Vocalist David Reece discusses his time with Accept, Bonfire, Bangalore Choir and more.

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David Reece is an American vocalist, best known for his time with the band Accept, appearing on their album “Eat the Heat” (1989). Reece has been active in the music scene professionally since the late 1980s. He has recorded and performed with several bands, including Bangalore Choir, Bonfire, Sircle of Silence, Stream, and Tango Down. Currently, David is fronting his own band called Reece. The band has released three albums, including the latest “Resilient Heart” (2018). In March of 2019, David visited Finland as one of the guests at the KISS and Hard Rock Convention event in Helsinki. There I had the pleasure to sit down with the man and discuss his colorful past and future.


FOREWORD

First of all, how did the weekend and the “Convention” go in Helsinki?

I would say my first time, my impression of the organizers and the people are lovely. I was completely satisfied. People were so nice to me. I’m completely satisfied. The organization was professional; the people were great. I met lots of old friends, and I’ll never forget my experience in Finland. It’s the first time, so.

 

WHAT’S GOING ON?

David, what’s up to you and your career? Recently you did a tour with U.D.O., but what’s next in your calendar?

As you said, I just finished 24 shows opening for the U.D.O. “Steel Factory” tour in support of my latest solo album, “Resilient Heart,” which was released November 9, 2018. I have festivals during the summer, and I’m doing a show with Evergrey in Italy. I’m doing a big festival in June in Denmark and another big one in Romania in August, and I hope to return to a headline tour or co-headline tour in the fall of 2019. I have a show on a Rock the Boat cruise from Copenhagen to Norway, so I think I’ll coordinate all of that with the next release. I have a new album I’m writing right now. I’m pretty busy. I’m also doing a record for a Bulgarian group called John Steel. Doogie White was doing it for a while, and I had done some gigs with them when Doogie was busy with Michael Schenker. And then Doogie decided to step out, so they asked me to sing on the album. I’m going to do that in a few weeks, yeah. And then my line-up, my band is great. Unfortunately, Martin Jepsen Andersen just quit the band, right after U.D.O. We had some personal differences, and I’ve told him what I wanted to be changed, and he agreed, and then later that day, he quit. So, I hired the mighty Andy Susemihl, who was with U.D.O for years, and he and I have been friends for 30 years. So, Andy is an amazing guitarist we’re writing right now, so I’m really happy with what I’m doing in my life. I’m no longer somebody’s singer. I’m solo.

So, you want to get rid of “a hired gun” role and make your own stuff in the future?

I do. It’s always been you’re somebody’s singer. You’re living under the thumb of maybe a guy before you, and you have a bandleader that you don’t agree with. In this way, if I make mistakes, they’re my mistakes. I don’t have to follow somebody else’s bad choices, and if I say something about it to them, they normally get angry. This way, I can make my moves, and I have the freedom to say I want this or I don’t want this. So, it’s cool, but it comes with a lot of responsibility because I believe that you must treat everybody fairly and listen to their opinion in a band. Not all of my ideas are the right ones, so I’ll ask the guys, “What do you think about my idea?” And a lot of the time, because they’re young and new at this, they say, “Yeah, let’s try it.” But sometimes they say, “I don’t know; it’s kind of strange, maybe we should do it this way.” And I’m willing to listen because that’s a democracy. But somebody has to run the ship, so I’m happy. I’m happy for the first time in many years where I am.

 

MOVING TO EUROPE

You have lived in Italy for a few years. When did it happen, and why?

I moved there in December of 2014. I met my now wife through a friend on Facebook. But I had met her in England at Firefest once, and I fell in love with her. I looked at her, and I said, “Wow.” And we started talking and taking our time. I took her on tour with me in Bonfire a few times to see how she was. And if a woman can stay on a bus with five smelly guys and all the crazy dynamic that happens. She was really calm, and she was happy. And I said, “I’m going to marry this woman.” So, I finished some shows in December 2014. And I bought a plane ticket, moved to Italy, and got married [laughter].

How is life different in Europe compared to the US?

Well, musically, it’s far better in Europe for me. America is kind of in a weird circling pattern. It seems nostalgia bands are doing really well. These four band packages that you see every summer that I find pretty boring. There’s no room for bands like me to get a chance to play. So, I got tired of playing one or two shows a month. And every time I toured Europe, I would be on the road for two or three weeks, and then I would go back to Montana. And, of course, my wife is Italian. It’s part of the deal. I’m married to an Italian. But I’m here where I’m more active. So, it’s far better for a working musician, I think. You Europeans are far more dedicated to, like last night, the love of your music. You feel it more. Like in America, it’s kind of like, they say, “Here today. Gone later today.” There’s no loyalty. It’s like “bam, bam, bam,” and then you’re out.

Like W.A.S.P, many older bands don’t tour much in the States because the market is here.

Absolutely. Blackie, has a loyal W.A.S.P. following in Europe. He plays all the big shows. I tip my hat to him. He’s kept the band alive, what, 40 years, 30 years. You go where the market is. I mean, if you’re going to stay home and think you’re going to be working, you’re not going to work in America unless you’re Aerosmith or Van Halen. Look what they do.

Yeah, you need to be big enough, or you have to play in tiny clubs without making any money.

You pick and choose your venues when you’re that big. But we’re not. We’re living in a time where I was famous in the late 80s. And because of “Eat the Heat,” Accept opened all these doors for me in Europe. And it’s kind of I’m living off that laurel. People know me. In America, they don’t know me. My hometown’s and stuff, of course. I was the lead singer everybody knew. But in Europe, I can walk into a venue, “Oh, that’s David Reece. Hey.” And I love that. They respect what I’ve done.

Reece band in January of 2018

ACCEPT TATTOO

Before we start going deeper into the Accept stuff, I have one question. Once you had joined the band, there was an extensive interview in a Finnish magazine called Soundi. And then you were showing your brand new Accept tattoo proudly.

Yeah!

Do you still have it?

No, I don’t. After I was fired, the first thing I did was I went to the tattoo store, and I got a cover-up. I got that tattoo one day when the band officially hired me. Peter Baltes and I went to Cologne. I said, “I’m getting a tattoo.” He said, “Are you crazy?” I said, “Nope. I’ve got to have it.” So, I got the tattoo, and I’m very proud of it because that was a big move for me. But when they fired me, I was like, “Okay. Better get rid of that history.” Because it’s going to be there forever, so I put a skull over it [laughter].

 

JOINING ACCEPT

Before we go there, to the end of the story, let’s start from the very beginning of your Accept career. So, the obvious question is, how did you end up getting the job in 1988?

How did it happen? I was working with Mitch Perry. Of course, he worked with Billy Sheehan, and then he played with Michael Schenker. I ran into him through this mutual friend and started writing songs together. I really didn’t know how to write songs. I have no idea. I just wrote the words and sang them. We shopped a few deals, but nobody said yes, and then I became very discouraged with the music business because I was basically homeless. I was living at a friend’s house on the floor, and she was having an affair with Dieter Dierks, and he would fly to Los Angeles for band business for the Scorpions and stay with her. And Rob Armitage was the guy before me, an English guy, and he wasn’t working out. It just didn’t fit the band, like me, I guess?

“Laughs,” And Dieter had flown to LA and said, “I’m in a terrible situation. We’re in production, and we need to make an album. I need a singer. Who do you know?” And she goes, “This guy, David, just left, and he left this tape.” And she hadn’t listened to it yet. And they put it in, and he went, “That’s the guy I need. Where is he?” And I didn’t tell where I’d gone. I’ve gone to Colorado and went back to my painting houses job for a few months, and the phone rang one night, and it was Wolf Hoffmann. I don’t know how he found my phone number. It was a shocking phone call. It was February of ’86, I think, ’87, and it was a terrible snowstorm. And he said he really liked my tape. Would I be interested in trying out for Accept? Well, that’s a dumb question. Of course!

So, like two days later, I was on a flight to Dusseldorf. I met the band, and the audition consisted of six weeks. The first full day I was there, Peter Baltes took me to the recording studio, and I thought, “Wow, I get to meet the Scorpions.” I mean, I was so naive. I saw Rudolph and Matthias, and they were like, “Hey. How you’re doing?” They didn’t care. And then I was kind of depressed because I wanted to shake their hand. They didn’t care. Peter walked me into a demo room and put on the demo tape; I think it was “Turn the Wheel,” and said, “sing something.” And I said, “What?” He goes, “Put up a microphone. Just start singing.” And that’s how crazy the audition was. So, this went on for about three weeks, four weeks. And then we started kind of rehearsing the old material in this club called The Empire in Cologne. And I was told, “This is your final audition. We’re going to play this club.” Because they had a rehearsal room in the back, and that’s going to be my final audition. I thought, “Great. Now I get fired.” So, we played Cologne, and it was about a thousand people, and Gaby had invited many people to the show to watch me, the famous people. I’m told Bruce Dickinson was there, and KK Downing and Glenn Tipton were there. And the gig went really well. And after the gig, I went back to the guest house, expecting to be sent home. So, I partied all night with some friends, and I heard the band speaking upstairs in the guest house, and I thought, “Well, I better go face the music and say goodbye.” And Gaby reached her hand out and said, “Welcome to Accept. You’re hired.” But it was a six-week audition because they wanted to be very sure.

It was a different way to join the band, but I’m sure you also learned a lot from that experience?

Yeah. And I learned the importance of rehearsal because I came from the clubs. We learned cover songs, wrote a few songs. We played five nights a week, five hours a night. I didn’t know what it was like to be in a real band that actually toured the world, rehearse eight hours a day, write every day, sing every day. I learned a lot about how serious you got to be if you want to do it in a short period of time.

About the Cologne show. The band was well prepared, and everything went well, but it was certainly not an easy situation for you. What was the most challenging part for you personally?

The fear. Thinking maybe this is my last night here. I mean, I was terrified. I remember sitting across the street from the venue in a restaurant. And I totally flipped out, going, “I have to sing tonight.” And they’re all relaxed, having beers and talking and dinner. And it’s normal for them because they had toured everywhere. And I look across the street. And there are 1,000 people in line in the rain in March standing outside waiting to see the band. And I’m like, “Ooh.” And I completely flipped out because I still get stage fright every day, and it’s a good thing. I use it. You feel this anxiety and this nervousness, but when you get on stage, it’s gone.

And I’ll tell you somebody who told me the anxiety is positive– Steven Tyler. I was backstage flipping out. It was a pretty big show. And he came into the dressing room. And I was like, “Oh, my God. That’s Steven Tyler.” And he knew a man that I was with. And he asked him, “What should we play tonight?” “What is he talking about?” And he put a piece of paper on the wall with a Sharpie. And my friend said, “You guys should play the old stuff.” And they were going through the old catalog. Okay. And he looked at me, and he goes, “Ah, nervous, huh?” And I said, “Yeah. I’m terrified.” He goes, “Let me tell me something. I get it, too, every night.” He goes, “When the butterflies are gone, it’s over. Use it to your advantage.” And those words stuck with me. It was like karma. I don’t know what the word is, like a religious moment or something that’s like, “Wow, you get stage fright? You’re Steven Tyler.” “Fuck yeah, man. But I use it. And when I get out there, it’s all cool.” But before, I’m like….” He’s smoking his cigar. He’s nervous; he’s talking. And then, he went out and did his thing. I did my thing. And I went, “It’s normal,” because I used to think, “Wow. Why am I nervous? I’ve done this so long.” But it’s a natural feeling that it’s an odd feeling to go out in front of hundreds of people and perform. It’s not a normal thing. It’s kind of weird. But it’s a great weird.

I’M THE ACCEPT VOCALIST

So, you were officially the new Accept singer. What was it like to come from American culture and start working with people who had worked together for years and who were thinking in a very different way, the German way? 

Very difficult. And the truth of the matter is different cultures are different cultures. The German way of thinking is different than the American way. And you have to understand the band was 20 years old. They had a system of operation how it works. And this is how it works. And you’re going to do it the way we say. It’s like a job. You get hired by a guy. “I’ll hire you. But you do it this way. You don’t come in here with your ideas. This is our idea.” But the conflict was is that the record companies have told them, “You need to break the United States.” So, in a way, I have this feeling I had to speak up because I lived in America. “We have to do it this way to break you guys out.” And they didn’t want to hear it. They had their system. So, we clashed. Wolf is the star of the band. And I came in. And all of a sudden, he wasn’t the center of attention. He didn’t like that! [laughter]. Let’s be honest. Wolf is the star of the band now. And it’s the Wolf Hoffmann thing. So, we clashed because all of a sudden, the press was coming to me and saying, “I want to meet the new singer.” Well, Wolf normally does all the interviews. So, it was a little intense for him. It was different. But I think the German way of doing things is different than the American. The Finnish way is different than the American, vice versa. So, living in New York as long as I have over the years, I’ve learned to assimilate and understand it better. But at first, it’s bizarre. I didn’t get it. I was like, “What’s wrong? Why are you acting this way?”

Did you make any compromises to make the band work better together?

No. I was a young, stupid kid who was stubborn. I had my way of thinking. I let the ego kind of control me. Everybody took photos of me, and I was famous, and I kind of missed what was happening. I made some mistakes, but I also did a great job. But, of course, it ended badly. I hope I have answered the question. I wasn’t right for the band, but I want the public to remember one thing: they hired me. I didn’t force them to hire me. It was a chapter in their life that I’m very proud of my life, but they refused to realize it. It was their decision.

People should remember that the band fired Udo Dirkschneider to replace him with a new singer to help them make more money. Overall, it was a business decision.

Right. It’s a business. Well, I mean, you’ve got a band that’s selling 400,000 copies in the US, just shy of gold, and in America, you’ve got to hit gold to stay relevant in most cases. So, they thought, “Well, you know, we’ve got this great institution called Accept. If we could just commercialize it a little more than a metal thing like increase a crossover, we could have something huge.” So, the influence of the corporate people became the decision-makers whereas, in Europe, they pretty much were the big dogs under Scorpions – those two bands from Germany – and Helloween. Those three bands were like the premiere bands. Accept is big, but the Scorpions were the Kings. But the album “Eat the Heat” was a commercial failure. You go from “Fast as a Shark” and “Russian Roulette” to “Generation Clash,” the fans are going to go, “What the hell is this? Where’s my hero, Udo? This isn’t my band. You’ve betrayed us.” And the German mentality, the loyalty towards the band was killed. I mean, there was no middle like I told you yesterday. They either hated me, or they loved me. There was no middle. It was a difficult game.

I can see that, but, as you said, you were hired by the band, so it was an unfair situation for you?

As I said, it wasn’t my decision. I did the best I could, and one thing I wish the band would realize is that there were choices made from them. I think Wolf played really well on the Album. There’s a side of him that not many people know he could play. Musically, Peter Baltes is an amazing songwriter. He really added a lot to that album. Peter’s a great singer too, taught me a lot. Peter taught me a lot about songwriting.

David Reece live at Finland 2019

EAT THE THE HEAT

I always thought it wasn’t right to choose “Generation Class” as the first single because that was so different from the old stuff. It would have been safer to put out something like “X-T-C,” or what do you think?

I agree. I hated the choice but, again, corporations make those choices, and Gaby agreed with it. I think it was a mistake. It was a long song, kind of strange steady groove. Now, when I play it live, people love it. But it didn’t work with the old fans or trying to create new fans. As you said, we’re a traditional metal band. We should have done “D-Train” or “X-T-C” and then released a little more of the softer. But there was a lot of– I think part of their problem is – and I’m going to be very honest – is they’re not willing to admit that they made those mistakes. They went from black to white that quick, you know? I think it should have been a progressive thing, and maybe not even call it Accept. Okay? Maybe it would have been smarter to change the name? As I look back in hindsight, I’ve had that thought many nights in my room. Hmm, maybe that album would have been a super successful smash if it was released under a different name.

Maybe?

Yeah, it was a commercial failure, but maybe they would have done some things differently, but you always say that in life. If I had done this, did that, maybe it would have been better? Well, I’ve learned over the years to follow my gut. I learned in this business a long time ago to say no when I don’t like something. And I was always afraid to do that because when you’re in the business and you are a part of the system, you don’t want to fuck it up. So, you listen to a lot of bullshit. Maybe like Gaby and all they did with the corporations – they listened to the bosses. When they should have said, “No, let’s do “X-T-C” first.” I’ve learned over those years if I say no, it’s because something inside me doesn’t feel right. Probably because for years, I say, “Yeah, let’s do it.” None of these guys are wearing suits and ties, and they don’t have a clue about music. They just sell products [laughter].

Accept in press 1989

WORKING IN A STUDIO

How was it working in the studio with Dieter Dierks?

It was unbelievable. I’d never done that – working with Dieter Dierks was unbelievable. I mean, we’d start singing at one o’clock in the afternoon, and we’d take a dinner break for an hour or two, and then we’d go back and work until probably twelve or one AM. And many times, I’d wake up with a hangover and go, “Dieter, can we not do it today?” And he would say, “Nein, we’re in the studio.” And we worked for nine months on that album. Which was kind of ridiculous in a way? Too much time, but. In those days, producers loved to take their time. It costs a lot of money. Mutt Lange was taking four years, and Dieter would take a year. But I learned how to be a singer. Because when I first joined, I could sing, but I didn’t know who I was. And Dieter said that in the beginning. He said, “You know, you’re a really good singer, but you don’t know who you are. I’m going to find out who you are.” And he did. So, what you get now is that discovery. So, I owe a lot to Dieter. I’ve learned a lot. And I’m learning today. Every day I learn something about singing. I learned rehearsal, sleep, and a lot of other things.

How much did you make melodies or vocal lines for the album?

Not really at all. I mean, I could sing the notes, but I had a tough time singing harmonies. I didn’t get it. It was in there, but I couldn’t sing it. Dieter was great, he had a little Casio piano, and he’d hold it like this. And he’d play melody lines and say, “Sing that.” But I wrote a lot of words. But I didn’t know how to make the melody stick to the song. I’d just sing the words, but there’s more to being a singer than just singing the words. You have to mean what you’re singing. There are a lot of singers who just sing the words, and you don’t believe it. Do you know what I mean? You’re a player– when you’re playing bass, when you write something, if you really play it and feel it, you want your singer to sing it. Right? So that’s what Dieter taught me. I mean, melodies and– because I was doing cover songs, so I was just following the radio’s bouncing ball.

 

THE US TOUR

After the album was released, you started the tour in the United States. I have learned that the tour was not a huge success? What went wrong, in your opinion?

No. It was– and here’s another thing, I don’t think that Accept was prepared for the start over. I mean, when they got rid of Udo and got me, I think they really believed that we were going to conquer the US and be huge. But the reality was we went out for– we did, I think, 30 shows, every night, in clubs because I was well-connected with local agents and they said: “Do you know a booking agent?” And of course, the agent said, “Oh, Accept in the clubs.” So, we did that as a rehearsal, got really fine-tuned live, and then we were offered the W.A.S.P. -tour. Metal Church was on the bill before us, and our first show was in San Antonio, Texas, and it was about ten thousand people; it wasn’t bad — my first real big deal. But as the tour progressed, the band was not getting along, and then the shows, the promoters were selling our shows to smaller venues. We would play a 3,000-seater for 1,000 people. Now Accept is not used to doing that. They’re used to sold-out in Germany and Europe. So, I think; personally, everything involved was part of the decision to get rid of me — this isn’t going to work. So yeah, that was bad. W.A.S.P. wasn’t selling well. I remember playing a club in Boston where we’d had a theatre booked, and two days before, we’d been sold to a gay club, ok, and it held maybe 200 people. And I was standing on road cases as an extension of the stage — three bands. And it was maybe 100 people there. So that’s kind of hard to swallow for a band like Accept. So yeah, it was a lot of things. It didn’t work out.

It’s a pity that you didn’t tour Europe with the band. That could have worked much better, I think?

Yeah! I only played Cologne with Accept. I never played other European shows with them. It was sad because I thought we should’ve started in Europe. I really did. But they thought, “No, we’ve got to break America.” Okay, let’s go to America.

I would say it was again a wrong decision by the band, you know?

Yeah. I mean, we should’ve gone out, played the festivals, really put it on, promoted, because we had all the press, covers, and Metal Hammer everything was– it was huge, the interest. A great marketing campaign, and then all of a sudden, I find out we’re going to play clubs in the Midwest, and then we got offered the W.A.S.P. -tour, and I thought we were going to annihilate them, but I was wrong. So yeah, like I said, bad choices and bad interworking relationships. Wolf and I had a conflict because he was used to being the leader, Gaby molded him as “the guy,” and I think when you have– in America, we have bands like Aerosmith and stuff where it’s a singer-guitar player combination, very important that bond–you may have friction– but it works. Like what Blackie and Chris Holmes were at one time. That was a cool thing. People loved to see “the Mad Man” on guitar and Blackie. You have Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. They fight like crazy, but it’s the band with Wolf, no. It’s Wolf Hoffman. I’m sorry, it’s the truth. He doesn’t want to share the spotlight with another guy.

 

THE END OF THE STORY

However, after a few weeks, things went terrible, and the band broke up. How did the band end up in such a bad situation where it had no other options but give up the whole thing?

It was very strange. Peter and Wolf have always been kind of a duo. But Peter would break away from Wolf and come to me, and then Wolf would break away from Peter, and they would get back together, and I was kind of on the outside. We had a rhythm guitarist named Jim Stacey who was kind of just standing around like, “what am I doing here?” Stefan Kauffman developed a really bad back disease, and he had to cancel, and we got Ken Mary on drums to fill in. So, it was like Wolf and Peter, me and Jim and then Ken Mary. But it started breaking down probably in the clubs because, you know, I was a young kid. I was drinking and having a great time– I was doing my job. But they’re not used to that. They don’t party like that, and I was like, “Wow, I’m a new Rockstar. This is my world,” and I didn’t live by the accepted guidelines, and I made a few mistakes, I’ll admit it.

Before Accept went to hiatus, you were fired from the band. What was the final nail for the coffin of your Accept career? What happened?

The final straw was Chicago. We played with W.A.S.P., and I had been chasing women, of course. I was a young guy. I had all the girls I wanted, and that’s not how they act. They’re all married, very serious. It’s more of a business. It’s not a rock vibe. And I’ve had this fling with a girl, and Peter knew about it, and the truth is, Peter called his wife, and she called my girlfriend in German and told her verbatim what I did. So, I drank pretty heavily that day. My girlfriend basically told me, “We’re done. I know what you did.” And I’m like, “How did you know this?” And then I figured it out. So, after the show, I asked Peter, “Did you say that?’ He goes, “Yes, I did.” And I slapped him. And that was it. And I remember Chris Holmes was next door with me. There was a hole in the wall, and he saw me slap Peter, and he said, “What the fuck did you do that for?” Next, ten minutes later, I’m standing on a street in Chicago and nowhere to go. They left me. And nicely enough, the bus driver gave me $100 to get to the airport, and I had to call my father to fly home. So, I went from here to here in a matter of a week. But he had no right to do that. I had no right to slap him. I regret it, but men will be men. Boys will be boys.

Things happen on the road…

Things happen. And if people aren’t willing to say, “Yeah, I kind of understand why Reece did that, or I understand why Peter–.” It’s an old story, but I can honestly say I respect Peter and wish him the best now. He’s out of Accept. We’re all shocked.

David Reece live 2019

ACCEPT WITHOUT PETER BALTES AND WORKING WITH U.D.O.

What do you think about Accept continuing without him now?

It was always Wolf. I mean, let’s be honest. I mean, when I was in the band, it was always about Wolf. He always played all the guitars. There was always another guitar player, but he never recorded. Gaby had molded the whole Accept thing around Wolf. In my opinion, when Udo Dirkschneider was in the band, that was Accept. And then you had the really nice lead guitar player, and you had the killer bass player on the stage. That was Accept—Udo Dirkschneider’s voice. I still feel that way. So, I don’t know about the new Accept. I saw them in Milan.

Peter was still in the band, but I didn’t feel it. There was something– I don’t know if you’ve seen it? It didn’t feel, right? And that’s just my opinion. I mean, I may be wrong, but I saw one YouTube video, the new guy on bass, but it was an orchestra. And I didn’t understand it, so I just clicked on another video. I wish them, okay, but to be honest, touring with the Udo was far more pleasurable. He always treated me with respect, and even when I took his job, I saw him every day. And he always said, “I’ve never a problem with Reece. We always got along, and on this tour, “Steel Factory” -tour, it was, “Hello, David.” “Hello, Udo.” “How are you?” “Fine.” “Fine. Have a good gig.”

I find it interesting that when you were recording “Eat the Heat” with Accept, Udo was working “Mean Machine” on the same studio complex. Udo told me in an interview that you came along well even then. That tells something about the guy, positively!

Yeah. Absolutely. And I would go and hang out with Udo and his band. Andy Susemihl and Matthias Dieth were the guitar players. Andy and Matthias were young guys, and I was a young guy, so Udo was kind of done it for a long time, so we’d go on and get drunk every night, party, and chase girls. And Udo was always kind of sitting there smoking a cigarette, drinking with us, watching the boys act crazy. But he was always like, “Hey, good luck. How are things going?” It was kind of like, “Is he serious? He should hate my guts.” But I think he was kind of relieved to start fresh. He had a great band. In “Animal House,” I think it was supposed to be the next Accept album. But they gave it to him. And so, it was a good trade, but I can tell you I never, ever felt, in any way, that Udo disrespected me. He always treated me with the utmost respect. It was amazing. And even 30 years later, on this tour, it was like I just saw him yesterday. I knew his son. His son played in a band called, Damage. And he would ask me, “Hey, can I open for you in Cologne?” And I was like, “Absolutely. And you know, if your dad’s in town, bring him down.” And one night, Udo came, and it was like a circus.

People were, “Oh, there’s Udo, and there’s David Reece.” So, it was huge. And we sat and talked for an hour outside, and it was like yesterday. I saw him in Swedenrock; I think you were there. Yeah, we had some great conversations about our pasts on this tour. And we’re probably going to do more shows together. I talked to Frank Sueple, Udo’s manager, and he thanked me personally. He goes, “It was a real joy. Your band was professional; you were great. I think the package worked really well.” And all of his band hugged me and said goodbye. And Udo hugged me, and it was like, “We’ll see you again soon.” So, I think this could go again.

I’m hoping to see that happening. Why not?

Why not? But I have a new album coming out, and I learned one thing from Udo that I had missed. There’s a certain groove with the German vibe, “dat, ba, da, bat,” and I’d watch the audience, yeah? Okay? And I realized, playing some of these “Eat the Heat” songs, along with “Resilient Heart,” those songs work with the metal crowd. So, this new album is going to be like “Resilient Heart” but a little heavier. I took a little bit of that experience and watched every night, and I got to change tempo and keys and rock it up a little heavier. So, don’t be surprised if you hear a little more “Eat the Heat” creeps into my new album.

Yeah, I think it’s always fun to see Udo shows, no matter who’s playing with the band, but they still have that unique sound and tempo. The band sounds like a machine that can’t be stopped “Laughs.”

Very much. But I can say his fans dude, that guy walks on stage, and he has a really bad bone infection in his foot, yeah. He was walking with a cane; in Spain, they said, “You should go home and relax.” And he said, “I will never cancel.” So, I didn’t know if he would cancel the tour, I was about to join him in Germany, so I was a little panicked. And I saw him in Germany at the first show, and I said, “How’s the leg?” “It’s fucked, but the voice is fine. I will never cancel.” And the Germans love that. There is our legend, he’s sick, but he’s giving us a show. And he then he’d stand there, in terrible pain, with a cane, and do the whole show, and then, barely walking. And day after day, and one night he fell in Hamburg before he went on stage, landed right on his face, and went on stage, did the show. But that’s the thing about him. We call it a physical constitution that not many people know how great he is. He’s a legend to me, like Lemmy. He’s got his own fan base, and the Germans and Europeans follow Udo because he’s sincere.

He’s a real thing.

Yeah, maybe that’s what’s going on with Accept now. They don’t feel the sincerity. They know that Udo is. Because night after night, I would hear, “I’m staying with Udo. He’s our guy.” I heard it every night. And you’re on tour, how amazing is this 30 years later and we didn’t know what to think, but it was fantastic. And it was a good thing for me. Really good. I’m blessed.

Udo Dirkschneider and David Reece 2019

BANGALORE CHOIR AND MORE

After the Accept thing was over, you had several bands and projects before you disappeared from the business for a while. One of the groups was Bangalore Choir, which enjoyed some success in the early ’90s. Would you briefly tell us what happened then?

Well, I had the momentum. I was famous. And so, I said, “I’m going back to LA.” And I put together a Bangalore Choir in a few months.” And I had a record offer from every label after nine shows. And that’s nine shows in LA a year. We don’t play every week. But after those nine, ten shows, every label in Los Angeles offered me a contract. And I signed with giant Warner Brothers. But the timing was crazy. It was an amazing album. And then, we had Whitesnake’s manager. We had some pretty good tours with Lynch Mob and others. And then, this little thing in Seattle started happening. We had a great single on MTV, getting great rotation. Things were moving. And there was the talk of us doing “Slip of the Tongue” -tour with Whitesnake. So, we were very excited about that. And then, one day, I got a phone call, called in the office and said, “It’s over. We’re dropping the band. Get a day job.” I said, “What are you talking about [laughter]?” It’s over. Music is dead. It’s a new movement—Warrant, Ratt, Cinderella… everybody. Everybody was dead. If you had long blonde hair and wore shiny pants, you were the enemy in LA. The next thing you see is a guy with greasy hair in a flannel shirt and cowboy boots or combat boots. And he’s the superstar. We were the enemy. And it was literally over.

Bangalore Choir around 1992. David Reece is in the middle.

So, I did Circle of Silence with Greg Chaisson from Badlands because I had auditioned for Badlands after Ray died. And we were kind of talking about it– Jake and I. And that didn’t work out. And then, I did Circle of Silence. And I said, “Screw it.” And I literally walked away from music for nine years. And I didn’t have a computer. I was in Montana So; I was training hunting dogs, pointing dogs. And a friend of mine is a computer guy– said, “I’ll trade you this nice computer for one of those puppies.” “How do I turn them on?” He goes, “What?” And he set me up with MySpace. And I set up an account. And about an hour later, I had like four offers to join bands around the world. Where have you been? And I was missing music. And I went to Sweden and did Gypsy Rose with Martin Kronlund. And from there, I’ve just kind of been kicking around. I got into Bonfire. And I hated that. It was kind of like replacing Udo, being this replacement guy. And we know Hans Ziller and how he is. And I just worked myself to this point where I made a choice. I’m only going to do Reece in the future. I don’t want to be somebody’s singer unless Jimmy Page called me or something [laughter]. Maybe I’d say, “Okay. I’ll come over to England. And we’ll rehearse.” I would do that. But who knows if that would happen, right?

Of course. Anything’s possible “Laughs.” But about the Bonfire thing, I’ve heard many negative things so, what’s going on in that band?

It’s horrible. It was an awful thing. I’m not going to work with people who lie to their fans, steal money, pretend to have a mental illness, and hide from the government. And I know so many things about him. ..Being in that band… at first, it was 100 maybe or more shows; it was great. I was constantly touring. But then, I got to know how he really is. He’s a monster. He’s not a good person. He lies to his fans. He steals songs. I get the other day my royalty report. He tried to fight me on my lyric rights, saying I didn’t write it. And [inaudible] said, “Is this true, because it says your name on the album that was–” I said, “That’s not true. I wrote the lyrics.” He’s always trying to manipulate something. And he’s basically destroyed the band. I mean, look at him now– 40 members. Actually, I counted 28 since 1985 [laughter].

There’s usually a reason why people don’t stay…

That’s right. You don’t get paid. And you get lied to; you’re going to leave. If I had a normal job, which I do, and the guy didn’t pay me on Friday, I’d find another job [laughter].

Right. I think that we are done now. Thank you for doing this interview.

Thank you. It was good to meet you, man.


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