Udo Dirkschneider

Interview with Udo Dirkschneider

Interview by Marko Syrjala & Luxi Lahtinen,

pics by Marko Syrjala


Udo Dirkschneider is a living legend. He?s one of the founding members of Accept which is one of the most important bands in heavy metal history. Together they released series of classic albums like Balls To The WallRestless And Wild and Metal Heart which sold millions of copies worldwide. After he left Accept in the late eighties, Udo started a new band which was simply called U.D.O. They released four very successful albums before Udo decided to reunite with Accept but just a few years later Accept break up again and it was time to regroup U.D.O in 1997.  Now the voice of Accept has once again returned with his brand new album called Thunderball and I was lucky enough to talk with master himself before their show in Finland in October 2004.


Well first of all welcome back to < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Finland once again. How this current tour has been going so far?


The tour? [Yeah] Very well I have to say. We are just in the middle of this tour which we started in the beginning of last March in Brazil. Then we did lot of Eastern countries and Russia and Ukraina. Then we did lot?s of touring in Germany and nearly everywhere in the Europe. We did a lot of festivals on last summer and now we are doing Scandinavian tour. After Finland there will be three more shows in Scandinavia and then we have a little break and still we have some more shows in at least in Israel and  Lebanon which is going to be our first time in there and we?ll see what?s going to happen on there ?(laughs).


Right that might be interesting?(laughs).


Definitely. Then in the beginning of next year we have to do three more countries in Europe. France we didn?t on the spring? So we have France, Spain and Portugal to do and then we go to America for couple of weeks or months (laughs) it?s still open a little bit?



Are you going to do U.S alone or together with some other bands?


I don?t know yet. We are working on it at the moment and there has been talking about doing something together with Doro? Maybe we do something together with Saxon and Krokus? I don?t know yet for sure? There are lot of possibilities and we are now thinking what we want to do?  After America we have to go back to South America again and then we are doing the second part of our Russian tour so? I think this tour will go on until March in next year or something?



So this tour will be more than one year from start to finish?


True. But of course there have been some breaks in between of course.


That?s good for you?


Unfortunately we have some breaks sometimes (laughs).



Well this tour must be one of the extensive tours so far in U.D.O history? If you compare this one to previous U.D.O tours is anything different this time?


Not all the gigs are sold out but what I?ve learned this tour has been the most successful tour ever for U.D.O. There are lot?s of people who are really interested. There have been many young people in the audience which is good. The new generation of fans for this kind of music and that?s very interesting.



You have been doing this thing quite long time already. How much do you see kind of ?diehard fans? in the audience who you do recognize since from the early days?


Yeah of course there are some of them. I mean of course there are old ?diehard fans? who I?ve met and seen several times during the years. It?s always interesting to talk with these people because they have better knowledge of my career than me (laughs)!



They are bringing some memories and stuff from the past back to you?


Yes of course? (laughs) Some of the things I?ve forgotten in purpose but they do know them anyway (laughs). But it?s definitely a good thing. It?s very important to communicate with fans.




Ok. Then I have some questions about your new album Thunderball. There?s one track which is VERY different to any other stuff you?ve done in your history… ?Train Ride through Russia?




What?s the story behind that song??


Let?s say it this way? When we started writing lyrics for the album we were thinking ?why we are not writing about of our own experiences when we are on tour?? The first thing which came in mind was what has happened when we have been on tour in Russia. There happened a lot of funny things in Russia so when I finished lyrics for that song I started to think what kind of music we can put on it? And then what was in a way in the beginning more fun? ?Let?s try to do to make a little bit Russia?.


So it was a kind of experiment you know balalaika and stuff like that. Then song developed in the studio more and more and in the end I said okay let?s try to sing the chorus in Russian and everybody said okay. We put it on the album just for fun so for us it was just one song to see what kind of reactions there will be…(laughs).



For me it sounds like a Finnish band called ?El?kel?iset? Do you know them?


Yeah. Almost everyone who lives in Germany does know them (laughs). Well what can I say, nearly everybody want still to hear that song?


But you are not going to play it live??






Why? The reason is that we have a problem with our drummer Lorenzo. His sister died two weeks ago. She was very young she was thirty three years old and she had two kids. In mental wise Lorenzo wasn?t in the mood to do this Scandinavian tour and then I said what can we do? Cancel the tour or look for a drummer who can help us out?  Our guitar player Igor has a friend from Italy who said let?s try it and see if he can do this and then he has ten days for twenty one songs.. It sure wasn?t too easy thing to do and he?s still nervous but I mean normally we play… When we did last Russian tour we did songs like ?Land Of a Midnight Sun? and stuff like that and normally we do change set every night at least two or three songs but on this tour we are stick to do just those twenty one songs and we can?t change anything. Otherwise it?s too much for him. So on this song ?Train Ride Through Russia? it?s not a easy to play. It might sound like easy but it?s not easy to play and so on. I mean we are lucky enough to even to this tour and on this tour we have to stick with that set list what we have.





Is it the same reason that there will be not too many songs from ?Mean Machine? or ?Faceless World? albums?


Well you are right. Let?s say the songs of ?Faceless World? are not easy to play. I mean we just did two songs from it on last tour. We did ?Heart Of Gold? and ?Living On A Frontline? and those we can play live but the rest of it I think?Normally in studio we put some keyboards on the songs but we still can play those songs live without keyboards. But on the Faceless World album, there?s a little bit too much keys on it and if you play some songs?(laughs) We tried to play some more songs from that album without keyboards but it didn?t worked. It sounded impossible (laughs). The only two songs we can do, I mean for a long time, ?Living On the Frontline? was always on the set and ?Heart Of Gold? we did it last time in Russia. It?s not easy. It?s not easy without keyboards and we don?t wanna have one more player on stage just for three or four songs. It doesn?t make any sense for us. So maybe we will do some more in the future? I don?t know?




When you are doing a show there are always lot of old Accept fans who are requesting the same old songs again and again. How do you feel about that?


Yeah true but..


But you have already done nine studio albums with U.D.O and there are lot?s of good stuff to play?


Yes nine albums with U.D.O and ten with Accept (laughs) Yes!


Do you ever think that ?Hey this band is not called Accept. This is U.D.O!?


Yes sometimes I do but the problem is that you can not say this is U.D.O. I mean it?s just a different name but we are still doing the same kind of music and of course it?s the same voice and we are doing 50% Accept songs on stage. If I don?t play song like ?Balls To The Wall?, ?Princess Of The Dawn? or ?Fast As A Shark? and stuff like that people will go nuts (laughs). I mean for me it?s not problem to do these songs. I mean if I had name Accept this band would not be called U.D.O it would be called Accept definitely. Let?s say that the voice is the most important for this thing and that same voice is the trademark of Accept. Of course Wolf was another trademark of Accept with his guitar playing but in my opinion Stefan is very close.  There is in a way… the name of the band is U.D.O but you know? (laughs)



Ok. I understand what you mean. This one has been asked very often but let?s do it again. There are now rumours flying about Accept re-union. Is there any truth behind those rumours this time??


Oh no? This rumour comes out every year (laughs).


So is there any truth on it now?


No! I mean?


Has anyone like Wolf or Peter even contacted you because of that?


Yeah. But?I mean we are still in contact with Wolf and Peter but when we talk to each other we just? I actually met Wolf four weeks ago. He was in Germany to visit his family but we don?t talk about music. I mean we have been so long together and we have families and stuff. We are talking about what?s going on in private life and that usual stuff you know? But of course he knows what I am, they know what I?m doing but they are in a way we can say out of music business since I started U.D.O again. Wolf was doing one album with classic stuff and Peter?hmmm



I do know that some years ago he did some stuff together with John Norum?


Yeah I do know that. He did some stuff. He was also composing some stuff for radio stations and stuff like that. They are not in the music business anymore. In a way I don?t want to say never say never because you never know, but? maybe? For me what would be interesting, maybe if I have a longer break with U.D.O maybe then I would like to do some festivals with them.  I don?t know?   


Not complete tour or new records but just a few shows?


I mean Accept again with a real re-union? No way! I mean if it wasn?t working in the first try why it would work now (laughs)?



Ok. Some more speculation here? If those Accept shows would happen someday who would play drums then?


Hah! I don?t know? Likely he would be the drummer of U.D.O? (laughs) It?s sure that Stefan can not play drums anymore. It?s not possible. We are happy that can play even with guitar. You know he always has had problems with his neck and his back. The movement is different when you play drums and now when he?s doing guitar it works much better for him. So we are lucky that he can do this at all. Who would play drums for Accept? I have no idea (laughs).




Okay. We all are going to see what is going to happen if it happens someday? One thing came in mind. I was at Wacken festival this year and it was announced that you were supposed to be there and do a few songs together with Doro there? But you weren?t on the spot at all??


In Wacken?




Ehh? There was a lot of confusion. They phoned me up when I just packing my luggage because I was going on holiday. So there were some messages on the answering machine ?Would you come here and do some songs with us??  When I heard those messages I called them back and said like ?Could you please tell me a little bit earlier because I?m in Spain now? (laughs) So there was a lot of confusing and there was a mistake because the management of Doro. He did a big mistake. They were asking me when I was doing a song ?Breaking The Law? together with Doro in a studio and that happened in winter time and that was also before I was going on tour with U.D.O and they said maybe something happen in Wacken and stuff and ?blah blah blah?? I said yeah if I have time why not? I can do this but then I hear nothing. And the just maybe three days before Wacken was happening they phoned me up and I was already in Canaria (laughs) But what I think I may and do some shows with her then? She?s on tour now doing that classic stuff and maybe if I am in Germany in the beginning of December I will do that.




Tell us something about your new DVD called Thundervision?


Thundervision DVD. Yeah we were talking to the record company that U.D.O was doing no videos for such a long time so and they said okay because now it?s possible also in Germany again to get a video on TV so and then we decided to do it. We have some very good friends and with them we decided to do five video clips and then the idea came of course. We had five video clips ready and we decided to put them out as a mini DVD with some interview and stuff. In a way I?m happy that we did videos because countries like Russia, Eastern Europe and countries they all are put on this on TV and they were shown also in America and in South America. For Germany it?s still a little bit heavy but it goes.


Your son is also performing on that DVD?


Yes he is. He?s playing young Udo in the beginning of song ?The Arbiter? (laughs)



There?s also another DVD called ?Nailed To Metal?. Could you tell us something about that release?


?Nailed To Metal?. Well that was more like a history of U.D.O. We did put all the old videos, clips and stuff on it. It?s a document of our history. We also had video footage of something like seven or eight songs from ?Live from Russia? and we also put them on it.  Many people keep on asking DVD like that for years and finally we just decided to put it out and we are very happy about that. I think it?s a good package and there is enough good material to keep fans happy?


I agree. It?s a great DVD and there are lot?s of stuff I haven?t seen in years if ever. Do you have plans to release some more DVD?s in the near future?


Actually at the moment we are planning to do a DVD from this ?Thunderball? tour but we want do that in next year?



That sounds great plan! Okay our time is slowly turning down but I still have time to ask something. Let?s take this one?When you first time left from the Accept did you already had plans to start your own band?


Well in the beginning the problem was that I never left Accept. They wanted to have different singer then (laughs) Big mistake (laughs).


No I mean that wasn?t so easy for me because I had never worked with anybody else. I had never composed with different people so in a way I was lucky that ?Animal House? album wasn?t? I mean normally that album the songs the whole album was meant to be next Accept album after ?Russian Roulette?. So the songs were already written.


It was a easy start for me. What wasn?t easy for me was to find right musicians who could do this. It was a very heavy time in the beginning especially during Animal House? and ?Mean Machine? but in a way it was a steady line up. Not as steady as we have now with second time with U.D.O but we managed.



Matthias Dieth was the only remaining member who stayed with you until you rejoined Accept. When you restarted U.D.O. did you ever tried to get the old line up back together and especially Matthias?


No. I knew that he was completely out of music business. He?s a quite successful lawyer so he was not interested anymore to do music again. Short hair and stuff you know? Now he is Doctor Matthias Dieth and he?s completely out of music world. I get Stefan Schwarzmann back and then I found Fitty. I knew Fitty from the early days. He was in a band called Bullet and that was in the beginning of the eighties and I knew him and his old guitar player Jorn Graf came with him. In a way it was really easy to start U.D.O again. So then at some point Schwarzmann had some personal problems and he had to go and we had problems also with our second guitar player and I then I just found Igor and Lorenzo and here we are (laughs)!



Ok. Now we have to finish this one. Thanks for your time and see you later in the evening!


No problem. See you in the show!















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