“I’m afraid of mediocrity. If I get the feeling something isn’t quite right, I’ll work on it until it’s feels right. Even if that means 15 different versions or a solo that takes 100 takes until it’s where I feel it needs to be” Wolf Hoffman guitarist of German metal legends Accept informs me. “It’s just a by-product of loving what you do.”
Wolf has loved his job in Accept for forty five years now and on the eve of the bands new opus Too Mean To Die – their sixteenth labour of love – he shared his time with me.
Produced by metal legend extraordinaire Andy Sneap, Too Mean To Die sounds vibrant and energetic belying the bands age. “We trust in each other that we know what the other wants’ as the band grappled with recording in Nashville while Sneap produced in the UK. ‘Due to the time difference, he is 7 hours ahead, we would work until it’s 3am over there and then have to stop.” Covid may have been a thorn in the recording process but on listening to the album the talent rose above that.
Too Mean To Die is also the debut album for bassist Martin Motnik and guitarist Phillip Shouse and the new guys showed they were ready to embrace being in Accept. “Martin really contributed a bunch of very good stuff for the album, some complete songs, some half, some lyrical ideas too so he was very helpful. Totally surprised by that because he’s like totally new to the whole thing. I asked everybody ‘hey if you have any ideas please throw them into the pot’ and we will use anything that is Accept worthy and what he came up with was awesome. A bunch of his ideas were so great. Philip is a amazing player. We made some room for him in the songs so there’s a bunch of dualling guitar solos, twin leads and that sort of thing. It really gets the guys into the mix”.
While this is not a concept album some of the lyrical themes such as the rocking Zombie Apocalypse or the bluesy Overnight Sensation hint towards a view of the modern world. Especially now living in America, Hoffman has been given a front row ticket. “It’s like a bad Bruce Willis movie. It’s absolutely nuts. It’s like a fall of an empire”.
Hoffman takes his inspiration from all quarters – as his solos albums attest too – and there is more than respectful nod to the past on the new album with the Beethoven influenced Symphony Of Pain and mystical instrumental Samson And Delilah.
“As you mentioned I’ve been doing this for decades. I have solo albums where I take some classical inspiration or music and twist and turn it into a metal instrumental. So it sounds metal with drums and guitars but it’s still based on a classical idea some composer had a couple of hundred years ago. In ‘Symphony Of Pain’ I used a bunch of Beethoven themes to the point the song lyrically became about Beethoven himself and his struggle with deafness. ‘Samson and Delilah’ is also based on a classical song called ‘Samson et Delila’ by a French composer Saint-Saëns. The other half of the song is from Czech composer Antonín Dvořák ‘Symphony From The New World’. So I used two classical themes and stuck them together even though they didn’t belong together. That’s a lot of fun.”
The new Accept album Too Mean To Die is just that, a lot of fun. Great sounding and exceptionally performed fun. The last word is Hoffman’s though, “why does Australia have the best coffee? I know coffee and Australia’s is the best!” Hopefully one day Accept can come back and get that answer.
Interview By Iain McCallum
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