For those of you not already in the know Udo Dirkschneider released his DIRKSCHNEIDER Live – Back to the Roots 2-CD live set (AFM Records) made up entirely of ACCEPT classics. The plan is to do these songs one final time live on a world tour and then put them to bed. The man has enough solo material to do a three-hour set if he wants to, so this move is entirely justified. I sat down with Udo a short while ago to discuss the album, the tour, and what the future holds. Take a look:
Amps: This live album…jeez, it’s a monster!
Udo: (Laughing) yeah. Sorry! I don’t know, I really liked the results on this CD. I’m really happy with it. The band was playing really well and everything came together well.
Amps: Sven (Dirkschneider, drummer, and Udo’s son) sounds like he’s been in the band for 20 years. He fits like a glove.
Udo: I know! Of course, he grew up with all this stuff. Stefan Kaufmann (former ACCEPT drummer and U.D.O. guitarist) came to the studio to show him some things about the old songs. And then he goes to me,” Wow, he’s playing the stuff much better than I did!” (laughs). What can I say, I think Sven is doing a great job.
Amps: You’re ending the tour here in Philly and I will be screaming like a lunatic, I can’t wait.
Udo: So far it’s gone really well. I just got back from Japan, which was great, and our European tour was a big surprise, you know? We had so many sold out shows, and it wasn’t planned to do it for so long, but the demand was there. We started out saying we’d do maybe 10-15 shows, but now when we finish the U.S. and Canada we’ll have done 120 shows! But, what can I say? I enjoy it, the people enjoy it, so why not keep doing it, right?
Amp: You HAD to realize that when you announced the U.S. tour that the fans here were gonna go bonkers though, right?
Udo: (Laughs) that feels good to hear. There were two reasons to do this. A lot of the U.D.O. fans have said, “OK. ACCEPT is back in business, you have a huge catalog, and you can make a setlist without any ACCEPT songs.” But, the main reason I did this is I was getting tired of always being compared with ACCEPT. “Who is playing the classic songs better?” type of stuff. So many journalists were making a bad thing of this, so I was tired. I don’t need that. So now I close the book, I do this one more time with all the classic songs, and then I don’t play ACCEPT songs anymore.
Amps: I don’t blame you one bit. You’ve earned the right to do whatever the hell you want, and I applaud you for doing so. Then after this you start a new record?
Udo: Thank you. At the moment the plan is to start the new U.D.O. album at the beginning of March. After our last show in Philadelphia (Feb. 4) everyone will take a little break, have some time off, then we’ll hit the studio beginning of March. We’re gonna take our time to record it, and then we’ll see what happens over the summer as far as playing any shows. I think it will be out hopefully late summer or early fall.
Amps: Decadent is such a great album, too.
Udo: Thank you. That’s interesting because for so long it was just two people writing songs, but on Decadent it was the whole band. There’s a lot of different influences that came together, and I liked that. It will be the same on the next album, too.
Amps: When you finish a massive tour like this one, what do you do to come down from that?
Udo: I live in a nice place in Ibiza, Spain. I’m on an island and it’s very nice for relaxing. I have a little house here. It’s nice to come back where it’s not so cold (laughs). It takes a while, you need at least a week to come down from the tour life and get back to normal.
Amps: Every ACCEPT classic you can think of is on this set. Are there certain songs that you maybe have more of an attachment to than others?
Udo: They’re not all the same, but I love “Neon Nights”, “Head Over Heels”, “Losers and Winners”, and I don’t think we ever played “Wrong Is Right”. Now I’m, as you can say, a free man because I can put together a setlist of my favorite ACCEPT classics without any of the old band stopping me (laughs). Of course, you cannot satisfy everybody. But I think we put together a very, very good setlist. These are the right songs that we’re doing on this tour.
Amps: To prepare for a tour of this magnitude, what’s your regimen for keeping healthy and keeping the voice in good working order?
Udo: With the voice, I think I’m really, really lucky. I don’t have any problems. Of course, if I get a cold, it’s a little bit different. But normally I don’t have any problems. And as far as keeping healthy, it’s really simple: Don’t party too much. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Of course, we are not monks, we enjoy a good beer or wine together, and sometimes we get a little drunk. I’ll be honest, why not? But not like it was in the 80’s, partying nearly every night. Otherwise you cannot do this. And my son Sven knows this. He realized very early on that if you want to be good at this you can’t party too much. He’s a grown man and he knows what he needs to do. He’s 22 years old, and much more calm than I was at that age.
Amps: I imagine that when you’re having a great show, and everything’s clicking, it must be fun to share that with him both during and after the gig.
Udo: Yeah, definitely. After a show we’re always talking, all of us, about what went great, or what we can do better. That’s a big part of the business and what you have to do. Talking directly after a show is key, because after a couple of hours you might forget things you saw earlier. But it’s very easy-going in this band. I’m also really proud of our guitar players Andrey Smirnov and Kasperi Heikkinen for learning and rehearsing all these old songs. They’re doing a great job.
Amps: Do you have any ideas kicking around for the next record?
Udo: Tomorrow we are meeting and collecting ideas, rough ones, as much as we can. Then in March we have pre-production for two or three weeks, then we’ll sit down with our ideas and say, “OK, this is good, and this is good.” We’ll have around 20 songs before we start recording and then trim it down to maybe 17 and record those.
Amps: For those people who don’t get to experience these shows what do you want them to get out of this double live album?
Udo: I hope they get a good feeling of the atmosphere and can hear that classic metal is still alive.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the fans of your music out there in the world?
Udo: Thanks for staying together with me for nearly forty years. And I can promise you I won’t stop. I’m really proud of all the fans who support me.
And we are proud to be your fans, Udo. If any of you metal maniacs do not catch this tour when it hits your town, then shame on you. You are doing yourself a huge disservice. I’ll be there closing night in Philly at The Trocadero, and I can’t wait. In the meantime be sure to pick up DIRKSCHNEIDER Live – Back to the Roots today!!