My first question for you is- tell me what got you into hard rock and heavy metal? Is there a certain album or something that you can relate it to?
Let’s see here, I listened to so many bands when I was younger. So I mean I started with Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, AC/DC- all that stuff. So that is what inspired me, you know, and I tried very very early to get our own stuff out. I was not really into wanting to copy someone or wanting to be like this or this.
Explain to me how the first U.D.O record came about because although it is a very solid record, obviously you know that what sets it apart is the fact that Accept wrote all the music to it. How did that happen?
That was like, in ’86, you know- when they fired me. So yeah, that’s the truth. It’s interesting to get fired out of your own band but anyways…Yeah, normally it was planned that ‘Animal House’ was written for the next Accept album. So by then they decide to be more commercial or whatever they wanted to do, so they said ‘yeah, you can have all the songs’. So in a way it was very easy for me to start with U.D.O in ’86. So, yeah- here we go.
Upon releasing ‘Mean Machine’ which was your next album you began writing all your own lyrics, did you ever have trouble with that? Was it difficult writing with a new set of people opposed to what you were used to?
No it wasn’t, in a way it was a new challenge for me to do this. I had two really good guitar players; they were really good in song composing. And yeah, it was very interesting and again, to get new things- I was always open to new things. So it was, in a way, very easy.
Good! And you’ve released a ton of material since U.D.O started- how have you kept the ball rolling for so long? Have you ever run out of ideas or do you just have endless material in your head?
No, thank god we never run out of ideas. When we start working on a new album it’s like, I’m not saying ‘okay, we have to do it like this or like this’, it’s just coming and new songs and then in a way we have a ton of ideas- still. Yeah, so, you know in the end we say ‘here are 17 songs we wanna record’ and I don’t think about ‘okay, this album was selling more with this so we have to go back in this direction’. We always try to do new stuff and we will see what’s coming up.
Aside from this tour which I know the setlist is primarily Accept songs, as far as your musical catalog goes you’ve got a crap ton of stuff to choose between Accept and U.D.O. How do you narrow down a setlist for tours other than this one?
I mean for the setlist we did now of course it’s nothing other than Accept. I choose which songs I think people wanna hear, you know, the classic stuff. Also the reason we did this now, well what I’m doing now with Dirkschneider- I think now, I’m a little bit tired of comparing who’s playing the songs better and blah blah blah. And some journalist was trying to make bad things out of it and I think for both sides it’s also good what I’m doing. Now I’m saying okay, Accept is still in the business- if you wanna hear Accept songs, go to Accept. I mean it was not planned that we’d do so many shows. It was normally planned that we would make this break with U.D.O and then touring would continue. And then we said to make an end of all this Accept stuff we’ll do ten or fifteen special shows. And now we end up literally with 120.
A little more.
It’s also good to see what I think the people wanna see. It makes me happy, of course it’s maybe a little sad when I do the last show because you know, that’s it. As long as Accept is still touring I won’t do any Accept songs anymore, only the U.D.O stuff.
Accept was one of the first and one of the only bands from Germany to really break in America, when you became U.D.O did you have trouble breaking in America or did everything just transfer over?
No, I mean I was also lucky that the first tour I did in America with U.D.O was with Guns n’ Roses and Lita Ford. In a way it was easy for me. But then it took a while to come back to America. It was a long long break, we didn’t come back until 2013. It was a long break. The offers were not so good, so we had enough to do in Europe and Russia and those countries so we waited, and now we are here!
And I have to ask this because I adore her but how was working with Doro on ‘Dancing with an Angel’? Did you guys work together at all before that?
I’ve known Doro for a long long time and we are very good friends. We always wanted to do something together, like a song together. But the record companies weren’t always…it was like ‘who needs more promotion’ and blah blah blah. When we were both out of the big record companies we had a chance to do it. We did ‘Dancing with an Angel’ together and I was singing on her ‘Classic’ album and two times on her 25 year anniversary. It’s always good when I see her; we’re always talking a lot. For me, Doro is very professional.
The last album you released was the ‘Live- Back to the Roots’ album, I’m assuming you chose to release that as kind of your final goodbye to the Accept years.
Yeah, of course. We will also be coming out with a DVD. That will be coming out in the next…well I don’t know yet. And in a way it is to say goodbye. It will never happen like this, maybe if Accept stopped or split up or whatever- then I’ll play some Accept songs again but maybe only three or four songs. But like this, what we are doing now- 24 songs, it will never happen again. This is history. So definitely, it was very important to do as well as the DVD. What can I say? I’m happy to say that we can do a whole world tour. The people are asking for more and more and more and more. On the first of March we are going in the studio to start with a new U.D.O album and that plan goes until the middle of May recording stuff. And then we do more Dirkschneider stuff…of course take some time before the new U.D.O comes out so we’ll do some more festivals in Europe. I don’t know- we’ll see!
There’s always time to figure it out. What made you choose now to say goodbye to the Accept thing? It’s been almost exactly 20 years.
Yeah, what can I say to say goodbye to all the Accept stuff? When I do the last show, like I said before, can be a little bit sad. Sometimes you have to close the book, you know? Say okay, that’s it. And when I come out with the next U.D.O album I’ll have 16 U.D.O albums out, we have a lot of stuff to do our own set. And of course, in the end on the last U.D.O tour we only did three Accept songs. We played just three Accept songs. A lot of people said ‘why do you play Accept songs? They are still on tour…they can play this stuff’. And I’d say yeah…but it’s not the original singer. I think he’s doing a good job, he is not bad. On the classic stuff of course, it’s not like what I’m doing.
You’ll always be the guy.
Yeah! So he’s trying to do his best. They did three albums and it was very good. So they continue, I continue- we will see.