Accept has made one of the most impressive comebacks in rock/metal history with their two previous albums. Now with "Blind Rage" they can be proud of a three-peat and we got some time with guitarist and mastermind of the band Wolf Hoffmann to explain to us how they managed to achieve such an accomplishment. Read below everything you need to know about the new album and the band's current status, but also a few "secrets" that make Wolf's guitar playing so unique and recognizable.
Hello Wolf! It is "volf", not "wulf", right?
Either way, "volf" in German, "wulf" in English, it doesn't matter, it's all good!
So, are you kidding us? Are you making fun of us? I mean, it's the third album in the row that is absolutely fucking amazing, man!
Thank you very much! Yeah, it was a lot of fun recording it and so far we're getting great reactions from everybody. Finally, the day that's it's been released is here, it's been a long wait.
Now that it has reached the fans, how does it feel and which are your expectations?
Fantastic reactions from everybody so far! The fans just didn't have much of a chance to talk with us yet, because it's just been released today, but from all the journalists that I have talked to - and there was a lot - it's a very strong album and all the reactions are fantastic.
Even if secrets are not to be revealed, is there a secret behind this amazing and continuing comeback?
Yeah... hard work! (laughs)... No, I don't think we are doing anything differently now than we've ever done. It's the same principles and the same people doing what we've always done. Write songs, going out to play songs. It's just now that we have a really good time, because we're having a really strong team right now; we have a great singer who can actually deliver anything that Peter and I write. But other than that there's really no secret.
I believe that there is a contradiction between the title and the style of the album. Some fans may have expected fast and furious tunes, but I think that "Blind Rage" sounds more old-school or traditional.
Sure... Sure it does, but at the end of the day it's just a title. I mean that you cannot over-interpret that. We didn't really want to convey any message or anything like that. We just wanted to have a strong album title that works with the album artwork, because we saw that cover early on and everybody was like "wow", it's just amazing, this is totally what heavy metal is all about. You've got that bull full of energy and steaming nostrils, muscles and power and energy. That's how we feel when we go out on stage. Then we just have to come up with the title and none of the song was really good, we didn't want the album to be called "Stampede" or "The Last Of The Dying Breed" or anything like that. So, we settled for "Blind Rage", but it was not supposed to be a message behind it or anything.
I also get an overall feeling of pain and frustration. Is that right?
No, no more than usual. We just try to write good songs, that's all we do, and every song has a slightly different story. Of course, it's dealing with all kinds of subjects. Wide subjects that range from anything that we can be inspired: by the news, from watching TV shows to reading a book, by actual events in the past sometimes, really by anything.
"The Curse" is definitely my favorite song on the album, so much touching... Is it the hymn of the unsung hero?
Interesting... So, you like "The Curse" a lot, ha? "The Curse" was inspired by a conversation I had with my wife, Gaby. She's been around the band and in the band almost all these years. She's the manager and my wife. She's very often written lyrics for the band in the past as most people know, under the name Deaffy. We were talking about one day that if you are always a good person in your life, then you really get screwed over a lot, and it's almost a curse when you are too good. We call it "the curse of being good". When you're doing everything right, people always think that you are a weak person. If you are always kind to everybody, you're always doing the right thing, you treat everybody with respect, then people think a lot of times that you are weak. But at the same time, you are who you are and you're doing things that you see fit, but still it doesn't get always honored by society, it doesn't always pay back. That's what that conversation was all about and I wrote that song around that idea.
So, were the lyrics on that song written by Deaffy?
No, Mark writes all the final lyrics, but a lot of times we give him a song and it's got an idea. It doesn't mean that we write every line, but when the music is finished and the song is called "The Curse Of Being Good", we have what the chorus is about. Then Mark goes in and actually he interprets it in his own way. He still writes the final lyrics when the idea has already been there.
Could the character of the band be identified on that song? I mean doing what you think is right while playing heavy metal and not following trends, no matter the cost.
I hadn't thought about it that way. I thought it more as a personal subject or matter. I don't know if you can translate it into Accept. But you are right, we are doing what we think is best for us, we don't care about any sort of trends right now and we never really have, so that much is true. I guess you can sort of say that Accept is doing the same thing, but somehow I didn't think about it when we wrote the song. Interesting... I'd have to think about it first.
Maybe we could talk about that next time! Well, without underestimating the four other members and the solid songwriting, I believe that you and your Flying V shine ever more! Your playing is definitely the trademark of Accept's new sound!
The songwriting team is pretty much unchanged. Peter and I have been doing all that stuff since the 1980s. We're the two founding members obviously, the last original members, and we have a relationship that goes back 35 years. And we've always worked in a very similar way. I play all the guitars in the studio and I always have, and then Herman comes in for the live shows. So, we are the guys who are responsible for the songwriting, and Mark obviously for the lyrics.
How do you come up with your parts? Obviously you focus on the melody, incorporating elements of classical music, but is there something more than that?
Yeah, I'll tell a little secret about how I do a lot of the solos and the melodic parts. I sing them to myself and I think about them before I play them. I never really just sit there and sort of just shred away. Rarely, it depends on the style of the song. But, if it's something that I want a little bit of melody there, I don't play it unless it's in my head, you know what I mean?
I absolutely get it and that would be my next question, if a riff or a guitar solo or a guitar lead should be played in a way that can be sung.
Yeah, absolutely! And the reason is because a lot of times I sing this stuff to myself before. Then I hear it in my head, and I'll form the idea just to sing it along, and then I start to translate it to guitar.
That's also a good trick to get "sing along" from the crowd on the shows! Last time you played in Greece, I could see it in your face that you were almost asking from the crowd to sing along!
Well, that's the best! If they can get to it and they sing along, that's an unforgettable experience, man! There's nothing better than being on stage and the audience is sort of singing your solos for you! That's pretty damn cool, I tell you, it's a nice feeling!
You have released a personal guitar album with classical themes in 2001 entitled "Classical". Do you plan to make another one, or incorporate orchestral instrumentation on a future Accept album?
Well, I'm working on a follow-up album, yes. That will have orchestration in it, yes. Both yes, but not for Accept. There will be another classical album coming out at some point and it will have orchestra players on it.
That will be interesting! When should be expect it to be released?
When it's ready(laughs)! I have no idea!
Ok! About the documentary "Acceptology" now, is it still on the making?
Yes, it is! Silently in the background we are still gathering stuff for it. I have to check out where it stands right now, because I haven't had a lot of time to spend on it lately. But, it's an ongoing project and we're still working on it. We have to wait and see what material we have accumulated now. As soon as we get a little bit of time, we'll sit down and see what we have and how to release it, and then we'll talk some more.
Udo won't be on that, right? He rejected the proposal.
Udo, yeah... he rejects everything, it's ok. Initially, when we reformed, we would always ask Udo to be in the band, but he always rejected it. So, we move on without him and things are going well.
On the deluxe edition of the album there's the bonus DVD "Live In Chile". Are there plans for a separate release?
Not immediately. I mean, we just wanted to give the fans something now, because everybody has always been asking us "When can we see a full concert of Accept on a professionally filmed DVD?" and the time was now that we decided to give it as a bonus for free (almost free) with the digi-pack. There might be another full-blown release, yes, now that we have even newer songs that we could include. We can definitely be doing some filming on this upcoming tour, and then hopefully one day we'll get another DVD out.
Talking about touring, you have scheduled a world tour this fall, including shows in the States, Europe, Japan and Australia, but I just saw on your facebook page that shows are being booked up until the end of 2015 and beyond. So, how's the plan?
We're gonna tour until the world comes to an end! (laughs)... We're gonna be really busy until Christmas, and we're gonna pick it up next year again, so I think we're gonna be touring all the way through the end of next year, before we really ever think about making another album. We banged out three albums in a row really quick, and I think this time we need a little bit of a break. We can't really keep up this pace, because there's really no time for anything else but Accept in my life right now.
When are you coming to Greece for another show?
Hopefully soon! I just checked the tour dates but there are no tour dates in Greece this time around. So, hopefully on the next run in 2015 we can come to Greece. We'd love to, it'll be great!
On the Stalingrad tour you played the first four songs of the album, four songs from "Blood Of The Nations", classics from the 80s and only one song from "Objection Overruled". Should the fans now expect any surprises on the setlist?
Yeah, we've been talking about it and we should actually... I mean, we are open to suggestions always. We are thinking maybe the time is right to revisit some of those albums in the ‘90s, because there are some good songs on them. Even on "Eat The Heat" there's some material that we could play now with Mark. So far, it's not been something that was immediately necessary or on our priorities, but we might actually do it this time around, just to give some more variety.
Please, more songs from "Objection Overruled"!
Ok, is that what you want? Which one then?
"Slaves To Metal", "All Or Nothing"... That was the first new album of Accept I had back in '93!
Ah, "Slaves To Metal"... "Slaves To Metal" is a great tune, I'd like that...
Many great songs on that album, too! How hard is to come up with the setlist now that you have three more amazing albums?
It doesn't get easier, that's for sure. But, at the same time, I always think it's a luxury problem, ha ha! It's great if you have so many songs that you don't know which one you should choose, so I'm not complaining. But, at the end of the day, you just use your experience from all these previous years and you know which songs you definitely have to play and then you only have so much little room as far as like trying out stuff, because for every new song that you introduce, you got to throw another one out, and that's the hard part. It's never the ones to play, it's the ones not to play, and that's the hard part.
Exactly! Most of you guys are in your mid-50s. Do you feel that Accept can go on for another ten years and make a lot more albums?
I hope so, I don't know, we'll see! I think the best is yet to come! We are feeling pretty energized, we're having great spirits, we have all the energy we need, so I don't any reason why we can't continue this.
I checked out this is the first time that the line-up remains the same for a third album.
Are now the members of the band in the best terms they have ever been? Is the climate in the band now better than ever?
I would say that, yeah. The core of the band, Peter and myself, we are really the driving motors, and Mark obviously, because he is the lead vocalist. And, yeah, so far it's all going great and we'll continue as long as we possibly can. And I think we have a very strong working machine here, all pulling in the same direction. Absolutely, I think that now we're having a better time internally and externally, than we ever had. This is actually "The Golden Age Of Accept" or so (somebody called id it so earlier), because something interesting I think is starting to happen here. We're really overtaken the past with these last three albums now. A lot of fans are telling me that they like this new era of Accept as good as the old, classic period, and some of them like it better. So that's pretty amazing!
That's sort of my feeling too! I became a fan getting in touch with the classic stuff, but I could easily say that I like the new stuff equally!
It's something that doesn't happen too often with an old band, it's a mystery!
I don't think that ever happens before! I mean, that hardly ever happened with anybody that I know of. I don't see a parallel where a band comes back after all these years. Initially everybody was afraid, "Can we even do anything?", "Is this gonna be any good?", "Is there gonna be any good song on any album?". Now everybody is thinking like this is better than anything we've ever done. So, that's quite of a remarkable achievement.
Maybe the long break you had was the secret!
Maybe that was good, maybe that was the secret! Maybe it gave us enough time to get away from everything, to get focused and to get recharged. I don't know, nobody knows what would have happened if we had continued all the years through, but at least I'm totally happy the way things are going, so I don't question it, it's just working.
On one hand, someone could say that the break you had may have been the secret, but on the other hand, some other could say that you have missed a chance or two to become even bigger when breaking up twice. What do you think?
You know, I never really think much under those terms because everything happens, when it happens, for a reason and you don't always have the luxury to go back, or you never have the luxury to go back and fix things. To me it's "why bother", why even think about it? Because I'm just happy, I live in the "here and now", I'm happy the way things are going now. I'm also not somebody who ever regrets much what we have done in the past, I don't think much about these things, "It could have been", "It should have been"... Who cares?
Last year we saw a video of Phil Anselmo worshiping Accept on stage! How does it feel to witness something like that?
That's amazing man, because he told us how much Accept has changed his life when he heard that album, "Restless and Wild". As a teenager, he was blown away, he became a musician because of it and a lot of things like that. And we go like "Really, that guy?". We had never thought that, that's quite amazing, man! And I hear that from many-many other well-known musicians, and I go like "Really, what an honor, man!". So, I know maybe we haven't had the masses or commercial success that you would just saying, but we did have one thing, which is huge influence on other musicians. We've always been one of those bands that we're not mainstream, and we were not on MTV constantly, but we were certainly on people's minds all the time in those days and still to this day we produce records that are still relevant and loved by a lot of people.
It's extraordinary to think that Accept, with songs like "Fast As A Shark", set the foundations for power metal, for speed metal, for thrash metal, and the list can go on!
Yeah, it's not bad, is it? That's quite an accomplishment! We are very proud of that and very grateful! Quite amazing!
Closing to the end of this interview, the next question is a little bit tricky. If you were talking to an old Accept fan who has heard none of your albums since the comeback, which one would you tell him to listen to?
Oh Gosh, that's a tough one! Probably "Blood Of the Nations" or something, it's a really well rounded record. One of the later ones probably, because they have better sound. With the old albums I think there's a certain amount of nostalgia involved, but when you really compare a lot of that stuff, it still holds up quite well. But, really, I think the new albums sound so much better, that if you are totally new coming in, and you've never heard anything, probably you'd say that you like the new stuff better, just because it's so well produced.
So, is there a promise that Wolf Hoffmann and the rest of the band can give to their loyal fans?
Is there a promise? What are you asking? (laughs) No, I'll never give a promise, man! (laughs) We'll go day by day! We promise to come back in Greece one day, we promise to kick your ass! How was that?! (laughs)
Finally, could you tell us five albums you've been listening to lately for our monthly playlists?
No, I don't... sorry man, I don't listen to many new albums. You mean current albums or old albums?
Whatever you like...
How about timeless classics, like "In Rock" By Deep Purple?
So, let's change the question: Five all-time classic albums every Accept fan should listen to?
Aaaarghhh...! I don't have them in front of me now! How about Judas Priest's "British Steel"? How about "Back In Black" by AC/DC? How about "Blood Of the Nations" by Accept? He he he! How about Iron Maiden, what's the best album by Iron Maiden? "Powerslave", right? Maybe, I don't know... How about Metallica maybe? The "Black Album" is pretty good!
We got five!
That's five, that's enough, alright!
So, thank you very much, it's been an honor speaking with you and we'll be waiting for you in Greece!
Right! I hope I see you soon! Take care my friend!