Accept är albumaktuella med “The rise of chaos”, som bjuder på hederlig, tysk, väloljad hårdrock. Vi samtalade med Wolf Hoffman om nämnda album, men även om sociala medier, hans parhäst Peter Baltes, arbetet med Andy Sneap, atta vara en “fotografhora” och det där med att blicka tillbaka:
I don´t worry about the past too much. I actually hate it when people always ask me about the 80´s and “Why did this happen?” and “He left then and why did he leave?” and “Why did you choose that producer back in 1982?” or whatever. If it´s too long ago… most people aren´t concerned with what they did 40 years ago.
There are two songs that kinda stand out on the new album, ”Koolaid” and ”Analog man”.
So, you´re more of a groove guy?
Well, there´s that, but also the titles. You have all these other cool heavy metal sounding titles like “Die by the sword”, “The rise of chaos” and “Worlds colliding” and then you have “Koolaid”. I guess it´s about Jonestown, but still…?
It is about Jonestown, yes. I don´t know. We just liked that song idea and we came up with the catch phrase “Don´t drink the koolaid”, did a little bit of research where it actually came from and I just liked that phrase and I wondered where it came from and then the song basically wrote itself. Once you have a story that you can describe, you know where it´s going and you know what to talk about and it just seemed too good to be true, so we just did it. Other than that, you just start with a riff and work the song in that way and whatever catch phrase seems to fit that grove or the vibe of the song, that´s what we go with. The songs are not really connected in any way, shape or form or are meant to be. It´s just a collection of songs and they are not supposed to work together other than make a nice LP or a nice collection of songs. You try not to have too many of one side or the other. You try to have a little variety.
“Analog man” then?
That´s maybe the song that´s actually a humorous song and it´s meant to be. We all have to deal with it. It´s Mark´s (Tornillo) saying that´s been floating around in the band for years. He´s always bitching about technology, because he doesn´t like it and if it was up to him we´d still be living in 1978. “I don´t need any of this shit!” He hates all that stuff, but shamelessly uses it when it works. He´s just always bitching when it doesn´t. A lot of us guys are like that.
Are you more of a guy that embraces it?
Yeah. I was born analog just like all of us, but I learned to deal with it and I´m trying to use it to the best of my advantage. I learn enough until I have what I need and then I stop. I don´t go into it deeper than that. I´m not exploring shit all day long. When I know enough about a software, like this recording stuff, I just know enough to get by and what I need for my purposes is all I need to know. I leave it at that.
Are you a nostalgic person in any way?
No, not at all. That´s why I can subscribe to an idea of a song called “No regrets” or “What´s done is done”. That´s my way of thinking and always was. I don´t worry about the past too much. I actually hate it when people always ask me about the 80´s and “Why did this happen?” and “He left then and why did he leave?” and “Why did you choose that producer back in 1982?” or whatever. If it´s too long ago… most people aren´t concerned with what they did 40 years ago. Why is it that musicians always have to sort of… I just thought of the other day. If somebody leaves a company… I was actually talking to a friend where I knew that the editor in chief had just left the magazine and I asked what happened? He said “Well, it was decided between him and his boss that he no longer works here.” And I was like “Why the fuck do you get away with that, but if somebody leaves a metal band, there´s always these questions for years after the fact.?” There are people that left us (Accept) 20 years ago and they´re still nagging me about it. Why is that? People leave companies all the time and if it´s over, let it go! But no, everybody´s got an opinion about it. “It must be Wolf, he´s an asshole.” All this kind of stuff.
And with social media today, everybody´s got an opinion about everything.
Yeah, strong opinions. A thing I find very concerning and it contributes to the fact where people are so polarized now and on some issues people don´t see eye to eye at all. There´s no middle ground and everybody either absolutely loves it or absolutely hates it and they interpret everything… no matter what it is, one way or the other way and nobody seems to be even keeled anymore.
Sometimes you have to think twice about posting something because you know somebody´s gonna bitch about it.
Totally. Things you would say in a conversation and everybody would laugh, they turn it around and crucify you and it´s terrible. You have to be really careful. I don´t even go on Facebook or anything. It´s so full of poison and I don´t like it. We got our first dose of that 8 years ago when we announced to the world that we were coming back. People were up in arms and nobody had heard a thing. They had an opinion before they had even heard what it would sound like. They made up their mind that they were not gonna like it because “It can´t work and it really never worked.” and nobody´s heard a damn thing. It´s unfair. So, there you have it. It´s a strange world we live in.
This is the fourth album together with Andy Sneap. Is it a “why fix it if it isn´t broken” kinda deal with him?
Yeah, totally. I wouldn´t see a reason why we would even consider anyone else at this point. Maybe one day when he´s not available or whatever and then we might have to, but so far it´s been working great. He´s a good friend, easy to get along with, makes awesome sounds and together we´re a good team. We´ve got these old school guys writing the songs and he gives us a sort of slightly edgier and newer sound. If we would have some producer who was older or as old as we are, maybe it would sound too old? I don´t know? I´m kinda afraid of changing anything because it works.
It has to do a lot with personality too, right?
Oh yeah, sure it is. It´s probably a little bit like a sports coach or somebody and you gotta be able to let your guard down and you gotta let him into your inner circle to a degree and trust him with secrets. It goes back to the sausage analogy, you better let him into the kitchen and show him the ingredients and how that sausage is made.
Was there any song on the new album that you struggled with?
No, but sometimes there are disagreements. Like on the first album (Blood of the nations, 2010) we really insisted on using “Pandemic” and he was not a huge fan of that song. He wasn´t at the time, but maybe he is now? We put our foot down and said “This feels totally like us and we wanna do this song. Fuck you, Andy!” (laughs) Nah, we didn´t say that, but sometimes we put the foot down and that´s the way it should be. He never takes it personally and that´s a great thing. Some guys, out of principle, they wanna have it their way and we´ve had experiences of that with producers in the past. He´s not like that which is great. He very often says “I disagree, but at the end of the day it´s your record.” We always come to an agreement.
You and Peter (Baltes) are, maybe not the last men standing…
Oh, we are!
Do you have any idea what it is that led it to you two being the ones that have been through it all?
Persistence I guess. It feels to me like we started this journey on a boat together as five kids and one after the other jumped off the boat and we just kept going. That´s why if somebody leaves the boat, they´re out of my vision and I´m no longer concerned with what they do. They decided to step off so goodbye and good luck! That´s why I don´t wanna talk about any ex members because what´s the point?
You and Peter must have a great working relationship after all these years?
Totally. We´ve talked about everything so many times. Sometimes the same things get on our nerves and we talk about it. Everyday life that happens on the road and we think alike. Sometimes we even text each other or send pictures and go “Oh yeah, I know.” We definitely have this sort of understanding. 40 years last year. It´s amazing, isn´t it? We still talk to each other and we have breakfast together sometimes on the road, we go explore cities together and talk about shit. Then, just like with real brothers, sometimes there´s a cooling off period where we get out of each other’s way, but on a certain level we are always connected and that´s on stage. Something kicks in that overtakes everything. We´re joined at the hip.
Do you remember the first album that had a real impact on you?
Probably Deep Purple´s “Made in Japan” (1972) Deep Purple was a big deal for us. Huge band and Japan was so far away. It was magic. It was sort of unheard of, going to Japan. Japan might as well have been the moon. It was so far away, especially for a little kid in Germany. “How cool it must be to travel the world and make a living.” The big dream for us was to do nothing but music. Not have a job or work. Just live, from making music. That was the ultimate goal for all of us. And maybe to be on a tour bus away from home over night. (laughs) We did gigs back then early on, but it was never really tours and nobody could make a living from it. We all had day jobs for a long time. To be professional musicians was a huge deal. We knew so little about the business, but we were ready to do whatever it takes, sign any contract. We didn´t care, “Let´s worry about those contracts later! Let´s just get them signed.” So we signed a few stupid things along the way. Do I regret it? No. Sometimes when you try to be too smart and you don´t let anybody in and you know everything better… well, then you get nowhere either. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit I believe. Being a rock musician back then was so rebellious. Nobody could possibly take that serious and think that´s a real job and that sort of attitude lasted, especially in Germany, for a long time. All the way into the 80´s. I remember going to a doctor and it was maybe in the 90´s and he almost had this insulting comment like “Well, did you learn anything?” I was so taken aback and I was like “Fuck man, I´m a musician and making a good living travelling the world!” It was almost like he said “When are you gonna get a real job?”
You live in Nashville. How do you look at Germany these days? It´s a country that has changed a lot in the last 20-25 years.
It sure has. It´s weird when you grew up in two different places. You´re sort of caught somewhere in the middle. You constantly miss something from one side or the other. You miss the German bread and bratwurst when you´re in America and you miss some other things when you´re in Germany, the freedom and the laid back attitude. Germans can be pretty uptight. You always miss something and you always feel a little bit homeless at the end of the day, but I would say that Nashville is more my home now. But it also enables you to get a broader perspective on things.
Nashville has changed too. It just to be all country, but not anymore.
I know. The guy from Megadeth (Dave Mustaine) is there, Vince Neil is there and Tom Keifer from Cinderella. I was one of the first metal guys to move there, but I stayed incognito under the radar for so long.
Because I didn´t wanna be in LA and not in New York, both horrific places to live I think, but the only choice if you´re in the music business was Nashville. It´s a music city and that´s where all the publishers are and the record companies all had offices there, touring companies, musicians, producers… We made and album there and I just liked it.
Where do you see Accept 10 years from now?
World domination… No, I don´t know? I don´t think that way. I usually look at this year and the next one. The new album and the next tour and after that we´ll see. If I was applying for a loan at the bank, maybe I would make up some shit, but you can´t in this business. You can´t plan that far because nobody knows where all of this is going. I couldn´t have predicted this 8 years ago. We just went for it with full force and hoped for the best. Wherever the wind will take us, that´s where we go. That´s kinda the way you have to take it. I don´t see how anybody could do it any differently in the music business. You don´t know what´s gonna happen tomorrow.
Not many people get to actually make a living from doing what they love the most.
Not many people get to do what they love. I mean if you´re in the fortunate position of making money like Guns N´ Roses it´s “Yeah, even better!”, but even without that it´s a lot of fun. There are all kinds of levels of income in this business. The whole income thing is really secondary to me anyhow. Sure, I have to make a living and pay the bills, but I didn´t come back into this business because I could make more money. Honestly, I´d be foolish if I did that. I should´ve stayed in photography because I actually made more money there. But it didn´t mean as much to me. I was kinda a photo whore. I was. I did any kind of stuff and I´m here to admit it. I don´t care. I was a good photo whore. It´s kinda what you have to do to make money. You gotta go where the money is. I started off taking pictures of rocks and trees and doing the artsy thing, but it gets you nowhere. If you wanna be in art, prepare to starve…
Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen
Foto: Therés Stephansdotter Björk, Björn Olsson