Just before Christmas I had my third chance to speak with legendary guitarist Wolf Hoffmann from ACCEPT in only eight months. Talk about being lucky, eh? With a double live CD/DVD set Restless and Live less than a month from release at the time, Wolf called in to talk about how it all came together as well as what’s happening with the new ACCEPT record. Check it:
Amps: I just got Restless and Live yesterday and JEEZUS, does it rock!
Wolf: You like it, huh? Good!
Amps: As soon as I heard “Stampede” and “Stalingrad” I was all in.
Wolf: I think it turned out great. Did you get the chance to watch the live DVD part of it yet?
Amps: No, no. That’s my plan ASAP.
Wolf: The DVD part is actually completely different from the CD part on purpose. The DVD is one complete show front to back in Germany at Bang Your Head 2015. Big stage, big production, big everything. The audio part is random selections from all across Europe on the tour. Two totally different animals with different vibes, done on purpose, you know?
Amps: Hey man, 27 songs on the CDs, 18 on the DVD. The way I see it, the more ACCEPT the better!
Wolf: Well that’s what we figured, you know? Because a lot of times people just use the same audio segment from the live DVD and put it on a CD but it;s the exact same performance because they already have the tapes and stick it on a different format. I just think that’s kind of boring, like listening to the DVD without the picture.
And then this way we could include more obscure songs and different songs. Like you said, 27 of them. That would have been way too long for a festival show. We wanted to give the fans extra for their money.
Amps: Well, to hear tracks like “Flash Rockin’ Man” and “Starlight” with Mark singing, I was jumping out of my skin at work today because it sounded great and I was pumping my fist going, “YESSSSS!”
Wolf: Right on, right on! Very good! I guess you’re right, a lot of people have never really heard those songs with Mark on them. For me it’s so normal because we always play them here and there at live shows. But we’ve never delivered them as one package for the fans to hear.
Amps: You know I’m gonna ask…WHEN are you gonna tour the States again?? I will sell a kidney to get you here in Philly!
Wolf: (Laughing) OK, what’s your kidney worth?
Amps: 20 grand? I dunno, but I’m offering.
Wolf: Well, that’s a good starting point (laughs).Here’s the running order for next year: we’re gonna do Europe in the Spring while we finish working on this new album. We’re more than halfway done. We started recording in the fall. Then we finish it, and the new album will be released mid-year 2017. After which, we’ll jump on our own touring schedule again to support it, which will hopefully bring us to the U.S. and the rest of the world. That’s the plan, anyhow. It’s up to the promoters, though. If somebody books a tour we will be there. It’s just sometimes…touring in the U.S. is not as easy as it used to be. We’d be there in a heartbeat if it was, trust me.
Amps: You know, if you ever did a tour of just these three, and soon to be fourth record, I would be first in line for tickets. Because I think that these latest albums stand on their own as a great chapter in ACCEPT history. Was it hard to put the setlist together for these shows?
Wolf: It was surprisingly easy, actually. At first attempt I was happy with the running order. Sometimes I go back and forth and toss things around, but I remember, especially these audio tracks, it was quite easy to put them together once we had all the finished mixes and all the stuff ready to go. It felt really good and in place. Sometimes for live shows it’s tricky to put something together if you have time limits, because you have to throw out all these songs. In this case it was easy because we had a full register of 27 songs. You align them in the right order, and they flow quite nicely.
Amps: 2016 has been such a busy year for you, personally and with ACCEPT. Does Wolf Hoffmann ever stop? Because I don’t think he does.
Wolf: No he doesn’t. We have a new album coming out, and I’m trying my hardest to get it to where it’s gonna be good (laughs). We’ve done some basic tracks, we’ve done some drums, most of the guitar tracks. We’re at least 50% through the process. Peter (Baltes, bass) and I spent a lot of weeks writing the songs and we started recording the stuff two months ago. Andy Sneap came over, he’s gonna be the producer again, same team back together. It should be good, man. I think it might be slightly heavier this time, I don’t know. I can’t really say quite yet. We’re not deliberately trying to go one way or the other. Whatever happens happens, I guess. We try to keep it as true to ACCEPT as humanly possible without any attempts by us to make it sound any different. We just try to do better each time.
Amps: Before you head out in January for tour, will you pick up the guitar at all or just relax for the holidays?
Wolf: No, I’m picking up the guitar to get ready for this tour. (Laughs) I have to sit down and learn my own songs again because I forget these things. I’m not one of these guys that can pick up a guitar and remember something I haven’t played in a long time. Our last show was what, eight months ago? So I need to sit down and get everything back in running shape again.
Amps: What’s that gonna be like when you get out there and pull off one of the tunes you don’t play regularly and you see the look on the fans’ faces?
Wolf: It’s great. I love that, definitely!
Amps: I’m so glad you agreed to do this for a third time this year. You know I’m just a fanboy who has no idea what he’s doing, so I appreciate it.
Wolf: Well, on some level we’re all just fanboys. I mean, we’re all older now and we’re still fanboys. If we weren’t we wouldn’t be doing this, it’s crazy. And I think if you ever get to that point where it’s all beyond you and you think, “Ahhh, whatever” it’s over. If you don’t have that fire or excitement you had as a kid maybe it’s time to quit or something. But we still have it, man.
Amps: Say something to your ACCEPT fans all over the world.
Wolf: Well, hello fans out there. If you are out there it means a lot to us because we’re totally happy that you still exist and that we still have fans and have had fans for 30 years. So, keep on listening to ACCEPT, thank you very much for your support, and we will see you soon on the road.
I don’t think I will ever run out of great things to say about Wolf Hoffmann. The guy is one of the greatest people in all of metal, and it’s been a privilege to speak with him each and every time he’s agreed to an interview. Restless and Live is available everywhere now on Nuclear Blast Records. Make sure you pick up a copy, blast that shit good and LOUD, and be sure to catch ACCEPT on tour in 2017!!