INTERVIEW WITH UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER
Udo Dirkscheider’s band U.D.O. recently released a brand new studio album ”Mission X” which, as the name says, is their tenth studio album to date. Last summer he also did a kind of re -union tour with his old bandmates Accept and together they did a series of succesfull gigs along with headlining huge festivals like Wacken, Swedenrock, Gods Of Metal and Tuska. While Udo is waiting a new U.D.O. tour to start in January he’s working on several other projects like the one he already did with Russian pop band Factor 2 and now another one with Finnish monster band Lordi. I met Udo when he flew to Finland in early November to do vocals for the Lordi album and we talked about all these things. At the end of our discussion the main monster Lordi himself showed up and we talked some more about their collaboration as well as some other interesting topics …
Interview and pictures by Marko Syrjälä
MAN ON THE MISSION
You just recently released you tenth U.D.O album called “Mission X”..
UDO: Yes. Mission number ten
How this new album has been doing so far?
UDO: I only know what record label had told me but I’ve heard that it’s doing very well and we have received very good response and reviews I’m really happy with the result because we did recording very quickly this time but the reason for that was Accept tour “laughs”!
If I’m right this album was recorded already sometime in early spring?
Do you thing that this album received some extra publicity because of Accept tour?
UDO: I don’t know? I don’t think that this album is selling more because of what I did with Accept. When we put out the single “24/7″ of this album in Germany in the beginning of June, it went straight away in the single chart in the Germany. It was the first time ever I’ve been on single charts in Germany with any band so it was obvious that that something better was going on. At that time Accept was just starting the summer festival tour and for me of course it was good that we did all those festivals with Accept because then I could promote the upcoming U.D.O album. Actually that was one of the reasons why I did the Accept tour “laughs”
Right, I remember when Accept was in Helsinki last summer and you did interviews only about new U.D.O album, right?
UDO: That’s true “laughs”
Former U.D.O lead guitar player Matthias Dieth is also doing some guitars on this new album. How did you managed to get him to participate on this album?
UDO: Yeah. He’s still a good friend of us but he’s now a lawyer in Germany in music business, but he’s not in a music business like we are. He’s having a short hair, he look’s completely different what he did in the past and he’s completely out of music business but sometimes he visits on our place because he’s still very interested how the things are going. On one evening, when we were recording our new album and just re-doing solo for Way Of Life”, he came down to the studio and after a couple of beers he said “Would you let me play some guitar and try to do that solo?” and we said “Okay. If you like it can we put it on the album?” and that’s how it went “laughs”. You know, I’m still in contact with all these old of U.D.O members like Thomas Smuszynski and Stefan Scharfmann. We all are still in contact and there no bad feelings between us.
How about song writing for U.D.O? On these days it is basically just you and Stefan who do all everything?
UDO: Yeah that’s definitely true on the last album but on “Thunderball” and “Holy” –albums the whole band was much more involved. We had to start writing directly after the “Thunderball” tour in December and because of all Accept stuff this new album had to be finished in the end of last March. So when I said to the guys “C’mon and come up with some new songs?” but they were like “okay”.. So on this time almost everything is written by Stefan and I because the others didn’t had too much useful material finished at that time.There is one song which is written by Igor, anyway we told the guys that you have to wrote new songs all over the year not only on some certain period when we have to do an album. So everything it’s up to the guys. They should come up with some more songs next time?
How do you share writing between you and Stefan, I mean who writes the lyrics and so on?
UDO: The most of the lyrics are from ideas what I have. I have the basic idea and then we finish it together with Stefan.It usually goes like that.
Tell us something about “Mission X” lyrics?
UDO: Well let’s say that “Cry Soldier Cry” is definitely an antiwar song and the rest is in a way some more rock ‘n roll stuff. “24/7″ is like telling people that there are only 24 hours and seven days in a week to work our duty which is “Mission Number X” which is our ambition of our music. “Mad for Crazy” and “Shellshock Fever” are basically telling people about how crazy we are when we still are doing music like this. There are some songs which go against TV, what’s shown on the TV already in the afternoon in primetime but I think that for me 70% percent of this album is more lyrics about our music. What we are doing, what is our lifestyle you know? The song “Way of Life” is a perfect example about our life and our style of living.
“Way of Life” was originally recorded for “No Limits” album and I was going to ask why to re-record that song now?
UDO: We always think that we weren’t too happy about the production of the original version on “No Limits”. In a way it’s a kind of bonus song on this record and we wanted to do it sound more straight ahead and rock ‘n roll than the original version was. I think that song is now coming out much better than it did on “No Limits” because I think that the original version is too overproduced.
Well … in my opinion the whole “No Limits” album is a way too overproduced?
UDO: You are absolutely right. Unfortunately I found that out a couple of years later after that album was released “laughs” There are some really good songs on that album but production is too soft and clean.
So do you think that “Way Of Life” will be a part of your next tour set list?
UDO: Definitely “laughs”
Well I have ask about this. You have used words “Killing Machine” in almost every U.D.O album. What do you actually mean with “Killing Machine”?
UDO: “Killing machine”, right. It depends in a way how you use it? Sometimes when we say “We are Killing Machines” that means no bad things for you but it means that we are kind of killing machines with our music and stuff like that. It certainly doesn’t mean anything like “War, we are killing everything”, because are totally against killing and tell people not to do that “laughs”. What is interesting is that in the old days, not so old (Accept) days “laughs”, but in the beginning of U.D.O we always had the music first and then later we came up with the lyrics and the melodies. Since “Thunderball” album we started with lyrics and melodies and then we put music on and we found out, after all these years, that it’s much easier when you have the lyrics first and you know what you are talking about and when you have the melodies already it’s easier to find out the right atmosphere on it. That’s why “Mission X” was like, I don’t know for sure but it was like very, very easy to write. We thought, “Here we go, we don’t have too much time and we have to do everything very quickly” but I think also in the end that I was thinking also Accept and that’s why we had to do this album for under such a pressure. You know, without too much thinking and just do it. I think it was a good way to do that album.
It was like the same way you used to work with Accept in the old days?
UDO: Yeah. Really just do it and don’t think too much. I think it’s a good way to do a record.
You have “Mission Tour Poll” running on your homepage (
www.udo-online.de) where people can go and vote songs for the new tour. Tell us some more about that?
UDO: Well the idea of that poll is that after releasing 10 U.D.O albums, we now have something like 150 U.D.O songs to choose from. People are always asking us to play this song and that song so we decided to make a voting and people can now vote their favorites and songs they want to hear. It’s also interesting for us to see which songs are most popular and there are some true surprises in my opinion. “They Want War” is clearly the most popular song on the poll and when I saw that I was like “okay …?” “laughs” ..
Also “Go Back to Hell” is doing quite well?
UDO: Yes it does and we will definitely play “Go Back to Hell” and “They Want War” on next tour. We will do songs from “Faceless World” also. “Heart of Cold” for sure and then maybe “Trip to Nowhere”. It will be very interesting set list this time.
How about doing something from “Mean Machine” album?
UDO: From “Mean Machine” album … maybe we are doing something, I don’t know for sure? At the moment we are planning to do something new on the next tour. We might to do a part which will be acoustic but it’s still on the planning stage. We would like do a part which is just acoustic guitars and me singing on stage doing three or four songs like that way. Different arrangements for guitars and stuff like that. Maybe we do that or then we don’t? So there are a lot of things we are planning for the next tour.
You have a new drummer Francesco Jovino on your band now?
What happened to Lorenzo Milani who was his predecessor and played something like five years with U.D.O?
UDO: Well this is very, very bad story and let put it this way. Last year before we did the last part of the U.D.O tour in Scandinavia, it was in July I think?, Lorenzo’s sister died and she was just 30 years old and she had three little kids and the we said “Ok Lorenzo. Maybe we cancel some festivals and you can have some time to deal with this thing?” but he said “No I don’t wanna do this for you. I want to do these festivals and get through of thinking my sister all the time” and so on … Well then we did the festivals and then we had a little break, like a month, before we started the Scandinavian tour. Then it was two weeks, little bit more than two weeks, before the tour he was phoning up and he said that he has sold everything and he is out of business and he didn’t wanted to be our drummer anymore. I said “Hey come on!” and asked the reasons and everything. I asked him “Please can we just do this Scandinavian tour before you quit? It’s almost impossible to find a new drummer for the tour in that situation?”, but he said “No, I don’t wanna do this anymore”, end of story. Then Igor, our guitar player, came to me and said he knows a guy in Italy who had done some things together in the studio with him in the past and then Francesco came in and saved our tour. What can I say? We were so lucky to find this guy. I think he fits perfectly in this band because he’s more into heavy metal than Lorenzo ever was.
Live in Giants Of Rock, FINLAND in 1994
Speaking of former U.D.O drummers we also have Stefan Schwarfmann who played in U.D.O before Lorenzo.
He said on some interviews that you are not using “real drums” on U.D.O albums but you are using Stefan Kauffman’s programmed drums. How much there is true on that statement?
UDO: Ha ha ha… Let’s say it this way. I think he said it a little bit wrong. He knew that he was not the most timing drummer in the studio. What he was doing in a studio he always had a problems with this especially when Stefan Kauffmann was the producer. He was playing the drums but into the computer and Stefan Kauffman he was setting the whole drums together. Stefan kind of fixed his drums all the time and Stefan Schwarfmann was never too happy about that. But I think that at that time … I don’t want to talk bad things about him, but at that time he has some personal problems back then. When we recently did together the Accept stuff he was talking about those old things all the time and I said “Stefan, come on” “laughs” ….
I heard he plays with Uli Jon Roth at the moment?
UDO: Yeah and I think he’s also doing Victory now? I think he did a very good job with Accept and I mean if we have any problems with our new drummer he is definitely one of the guys I would take back in to U.D.O. He’s clean now with everything and he’s in a great shape. He had a very bad times but I don’t wanna talk about too personal things and it’s a past and I don’t wanna look back “laughs”
Tell us something about your next project after “Mission X” tour. I heard it’s going to be something like U.D.O goes classical??
UDO: Yeah that’s true. You have already heard about that “laughs”. I just had a meeting about that with our record company and when everything is set up for the upcoming tour we will continue talking more about that project. But before that we have to set up Mission X –tour and we are also planning a new U.D.O DVD.
Is that DVD going to be a complete live DVD this time?
UDO: It’s going to be definitely live because that’s what people keep on asking all the time from us. The next project, after the tour and DVD, will be a classic album but not a way like Metallica did some years ago. They just played their songs with the orchestra to make it sound bigger but the way we want to do it is something different. We want to change whole arrangements you know? At the moment we don’t know which songs we are going to do but let’s say it like this. The orchestra will be the most important thing and we will just…
Backing up the orchestra?
UDO: Right, so we want to be just backing band for the orchestra. This is the whole idea at the moment but it will be very interesting because I know that Ronnie James Dio will be a part of it and then I have already talked to some other guys who will be involved.
Is this project going to be something like what DORO did last year with her “Classic Diamonds” album?
UDO: In a way, yes.
Because you did some vocals for her album is it possible that she will be appearing on your album then?
UDO: Well … “laughs” I don’t want to tell too much about that project now “laughs”. Let’s say that only name I can say for sure now is Ronnie James Dio. We have already talked about that project but there will be more interesting names coming. Very interesting names I promise “laughs”
Well I remember that someone mentioned Wolf’s name at some point??
UDO: Hmmm…Let’s see…. “laughs”
THE ACCEPT TOUR
How about the Accept tour? How it went overall in your opinion?
UDO: Accept, I mean this is a thing. I was on a ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm when I got a phone call saying “We heard that you are not doing anything with U.D.O on next year. Maybe there is a change to do some festivals with Accept?” I said “maybe?” I wasn’t too happy about that idea in the first place and I didn’t want them to believe that I was screaming to do that. So I had to talk with record company, I had to talk to the U.D.O and the guys in the band who were really nervous in the beginning because they think that I was going to leave U.D.O and stuff like that. I think that most important thing for us to do after successful “Thunderball –tour” was to record a new U.D.O album. So I talked to record company and the guys and said that we can use the whole Accept thing for promoting next U.D.O album. Personally it was difficult decision for me to do that whole Accept thing and reason I said yes for the whole thing was that I wanted to find out if there was anything left? But I think, for me, I can just say it by me not by Wolf or Peter, but for me I can say that there is nothing left. It was lot of fun and I think it was also fun for the people to see Accept again because we did very good shows. But there is no future and I’m not talking about personal level because now we are talking each other more than we did before
Did you have any discussions about possible new recordings with Accept while you were on tour?
UDO: No, no at all “laughs” Of course we had some drinks together and we were talking about the business and stuff but Wolf maybe find out, I think he find out that if I say we should do it again he would say yes but in the beginning he said “No, I don’t wanna do it”. But I think that after doing all these shows he was really thinking about doing something more with Accept. The thing is that if he really wanted do something like that, why he never came up during all the shows and say “Hey Udo, I got some new songs, do you wanna hear them?” or something like that. There was nothing. Music wise he was maybe thinking something and I was like, this is very hard to explain but I felt inside of me “Don’t do it, don’t do it!!). I think that this was a perfect way finish Accept.
Accept on stage 2005. The final chapter?
So you are saying that this was definitely the last time we saw Accept on stage?
UDO: Maybe not the last time because there might be a live DVD coming from that tour “laughs”. It will include the whole reunion thing and stuff but then that’s it!
Have you heard some of those statements what Wolf said about you during the tour?
UDO: I don’t know. I think he did lot of very boring interviews about the things we just discussed. When I read them I was wondering what was coming up from his mind. I mean when he started doing interviews he said “I have no problem to do Accept but Udo doesn’t want to do it. There will be no real re-union because of Udo”. Still it wasn’t too long time ago when he said “No, Accept I don’t wanna do it because I hate that business. I don’t wanna be in music business anymore”.
And now he’s even did show with Sebastian Bach and he has plans to tour in his own in next year?
UDO: Yeah I know about that. I think this is some kind fear of him you know? I mean he knew that I was working with U.D.O and we had a new album coming out and he know what I was thinking all the time. From my side there wasn’t any re-union at any point and he knew that right from the beginning and now he’s changing the story.
So he’s the one who decided to chance his mind?
UDO: Exactly, he changed his mind. If he wants to he can still do Accept but with a different singer “laughs”
Accept’s second “farewell tour” with Michael Cartellone on drums in Helsinki in 1996
UDO BECOMING A POP STAR?
Tell me something about the project you have with some Russian guys at the moment?
UDO: Yeah I did a song “Cry Soldier Cry” together with Russian pop duo called Factor 2. They are very popular in Russia at the moment but they are not just a pop duo because they also do some rock things. They also do some other stuff like rap stuff and so on and on. I was really surprised how popular they are. When they came over to Germany and I was bringing them to the train station there came some people and asked their autographs. I was like “what?” Later on I have learned that they are also very popular in Germany too because there are about six million Russians living in Germany. It was really interesting project to do because for the first time ever I did the whole song in Russian language which really wasn’t easy thing to do. Also it was great to work together with people from completely different business but it’s like somebody from the record company said, music has no borders.
Have you heard the finalized version of the track yet?
UDO: Of course I have.
How does it sound?
UDO: Very interesting… “laughs”
Does it sound more pop music or U.D.O?
UDO: Well I can not really say pop because it’s like… They’re coming out with some really nice harmonies which are not a kind of what I’ve used in U.D.O together with my voice. It’s already interesting when you hear the whole song in Russian because there’s completely different atmosphere on there. When you first sing a song in English and then you do the same song in Russian and you think what the lyrics are about and put the same feeling into that song in Russian and suddenly you are thinking that song in Russian. It was very strange and new experience for me.
When it’s coming out by the way?
UDO: We start touring in Russia in the end of September in the beginning of October next year so that will come out some three or four months before that. We are also doing a video clip for that song in Russia so there are lot’s of new things coming. So who knows, maybe I become a pop star? “laughs”
Right, the teenage idol “laughs”
UDO: You never know “laughs”
Well the main reason you are now in Finland is that you are doing some vocals for upcoming Lordi album. Tell us how this project started?
UDO: Well. I was just asked to do this “laughs”
Who originally contacted you in a first place?
UDO: They asked me.
When did you heard about Lordi first time?
UDO: The first time I heard about Lordi was last year. I remember that I saw their video from TV and I was thinking that this is the music and the look of the band that doesn’t fit together but it was really interesting combination. Then they send me that song “They Only Come Out at the Night” which is a good song. Good rock and roll stuff where the both vocalists will do fit perfectly together “laughs”. Tomorrow we will see how it’s goes when we do vocals in the studio?
The song “They Only Come Out at the Night”. Did you write this song especially for Udo?
LORDI: None of the songs were made any petucilar guest in mind. The songs were already written and selected way before we started asking them.
How would you describe that song is because I haven’t heard it yet?
UDO: In a way it sounds like what U.D.O did on the eighties I think? Good rock ’n roll stuff for me. It’s a straight forward rock song.
LORDI: And from my point of view it was like when it was time to choose a song for Udo it was like this is the song which sounds like Udo and the feeling of the song for me as a fan is like “Okay this could be a bonus song, this could have been on a “Animal House” or maybe even in a “Faceless World?” This is very simple song in way it does have very simple structure but I think that melodies and the harmonies are pretty much like what U.D.O did in the eighties and on the first three albums. We basicly are sharing the whole song, a line for Udo, the next line is me and so on. The title is something that our guitarist Amen came up with, of course, it is the title that KISS was about to use in the seventies but never did, so… That song came out really quick. We were sitting down with Amen, and we were actually doing some other songs, but twenty minutes later we had it already done. That sometimes happen, and it is really fun to work that way. If something good comes out, you´ll never know. It is a really simple straight-forward hard rock song. Fits Udo perfectly I think!
Do you agree with that Udo?
UDO: Yeah, in a way, yes. I have to see how it’s coming out for me once I’ve finished my vocals first? But I think it will work out well “laughs”
Do you have any ideas who others will be questing on this album?
UDO: I heard that Bruce Kulick from KISS will be there and then are some others whose names I don’t know at the moment?
LORDI: There will be some Twisted Sister guys also.
UDO: Okay. I haven’t heard about that.
What do you think about Lordi’s image overall?
UDO: In a way when you are in this business sometimes you gotta do something really different just to be different and I think it doesn’t matter if you do look like these guys if there is nothing else. In a way you have to be unique you must have a special trademark which is very important and I think Lordi has a special trademark?
Well Lordi … When did you get an idea of getting guests like Udo, Bruce Kulick and others on your next record?
LORDI: Who would not like to have their own idols on their album? To be recognized and honoured by people you look up to, the people you grew up with, the people you wanted to be when you grow up, it feels a bit unreal! It all actually started last spring, when we were on our European tour. We had a day-off, and we went to see ESP in Copenhagen. I asked their tour manager Rikk that would he think that Bruce would like to do an guest appearance on our record. The next day I was a bit ashamed, becouse I was pretty drunk that night, hahaha!! But luckily, few days later we got mail that stated yes. And like with many things, the more you eat, the hungrier you get. So, when Rikk just flashed the possibility of asking also some other idols of ours, we were like, hell yeah! So, as Rikk works with TS, Sebastian Bach and so on and so on, we just kept asking for more, hahaha! We owe Rikk big time. The thing with Udo was a different story. Our A&R Janne Halmkrona said that we should try to have him also. So, we asked Udo, and Udo said ok. I´ve always been a huge fan of Udo, so we were really really happy to have him! It truly was a dream come true to share vocals with my idol!
Is there are possibility that there might be some more special guests coming for that record?
LORDI: We´re still waiting for… The thing is, that we are running against time at the moment, but there are few names still that wanted to participate when we asked them. But with people who are touring, making records and still being very active in the business, it is kinda hard to fit the scheduals. Now we are just keeping our fingers crossed that they´ll make it in time…!
Has anyone who you have asked refused to participate this project?
LORDI: Ummm… Well, technicly no.. But we actually never got to ask Alice Cooper himself, his management turned us down. But that´s ok. We already have more stars than we ever could have dreamed of having, hahaha!!!
When the new Lordi album will be released?
LORDI: It´s coming out on Feb 22nd in Finland, March 3rd in Germany.. That´s all I know.. Ask the label!
What are Lordi’s plans for the upcoming year after album is out?
LORDI: Woah… probably doing some shows, hahaha! Hopefully!
Lordi on stage 2003
BLASTS FROM THE PAST
Well because Udo is sitting next to you I would like to ask some Accept/U.D.O related questions from you also. How does it feel to sit next to him right now?
LORDI: Scared. He´s the German Tank. He´s the man “laughs”
You never saw classic Accept playing live on the eighties but in 1988 you saw U.D.O playing in Kuusrock in Oulu,right?
LORDI:Yes, that’s true.
Do you Udo remember anything on that gig?
UDO: Yes I do remember Oulu quite well.
That was the first tour for you without Accept, right?
UDO: That was the first U.D.O tour ever.
Animal House tour?
UDO: I remember there were a lot’s of mosquitos in Oulu. But overall it was nice festival and I really remember that really well.
LORDI: Well that was my first festival ever. It was my first time being like alone in another city to see some big bands. I remember being in the front row when U.D.O was playing and ever since I have been in every U.D.O and Accept show in Finland.
How many times you have seen Udo on stage?
LORDI: Well I’m sure that you know better because you have seen the same shows as I but let me try… First time was during “Animal House” in Oulu, then it was “Mean Machine” tour in Ice Hall with Ozzy in 1988 and then there was the re –union tour with Accept, “Objection Overruled” in Tavastia, “Death Row” -tour ,”Predator” -tour, Accept farewell tour and last summers Accept tour and…
You forgot one gig: The “Timebomb” -tour in Giants Of Rock festival in Hämeenlinna in 1991?
LORDI: Yes that’s true.
UDO: I remember “Timebomb” gig in Finland very well too. It was really hot day and our last tour before the first re –union with Accept.
LORDI: Unfortunately Udo never came to Finland on “Faceless World” tour because that’s my all time favorite U.D.O album. If I remember right you said that you are going to quit after that tour because you had some health problems back then. I always remember the line that was broadcasted in the air where you said “Ok. Thank you for everything and thank you for all these years I’m done with music business now”. Do you remember that?
UDO: Maybe I said I don’t know “laughs”
LORDI: It was after the riding the middle of “Faceless World” tour or something and I was like heart broken “What a fuck??” “laughs”
UDO: Yeah I remember now. Maybe I said something like that because I had a real health problem then. I was really overworked at that time so then I went to the hospital and then I had to change many things in my life. You know, you can not be composer, producer, manager and taking care about everything all the time and my body kind of went broke because of all that. I had to think after “Faceless World” or actually we had to stop that tour in the middle because of my problems. I remember that before we were supposed to go to England I said “Okay that’s it!” and then I had to think what I wanted to do in the future? I decided to put things down a little bit and do lesser things and take more care of myself.
LORDI: The funny thing is that “Faceless World” is still my favorite album and it’s the only tour I never saw you play live. It was a tough time for a young fan.
Actually it’s my favourite album of U.D.O also. Let’s really hope that we hear some tracks from that album on the next U.D.O tour? Tour is going to start in January and you are also coming to Finland then?
UDO: For sure. There will several dates in Finland then.
That’s great to hear. We’ll see you there then and Lordi will probably how up also?
LORDI: There’s no doubt about it !!
Thank you guys !
FOR MORE INFO GOTO:
SPECIAL THANX TO UDO, LORDI AND SONY BMG MUSIC FINLAND TO GET THIS INTERVIEW DONE !!!