Now here's a person every metal fan knows about. Udo Dirkschneider is the man responsible for the rise of German heavy metal back in the 1980s bringing the whole movement to the worldwide fame. Accept took the solid place in the heavy metal world but Udo moved forward forming his own project U.D.O. (again) after the final split of his alma mater back in 1996. The new album "Thunderball" will be released very soon so it was a great chance to talk to the master.
MetalKings.com: Hello, Udo! Can we discuss your past as well?
Udo Dirkschneider: No problem! Let's do it!
MetalKings.com: I heard a rumor that Accept started sometime around 1972. Is that true?
Udo Dirkschneider: Yes, in a way. Actually before Accept me and guitar player Michael Wagener, who later became a very famous producer, formed a band called Brand X. It was in 1971.
MetalKings.com: Really? So what did you do for about eight years?
Udo Dirkschneider: Well, first we never considered to become a professional band. We did it just for fun with friends. We were also changing members all the time to make the band better. And in 1976 we won a competition among local bands in the area where we lived and got an offer to record an album.
MetalKings.com: What company originally released the debut album of Accept?
Udo Dirkschneider: It was "Metronome Music". The company had a sublabel called "Brain Records" and they released our first album back then. I guess today the whole company is owned by "Universal".
MetalKings.com: Throughout the Accept years you wore military uniform onstage. How did it come about?
Udo Dirkschneider: We were a brand new band and we wanted to create something good not only musically but visually too. That's why one day during the recordings of the album "Breaker" I went shopping for clothes and some NATO shop with military clothes was in my way. I went there and bought some outfit. When I came back to the studio in those clothes guys in the band liked it a lot and said it fits me great. When we went on tour they all bought such clothes and that's how we created the whole concept. Of course, it had nothing to do with war and stuff, it wasn't our hobby. We just liked how it looked.
MetalKings.com: Very early on you cut your long hair. How did it happen? Did you have any troubles with it?
Udo Dirkschneider: Not really. I just wanted to be different from many other singers and that's why I cut my hair. There was no problem with it.
MetalKings.com: I heard that you recorded the cover-version of Steppenwolf "Born To Be Wild" with the British band Raven. When and how?
Udo Dirkschneider: Oh, it was a very long time ago! (laughs) I guess it was in 1982 when Raven recorded the album "All For One". Michael Wagener produced the album and I was in the studio one day with them. That's when we decided to record that cover-version. We did it just for fun, it was a great time.
MetalKings.com: What happened to Michael Wagener? When did he move to the States?
Udo Dirkschneider: We had a joint production company and worked with many artists especially here in Germany. Michael then left for America in 1984.
MetalKings.com: You also produced the album of Faithful Breath "Gold'n'Glory" (1984).
Udo Dirkschneider: Yeah, it was also done along with Wagener. He was involved in the production so we did it together.
MetalKings.com: I guess you've been asked this question a thousand times but I never saw a descent answer - why did you leave Accept? I heard the band wanted to sound more commercial. Is that true?
Udo Dirkschneider: (pause) I'll try to make the long story short. When you become bigger as a band, and certainly Accept was very big at that time, a lot of people are around you. They are business people from the record company, management, etc. So I guess the whole band started listening to all those people, who were telling us that we should be like you said more commercial, that we should become bigger in America and so on. I opposed the idea but I was the only one who did. I guess it's the excess that comes with fame. The situation in the band got to the point when I decided that it's better for me to leave Accept and go my own way.
MetalKings.com: But in spite of the split you later did a song on the tribute album to Accept. And it was "X-T-C" from that album "Eat The Heat" (1989) with David Reece as a singer. Why did you choose that particular track?
Udo Dirkschneider: Actually three songs that wound up on that album "X-T-C", "D-Train" and "Generation Clash" were recorded as demos for the album that was supposed to be the follow-up to "Russian Roulette". But then I left the band, they found Reece and tried to make the sound poppier. That's when they realized that it was too far from the classic Accept sound and people might not accept it. (laughs) So they got back to those demos and they wound up on the album. I always liked that song "X-T-C" and when I recorded it with U.D.O. I just did it the way it was originally done. The fact that "Generation Clash II" wound up on the album "Death Row" (1994) was for the same reason.
MetalKings.com: There was a lot of controversy about the name of your solo band.
Udo Dirkschneider: Yeah, that's true. But Udo is my name and when I left Accept I wanted people to know that it's a real band so we put dots in-between letters. If you like to consider it United Democratic Organization or United Deepstick Organization it's okay.
MetalKings.com: During the first part of the U.D.O. history there were many guitar players in the band like Matthias Dieth, Andy Susemihl, Wolla Bohm. Why so many?
Udo Dirkschneider: Matthias was always the main guitar player. We went on through the whole U.D.O. story and other guitarists just were not that good as Matthias. We were searching for the right one. Then record companies begged us to get back to Accept and we did. But I wanted to know what the music will be like. When we gathered together and produced some demos it was that classic Accept sound again. But it lasted for only one album "Objection Overruled". Then Wolf Hoffmann said he wanted to be the only guitar player in the band. I didn't really like it but it happened anyway. Then we had a problem with drummer Stefan Kaufmann, who couldn't play drums anymore because of problems with his back. I thought that he could be our second guitar player but Wolf opposed the idea. Also the music was getting more and more modern. On the last studio album "Predator" we used a session drummer, Peter was singing three songs. I didn't like it anymore and said I wanted to stop. But before putting Accept to an end we agreed to do the farewell tour and record the live album. That's what we did and then I resurrected U.D.O.
MetalKings.com: Originally you had guitar player Jurgen Graf, who played together with bassist Fitty Wienhold in the German band Bullet. Why Jurgen left?
Udo Dirkschneider: He didn't leave, he was let go. Yes, Jurgen and Fitty played together in Bullet, which was quite popular in Germany at the time. But when Jurgen joined the U.D.O. he had serious alcoholic and drug problems. So after a while I had to kick him out of the band because he drank too much and took drugs. Other musicians in the band they have drinks once in a while but none of us takes drugs.
MetalKings.com: You also have your own label called "Breaker Records". What happened to it? Does it exist? And what was about the release of the reunited Casanova album back in 1999?
Udo Dirkschneider: Yes, "Breaker Records" does exist although I simply don't have enough time for it at the moment. So I give a little break to "Breaker Records". (laughs) After the tour for "Thunderball" I'll get back to the label again. About Casanova, yes, I was ready to release the album on "Breaker Records" but then singer and leader of that band, Michael Voss, started having problems with the name of Casanova. He had to change it to Demon Drive. I liked that new album "Heroes" though the band folded several years later.
MetalKings.com: Talking about the new album "Thunderball" I think it's much more powerful that the previous ones.
Udo Dirkschneider: I think so too. It's a much better album, maybe the best album U.D.O. recorded so far. I love the harmonies, the power, guitars sound great and stuff.
MetalKings.com: What about that song "Trainride In Russia (Poezd Po Rossii)"? How did you manage to sing in Russian? Who translated the lyrics into Russian?
Udo Dirkschneider: Well, I love Russia, I like the people and the atmosphere in your country. We played there several times and we'll be coming again soon and will play not only in Russia but in Ukraine too. So we decided to write a song about Russia and translate the chorus into Russian and sing it along with the English one. A friend of mine, a music journalist who lived in Moscow for four years, he came in and did the job. But we had a real hard time trying to sing it properly in Russian. But we gave our best!
MetalKings.com: What is the song "The Land Of The Midnight Sun" about?
Udo Dirkschneider: That's about Scandinavian countries. We like them all, Sweden, Norway, Denmark... So we wrote a song about them all out of respect to the fans.
MetalKings.com: Why the song "Borderline" was released as a bonus track for Japan?
Udo Dirkschneider: We wrote 15 songs for the album and obviously not all of them wind up on the album. And Japan always wants a bonus track. So we gave them "Borderline", which is a good song and totally in the vein of the whole album.
MetalKings.com: You also changed the record company in Japan from "Nippon Crown" to "King".
Udo Dirkschneider: I'm not involved in that process. Since we signed a new deal with "AFM" in Germany they take care of the business of choosing the right company in Japan, America, wherever.
MetalKings.com: What is the news about your brother Peter Dirkschneider? Is he still with Vanize?
Udo Dirkschneider: Yes, he's still in Vanize. Peter got the original guitar player back and they are recording a new album. I think it will be out late this year or early next year.
MetalKings.com: Udo, thanks a lot for the interview! It was great talking to the living legend!
Udo Dirkschneider: Thanks for your nice words! It was great! Bye!
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