man, I don’t have the answers. What do I know, I just sit at home and wait for things until they tell me it’s clean and I can go, I don’t know but it’s crazy.
Andrew: It’s just a waiting game I guess.
Wolf: It’s a waiting game but we try to make good use of it and I’ll probably come up with some good ways to be creative, I might work on some new classical ideas and put them on hold until I need them. I don’t know, I’ll probably do something, just being creative is fun.
Andrew: Well I better let you go bu thanks for your time, really appreciate it and as I said, “Too Mean To Doe”, fantastic album. Looking forward to reviewing it because I think it might be, certainly in the last 10 years, one of the best albums you guys have done.
Wolf: Sweet, well thank you very much!
Andrew: No worries and hopefully when things open up we get to see you guys down here in Australia again. So thanks for your time.
Wolf: You know it because we’re too mean to die and nothing can happen, you know that so there you go!