U.D.O.’s Udo Dirkschneider - ACCEPT No Substitutes
March 13, 2017, 9 months ago
Yeah, it’s a bit strange having two entities cranking out classic Accept songs at the same time, but some marriages were never meant to last. And think about it, Udo Dirkschneider’s output post Accept (since 1987) is more than double than Wolf Hoffmann and Co. That aside, Dirkschneider has hit the road promoting all those glorious Accept songs for the last time. And only if Accept decide to call it quits will he resurrect them again he says. It would be an insult to call U.D.O.’s current trek a mere cover band, although from a distance that’s what it is. But witnessing Udo Dirkschneider live will have you standing at attention.
BraveWords caught up with the man larger than life to talk about the past, present and future.
BraveWords: This retro tour pulls at the heartstrings.
Dirkschneider: “No. We’ve been playing Accept songs for years, but less in recent tours. But a lot of people have been asking me, ‘why are you still playing Accept songs when that band is still around?’ If they want to hear Accept songs they can go see Accept. U.D.O has fifteen albums out and we can make our own setlist. The idea in the beginning was to do ten-fifteen shows and then I was going to close the book. And up to February we’d done over 120!”
BraveWords: Most people are unaware that you’ve had more output than the original band!
Dirkschneider: “And we are starting to actually work on the new U.D.O. album in March and we should be finished by the end of May. Then we can do Dirkschneider again this summer at the festivals. People want it. It’s really interesting to see and it’s unbelievable. As long as Accept is in the business, and touring and recording, I won’t be playing any Accept songs. A lot of people were comparing who is playing better and all this stuff. Maybe if Accept split up and I was still in the business, I will play Accept songs again. But as long as they are still around, no.”
BraveWords: Have you had any contact with Accept or Wolf Hoffman?
Dirkschneider: “No, no, nothing. Nothing.”
BraveWords: What fuels those creative juices? What inspires you?
Dirkschneider: “Me. I still have fun doing this stuff. The touring, making new albums, and what I did for the military. I like to work. It’s better than sitting at home and getting old. And heavy metal is a youthful exuberance. People always ask me about retiring, but no. As long as I’m having fun and my health is okay and the voice is working, I’m going to keep going on. Unlike being in a pop band, in heavy metal it doesn’t matter how old you are.”
BraveWords: Do you view Accept as a key influence on speed metal?
Dirkschneider: “No, not at all. I don’t listen much to metal music, I just listen to the radio. Also when we start working on the new album, I don’t listen to any heavy metal. My son (drummer Sven) who is with me feeds me some new music that’s interesting. What I miss with new bands is that there are no characters coming up on stage. There are fantastic musicians and everything, but there are no new Ozzys, Lemmys, Dios or Bruce Dickinsons coming up. In a way some of these bands have forgot that it’s entertainment. Give the people what they want and not just play for themselves.”
BraveWords: What was the need for speed?
Dirkschneider: “Back then it wasn’t called heavy metal, it was called hard rock. I was listening to stuff like Ten Years After, Sweet, Chicken Shack, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and AC/DC of course. I started when I was 16 years old and we were working on our own songs. That was in 1968 and by the mid-‘70s I was developing and looking for the right musicians. The first Accept album (1979’s Accept) was a collection of songs since 1968. Then things started developing very easy.”
BraveWords: But “Fast As A Shark” influenced the speed and death metal generation.
Dirkschneider: “I know. But we didn’t know at the time we were creating the first speed metal song ever. But when we were in the studio we didn’t know if it should be on the record.”
BraveWords: Did you think it might be too fast and fans may not get it?
Dirkschneider: “No. But it took time to develop. We weren’t into the first demos of the song.”
BraveWords: And the famous intro?
Dirkschneider: “The was just a joke early on. That’s producer Dieter Dirks singing when he was ten years old.”
BraveWords: Was there much competition in the German community between Accept and the Scorpions for example?
Dirkschneider: “No. I’m really good friends with the Scorpions, especially Klaus (Meine) and Rudolph (Schenker). Same with Doro, Helloween and Gamma Ray. I have really great relationships.”
BraveWords: Why is Germany the Mecca of heavy metal?
Dirkschneider: “Don’t ask me! It was England and now its Germany. I don’t know. It’s crazy. But another growing market is Sweden. But England is not thriving in heavy metal anymore.”
BraveWords: How is your health?
Dirkschneider: “I’m fine and feeling really good. I have no problems at all. My routine is really nothing. I never warm up before a show, I just go up on stage. I’m really, really lucky. The warm up for me is when we do the soundcheck in the afternoon. I know how the voice is during soundcheck.”
(Top live photos by Joe Kleon; bottom live shot by Mark Gromen)