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Accept are back!

With some spectacular festival shows and a new singer in tow, the legendary metal band from Germany once again has returned to the spotlight. After celebrating their stage comeback, the band also released their ninth studio album Blood of the Nations in late August 2010 — the first album to be released in fourteen years. We talked to Accept’s guitarist, Wolf Hoffmann, about the new album, his work with Steinberg software and future plans.

Wolf, first of all, congratulations on your latest album and the impressive shows with your new lead singer. The new album has been receiving rave reviews around the world — even before it was released, The “Teutonic Terror” video clip reached number one in the MySpace video charts and your album made it to #4 in the German charts. So, it seems to be a promising comeback, right?
Yes, indeed! Everything’s working out really fine, and we’re in an excellent mood. This year we’ve experienced some great moments. We played to a crowd of 80,000 together with AC/DC, and we also had amazing shows at the Sonisphere and Rock Hard festivals.

When did you start working on the new material — before or after you met your new lead singer, Mark Tomillo?
All songs were written in summer 2009, shortly after we met Mark. It was pure chance that we met him. We spontaneously decided to revive Accept and to produce a new album.

You’ve been living in Nashville for quite a long time. Mark Tomillo and Peter Baltes are from the States, while the other band members live in Germany and Switzerland. What was it like to produce the album with some of you living so far apart?
We bridged the geographical distance with countless airline miles. Indeed, our homes are far apart from each other. But that’s the case for many other bands too and at some stage you get used to it. If we’re going on tour, for example, we meet some days in advance and rehearse the show — and here we go. When it comes to production and songwriting, each band member is working for himself in the beginning. When a sufficient number of ideas has been created, it’s time to work together on the new material. Like in the past, the majority of the songs was written in a team of two, consisting of Peter Baltes and me. We both have home studios and when something new is on the way, we frequently exchange MP3 files via email. But the most productive time is when we come together in person and interact with each other. This leads to a great drive that cannot be replaced. I know a lot of musicians who just exchange emails and don’t meet in person anymore. Everybody adds a part to the song — and that’s it. I’m missing a human component in this approach.

How did you make use of Steinberg software during the production of Blood of the Nations?
First of all, I recorded the guitars in Nuendo. The basic tracks (drums, bass and some rhythm guitars) were recorded in Andy Sneap’s Backstage Studio in England. Afterward I took the master back home to record guitar overdubs and solos without any haste. Andy is actually working with Pro Tools, but the adjustments between Nuendo and Pro Tools went really smoothly. During production we worked on both systems and exchanged files without experiencing any problems.

When did you start working with Steinberg software and why?
I’ve been working with Cubase and Nuendo for 5–7 years. I think it was Michael Wagener (long-time Accept producer and a good friend of the band) who recommended Steinberg software to me. I’m not a computer aficionado, and I don’t want to spend much time on learning software and solving problems. I want to concentrate on playing the guitar and creating songs. Nuendo and Cubase are quite easy to use, and I can start right away without reading any operation manuals. That’s really important to me, because I’m a creative artist and an engineer at the same time — even though that seems to be contradictory. I mean, everyone knows the problem. You come up with an inspiring idea and want to put it on your disk, but suddenly you get stuck. The program is not doing what you want, you start reading the operation manual or online articles and within a short time your idea is gone forever. That’s a bad working environment for a musician. In contrast, Cubase and Nuendo are quite user-friendly — more than some other recording applications I got to know.

You are part of the music business since the ’70s. In the last decades the music industry has undergone significant changes in nearly all sectors. Consumers spend far less money on CDs than in the ’90s and digital sales cannot compensate for these losses. In the studio, DAWs have become a standard and Cubase and Nuendo are found at the core of many studios around the globe. What are your thoughts on the changes in the music industry? Do you see future opportunities, or do you hope for the old days to return?
You cannot turn the clock back. If you don’t go with the time, you’re slipping behind. Our generation is in between two ages. The good old analog days and the new digital era with computers and iPhones. For me, that’s an advantage. You got the best of both worlds.      

Could you describe your studio setup? Do you own a lot of analog gear?
Things are quite simple in my studio because my setup is designed for recording guitar overdubs. I use a Mac G5 dual 1.8 GHz, the RME Fireface 800 audio interface, Adam A7 monitor speakers and a couple of microphones like the Shure SM 57 or the MD 421 from Sennheiser. It all depends on the amp I’m playing with. In addition, I use a Radial JDV DI box.

Besides being a musician, you’re also a professional photographer. I’ve noticed that music only plays a minor role on your website. Can we expect photos from the upcoming Accept tour? I mean, there’s a lot of time between the shows…
I’ve been a photographer for more than ten years. Especially in the years when Accept was put on hold I completely focused on photography. I clearly separated both areas from each other, there are virtually no overlaps. I get my jobs as photographer — and not because I’m the guitar player for Accept. That’s important to me. Most of my customers don’t even know anything about Accept. One of the most interesting jobs I ever had was to work with Chet Atkins and Les Paul. I was asked by a book publishing house to visit them at home and photograph their guitars and personal instruments. The result was an illustrated book for guitar lovers and collectors. Since both already passed away, I’m very fortunate having taken this unique opportunity. But for sure, I always take my camera with me on tour!

You played the festival shows in Europe without having released the new album. Will there also be a club tour this year?
Next up is an extensive US tour together with King’s X in September and October. Afterward we head on to Japan, South America, Russia and, most certainly, Germany. This might be the case by late 2010. I’m really thrilled about that!

Thanks a lot for taking the time!