Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 80 - Interview with Accept

ACCEPT

Interview by Carl Buxton

Despite their periods of inactivity in the past, it doesn't feel like Accept have ever been away from the forefront of the Metal scene. 'The Rise Of Chaos' is their fourth release in the last eight years since their reformation with American vocalist Mark Tornillo, formerly of New Jersey's T.T.Quick, a productivity that puts a lot of bands to shame. And it certainly isn't quantity over quality as each subsequent release of the new era has outsold its predecessor, with the last album 'Blind Rage' reaching the #1 position in the German and Finnish national charts and #2 in Hungary, to propel them back into the limelight. Also new for this album is ex-Grave Digger guitarist Uwe Lulis and American drummer Christopher Williams, after the departure of stalwarts Herman Frank and Stefan Schwarzmann. British fans could be forgiven for thinking that Accept had quietly slipped away, as there hasn't been a full UK tour for many years, with just the odd date in London, and their albums have also barely dented the charts over here, but Europe is entirely another matter. Fireworks went to London on the hottest day of the year to meet Guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and discuss the latest album.


Accept - Interview Fireworks

In this day and age there are so many bands and so many different sub genres of Metal. In a way it's hard to stay relevant and it's hard to stay at the top of the tree. Whereas you have the history, back catalogue and longevity that certainly helps. People remember the name and younger people coming up are being told about Accept, and being told about other German bands like Scorpions and Helloween. This is the fourth album since your comeback and yet you've still managed to stay at the top, to stay relevant, to stay in people's minds and keep their attention.

Yeah, you said it. You're fighting for attention nowadays much more than back then, there's so much more diversity and there's thousands of bands and artists out there, and everybody wants a piece of the pie. So yes, it helps us that we've been around for such a long time but at the same time, if we were just making crap albums that nobody likes I think it would fade away rather quickly. So we decided to stay relevant by making albums that mean something to people, that actually have good songs that people like – that was the goal, that's why we make an album at all. Because we could have, really, just gotten together with Mark and played old songs and gone on the road like some sort of a nostalgia act.

Which is pretty much what people's perception would have been...

Right, absolutely! We could have done that. It's not what we wanted to do though because we wanted to have the challenge of writing new songs because we felt, 'Well, Hell, that's part of the deal.' We've done it back then so why shouldn't we do it now? That's the ultimate goal. If you have a new album and a new tour cycle, then you stay relevant that way, with new songs for people to listen to.

And Mark needs to have his own stamp on the band.

That's the other thing of course. We felt we've got a great new singer and it would be a waste not to write songs with him. If all he would be there to do is to sing old songs, well actually he may as well be a clone. We'd be like a tribute act and we didn't want that. We wanted really to contribute to our own legacy and keep going.

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That's exactly it, you used the word legacy. Mark can stamp his own legacy with the band with these albums.

Yeah, and weirdly enough it feels now, with these four albums under our belt, like a good section of solid continuity compared to our prior career. You know, people coming and going sometimes. Every album was slightly different and it feels to me like it wasn't as continuous as it is now.

Let's talk about the album then, 'The Rise Of Chaos'. Can you explain the album title and why you chose it?

I'm not sure I can explain it, but I can tell you why we chose it, because it seems to be something that just grabbed us. It seems to be the spirit of the times we live in, or something that is very current. When we arrive we always have a list of catch-phrases and possible titles and hook lines that we write down in our little booklet. That one just popped up out of nowhere and it immediately felt like this one's special, this really feels like there's a rise of chaos going on in the world right now. So we felt it was very relevant and...album title worthy [laughs].

So we're talking about like what's happening in Syria, what's happening in Iraq...?

Oh definitely, in the US politically, in the environment, anything. Anything that you watch seems to get more and more extreme. The rise of chaos seems to be definitely driving the world situation...to me, anyway.

The album cover is based on your stage design, with a destroyed look. You enlisted the services of Hungarian artist Gyula Havancsak again.

Yeah, the same guy who designed the stage set we built and it matched well with the title. We wanted something different, we've never really done a graphics album cover like that. Most of our covers have been very simple and therefore symbolic almost...

And red...

And red [laughs]. Everybody says, "Wolf, every album's red, so surely you didn't want another red one now?" ...to break the spell, the cycle. To me it always feels slightly weird to talk about lyrics that much, because first and foremost our music is supposed to be listened to, not really supposed to have it explained. You know, sometimes I get this question, like, for every song title: "What does it really mean?" And quite honestly I doubt they ask somebody like AC/DC, or somebody even like Judas Priest. Who cares? It's just Metal man! But if you're really interested in the lyrics, then that should come way down the line at some point, you know?
We always wanted a lyric that meant something and made you think...if you're so inclined, but we're not preaching a message. We don't really have any deep meaning behind why we released this album. It's just a collection of songs and it has to have a title, so there. But it's not really a concept album or anything of that nature.

Was Gabby (Wolf's wife and manager) throwing out ideas like she normally does?

Yeah, she always does. She also has her little booklet that she writes ideas and thoughts into and sometimes we go through that and pick out stuff that seems to work with whatever riff we're writing or working on.

And is Mark involved in the majority of the lyrics?

He sends us a list of things and we pick sometimes from that. Whoever has an idea. Whatever seems to work with the chorus idea I have. Sometimes we have a melody in mind, or a certain rhythmic idea and you look for the right phrase to use and then you start thinking, "Okay, what could that possibly mean?" I didn't have a clear idea of what 'The Rise Of Chaos' actually means or what it should be about, we just wrote that song, 'The Rise Of Chaos', and then we gave it to Mark.

Again, maybe subconsciously with what's going on in the world?

Yeah, I mean I like that but that's really where I left it. I didn't write down any lyrics or proper lines or whatever, I just said the rise of chaos seems to be something that's going on – here, you write it, you figure it out, you worry about it [laughs], I've got enough to worry about with the music. Peter (Baltes) and I often come up with the actual idea or catchphrase, or the structure of the basic name.

I like the idea that there are ten songs, they're all short – it feels like the old days with a forty minute album length. Was that part of your thinking or was that how it organically happened?

It's how it organically happened, it wasn't planned out like that. We could have probably found another two or three songs that we could have stuck on the album but we figured why bother? Let's use ten strong songs – ten or twelve or fourteen, you know, nobody's counting. We'd rather have quality than quantity, to be honest. We didn't want to have any filler or bonus tracks that we could do without. We wanted to concentrate on ten songs that to me feel all equally strong.

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