WOLF HOFFMANN (ACCEPT) INTERVIEW:
September 13, 2010
I first got the opportunity to chat with Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffmann a few years ago and he was very cordial, accommodating and a great interview subject. At that time Accept was in the past, and Wolf had started a career in photography. Since then Accept reunited with Udo Dirkschneider (again) for a successful run in 2004, but it was not meant to last. In 2009 Accept reconvened after a chance meeting with former T.T. Quick singer Mark Tornillo at an impromptu jam session between Wolf, bassist Peter Baltes and a session drummer. Tornillo’s name came up and he was called in to sing some of the classic material and things moved quickly from there. The end result is the classic sounding Blood Of The Nations, produced by Andy Sneap, on Nuclear Blast Records. I had an absolute blast talking to Wolf again and hope that shows in this interview before you.
Sleaze Roxx: First of all I love the new album Blood Of The Nations. We have a review of it up on Sleaze Roxx.
Wolf Hoffmann: Well thank you very much. It’s been overwhelming at the response to Blood Of The Nations.
Sleaze Roxx: The reviews have been very consistent, at least as far as I can tell. All that I have read have been favorable.
Wolf Hoffmann: No kidding, I haven’t read anything bad about the album. How often does that happen though?
Sleaze Roxx: Not often at all. You guys reunited with Udo Dirkschneider from 2004 to 2005 and had a string of successful appearances at various European festivals. What’s the story behind Udo not being involved with the band now? Was he not up to doing new music with Accept?
Wolf Hoffmann: No he wasn’t, that’s really what it came down to. He wasn’t into it. He basically gave a little bit of time to do the shows you mentioned and after that he wanted to go back and do his own thing again. In the end we have to live with that because he has been a solo artists for twenty some years. We always felt that Accept was a stronger act, so we assumed that he’d want to continue to do stuff with us. We thought that by having all the original players in the band it would have been enough of an incentive for him to work with us. He just didn’t want to do it. All the reviews for the festival appearances were favorable. If you get the critics and the fans agreeing you’ve got something there, it is just strange that he wouldn’t want to be a part of it. We couldn’t force him to do it.
Sleaze Roxx: I thought it was nice, back when Udo went solo, that you and the rest of the band in essence launched his solo career by helping him with the Animal House album. You didn’t see Van Halen help David Lee Roth with his first solo album, or Iron Maiden help Paul Di’Anno or Bruce Dickinson with their solo records.
Wolf Hoffmann: Exactly, but you know that wouldn’t happen now. Our relationship is much different at this point.
Sleaze Roxx: Did you or anyone in Accept play on the Animal House album, because there has been some speculation that some of the Accept band members were featured but not credited.
Wolf Hoffmann: To the best of my knowledge neither I nor anyone from Accept was ever featured on the Animal House record.
Sleaze Roxx: Call me crazy, but there were some good songs on the 1989 album Eat The Heat. I liked David Reece’s voice on that CD, but obviously the consensus from most of the fans was very critical of the music and choice in vocalist. Thinking back now, would you say that you were invested with David for the long haul as the permanent singer in the band?
Wolf Hoffmann: Well, the plan was to take things as far as we could. To be honest, the thing was just doomed from the beginning. It was just something that we were so committed to that once we got going it spiraled and we couldn’t pull the plug on it… it was just too late. We were so far into it that there was no turning back. We realized in the process that our personalities and David’s personality just didn’t mesh, yet we moved forward. I was hoping that the songs would be strong enough to make it work, but they simply weren’t there. It was a different time — that was over twenty years ago and things were just so different then.
Sleaze Roxx: Right. One more question about the David Reece era if I could and then I’ll let it go. As a fan, I have to ask… would Eat The Heat fared better if you had not placed the Accept name on it?
Wolf Hoffmann: (long pause) I would say probably not because we were Accept then. The way I see it is that we were still the same guys in the band who wrote all the previous material, we just had a different singer. I think it just wasn’t meant to be and there is no other way to put it. That leads into the present with the way things have gone with how Peter Baltes and I met Mark Tornillo, how Andy Sneap got involved, or how the crew that shot our music video for “Teutonic Terror” got involved, makes me think that this is meant to be. Everyone just crossed our path and it worked out, like it was meant to be. This was the complete opposite of working with David Reece… we tried and tried and nothing happened.
Sleaze Roxx: At what point after Udo decided he didn’t want to come back did you begin to work on new music, and was it going to be Accept from the start?
Wolf Hoffmann: I’ll tell you, there’s a neat little story behind how this whole thing began. I was visiting Peter Baltes in Philadelphia where he lives. We just wanted to blow off a little steam so we went into a studio with a local drummer and played some old Accept tunes. It was at that time that someone mentioned that there was a singer nearby that would probably be happy to join us for the day if we were interested. The guys said his name was Mark Tornillo and that he was very familiar with the classic stuff and that he was an incredible singer. Peter and I looked at each other and said, “hey, why not?” Mark arrived and when he started to sing we knew we had something there. To be honest, before we heard Mark we had no intentions to ever, ever get Accept back together again. We didn’t know a guy like Mark existed, we weren’t looking for a guy to replace Udo but when we heard Mark he was just so perfect for the job.
Sleaze Roxx: So Wolf, you mean to tell me that there was no formal audition? You just happen to be jamming with Peter and Mark was mentioned as a guy that knew the back catalog?
Wolf Hoffmann: Yeah! Can you believe it? We simply wanted to spend a few hours together jamming. Within minutes of hearing Mark singing Peter and I looked at one another and said, “are you thinking what I’m thinking?” And it was right there, and then after that we decided to ask him to join the band. Then we contacted the rest of the band, then management, and then shortly after that we announced it to the world. Then a few weeks later we started writing the songs. At the time of the jam we had nothing.
Sleaze Roxx: Has the fellow that pointed you in Mark’s direction been asking for a finder’s fee at this point?
Wolf Hoffmann: No, but he could though (laughs).
Sleaze Roxx: Blood Of The Nations has kept true to the classic Accept sound.
Wolf Hoffmann: I totally agree with you, it’s what felt right to us. Now it might seem simple, but I can tell you it was not. Just look at Eat The Heat, that didn’t turn out so well. Obviously having a guy like Mark, that can write and the fact that he has a voice that suits Accept well, helps tremendously.
Sleaze Roxx: Blood Of The Nations was slated for release in the spring of 2010 but was instead pushed back to the fall. In that time you released a pair of killer cuts from the album, “The Abyss” and “Teutonic Terror.” What was the delay in getting the album released?
Wolf Hoffmann: We finished the album in February, early March, of this year, so we had the album recorded then we shopped for a label. Negotiations took a few more weeks and by then it was May. Our label Nuclear Blast encouraged us to wait until the fall, they didn’t feel there was a need to rush things. We agreed and here we are. I’ll tell you, I was very concerned that the album was going to leak as many things do these days with the internet.
Sleaze Roxx: Did you guys do anything special to keep Blood Of The Nations under wraps?
Wolf Hoffmann: Yeah. We didn’t send it to anyone (laughs)!
Sleaze Roxx: I was just wondering. It would have been an easy call to get your friend Michael Wagener on board for this album. He lives in Nashville too, so why is he not involved?
Wolf Hoffmann: Michael and I have a long history together. In fact, he had been renting space from me on my farm for about ten years or so. I helped him build the studio there on the farm. And you’re right, Michael would have been an obvious choice, but he didn’t believe in it. But when we met Andy Sneap there was no other consideration. Andy was just what we were looking for and that is the God’s honest truth. We weren’t even thinking about a producer because we were deep in the songwriting process. Andy got involved when he got word that we were regrouping and he contacted us. We met and we hit it off… and here we are.
Sleaze Roxx: And he’s a guitarist too, so I imagine you and him really hit it off.
Wolf Hoffmann: That’s right. He’s a guitarist, a producer, and an Accept fan. He was the guy destined to produce this album. What more do you want, right? He’s perfect. I’ve got to tell you, things have gone so amazingly well that everything was just meant to be this time.
Sleaze Roxx: It sounds like you’re blessed. Did you ever pinch yourself and think you were dreaming?
Wolf Hoffmann: No, but I light a candle at the church of heavy metal as a thank you (laughs).
Sleaze Roxx: Accept will kick off their North American leg of the tour at this year’s Progpower USA Festival and then you’ll be heading out with King’s X in support.
Wolf Hoffmann: That’s right.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you get a band like King’s X on this tour? I ask because they are so different from you guys.
Wolf Hoffmann: We like really like those guys. I think their management contacted our management and they worked out the details. Their name came up as a band of interest and we liked them.
Sleaze Roxx: After you guys wind down this leg of the North American tour do you hope to come back to the U.S. for some more dates in 2011?
Wolf Hoffmann: I would hope so, we’d really like to tour as much as possible behind Blood Of The Nations. We’re looking at this initial tour as a meet and greet. We want to get out there — playing in intimate venues, meeting the fans, meeting the journalists, signing autographs, shaking their hands and reintroducing ourselves to them. We did something like this this past spring in Europe and it went over very, very well. It opened the doors for other stuff in Europe, we got a chance to open two shows for AC/DC in front of 80,000 people there and we were asked to play Sonisphere in Istanbul, Turkey and Romania.
Sleaze Roxx: I’m curious, did you guys have anything left over from the Blood Of The Nations sessions? And if so, what will you be doing with those songs?
Wolf Hoffmann: Yeah we wrote about 30 to 40 songs for the album, but we didn’t record them properly. We throw down some ideas, and the ones that sound like we can work into a complete song get the full treatment and get recorded. The ones that don’t get recorded will lay dormant. Though I have to tell you a lot of those songs or ideas will get revisited again I think, because there was so much potential there.
Sleaze Roxx: I interviewed you years ago. It seems like it was in 2005, but after thinking about it for a bit I think it was probably around 2000. At that time Accept was on hiatus, or disbanded, and you were concentrating on photography. How did you do in that career and is it something that you’ll continue to do after Accept?
Wolf Hoffmann: It must have been around 1999 or 2000 I think. I am quite successful as a photographer. I don’t do any of the landscape photography, because frankly, it’s not very lucrative. I got into the corporate end of things and would shot things for corporations, whatever they needed. I’d shoot people in the board rooms and stuff like that. You’d be surprised how many of these guys in the board rooms are, or were, metal heads in the day. They were surprised when they found out who I was before I became a photographer. I never set out to tell them, if it came up it came up you know. One of the questions that always comes up is if I shoot music. I don’t, I haven’t been interested in it. I wanted to shoot things that were far removed from metal or music. It just never appealed to me at all. I’ll definitely continue with photography in the future.
Sleaze Roxx: Lastly, you did something very cool in the liner notes to Blood Of The Nations. You said a few things about your wife Gaby Hoffman — would you like to take some time to explain to the readers what I’m talking about?
Wolf Hoffmann: Sure, my wife has been with Peter and I since the beginning. She has managed us, helped us with wardrobe and stage moves, helped us as a lyricist — she has been the sixth member of the band. Peter and I felt that it was time that we showed her our gratitude for all the years she has invested in us and it was time to put it in words — and that is what you’ll read in the liners of the album. I can’t thank Gaby enough for all of her support throughout the years.
Sleaze Roxx: Thanks so much Wolf I hope to see you guys when you play the Northwest next year.
Wolf Hoffmann: Thank you Ruben I hope to see you then.
Thanks once again to Wolf Hoffmann for a great interview and thanks to Loana at Nuclear Blast for coordinating this. We greatly appreciate it.