ACCEPT’s Wolf Hoffmann on Udo Dirkschneider, Restless & Wild, “Fast as a Shark,” Dieter Dierks, Jorg Fischer – full in bloom FLASHBACK Interview
full in bloom: How did you meet Udo (Dirkschneider)?
We were all kids from the neighborhood, from the same town, and somebody told me at a music store that a band was looking for a guitar player. I called them up and auditioned, and I got the job. I was just a kid. I was even able to drive yet because the legal driving age is eighteen, so they had to come pick me up from my parent’s house for rehearsal. That is how far we go back, I was sixteen. Then, one year later, we participated in a battle of the bands, and even though we did not win first prize, we got hooked up with a record company. So, I was seventeen, maybe eighteen when I signed my first record deal.
full in bloom: How old was Udo at that time.
Maybe 5 or 6 years older than the rest of us. He always seemed old (laughs). He was old when he was twenty-five.
full in bloom: In the early days of Accept, the band wore a lot of makeup. What was up with that?
That’s the weirdest misconception. You know who told me that recently, Twisted Sister. We’re all talking, and they (Twisted Sister) say, “You guys wore makeup,” and I, again, had to defend myself for that photo shoot. The only time in our life that we ever wore it was on that photo session for the first record. That can show you how long shit can last. Here we are eighteen-year-old kids, doing our first photo session, EVER! EVER! They had a professional photographer and of course they had makeup artists there. We didn’t even know they had those. When they are pasting that shit on our face, they are telling us: “We always do this, but it doesn’t show in the photographs. It’s just there to enhance your features.” So, we say, “Ok, if you think so.” And that is why we look so dang silly on that first record. That is the only time we ever did that, dude. Immediately we regretted it, big time. And here I am, an old man almost, still talking about that photo session. We never did that again, because we saw how horrible we looked. We looked like freakin’ Indians or something (laughs).
full in bloom: When did Udo begin to find his voice. On the earlier releases, he had not found it yet. Was there ever a point where you noticed a change?
I would say around the Breaker time. It was a slow process for all of us to find our style. When we made our first record, for instance, it was just a bunch of songs. Some of them had existed before and just been around forever, got twisted and turned around for years. That’s why you have such a weird mix of styles on the first record. Then when you do that, you think that they’re all great. After you let that settle for a while, you find out, well, maybe not all of them were that great. And then you concentrate, just by trial and error. You know how a lot of bands, nowadays, will make a demo and get rejected and stuff. We didn’t really do that. We just made a record right away and put a bunch of stuff on there. Then a record after that and a record after that. So, we just kind of fine-tuned our style in the public, so to speak. Nowadays, you don’t even get a record deal unless you have those kinks already worked out. But we got a chance to do it, and it was fine with everyone that we did not sell. I think our first record sold like 3,000 records, not a lot, as you well know. But it was cool with everyone at the label, they thought, “Oh, next time around.” They gave you a chance then; it was long-term.
full in bloom: Did Accept ever have a platinum record?
We never had a platinum, but we had a gold with Balls to the Wall.
full in bloom: What about Restless & Wild or Metal Heart?
No, we came close with several. We weren’t mainstream enough. We had a huge influence on the musicians, or everybody tells me that. But we never really hit the mainstream market like some of these guys did.
full in bloom: Were those early albums only released in Europe, or did they make it to the States?
No, I think the first one to make it to the States was Balls to the Wall.
full in bloom: Then Restless and Wild came later?
Yeah, as you can tell, I was never much into the business side of things. Gaby (Hoffmann) was always the manager, and she took care of things, and we’re just like, “Tell us where to go, we’ll make music; you do the rest.” That’s kind of how we handled a lot of these things.
full in bloom: Any regrets about that?
Not at all, it worked well for us. It can backfire also, you know, if you always think about business.
full in bloom: At what point did you start paying your bills, just playing music?
Pretty early on. Restless and Wild, I would say. I was mostly a student before that. See, in Germany everyone goes to college and things like that, and I did. I had few odd jobs, but it’s not the same as over here, where you kind of have to work and go to school at the same time. Over there, teenagers don’t really have jobs. They go to school or have an apprenticeship.
full in bloom: Why did Jorg Fischer leave right before Restless and Wild?
He just didn’t fit in anymore and didn’t have the same enthusiasm as everyone. So, we let him go and told him to get his act together. Then we had Herman Frank for a number of years, and we found out, he was just about the same, really. (laughs) Then we took Jorg back because we met him again at a show, and we felt really bad for him. We had more of a personal connection with him than with Herman. So, we took him back again. It was little odd.
full in bloom: How did Jorg not fit in with the band? What do you mean by that?
He was always, you know, not one of the guys. He was always late for rehearsals, and he was not as energetic as the rest of us. He didn’t participate in all the chores that you have to do.
full in bloom: Where did the intro for “Fast as a Shark” come from?
That was my idea. We were sitting around. We had this amazing, fast, double bass song, unlike anything we had ever written or ever heard. I was thinking to myself, ‘What could we come up with that would be the biggest possible contrast?’ We were fishing through records, and we were trying to find something so silly that would be an obvious contrast, and we kind of liked the idea that people might think they bought the wrong record.
full in bloom: Do you know who recorded the song?
I do. Here is a little funny story for you. We were recording at Dieter Dierks studio, who had world fame with the Scorpions. He owned the studio that we were in. So, we go to his mom, who also lived in the complex, and we asked her if she had any children’s records, and she says, “Yeah, there is something I have, Dieter recorded this as a kid,” maybe he was five years old. So, that little snippet, that is actually Dieter Dierks singing on it. It was done of him as a little kid. That is actually him singing the part. So, we borrowed the record from mama Dierks and that’s what it is.