Interviewed by Marianne Jacobsen (Journalist/Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine
Picture credits: Adrian Hextall & Bill Hale
ACCEPT kick off the final leg of the 2015 BLIND RAGE world tour on November 20th with a SOLD OUT show on the ROCK AT SEA cruise! The tour is soon followed by an upcoming date in the UK at London’s prestigious Forum on December 7th, the same venue the band played some 12 months ago to a rapturous reception.
In advance of the London show, MGM’s reporter Marianne Jacobsen hooked up the long distance string and tin cans for a chat with Wolf Hoffman to talk about life on the road, second careers, the resurgence of Accept and of course that upcoming London show.
MGM: I’m super excited to talk to you. I have been an Accept fan since high school – i.e. the 80s.
WH: No kidding!
MGM: Yeah I’m old
WH: Welcome to the club
MGM: I think its really cool though how you are seeing all these bands from my era who are my age gaining popularity again and gaining new blood with a younger audience.
WH: That’s right! Exciting isn’t it?
MGM: I think its very exciting i was talking to Bobby Blitz from Overkill and we were both saying how amazing this reinvention is with record labels like Nuclear Blast showing fans that some of the best music came out of the 80s and 90s.
WH: I think you are right.
MGM: Especially Accept!
WH: Especially! First and foremost! (laughter)
MGM: Right off the top – what would you want people to know about Accept? Besides you’re awesome!
WH: Well, you can probably start with our most successful or influential albums Balls to the Wall, Metal Heart – that whole era is probably the time where most people will say we had the most impact on the metal scene and of course, our phenomenal comeback 5 years ago. So I don’t really know – its tough to sum up your whole life in a few sentences like that.
MGM: What is the best way for a fan to experience Accept?
WH: I would say live shows are always the best, fastest and most direct way to know what we are all about.
MGM: Another member of MGM (Adrian Hextall – again) was at your show at the Forum (where you are playing again this coming December 7, 2015) last year. Adrian says that Mark Tornillo is the key ingredient to Accept’s recent resurgence.
WH: Yeah thanks I think that having Mark in the band is an amazing thing that we thought would never happen. All of a sudden we’ve got this guy and he sounds just perfect for the band and we decided to regroup and here we are.
MGM: How did you find Mark?
WH: Pure luck – coincidence. All of a sudden, well Peter and I were doing a jam session, not thinking about anything really. Just playing some old songs – that was six years ago now maybe – and all of a sudden somebody invited Mark to come along and join us and he started singing and we were jamming some old Accept tunes and it sounded better than its ever sounded. “So we figured like, wow, why don’t we regroup the band with this guy?”. Because our old singer Udo didn’t want to do it and he wasn’t interested and he wouldn’t talk to us and there was no chance of that (reunion) ever happening.
So we figured “Hey. at least we know there is a chance.” We knew there was a risk with a new lead singer its always tough.
MGM: There are a lot of bands out there that have been able to successfully replace their lead singer like Queensryche. And that is the same thing I am hearing with Mark. The backbone of Accept is there, you’ve just brought this amazing singer to the forefront of your reinvention.
WH: You know why i think it works with Mark? is because when you hear the old stuff – with Mark it kind of sounds familiar – but at the same time is sounds refreshed. It’s different but familiar enough that as an Accept fan you can totally fall into it. You know it you recognize it. Mark’s voice is sort of reminiscent of Udo’s a little bit. At the same time – Mark has a whole lot of range. Octave options that Accept didn’t have before and that’s another great thing we can build on now. So we can actually do songs and ballads and everything we ever wanted to.
MGM: So the world is your musical oyster now?
WH: Pretty much.
MGM: Acceptology? Did it ever get finished?
WH: It might never be finished. We have a new chapter right now and continuing. I have kept everything. Old tapes, old photographs – things that might not have meant anything back then, but now they are history and we have to hang on to them, archive them. Maybe someday when we retire I might find the time to finish. For now though its a continued side project.
MGM: So Accept has been together since 1982 right?
WH: Actually earlier than that. I mean I have played with Peter since 1976. He and I are the longest standing members of Accept.
MGM: When are you coming to Toronto?
WH: When should we come to Toronto? We are ready!
MGM: Well the Opera House is always a nice place to go.
WH: Set it up!
MGM: I was looking at your tour schedule for the rest of It looks more like a Viking pillage than a rock tour! Russia, Belarus … is that normal for Accept to tour these places?
WH: Yeah it’s very normal. Those are great places for us to tour. We have been many times to Russia and Belarus.
MGM: Is there a big fan base there?
WH: Yeah, huge actually. It’s a really great place for us to tour and I personally like it over there very much. I like the mentality of the fans. I like, of course not everything about Russia. (laugher)
WH: You can’t like everything. However I like the Russian fans a lot.
MGM: Do you feel that these fans differ from the North American fans lets say? Like the sense of entitlement?
WH: They don’t and they really have a different concept of trends. Once they like something, they don’t change quite so fast, you know.
It seems like in the US and Canada maybe too – one thing is really hot one day and the next day its totally out and then something else is totally hot and they drop you like a hot potato.
Over in Europe and especially in Eastern Europe and all these countries – when you are their band, you are their band forever. They still like you no matter what the current trend is.
MGM: Japan has a lot of loyal metal fans right?
WH: Yep, there too.
MGM: Is there anywhere in the world that Accept or you have never played but would love to play? Besides my back yard? (MJ note -I figure if I keep pitching it someone might actually take me up on it)
WH: Your backyard is already on the list!
WH: We have never been to China. We’ve never been to India yet.
MGM: Iron Maiden is probably going to play India this tour. You should get on board Flight 666.
WH: Yeah, Iron Maiden are slightly a bigger band than we are but, yeah, that would be good. We would do that absolutely.
(MJ -EDDIE are you reading this?)
MGM: What is one of the greatest highlights of your metal life?
WH: Well there are many many shows that come to mind that we played over the years. Mainly festivals where you get a huge crowd of like 80,000 people in front of you and everything goes really well and you’ve got an amazing night and everything falls into place. Those are memories that i will take with me forever.
The Monsters of Rock shows in the 80s all though Europe and we just now recently this last year we played a huge show – we headlined at Wacken and headlined in front of 750,000 people in Poland – if you can believe it.
MGM: Holy Smokes – yeah I can believe it. I’m really happy for you.
WH: That was probably one of the largest crowds we have ever played to. I don’t think we will ever top that.
MGM: 750,000 people!
WH: Yep, it was a charity event for a children’s hospital and it was amazing. It’s an annual event. We are used to playing big crowds like Wacken and other big festivals where there is like 100,000 people. When you get 700,000 to 750,000 people, that in itself is a new dimension.
MGM: I cannot even imagine standing in front of that many people.
WH: You know, I should tell you the truth that from a certain amount on it really makes no difference. Whether its 100,000 or 500,000 – its just a mass of people up to the horizon and you can’t count how many out. So, how true all these numbers are I don’t know for sure. I do know though that its a shitload of people. Overall though its an amazing feeling.
MGM: How do you feel about the new young blood of fans getting into heavy metal?
WH: We love it! We love seeing new young fans enjoying heavy metal. Sometimes we have Dads and Sons and it seems like we are approaching 3 generations of fans on some levels here. I don’t know how that is possible but its happening.
MGM: So you have this show at the London Forum coming up on December 7, 2015 with a band called Hell. Can you tell me a bit about that.
WH: Hell is the band of Andy Sneap. Andy Sneap is our producer and has become a really good friend over the years and we have made the last three records with him and about 3 years ago he decided that he was going back on the road again with this band Hell as the guitar player and he is having a lot of fun and on occasion Accept gets a chance to play with Hell. This is one of those occasions. Now that we are playing in England again it was an obvious choice for us to invite him and his band to share the stage with us again so its gonna be somewhat of a “family affair” .
We are also doing our first ever cruise for a day on the Baltic Sea. Accept has never done a cruise so far and there are so many people doing it now we thought we would give it a try. We have been approached many times before to do this type of thing but it never worked out yet and this time it all fell into place and we are just gonna try it out. This is our trial run – so we will see how it goes
MGM: Your maiden voyage! Hope you don’t get seasick.
WH: We will see how we like it.
MGM: You have had a few hiatuses from Accept over the years. Were you doing anything during that time creatively?
WH: Besides hibernating you mean?
MGM: (giggle) yeah -what did you do during your hibernation?
WH: I became a professional photographer for many many years. and LOVED IT. Photography has always been a passion of mine I’ve been into photography a long long time. When Accept came to a standstill, I decided. “you know what? I’m gonna do something completely different” walk away from the music business altogether – with my head held high. I didn’t want to play any bars or any of the inevitable stuff that you have to do if you HAVE to make music for a living.
I just decided to start another career and that became photography for me. it was going really well. I had some great corporate clients, and actually made some really good money. It was all fun and good but….Then the music called me back in.
MGM: Thank goodness!
WH: Yeah that’s right! It’s sort of like the Mafia. You can join but you can never leave. You can pretend you are gone but you can never really leave.
MGM: So Accept’s most recent album – the third with Mark – has done very well yes?
WH: The newest album might be our best yet. It was #1 in Germany after all these years. Can you imagine? It feels better than ever.
MGM: Why is that?
W: Probably several reasons: One is that when you are young you take certain things for granted and overlook certain things that you realize later on how special they are and cherish and acknowledge them more. Just the fact that we are able to do what we are doing is in itself nothing short of amazing. Back in the 80s I didn’t think too much about it. it just happened, you know. And now that we get this second chance and a second run and a second wind – career – whatever you want to call it. It’s nothing short of a miracle to me. It’s so unusual.
MGM: I love being able to tell people “I told you so” as metal starts to reinvent itself and resuscitate good bands that deserve to be heard by new ears.
WH: In my case, having been away from the music business for a number of years and having had another career in another field altogether. All of it has made me realize or appreciate it now so much more too. I mean the fact that we get to travel the world again and meet all these old and new fans and get to be on these huge stages again and it’s doing so well – i mean – who would have thought?
i thought this was all done and over with and here we are man; doing it all over again and still pretending like we are 25 years old and having a blast.
MGM: You mean you aren’t?
MGM: So as you tour now. What do you do with your down time in between shows?
WH: Half or most of the time you spend getting from A to B. Then by the time you finally get there – sometimes you are totally exhausted and sometimes you have a day off or a few hours to yourself. Peter and I usually get together and explore the cities we are in.
MGM: So cool..
WH: Yeah! Sometimes we will take the time and do a little bit of sightseeing if its a city we have never been to before. A lot of times we just sort of wander the streets and go to cafes and stores and catch the local flare and spend some time.
MGM: Must be nice to have one of your very best friends with you to share this experience.
WH: Heck yeah! Peter and I are always the ones having breakfast together all the time. We hang out more than anybody. Feels a lot of times like we are an old married couple.
Together forever. We know each other so well.
I guess that’s why it works so well when we are doing songwriting because we really don’t have to say a lot to each other. We just sort of know what the other guy thinks and it sort of works that way.
MGM: The magic is there!
WH: It is!
MGM: This is amazing! I hope you come to Canada really soon.
WH: Canada is really great! I’d love to come back to Canada.(CANADIAN PROMOTERS ARE YOU READING THIS?)
WH: I think what people forget is that we can’t just show up. We need promoters to book us and so its up to the fans to bug the promoters to book the shows. (ACCEPT FANS ARE YOU READING THIS?)
We will gladly come wherever we are booked. It’s not up to us to decide where we are going.
MGM: So my backyard is booked right?
ACCEPT PLAY THE FORUM IN LONDON ON DECEMBER 7TH