Tales from a Metalhead: Chapter 20: Metal Heart

Tales from a Metalhead logo

This chapter is part of a book called Tales from a Metalhead written by Metal Express Radio’s President Stig G. Nordahl. The chapters will be posted one at the time and you can find them all here.

Stig and Udo

Accept was definitely one of my favorite bands in the 80s. It doesn’t get better than the mix of Udo Dirkschneider’s barking vocals, Wolf Hoffman’s tasty guitar leads and Peter Baltes’ steady pumping bass. They are definitely one of the most important Heavy Metal bands to come out of Germany, along with Scorpions, of course. NWOBHM gets a lot of credit for the importance of Heavy Metal, but look to Germany and see what was going on there at the same time! Accept released their debut album in 1979(!). I think we’d be just fine anyway!

My first Accept album was Balls to the Wall (1983) which will forever be one of my favorite albums. The band actually played in Norway to support the album, in a small town called Hamar, a couple of hours drive from Oslo. It was too far for a youngster to travel just to attend the show. That was unfortunate for me because I am sure the show would have been an unforgettable experience. I bought the next album Metal Heart the same day it was released, the following year. It was another instant classic! Not to forget Breaker and Restless and Wild which were released before Balls to the Wall. They became a part of my record collection soon after.

The first time I saw Accept’s classic lineup was in 1986. The band had released Russian Roulette and Norway was one of the stops on the subsequent tour. The opening act was supposed to be Dokken but they cancelled due to illness. Later I learned that they didn’t dare to stay in Europe because of the Chernobyl accident that happened in the Ukraine only nine days before the show. Dokken had supported Accept in Europe for almost two months. They played two shows in the two days following the accident and then they hauled ass back to the US. For Accept it was business as usual and they played without a supporting band. I was actually a bit disappointed that the band didn’t sell more tickets. The medium sized hall was just half full as far as I remember. Still, the band put on a blistering performance supporting another fantastic album. I think Russian Roulette is the last album I ever bought on cassette. I needed it for my Walkman on a vacation.

After Russian Roulette Udo left the band due to “musical indifferences.” It became quite obvious that he wanted to keep on playing traditional Metal while the rest of the band wanted a more modern sound. The first album from Dirkschneider’s new band U.D.O. called Animal House was actually written by Accept and Deaffy. The latter was a mystery person who always got writing credits. It turned out to be Wolf Hoffmann’s girlfriend (now wife) Gaby. So, this album sounds like classic Accept but with other musicians. Accept hired vocalist David Reece from Bangalore Choir to sing on their new album Eat the Heat. It sounds nothing like Accept so I think it was a mistake to release it under the Accept moniker. People now say the album actually is quite good so maybe it is time to give it another spin.

Mathias, Stig and Udo in 1989

In 1989 U.D.O. released their sophomore album Mean Machine. Udo Dirkschneider and guitarist Mathias Dieth came to Oslo to promote the album and I was asked to meet them for an interview. Believe it or not, but in the 80s I was not only a Metal DJ/reporter, but also a magician!  I appeared on television and earned money by doing shows. On this particular day I attended the Norwegian Magic Championship (couldn’t find a picture… Sorry!). I got off the stage after my performance, changed my clothes from suit to leather jacket and jumped aboard the first train to Oslo for the interview. I guess I was kind of lucky that I didn’t win a prize because I was doing the U.D.O. interview at the same time the prizes were handed out. I got a prize the following year, believe it or not! The interview took place in a very cheap hotel in the middle of the city. The guys laughed about it and said the vending machine in the stairway was the room service. We took a picture after the interview which is black and white because I developed it myself. I couldn’t afford equipment for color photos.

Mean Machine with signatures

Later that year U.D.O. coma back supporting Ozzy Osbourne on his No Rest for the Wicked tour. They did great!

In 1990 U.D.O. released the Faceless World album which was more melodic than the previous ones. Udo once again visited Oslo for interviews, this time in a more fashionable hotel. I am not sure if I still have that interview somewhere, but I remember we talked about Udo’s recent heart attack and that he brought in Accept drummer Stefan Kaufmann as producer for his vocals on the new album. He had actually done that since the album Breaker. Kaufmann would join U.D.O. as guitarist (!) later so I guess he continued to produce the vocals for the next albums as well.

After the heavy 1991 release Timebomb, Udo rejoined Accept. He recorded three more albums with them. The albums are fairly good, but I rarely listen to them these days. They were still kicking ass live even though the chemistry behind the scenes was rather bad. I think Kaufmann and Udo never found the way back to each other properly, and it was inevitable that Udo would leave the band again. He has been belting out albums with U.D.O. ever since.

Picture of U.D.O
Udo before the show

Udo has played in Oslo several times, but I remember especially one time, when they toured in support of the Man and Machine album in 2002. They played a small club called Rock In. The crowd capacity was so small that they had to play two dates. I went for the first show and in the middle of the set they blew a fuse and everything went dark (and silent…). The sound engineer was shown the way to a small room with the fuse box. I remember him standing there with his flashlight just shaking his head because of the old and bad electricity system. He actually managed to fix the problem somehow so the show continued after a lengthy break. Anyway, it was cool to see the band on such an intimate stage. Here is the review from the show!

I did an interview with Udo before the show in his very small wardrobe room. He had turned 50 the day before and was celebrated in Sweden after the gig there. Still a bit tired I guess. Udo is always a nice gut to interview!

Accept reunited 2005

In 2005 Udo teamed up with Accept again for some festivals and they headlined Sweden Rock. It was an awesome show where old fans, like me, got to hear all the classics with the (almost) original lineup. Read our review of the festival shows here! My backstage pass unfortunately only gave me limited access. All of a sudden Udo came walking past me and headed for the gate that led directly backstage. I ran after him and I timed my speed so I was walking next to him by the security checkpoint. I asked him a few questions and pretended that we were in the middle of a conversation. The security guys recognized Udo and let us both through without checking our passes. I didn’t tell Udo I just took advantage of him to get past the gate, but it worked. Thank you Udo! After the festival dates Udo and Kaufmann started throwing shit in the press again. I remember Kaufmann saying: “It has been a long time since I could see the audience above the singer’s head.” A permanent reunion with the old guys was definitely not happening. Udo went back to recording with U.D.O.

While recording the rockumentary

U.D.O. also visited Oslo during the Mastercutor tour. I set up an appointment to make a rockumentary about his career. It takes time to go through such a long running life in Metal. The rest of the band went for dinner when I met Udo. I believe he thought it was just going to be a quick interview, so he could run after the band to eat with them. No, the band came back during the recording and I think they nearly made it to bed before we were done. When I realized the misunderstanding and the fact that Udo was really hungry, I felt sorry for him, but we were in the flow so I didn’t want to stop the interview (I’m so sorry Udo…). I think we kept the U.D.O. years really short in order to wrap it up so he could run to the nearest restaurant. Anyway, the Accept years are the most interesting and Udo did a great job telling stories from back in the day. The rockumentary turned out to really great. Check it out!

Picture of Accept
Stig and Wolf

In 2010, bassist Peter Baltes and guitarist Wolf Hoffmann started Accept again with Mark Tornillo from TT Quick on vocals. I was skeptical, but when I heard the album Blood of the Nations I was sold. It’s a really strong album and Tornillo turned out to be a perfect match for the band. His voice is similar to Udo’s, but he’s not a replica. He was a good choice! The fans were obviously happy to see the band back together because Rockefeller Music Hall was packed when they played in Oslo. I set up an appointment for an interview with Hoffmann before the show. I realized it was actually my first true Accept interview, at least with a member that was currently in the band. I asked for a picture after the interview. Wolf was in for that, but as a professional photographer himself for many years he expressed that he was tired of people running around with their mobile phones claiming to be photographers.

Now with U.D.O. and Accept releasing albums and touring I believe the fans got the best of both worlds!

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  • Stig G. Nordahl

    Stig is the founder and the president of Metal Express Radio, based out of Oslo, Norway. He has been around doing Metal radio since the mid-eighties. In fact, running Metal Express Radio takes almost all of his time. Is it worth it...? "Most times, yes," Stig says. "My philosophy is to try to give all Metal releases a fair chance to get promoted in one way or another. As you can imagine, it can be an arduous task to listen through about 20 albums every week! Still, I know we have the best METAL dedicated radio on this planet, and that is a reward in and of itself. I hope one day the whole Metal community can and will make listening to Metal Express Radio part of their daily rituals! Yeah, right..."

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