U.D.O. is a timeless and imposing force to be reckoned with in the music business. All these years the cycle of “songwriting-rehearsal-recording-album-tour” has remained intact and constant. The year is 2011 and U.D.O. returns with yet another brand new studio offering that bears the ever-characteristic title “Rev-Raptor” (and features a comic-style cover sleeve). The band’s frontman, the legendary German Panzer, Udo Dirkschneider is on the other side of the line…somewhere in Hamburg!
Interview: Sakis Nikas
Rockpages.gr: Udo, at last, we get to listen to the brand new U.D.O. record after a couple of delays. What really happened?
Udo Dirkschneider: Yes I know…it was supposed to be out in January but Stefan had some really serious health problems with his back…he couldn’t move at all. So, we had to push back the recordings and actually stop for 2 ½ months. That was the only reason behind the big delay.
Rockpages.gr: Is he doing fine, now?
Udo Dirkschneider: Yes, he’s fine but he has to be careful and follow the doctor’s orders.
Rockpages.gr: So, I guess that the upcoming tour won’t be affected by Stefan’s problem…
Udo Dirkschneider: Not at all.
Rockpages.gr: In my opinion, “Rev-Raptor” carries on from where “Mastercutor” and “Dominator” stopped and it features more or less the same songwriting and production style. Do you agree with this?
Udo Dirkschneider: Absolutely. You are right and that’s what we wanted to achieve right from the beginning of the rehearsals. But, on the other hand I believe that there are more melodies in there…more twin solos and the ballads were written in a kind of different way.
Rockpages.gr: Once again, the album bears all the traditional U.D.O. elements in a modern environment…especially the guitar sound –once again- may be melodic yet is sharp and quite distorted. Do you want to keep the band up to date with all that’s going on in nowadays technology?
Udo Dirkschneider: Yes! This is the third album in a row that you make extensive use of the modern technology without losing our signature sound…the classic U.D.O. sound. There is a new generation that listens to music in a different way than what was going on in the 80s. I mean, there is the internet, the file sharing and all that stuff. But, also, the 80s sound may not be so appealing to them anymore. We don’t want to be static and rely only on our past albums and the 80s.
Rockpages.gr: Do you fear about the reaction of the old school, die hard U.D.O. fans?
Udo Dirkschneider: (laughs) Of course…always! But, as I said, the classic sound is still present but in a more modern package.
Rockpages.gr: Let’s talk a little bit in details about the album. Personally, I really enjoyed the title track, a classic U.D.O. song. Tell us a little bit about the song and the tile of it…
Udo Dirkschneider: Great song, isn’t it? “Rev Raptor” is a bird and we wanted to provide a concept with a mechanical bird, a mechanical rev-raptor, a police robot constructed to lay down the law. Suddenly, this robot goes out of control and becomes dangerous. It becomes a predator but in a menacing way.
Rockpages.gr: Who had that idea about “Rev-Raptor”?
Udo Dirkschneider: The guy who designed the booklet and was responsible of the whole artwork.
Rockpages.gr: Once again, the figure that first appeared in “Mastercutor” is featured once again on the cover, but in a flashy, colored comic-style approach. Whose idea was it and do you plan to establish him permanently on your albums, like a mascot or something?
Udo Dirkschneider: Yes…we really liked the idea of the mascot that first started in “Mastercutor” and we wanted to have him on our album sleeves. The good thing is that he won’t be the same with its release. If you notice, he changes from album to album but the character is really the same.
Rockpages.gr: Quite possibly, the song that I just can’t get enough of is the ballad “I Give As Good As I Get”. Who wrote the music and the lyrics on this one?
Udo Dirkschneider: It’s a really strong song for a ballad with some great lyrics on it. It talks about trying to give everything that you got and not getting back what you deserve. I am not talking only about relationships but also in your family, in work, in everyday life. The music is 70% Fitty (Weinhold, U.D.O. bassist).
Rockpages.gr: The first single is “Leatherhead” for which you shot a video, too. Tell us a few things about it and will there be a second single from the album?
Udo Dirkschneider: We shot the video in Nuremberg and it is a kind of old-fashioned video. The house that we shot the video is absolutely ideal for the song and it provides the perfect backdrop for a modern song like “Leatherhead”. It is the absolute contrast…an old house in a modern musical environment. The second single would be the ballad that you like…“I Give As Good As I Get”…
Rockpages.gr: Will it be released as a separate single like “Leatherhead”?
Udo Dirkschneider: I don’t really know what the company will decide. It’s really up to them.
Rockpages.gr: Do you have a favorite song from “Rev-Raptor”?
Udo Dirkschneider: That’s the hard question (laughs). I have to say that I really enjoy “Leatherhead”.
Rockpages.gr: From all those albums that you’ve done with U.D.O., is there a special one in your heart? And I am not talking necessarily about your favorite one…
Udo Dirkschneider: That album will always be “Faceless World”. It was a pure melodic album and we had Stefan (Kaufmann) back as a producer. We did some really different things with that album…we used many keyboards, orchestras, harmonies and melodies everywhere we could. Also, I sang in a more melodic way and yet the songs were heavy…it was a difficult but great album.
Rockpages.gr: Yet, you didn’t make a similar sounding album since then…
Udo Dirkschneider: (laughs)…yes…you know, it’s really difficult to have the budget to achieve such a huge sound (like in “Faceless World”) and there is also the problem of recreating that sound in the live shows. It’s almost impossible.
Rockpages.gr: I am sure that you learned about Accept’s comeback. Did you listen to the album?
Udo Dirkschneider: Of course. It’s a good album and the singer’s doing a pretty good job. I will tell you this…I was expecting that Wolf (Hoffmann) and Peter (Baltes) would make a remarkable record and I am glad that the tour is successful. It’s been so many years since they last did this…but, let me say something on the record. I read somewhere that Wolf says that I go around and say to the journalists that Accept cannot write great music anymore. That’s absolutely bullshit…I never said that Accept cannot write good songs anymore. It’s like a kindergarten…but I wish them luck.
Rockpages.gr: Did you feel extra pressure due to the fact that there will be made comparisons between the two records?
Udo Dirkschneider: No! After all, “Rev-Raptor” was completed before Accept’s album. It is only natural to sound a little bit like Accept in a way…two members of U.D.O. were important members of Accept in the 80s. But, you know what I think…the world is a big place to fit both Accept and U.D.O.
Rockpages.gr: I agree. Udo, it was 2004 when we last saw the band in Greece. Don’t you think it’s about time for your return?
Udo Dirkschneider: Yes, but you have to ask the promoters why we haven’t been to Greece for such a long time. I know that the fans want us to come back. We have many friend in Athens and Thessaloniki and it’s really a shame that there are no offers for us to play in Greece.