Accept, Wolf Hoffmann Interview – ‘Once a Musician, Always a Musician’


Interview: Wolf Hoffmann of Accept discusses the band's new album, "Too Mean to Die," and more in this detailed interview.

Accept – Story by Anne Erickson, image by Iana Domingos

Wolf Hoffmann of German heavy metal band Accepts joins Anne Erickson to discuss the band’s new album, “Too Mean to Die,” what drew him back to the music business and more in this featured interview

Germany heavy metal band Accept recently released their 16th studio album, “Too Mean to Die,” which dropped in late January via Nuclear Blast Records. The album’s title is a tongue-and-cheek reference to the madness and chaos of the past year, and the set’s blisteringly heavy music fits the title well.

Accept lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann sat down to speak with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio about “Too Mean to Die,” his top memories with Accept, the musical chemistry of the band’s current lineup and the time he thought Accept would never get back together. Read the full interview below, and watch the full discussion via the YouTube player.

Anne Erickson: Congratulations on the new album, “Too Mean to Die.” That’s a great title. Tell me about the genesis of that title.

Wolf Hoffmann: We wanted to make it sort of a lighthearted statement about these crazy times that we live in. Obviously, it’s not a serious title, by any means. And, we already had a song called “Pandemic” several years ago. We’ve also had an album called “The Rise of Chaos,” and all of that kind of descried the current situation anyhow, so we thought “Too Mean to Die” would be a good statement in these crazy ties. (Laughs)

Accept is able to put out innovative new music release after release. How do you keep coming up with creative music?

Well, how do you do it? I guess you just have to just sit down and start writing stuff. It just doesn’t come flying towards you. I literally have to sit there for weeks at a time and just collect ideas- ideas that interest me. After a while, songs take shape. But, it’s nothing like- I’m not Mozart that wakes up and has a complete song in his head or symphony, in his case. It’s just not like that. You just got to force yourself, a little bit. I’ve always heard about book writers; they do it the same way. They just go into their little writing room and they force themselves to come up with material. I guess, when you do that, eventually, ideas start flying. But, it’s a mysterious process. You don’t really ever know where it came from, and all of a sudden, you have something that you didn’t have a few minutes earlier. It’s great.

I enjoy the heaviness of the new album. Was that a conscious effort, or did it just happen?

These sort of things happen automatically, or they don’t. No, you can’t really plan that. You can’t really say to yourself, “Now I’m going to make a heavy record,” or, “Now I’m going to make a less heavy record” or whatever. It never works that way. At the same time as you can’t say, “Now I’m going to write a hit,” or something. It doesn’t work that way. You try to write the best you can, and then, it is what it is. Then, the fans kind of decide how it is, and they’re really the determining factor. As an artist, you don’t really have any idea of what you just did. You, just have a little bit of inner voice that tells you that you like it yourself, but other than that, you have no reference whatsoever. You just write stuff and hope for the best.

Do you have a favorite song on the set or one that really stands out?

One song I’m quite proud of and that I’m really happy with is “The Best is Yet to Come.” It’s sort of an unusual track for us. It’s almost like a ballad. It’s more of a slow song. It’s not your typical ballad, but it’s definitely a slower song, and I think it turned out really, really well. Mark has done a phenomenal job singing that song, and I think the lyrics and everything turned out really well.

Your producer, Andy Sneap, is such a kingpin when it comes to heavy metal producers. What is it about Andy that clicks so well with bands in heavy metal?

He’s just a metal fan, through and through. There’s a certain part of him that’s still sort of a metal fan. He told us, for instance, that he grew up listening to Accept, and bought our “Restless and Wild” when it first came out in colored vinyl, and that really made his day back then, and he’s told us that story many times. He’s still that same guy, in a way. Of course, he’s a lot more experienced and a world class producer, but somehow, deep down inside, he’s still a metal fan, and he wouldn’t do anything- I think he has a lot of integrity, too. I don’t think he would produce anything that he doesn’t personally like. Over the years, he’s really become part of the family, in a way. Part of the band.

Looking back at your time with Accept so far, do you have one moment that stands out as a major highlight?

Of course, there are highlights along the way all the time. Awesome metal festivals that you always will remember. Two or three years ago, we played an awesome show at Wacken with a live orchestra. That was our first time we ever did that, and it was scary as hell, because there were 80,000 people in the audience, and it was streamed worldwide live, so there was, I don’t know how many millions of people listening in. So, there was a lot at stake during that show, but it all worked out perfectly, and it was one of those days I’ll never forget. It was even perfect weather. The sun was setting while we were performing. It was all gelling together really, really well. It was one of those stand-out shows. Of course, there are other memorable moments, but that was one of them.

Was there ever a time when you thought Accept would never be a band again?

There was a time when actually Accept didn’t exist, from about ’97 to 2009 or whatever. That’s over 10 years, when we didn’t exist, and I basically walked away from the music business for a long time. I became a photographer. Then, music got me back. And, here I am, full-force, in music again, the last 10 years nothing but touring, recording- all that kind of stuff. But, there definitely was a time when I thought metal is over, and I kind of lost interest there for a while in the late-’90s.

What brought you back to music?

Well, the fact that we met Mark Tornillo. That, all of a sudden we had an awesome singer at our hands, which we didn’t have before, because for the longest time, the band didn’t exist because we didn’t have a lead singer. Our lead singer, Udo (Dirkschneider), had his own project. Wasn’t interested in working with us. So, there was really no perspective whatsoever. And, you know, other interests take over in life. But, like I say, once a musician, always a musician, so when it calls you back, then you’re right there.

What are your thoughts on losing the great Eddie Van Halen?

I never met him, personally, but, of course, he was a legend. He was a giant as a guitar player. He didn’t influence me personally that much, but of course, he was like a God to a lot of people, and he definitely changed the game for all of us, so he’s definitely missed.

How would you describe the musical chemistry of today’s Accept lineup?

I think we have a great, fantastic team together right now. Our newest addition is Phil Shouse, our third guitar player. We have a very unusual lineup right now- three guitar players, which is sort of unusual in the metal world. But, we took him on, because we got to know Phil during an orchestra tour two years ago, and we discovered what a great player he is and how much fun it is to play with him. When that tour was over, we didn’t really want to let him go. We figured, why can’t there be three guitar players in Accept? So, that’s a big change for us. Other than that, we’ve got great guys together right now. It’s a perfect chemistry. I think it’s the best we’ve ever had.

Whenever live music returns, would you ever consider getting some of the past members together and doing a big show or even recording something together?

Who knows? Time will tell.

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Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Interviews, Metal, Music