Teutonic titans Accept return with their latest album The Rise Of Chaos, produced by longtime collaborator Andy Sneap. Founding guitarist Wolf Hoffmann gives us the scoop on the new record, some lineup changes, touring and other topics.
Chad Bowar: You’ve had a couple of lineup changes since the last album. How did guitarist Uwe Lulis and drummer Christopher Williams come to join the band?
Wolf Hoffmann: We knew both for quite some time. Uwe’s story is interesting because he helped us out when I needed a guitar tech. He did it because he has been an Accept fan from day one! We became close friends and when we needed help again, he was a natural choice. He is such a pleasure to be with. And Christopher has been in Nashville, knowing us for a while, jamming with us and we have been happy with him from the get go.
What effect did the changes have on the writing process for The Rise Of Chaos?
Peter and I have been doing this for the past 40 years. We have our career, on stage and off, built up ever since. Joined at the hip, no matter what happened around us, this was and is the core of Accept. Needless to say, it is not that the musicians we worked with are not talented; it’s the opposite. They all had/have careers on their own, but we have our formula how we do things and I dare to say it humbly, it has worked for Accept pretty well so far.
Since they had been with the band for a couple years already going into the recording of the album, did that make the process go smoother?
Again, we have our beaten path. We should remind everybody, when we came together in 2010 everybody had their career and we made a deal that we all keep doing what we’re doing and try to get together when needed and possible. Until today, we work that way and not everybody is his own free man. We have a great chemistry together and are very close on stage. It is not always easy time wise, but so far we are doing very well.
You worked with Andy Sneap again. What works so well with this collaboration?
The minute we met, we wondered how we have not been together earlier. Everything about him was totally at ease, as if we’ve known each other forever. That has not changed. And again, we love it most when we stay within our parameters and in our own world. Uwe, like very few, has understood that even before he got the job.
How do you balance keeping your core sound with not repeating what you’ve done previously?
That is a great question and has a lot to do with what I just said. I am obsessed with that and have always been a perfectionist. To be better without changing is not that easy. I believe it is the dynamics between Peter and myself and my extreme demands and the way we play and the understanding of everybody we work with.
I guess every successful band is lucky when they have this situation and the steadiness and reliability is delivered again and again. The result is what counts, not how it came together. I spend insane hours on everything when we record or perform. It is just the way I am and honestly, not everybody is into that. From the beginning of Accept, that has been one of the great divides. When is enough, enough?
As someone who has lived in the U.S. for a long time but still has a global perspective, is there anything you’ve seen before that compares to the Trump presidency?
We decided very early that we want to be there for everybody. And, we as well as our fans, should have a worry free time with our music and performances and focus on what unites us and not what divides us. Politics are a tricky thing and it is mind boggling how we can all be wrong or right. We, the people, are the last ones to know in advance what that is. I can only say that those who can’t learn from history will repeat it and that is the truth for the whole world.
What was the response to last year’s solo album?
Very wonderful and very moving. But, it was never something for the masses. I have done that because I know there are fans who love that and I am still selling the first one from 20 years ago. So over the years, it has paid off and I am always surprised how serious fans take that. And for me this is absolutely fulfilling!
Talk about your upcoming performance of those songs with an orchestra at Wacken.
It will be live streamed and at this minute we are in Prague rehearsing with the Orchestra. Wacken will be the biggest show we ever did, three shows in one! As usual Accept then Headbangers Symphony with orchestra, and the grand finale with Accept and the orchestra. We need all the good wishes we can get! We are excited but nervous.
Did you read last year’s Martin Popoff Accept book?
Martin is an excellent writer, but his sources and his choices, that’s another thing. We wish him all he best, but we have not been asked or involved.
With Accept’s busy schedule, are you able to spend much time on photography these days?
No, sadly! But it is a good problem to have. Accept is on the move and my other love has to wait. First things first!
(interview published August 4, 2017)