Udo Dirkschneider talks Accept and that Scorpions were awful the first time he saw them
Former Accept frontman and current U.D.O. and Dirkschneider singer Udo Dirkschneider spoke to Michael from Neon Sunsets – The 80s’ Channel a few days ago about his days in Accept including the very early days of the band.
The following are excerpts from the interview:
Michael: Was there already a metal scene in Germany?
Dirkschneider: No. Back then, it was hard rock.
Michael: But was there already a scene with some bands?
Dirkschneider: There was the Scorpions. Then, there were some interesting bands from Holland. I was often in Holland. I watched a lot of bands. There also was a good club called Scala in Moers, near Duisburg, Germany. Everybody played there. I also saw the Scorpions there for the very first time with their first line-up. In my opinion, they were awful. Sorry [laughs]. But it was interesting. You could feel that there’s something coming…
Michael: Although you have written or co-written all Accept hits, but the song “I’m A Rebel” is an exception. This song was written for AC/DC.
Dirkschneider: That’s right. We were at our publisher’s house in the basement recording some demos for the album. And then they told us, that they have this song from AC/DC. But AC/DC don’t want to release it. “Give it a listen. You can have it.” So we listened to this eight-track recording of Bon Scott. It was very rough but we could realize how the song is supposed to be. And we said yes, because the song matches out style. And I play it to this very day.
Michael: The military outfits were another Accept trademark. Was that ever misunderstood?
Dirkschneider: Yes. It was. I started to wear these outfits in 1982 during the ‘Restless And Wild’ era. We’ve tried to look different. In the ’80s, you had to set yourself apart from all the other bands. Therefore, we had to do something. The band wore black. That looked like military outfits as well. But nobody understood that they were wearing carnival medals. It really was like that. And they took me by surprise. We were in Hamburg searching for stage outfits. And in a military shop, they told me, “Try this on.” And then they told me, “This is it!” I wasn’t sure about it. I still had long hair and wasn’t convinced. But they were persuaded me to give it a try. But now, my long hair didn’t seem to fit anymore. So next, they asked me to cut my hair. And that was a real soft spot for me. But I did that as well. And I have to admit that our manager Gaby Hoffmann had the right instinct for what’s fitting me. She realized how I appear the best and how to portrait the character. So that was fine [laughs].
But suddenly we had problems in Poland and in France. Especially in France. Everywhere else, it worked great and nobody was offended by this look. It was different and wasn’t there before. But in France, we were labeled as a Nazi band. Especially me with blond hair, blue eyes and military outfit. And in France, we couldn’t do anything anymore. Then we asked, “What’s going on?” And we were told, “In France, we are labeled as a Nazi band.” Then we started a promo campaign and somehow it worked and it was finally okay. But to this day, I don’t sing the “Heidi-Heido-Heida” intro in Poland. We just played in Warsaw and I omit it completely. The same in France, because they will start booing even to this day. It’s insane!
Michael: In the ’80s, the end of Accept with you as a singer came as quite a surprise to me. Your 1986 album “Russian Roulette” was successful. It was a great record and it fitted perfectly in that time. Why did Accept break up?
Dirkschneider: Back then, I asked that myself too. But I hadn’t left. I was asked to leave. I was asked to leave my own band. I don’t know but I guess that there were too many business people around. It already foreshadowed during the ‘Metal Heart’ time. I guess that they wanted to be a bit more like Bon Jovi. Mostly, it was about America. I don’t know what they were trying to achieve there. But they told me that my voice no longer fits in with what they wanted to do. And I think that was a mistake. Then they recorded ‘Eat The Heat’ and the album failed even though there are good songs on that record. I know the songs they actually intended to record. If they had recorded these songs, it would have been ever worse. They tried to turn it into an Accept record as much as this was possible. Then they were on tour for six weeks and everything was over. That is the sad thing about this story. Whomever was responsible for this — something was destroyed for no reason. And then, the malicious gossip started. That’s a long story. To me, it was quite easy. ‘Animal House’ was actually the successor to ‘Russian Roulette.’ And they told me that I can take all the songs with me, because they did not want them anymore. Thanks [laughs]!
Michael: To this day, it’s a great record!
Dirkschneider: Yes and it certainly would have been a big hit with Accept after ‘Russian Roulette.’ I met really fast with new musicians. I was touring all over Europe immediately. I was touring through Americas with Guns N’ Roses. For me, everything continued without interruption. And that was the end of Accept.
You can view and read the entire interview with Dirkschneider at Neon Sunsets – The 80’s Channel or in the video below.