INTERVIEW: Wolf Hoffmann – Accept

Photo Credit: Hoffmann Photography

WORDS: Jessica Howkins

With a tour heading our way, Distorted Sound’s Jessica managed to sit and have a chat with ACCEPT‘s guitarist, Wolf Hoffmann, about the forthcoming tour, the digital age of downloading music and  maintaining a clean reputation.

Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m going to be interviewing you today for Distorted Sound Magazine, first thing is first though! How are you today?

Wolf Hoffmann: Fabulous, fabulous, it’s kind of early on in the morning, calling from Nashville, Tennessee, it’s a beautiful sunny day, so I’m quite good!

That’s great, sadly it’s raining here in the UK!

Wolf: Well that’s England for you!

So, tell me about your upcoming tour dates and one off date in London at The Forum, what made ACCEPT do a one off date in London?

Wolf: Well we’re on tour through Europe and we thought we better pay a visit to our British fans because we haven’t been there in a little while so, England has always been great for us and we love the fans there, that’s why! It’s just another stop, so it’s not exactly a one off date, it’s just part of a tour. It’s a shorter tour. We’re doing about one month of touring, start in Germany, carry on to Britain, then France and places like that.

You stated that your last concert in London was a great experience and that you’re planning on making this one even hotter this time around, how are you planning on doing that, any cool stage set ups etc?

Wolf: We’re going to bring our stage set and bring our production so it’s going to be a pretty cool show I’m sure. We’ve been doing this for long enough, we think that the fans that want to go to an ACCEPT show they know why they’re coming and it’s to see and hear their favourite songs first and foremost. We’ve never really been a band that relies too much on production and pyrotechnics and all of that, it’s first and foremost five guys having fun on stage and really playing some good old fashioned heavy metal loud and powerful.

Well you have achieved a lot as a band, you’re now on your 14th studio release and Blind Rage reaching your first No. 1 in the album charts in Germany, how does that make you feel?

Wolf: Aha! Quite amazing of course after all these years. It’s something that I thought I would never see happen, why would it? Its heavy metal right. The fact that it did happen, well, we managed to kick off a pop diva off the charts, kicked her from the No. 1 spot for the time being which was very cool.

That’s a great achievement, it’s not an uncommon fact that it’s harder for heavy metal bands to kick mainstream artists off of the charts sometimes.

Wolf: Right, but, let’s not kid ourselves, album sales are not what they used to be in the 1980’s and having a No. 1 now is more prestigious, honorous thing but it doesn’t really have the same sales behind it as it would have had 20 years ago. We all know that but still that’s awesome!

Do you think that it’s down to all of this whole digital age in downloading and streaming?

Wolf: It doesn’t help anybody. It helps maybe the fans because they get music for free if they happen to download it for free but it doesn’t really help any artist that I can think of, I can’t imagine anyone being happy about that but it is what it is. What are you going to do about it? It’s the times we live in and we have to roll with it and that is how I look at it, but, it’s hard. Luckily in our genre, in the metal world, people are still fairly old fashioned and they a lot of the times buy the actual physical CD, even if they have already downloaded the songs a lot of the time. They still want the album for their collection, be it a CD, Vinyl, whatever shape it comes in.

There is nothing nicer than being able to flick through some good old vinyl’s. You recently took on a new guitarist and drummer, Uwe Lulis and Christopher Williams, how are they fitting into the ACCEPT family?

Wolf: They fit in great! We’ve known both of them from a little while before anyhow and Uwe for example was my guitar tech for a long time but he’s really, er, where he comes from, he was in another German metal band for years and years called Gravedigger and he’s also been a producer, so he’s the right kind of guy to have around. Like I said, we’ve known them from before, we know how good the personality he has is and the thing I didn’t know is, is how well guitar he plays. He’s a really good guitar player and he and I play better than anybody we have ever had before in the band as weird as that sounds. Even after such a relatively short amount of time, I say we actually lock in very, very tight, so it’s good to have him! Christopher Williams is a guy we discovered in Nashville a while ago and when Stefan and Herman left the band, he was a natural pick for us, also because he lives right where we live now, so we can actually get together and in about two hours I’m gonna see him because we’re going to start rehearsing for this tour.

You are a band that has had a lot of line-up changes, do you think it’s been a positive cycle on ACCEPT, keeping things fresh?

Wolf: You know, you have to look over the long career of anything, a band or a company, there’s always going to be personnel and line-up changes, it’s just a natural thing, I don’t think it’s anything unusual and actually in the big picture it’s relatively, we’ve had some relatively stable periods as well. Peter and I, the main songwriters and motors of this band, we’ve been together close to 40 years and that’s something not a lot of guys even have. I’m not so worried about this kind of stuff, if there’s need for a change and times are changing, we’re rolling with them and that’s how it’s going to be. If there is one thing though that is never going to change it’s going to be what ACCEPT sounds like and what we stand for and who we are. I’ve been in this band for like I said, close to 40 years.

You are a band though that despite this extensive history, you have managed to remain a clean reputation, no drugs, no alcohol scandals and bad press. For a band that falls into a genre where this was common, especially in earlier years, do you think if any of the above happened, you would be where you are now?

Wolf: Man, we all owe this to the fact we stayed away, mostly from our manager and my wife Gaby, she’s always been the one that’s kind of kept us all away from all of this stuff. That’s one big reason why we have been relatively clean over the years, except for the occasional alcohol, party or whatever, nobody has ever been into any sort of drugs and it’s a miracle that we went through this whole hell-hole of heavy metal without ever being personally into this stuff. I’m very grateful for it, I feel very fortunate too. It’s one of the reasons why we are still relatively healthy and have a lot of energy and that’s why we’re still kicking ass and going around the world and having fun because we’re not all worn out from the years of drug abuse.

Yes, because it is a rather common thing sadly that happens and it is very open in the genre of heavy metal, especially in the earlier years.

Wolf: Well, if you really look hard, it’s in all of the genres of entertainment, my gosh, its actors, I mean, how many actors have died from that kind of stuff. Even the most unlikely people like Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, you can name them! It’s not really just heavy metal, it’s shocking to me just how many big name celebrities lately are dying from drug overdoses and they’re not really metal people at all. Then you have a guy like Lemmy! He’s still around!

I don’t think Lemmy will ever die!

Wolf: No, he definitely won’t!

You’re also selling some of your personal items on Ebay, do you think that doing so will help influence people into playing music?

Wolf: Well I hope our music does that more than anything really. I have heard this story so many times over the years which makes me very proud and very happy that people tell me ‘man, I heard Restless and Wild, Metal Heart, whatever and I started playing guitar because of it’. I have heard that so many times, which is incredible to me. That is what it’s all about, because, we were inspired by people just the same when we were kids and we grew up wanting to, we had this big dream of growing up and being in this big international touring band and we wanted to be just like them. We wanted to be like the stars we admired back then! If we now pass the torch to the next generation somehow it’s amazing, that’s how it should be. It goes from one to the next and everyone picks up a little bit of influence from everybody or from their favourite people and they form their own style of out that, so, if we helped anybody out there, that’s cool.

What’s next for ACCEPT after this tour?

Wolf: Well, our good friend Andy Sneape and his band Hell are going to be there in London as well, they’re going to open up for us so that’s going to be great to see! Andy is not just a good friend, he’s also the producer of our records and it’s always great fun to share the stage with him. So that’s going to be a special event there for all of us. It’d be great to see you there!

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to talk to me for Distorted Sound, it has been an honour!

Wolf: Take care of yourself!