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20 Questions with Wolf Hoffmann 5/6/03

 

20 QUESTIONS WITH…


Accept’s Guitarist Wolf Hoffmann

Fozzy webmaster and Sludgeaholic Ed Aborn hooked us up with this week’s 20 Questions with Wolf from Accept. Accept’s "Balls To The Walls" is one of our favorite songs and we generally hate everything, so that’s saying something. Wolf did a good job and also sent along some classic photos. Enjoy!

1. What are you currently up to? This is your chance to plug whatever it is you’ve got going on.
Currently I’m living in the Witness Protection Program. Actually, I’m a professional photographer and have been for around five years now. I began shooting when I was still in the band. Traveling around the world on our tours made for some great subjects. I started with landscapes mainly and just kind of gravitated towards photography more and more over time. During Accept’s first hiatus in 1990 I took up photography full time. Eventually I discovered that I enjoyed shooting people more than landscapes, etc. Now I do mainly advertising and editorial work for magazines. Occasionally I’ll also do some music industry stuff. You can see some of my photo work at http://www.WolfHoffmann.com. You can find some Accept stuff at http://www.AcceptArchive.com which is going to be overhauled and updated soon.

2. Why did Accept call it quits a few years ago? Did you feel that you had outlived your legacy, or didn’t anyone feel like doing it anymore? And how did the fans relate to David Reece filling his shoes?
Those are actually a couple of different questions. The ending of Accept had nothing to do with Reece. The whole thing had pretty much run its course. We had been doing it for 20 years. Times and musical tastes were changing. In that new landscape there really wasn’t a place for Accept. All the members had drifted apart in their desire to keep the music thing going. Plus, the band had changed and there were only 3 of 5 original members left at the time. As for Reece, the fans hated him and never accepted him. I can see why they didn’t. He didn’t really have much in common with what the band had been. It was a deliberate change but, in hindsight, not a good one really. Despite that, though, I thought we made a great record.

3. Speaking of David Reece he only did the "Eat The Heat" release with Accept in 1989, why did it end & where is he now? Rumors circulated that he and bassist Peter Baltes had some serious issues with women, secrets and the end was not pretty at all, True? Please elaborate?
See my previous answer for the answer to why it ended. I have no idea where David Reece is now. We were on tour with WASP somewhere around 1989 or 1990 trying to build some momentum for the "Eat the Heat" record. The tour was going lousy and not drawing well. Stefan Kaufman quit half-way through and everything was falling apart. Reece had never fit in for a number of reasons. There was the healthy case of "Lead Singer’s Disease," his drug demons always chasing him and some paranoia to really cap it all off. Being Germans we naturally spoke German frequently and this would freak him out. He’d think we were always talking about him. I don’t know who said what to whom but Peter and David got into an argument and perhaps it even came to blows. I don’t think it was about women though. But it was not just a casual fight, if there is such a thing. It was a bad situation – the worst Accept had ever dealt with as a band. This was the last straw.

The basic attitude at that point was that it just wasn’t going to work out and we had enough. So we had a meeting that night in the hotel room and decided to just pack it up and head home. It was better to pull the plug than live the misery daily. You can’t work effectively feeling threatened by members of your own band. So we left the hotel first thing in the morning. Being the rock star that he thought he was he naturally missed the bus call and when he work up and casually came downstairs at 11 a.m. everyone was gone!

4. What hard rock/heavy metal band should give it up and call it a day?
Pretty much all of them. In reality, I’m so cynical about the music industry now that I don’t see any metal band that has a reason to be out there. With that said I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m not out there searching for quality metal bands these days. I’m sure there is some good music being made but it’s not the same thing as it used to be. To me, metal was always had its base in youth and rebellion. So when you’re 40 or 50 years old with kids, a mortgage, life insurance, etc. it’s not about rebellion anymore. It’s a way to make a living. That’s okay but it’s not the same thing. Sometimes it looks like overweight, middle-aged guys that keep it all going and no one knows or wants to admit that it’s a joke. Again though, I’m so cynical maybe I’m the wrong guy to ask, but you asked so that’s what you get!

5. Rank the following guitar players on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being a tasteless hack and 10 being a virtuoso:
Mick Mars = 4 for effort.
Ace Frehley = 3. When I saw KISS on the first reunion tour it looked like they had to prop him up with strings or something. He was physically there but should have been in a retirement home long ago. But he’s a god to some people and I can appreciate that.
John Norum = Don’t know much about him actually. Met him once and he was a really nice guy. He was with Dokken for like the 4th time when I met him. Didn’t really hear his stuff though.
Yngwie Malmsteen = Never liked his stuff personally but technically I’ll give him a 10. 0 for taste though.
Matthias Jabs = Good buddy of mine so he gets a 10. He also gets a 10 for being the "new guitar player" for like the past 25 years since Uli Roth. He’s an awesome player.
George Lynch = 8. Technically very good but I hear he can be a dick. They opened for us in Europe in 1986 and he wasn’t the most friendly guy.
Kai Hansen = 7. Although Helloween and Gamma Ray haven’t been my personal favorites I think they’ve put out some strong material.
Richie Scarlet = Never heard of the guy.
Mathias Dieth = He’s a lawyer now so he gets a 10 for knowing when to move on. Actually he was/is pretty good.
C.C. DeVille = 1. Should have stopped before he started.

6. The credits inside a re-issue of the "Balls to the wall" CD reads: "Udo Dirschneider, a diminutive troll of a man." Aside from his size & customary camouflage fatigues, how would you describe the true voice of Accept?
He surely is the true voice of Accept. He’s now the singer of the world’s foremost Accept tribute band as witnessed by their set lists. The truth is that it didn’t matter what size show we were playing he always gave 100% each night. So today he’s probably every bit as good as he was then. We keep in touch but aren’t extremely close at this point in our lives. In other words, we’re not sharing recipes!

7. A few years ago, you played as part of "Sebastian Bach & Friends." Just how long have you and Baz been friends, and how much of a pain in the ass was he to work with?
Actually, I was only in the studio for a day or two during that project. Sebastian wasn’t a pain in the ass at all in fact. It was a lot of fun actually. He is easy to get along and work with and an amazing singer. He’s a true rock ‘n roller. There’s no doubt that he’s a crazy motherfucker though! He is what a metal singer should be and gives 110% of himself from my experiences with him. True, he’s a little high-maintenance but that goes with the territory I think. I enjoyed working with him albeit briefly.

8. How long have you been a professional photographer, and who, or what, has been the most interesting subject you’ve photographed?
See question 1 about the background. The most interesting thing I’ve done recently is a book that chronicles the innovations and instruments of the legendary Les Paul. Shooting the photos for the book I got to spend two weeks or so in Les’ house and it was mind-blowing. He has an amazing selection of prototypes of guitars, multi-track recording gear, etc. that he developed. And let me tell you, he’s in his mid-80’s but still lives like a rocker! He doesn’t get up before the afternoon and stays up all night. One night I was there around midnight and he was playing guitar in his kitchen by himself! No amp, just sitting there practicing… at 86 years old! I also shot a similar book about Chet Atkins which was very cool.

9. Of all places on earth, why did you decide to relocate to Tennessee?
Because my wife said the hay here would be good for the horses. We live on a nice farm outside of Nashville with horses, cats and dogs. Actually, it ‘s a pretty good place to live but sometimes I ask myself the same thing you did! I guess you gotta be somewhere though. We lived in Vermont prior to moving here to the Nashville area. We love America in general and this is a musician-friendly place. Except for the heat and rednecks it’s pretty awesome.

10. Which do you prefer and why?

Michael Schenker or Rudy Schenker = Rudy. He’s the man as far as I am concerned. Period.
Stefan Kaufmann or Andy Kaufman = I know who Andy Kaufman is but not much else so I’ll go for Stefan.
Georges Bizet’s "Aragonaise" or Ravel’s "Bolero" = Bizet has been my favorite classical composer for a long time so the vote goes to ‘Aragonaise’.
Beck’s or Paulaner = Paulaner
Glenn Tipton or K.K. Downing = I’ll take Glenn.
Hamburg or Frankfurt = Hamburg.
Traditional film or digital photography = Nowadays it’s both really. What I do involves a 50/50 mix of film and digital.
Bonfire or Pink Cream 69 = Bonfire. I knew them when they were still called Cacumen!
Käsespätzle or Wienerschnitzel = Don’t like either one. Nothing like a good Sauerbraten though!
Running Wild or Krokus = Krokus.

11. You ended up marrying Gaby Hauke, Accept’s long-time lyricist and manager. Does she still manage your affairs, and are there any plans of creating a reality TV series (e.g., "The Hoffmanns") based on your everyday life?
Gaby doesn’t manage me professionally. She’s got her own career now outside of the music industry. As for the TV series we’re taking offers. No rehabs, temper tantrums, or borderline incoherency here though. Just dogs, cats, horses and whatever animals Michael is working with in the studio next door.

12. What rock star deserves a smack in the mouth & why?
I’m a lover not a fighter.

13. Yes or no, has Wolf Hoffmann ever done the following:
Fired a machine gun = Hell no.
Played a game of miniature golf = I’m afraid I have as a kid.
Owned a Volkswagen beetle = Yes, and the first car I drove was a ’59 Beetle owned by my girlfriend. The steering was so worn out that when I turned the wheel it looked like those old 1940’s movies where they would pretend to steer. The steering spun around 360 degrees before the damn wheels turned! It was hilarious.
Taken nude photographs = Not knowingly.
Worn a pair of Lederhosen = Yes until I was 16 or so right before I joined Accept. Every German boy is required to wear them by law until the onset of puberty.
Drank a bottle of schnapps while driving on the Autobon = Of course.
Sang along with a Rammstein song = Nope.
Visited Dolly Parton’s Dollywood = No.
Given Udo a massage = Well of course. It was part of the pre-show ritual in Accept. That and the running of the midgets. I hear Udo misses my foot massages…
Been arrested = Not yet.

14. What prompted you to shave your head a few years ago? Were you just going for that "modern look," or were you losing your hair anyway?
A little of both. I was losing my hair and a wig was out of the question. I had nightmares of my wig getting caught in the headstock of Peter’s bass and being flung out into the audience like a rabid wolverine. So I opted for the natural look instead. Now everyone’s doing it so I guess I’m a trend-setter.

15. What do you remember about writing or recording the following songs?
Tired of Me = To this day I don’t know what the lyrics about. I don’t think anyone in the band actually does. The title was always there but our English wasn’t the best at that point. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with Jorg Fisher with the German-English dictionary putting some of that stuff together!
Son Of A Bitch = As many bad words as we could throw in. We decided not to print the lyrics and, instead, put censored sticker. Some people that the label censored it but it was us. A girlfriend of Dokken’s was staying with us and she taught us a lot of the phrases. We asked her to give us the worst things you can say in America and took it from there.
Fast As A Shark = Perhaps the first speed metal song ever.
Balls To The Wall = The hook I originally came up with was "Balls to the Wall Baby." But the other guys convinced me to drop the "baby" and go with "man" instead.
Screaming For A Love Bite = This was our attempt at a commercial radio song. Cool guitar riff on that one though.
Monsterman = Lots of backing vocals. Cool song. The "Russian Roulette" album actually has a lot of lyrical topics that are pretty heavy. I don’t think people picked up on that fact much. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean.
Generation Clash = I think the production on this song wasn’t what it should have been. I still like the idea better than the way it was executed. We did a remix and re-released the original version but at that time it was fairly pointless.
I Don’t Wanna Be Like You = Good song. Liked the hook.
Bad Habits Die Hard = I always liked those AC/DC groove type tunes.
Hard Attack = Same as above. These last three songs are good, middle of the road, Accept metal tunes. Not necessarily stand-out tunes like "Fast as a Shark" or "Balls to the Wall" but good, solid metal.

16. Out of all the bands Accept toured with, which one was the most difficult to work with & why?
Shit, we toured with so many bands. Generally speaking, the bigger the band the easier it was to work with them. If there were ever any unnecessary wrenches thrown in our gears it was mostly from the bands that weren’t that successful. We never had a problem with bands like KISS, Ozzy, Priest, etc. but the other bands who were at our same level seemed to be the ones who would try to screw us for whatever reason. Truthfully though, we never gave a shit. We were notoriously tough and machine-like in our professionalism. We never complained about the situation – sound, lights, etc. – regardless of what transpired. If it got too bad we’d turn off everything but our backline. Opening for Saxon, for example, we were at the mercy of their sound crew. Maybe they were stoned or trying to be malicious. We figured that we play in our rehearsal room with just the backline so why not in front of thousands of people? Udo never wanted himself in the mix so we could play as long as we had power.

17. The Last of Wolf Hoffmann:
Last movie you saw = Last good movie was a couple days ago. Monster’s Ball.
Last guitar you bought = Hamer Guitars made me a super-nice Flying V out of Korina wood.
Last museum you visited = Moderne Pinakothek, an art museum in Munich, I was there over Christmas a few months ago.
Last celebrity you photographed = Les Paul.
Last former Accept member you talked to = Peter. Talk to him almost every week actually.
Last time you went fishing = Germans don’t fish. I don’t hunt either.
Last CD you listened to = Evanescence . Really dig it. Also Audioslave.
Last gift you gave to Gaby = Red roses a few weeks ago.
Last rock star you had dinner with = Probably Sebastian. I don’t really hang with a lot of rock stars any more. Last ones I really talked to were Scorpions backstage in Nashville and I hit their deli tray if that counts as dinner.
Last time you saw Udo naked = After years of psychoanalysis, therapy, hypnosis and a partial lobotomy I had managed to erase the image from my mind but thanks for bringing it all back.

18. What was Accept trying to accomplish with the video for "Midnight Mover?" Do you realize it gave seizures to epileptics and headaches to the rest of us?
Then we accomplished our goals didn’t we? Nowadays the video looks fairly normal but I don’t think the mid-80’s were ready for that kind of fast-cut editing. If only Culture Club hadn’t stolen
our original 1800’s riverboat concept for their "Karma Chameleon" video things might have worked out differently.

19. Do you plan on subjecting the world to any more Wolf Hoffmann solo albums?
Only if you’re bad. It’s not in my plans but I’m not going to rule anything out. I’ll always be a musician and enjoy playing when I have the time. Seeing Scorpions recently stirred up that desire to be on stage again to be honest. But, as I mentioned, I’m pretty much over the business side of the music industry so whatever I do in the future musically will be for my own enjoyment first and foremost. Very much like the ‘Classical’ record.

20. Time for Metal Sludge’s Word Association. We mention a name and you give us your thoughts.
Gene Simmons = Intelligent man. Bad hair.
Rob Armitage = I wonder what he’s doing nowadays?
Doro Pesch = Still out there doing it and well. She’s a total pro and very nice as well.
Peter Baltes = Good buddy. Love him like a brother.
Chris Jericho = Very talented man. Look forward to meeting him in person someday.
Klaus Meine = Little man with a huge voice.
David Reese = What a waste.
Michael Wagener = Sushi.
Sebastian Bach = 100% crazy rock ‘n roll mutha.
Udo Dirkschneider = No one quite like him.

Thanks for the chance to be among the pantheon of stars who have been subjected to the infamous 20 Questions! Keep sludging!

Wolf

Thanks to Wolf and Ed for making this happen! For more info on Wolf and Accept, you can go to http://www.WolfHoffmann.com and http://www.AcceptArchive.com.

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