Accept is ready to bring once again its Teutonic terror to Athens with yet another show that would be permanently engraved in everybody’s memory. A few hours before that, Wolf Hoffmann & Peter Baltes were kind enough to sit down with us for a wonderful interview. We paid them back with an equally wonderful view on the roof garden of the hotel where they were staying and…lots of sunshine! Special thanks to Wolf and Peter for enduring the Greek sun on a hot afternoon, Gaby Hoffmann for setting up the interview, Georg Michael (sorry for waking you up, man!), Eleni Xiarchogiannopoulou and Novotel Athenes for putting up with a true heavy metal situation on a very busy day! m/
Interview: Sakis Nikas / Camera: Yannis Dolas Guys, welcome to Greece once again!

Wolf Hoffmann: Thank you very much…look at this (pointing to Acropolis)…gorgeous! This is our third interview from the release of “Blood of the Nations”. Three records in a row…three classic Accept albums. Do you feel vindicated?

Wolf Hoffmann: Absolutely! I mean, who would ask for more? Imagine 5 years ago when we started this whole thing nobody had any idea whether it would be any successful, little successful or what might happen. So now having three great albums under our belt feels amazing. And the fans really support us very much and they love these new albums. They are as good as the old stuff…maybe even better! So, we are very happy. All these three albums are in the same vein as the classic Accept style. Is it a proof that you and Peter were always the prime songwriters in the band?

Wolf Hoffmann: No, it was always Udo!

Peter Baltes: (laughs) We’ve been doing it from Day 1! Since we formed the band we had been writing songs together and just continued…so when we started again, it seemed that we never left. It was a great feeling. But yes…we were always writing the songs. Talking about Udo….do you feel upset with all that stuff that’s on the internet? Do you read those comments?

Wolf Hoffmann: No, man…it’s just hilarious at this point. It’s just a big joke in our lives and we just go on, do our own thing, let all these things go by and laugh about it. He is actually our press agent in a way…

Peter Baltes: (laughs) He is… Let’s get back to “Blind Rage”. It was #1 in the German charts when it was first released. Was it a surprise to you to see an Accept album on the top spot?

Wolf Hoffmann: Of course.

Peter Baltes: It totally was. Actually it was the first heavy metal album ever to reach the #1 spot in Germany.

Wolf Hoffmann: Was it? I didn’t know that.

Peter Baltes: Yes, it was.

Wolf Hoffmann: Certainly it was our first #1 album after all these years. That’s incredible. We kicked some pop diva off the charts which was amazing…even more. She was #1 for weeks and weeks and here comes Accept and pushes her out of the way. It felt good.

Accept02 My favorite song on the album is “Dying Breed”. Do you feel like being the last of a dying breed?

Wolf Hoffmann: Not so much…we didn’t write the song from our perspective…you know, we are the dying breed although in a way we are. We really wrote it as a tribute to our heroes that we grew up with. Because when we were teenagers 40 years ago we listened to Judas Priest, AC/DC, Deep Purple and although these bands are still around one day they won’t be. Members are passing away…it makes you think!

Peter Baltes: They really inspired us. A lot of our music reflects the influence from these three bands. You can see that. We just played with Judas Priest in Brazil and it’s still a great feeling…it’s wonderful. But it’s definitely a dying breed.

Wolf Hoffmann: It makes you wonder what’s gonna happen when all these bands are gone. One day there won’t be Judas Priest, AC/DC…

Peter Blates: No more Lemmy, Ozzy…when they all go away, what’s left?

Wolf Hoffmann: Hopefully, it’s gonna be a long time before that happens. Speaking of classic bands and mentioning Deep Purple…Ritchie Blackmore turned down once again an offer by David Coverdale to do an album of remakes of Deep Purple classic songs. Do you think that an artist should listen to the fans or should he be independent and do whatever he likes?

Wolf Hoffmann: I think that everybody has to find that out for himself. I can’t speak for Ritchie Blackmore; he is my hero and in my books, he can do whatever he wants. But from a fan perspective, I wish he would listen to the fans.

Peter Baltes: I think it has to come from his heart. If he is only doing it for the fans then it’s a half effort. It has to be initiated from the person you are asking the question to.

Accept03 A few months ago both Herman and Stefan left the band. Was it a friendly “divorce”?

Wolf Hoffmann: Absolutely. They started their own project and that led to their decision to leave the band. We wish them all the best and send them off with a big farewell. We have already found great replacements and things are moving right along. We are just grateful that we had the guys for that long. When we were talking about it back in 2009, they didn’t come out of nowhere. Those guys had a lot of history and we didn’t expect from them to stop all their activities just because Accept was coming back together. It’s a miracle that it lasted for all these years but we knew one day there would be another opportunity for them…they took it now and off they go. Now that you have three studio albums after the reunion, is it safe to say that you are gonna release a live album now?

Wolf Hoffmann: Yeah, we are already filming stuff…are they still making live albums nowadays? It’s mostly DVDs, isn’t it? Yeah, but you are an old-school band and you should release a live CD…

Wolf Hoffmann: Audio only…? We have tons of recordings. We could do it.

Peter Baltes: As you said, we have now three new albums and it would be an interesting mix…new and old. We’ve been waiting for a long time for that because we already have live albums with just the old songs. Now it’s mature enough to say that it is the right time.

Wolf Hoffmann: You know of course that we released some live material in the special edition of the “Blind Rage” album although it didn’t contain any material from “Blind Rage”. Now the set list includes many new songs so we could actually release them.

Peter Baltes: The band is really great, too. The new guys are kicking some serious ass. We are really happy and the band is on fire. I think it’s a good time to capture all that.

Accept04 I was just checking out on Wikipedia the excerpt about Solingen; your hometown. Under the section of “music”, the first name is Accept.

Wolf Hoffmann: Really? I didn’t know that. Does it make you proud?

Wolf Hoffmann: Oh yeah! Did you know that…?

Peter Baltes: Yes. My mother still lives there. Solingen is also known as the city of blades.

Wolf Hoffmann: That’s correct…steel blades! I guess it was only natural for Accept to come up with such a sharp sound, right?

Wolf Hoffmann: It’s a weird coincidence. I mean it’s been in the press for the last 40 years…the connection between Solingen and the knives, swords and the heavy metal band Accept!  

Accept05 Is success a relative term to you? I mean, in the 80s probably success was defined by how many records you sold…

Wolf Hoffmann: Sure.…in the 90s, it could have been survival with the grunge movement and the decline of heavy metal music. How about now…? How do you define success?

Wolf Hoffmann: Very good question…I often wondered about that myself. Record sales, as we all know, are going down every year. So you can’t really say if a new album is as successful as the one that we did 20 years ago because the circumstances have changed so much. I think the only judgment that we have is the reaction of the fans…how excited they are and how much of an impact has a new album to them. So, judging by the fans’ reaction at the last three albums, I’d say that we are still successful or even more compared to how we were as a band in the 80s. Of course, if you take only record sales, it’s unfair. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. But yeah…that’s a good question. How do you really define success nowadays? Ticket sales maybe… Maybe the fact that you are still around and at the top of the game…how about that?

Wolf Hoffmann: Sure! How about that…? Yeah…

Peter Baltes: The fact that you are still enjoying it. There are a lot of bands out there that I am not really sure if they are still enjoying it. It’s just a way of survival. We are truly enjoying it every night we are doing a show. We are still best friends and that’s to me a sign of success.

Wolf Hoffmann: You have to understand that we came back to the music scene because we wanted to; nobody forced us to. I could have stayed a photographer forever and ever. But I get so much inspired by making music that we chose a much more difficult route…if we’d done it for other reasons, it would have been silly. If you are trying to make a living by playing music and not believing in it then it’s plain stupid. We are doing it because we are passionate and that’s what we are meant to do.    

Accept06 I remember talking to you back in 2005 when you were here with Udo and it was clear that you were not as happy as you are now…

Wolf Hoffmann: Yeah…those circumstances were so different and so weird back then. We knew that it was meant to be a reunion; we wanted one more time to tour around the world and play a few more shows but it wasn’t meant to last…not by him or by us. It was just one more time although nobody knew if it’s gonna last. You and Peter were always friends and musical partners right from the very beginning. Did that ever change especially when Accept wasn’t around?

Wolf Hoffmann: There was a time when we didn’t talk to each other for a few years. We didn’t call each other that much.

Peter Baltes: We also had different lives. Wolf lives in Nashville and I live 900 miles away…we had kids, family…different lives.

Wolf Hoffmann: I became a photographer; he had his kids and did other things. There wasn’t a lot to talk about basically. Once in a while we sent each other an e-mail…

Peter Baltes: Even now we don’t say enough to each other…we have said it all throughout the years (laughs)!   

Wolf Hofmann: We are just an old married couple. We silently sit across each other and look at our i-phones (laughs). Our last question: was it strange to you being a German citizen to relocate in USA? Was it natural?

Wolf Hoffmann: Yeah, totally. I mean I lived longer in the States than I lived in Germany at this point even though I will always stay in my heart a German. That part never changed. It’s just a place to live…we didn’t change our characters or anything.

Peter Baltes: Since we were 18…since we started touring we were world citizens more than anything really.

Wolf Hoffmann: And if we ended up in Athens…renting an apartment somewhere here, we wouldn’t be Greeks, we would still be Germans… Luckily for us you still have the German sound and not the American heavy metal sound…

Wolf Hoffmann: That’s what people tell us and that will never go away.