Originally published in ‘zine issue #23, 2000
Udo Dirkschneider was formerly the singer for the important German metal band Accept. Udo’s been rocking ever since he formed Accept in 1971 (the proper Accept lineup came together in 1976 and soon released its first album), and also has been playing in his solo band, U.D.O., for which he put out his first record in 1987 after parting ways with Accept. U.D.O. has a new album, Holy, out on Nuclear Blast/Breaker Records.
D.U.: Am I correct in saying that for the first U.D.O. album, Animal House, Accept wrote all the songs?
Udo: Yeah, so when I did U.D.O. at the first time, all the songs what I did on Animal House was planned for the [Accept] album after Russian Roulette.
Yes, but then they decide to go more commercial and was looking for a new singer, and then they said, “Okay, we don’t use these songs anymore. If you wanna have them, you can have it for the first U.D.O. album.” So I said, “Okay, they’re very good songs.” I mean, it was also a very easy stuff for me to do the solo thing.
So after that they did Eat the Heat?
Yeah, then they did the Eat the Heat album.
I never actually knew why Accept got a new singer in the first place.
Yeah, so at this time in ‘86 they was listened to the wrong people, you know? And so when they was finished with the Eat the Heat album, they start an American tour, and after six weeks the whole band split up. And they was talking about this later on, and then they realized that they did a big mistake, you know? So what can I say. [laughs] [The rest is] history.
Then they came back to you.
Yeah, and then we was putting out the live album, Staying A Life, and this album was selling a lot, you know? And then we get tons of fan mails from all over the world and they start asking, “Please get back together,” and bla bla bla. And then we had a meeting in ‘92 and we said, “Okay, we try it again.” So then we did three albums with Accept, Objection Overruled, Death Row, and Predator. But I think in the end with Predator, hmm [pause] how can I say this, um—
It wasn’t quite the same anymore?
No, the atmosphere was wrong. It was nothing really a bad vibe, but music-wise there was the atmosphere, the chemical was not right anymore, you know? And I think that then we decide to do the last tour in ‘96 and then say, “Okay, Accept is definitely over.” So then I start U.D.O. again.
“What can I say, metal never dies.”
How long has it been that Stefan Kaufman [longtime Accept drummer] has been playing guitar instead of drums for U.D.O.?
There was the first U.D.O. album, [the Solid album, at] the end of ‘96 after the split-up with Accept; then he was doing the guitars. But Stefan, he was playing already the guitar before he started playing drums, you know? So he’s doing it for a long time, so I knew he was very good on guitar. And so, when I decide to do the reunion with U.D.O., I ask him, “So, you wanna join the band?” and he said, “Yes, of course, absolutely.” [laughs]
You wanted him to play guitar instead of drums.
Yes, yes. But he cannot play the drums anymore. He has a big back problem. So that means now with a guitar he’s in the front of the stage, and that was a little bit difficult in the beginning for him. But now it works out very well, and he’s growing better and better.
I’ve been reading in the past about some health problems.
Yeah, some stupid guy was telling the journalist that I had a heart attack, but it was not true. I mean, I had a [pause] how you say this in English [pause] a body breakdown, something like that. So that was around 1990, I did the Faceless World album. I was overworked. I mean, I was composing for some bands over here in Germany, I was involved in different productions, then on my own production, I was my own management, I had some contract problems, a lot of things happened. I think it was a little bit too much. But then I did a rest for three months and then—
That was it.
That was it. I mean, I’m fine, so there’s no problems at all.
Did you guys all learn English in school?
Yes, we learned English at the school, and so of course if you are in this business and you work international, you have to talk English more than German. [laughs] So now let’s say, for example, in U.D.O. at the moment we have two guys that are coming from Switzerland, from Italian part, so they speak Italian, they don’t speak German, [laughs] but they speak perfect English, and also, we have two English roadies. That means in the nightliner, most of the time we talk English.
You hear about bands that learn how to speak English at the same time they’re in the band, and they’re trying to write lyrics in English.
After all these years I think my English is not perfect, but it works. [laughs] Sometimes you search for the right words or maybe you say something in the wrong way, but so far I never had any problems. [laughs]
Over the years you have to say it’s gotten a lot easier to compose lyrics, right?
So you know, I got so many ideas for lyrics in my head. If you switch the news on, on the TV, you got a lot of ideas, and a lot of things what happen around you, and when you on tour you see sometimes of things that you can make up some lyrics, but I write them down in English. But then finally we have somebody when from England, so he has a look over all the lyrics to make it in the right way. I think this is important. I don’t want to do anything stupid. [laughs]
That’s everything. Is there anything you want to say to your fans out there?
Yeah, this year we are coming to America. I have to come. [laughs] So also, I hope there are still a good crowd for metal music in America. And what can I say, metal never dies. ■