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Mark Tornillo, Wolf Hoffman (Accept)

Interview with Mark Tornillo, Wolf Hoffman from Accept
by Erika Walberg at 10 July 2010, 2:07 PM

ACCEPT announced Mark Tornillo (ex-TT QUICK) as their new singer about a year ago. Now they’re more than ready to release their new album “Blood Of The Nations”, the great mass has to wait a couple of months still though. A couple of reporters got the opportunity to sit down and listen to the major part of the album and then talk about all and nothing with the guys from ACCEPT. Apart from the extremely pleasant hour listen to the new album it was amazing to just sit down and talk to the guys. To get to hear their version of what’s going on the last years, why they’re here now and how it really went. Below is basically the same interview twice, with the new guy, Mark and the founder, Wolf Hoffman. It was really exciting to hear both their views of what’s been going on the last couple of months.

So, ACCEPT are back again?
Wolf: Yeah, how about that? Pretty cool huh?

Back with a new line up and a new record!
Wolf: That’s right, new era, the complete package. I don’t know where to start but this is all because of the lucky accident/incident we had about a year ago when we met Mark you know. In prior to this I had no idea we were ever gonna reform. We always wanted to go out on the road with Udo and play more shows but he finally made it clear he has no more interest and it never going to happen again. So we were sort of bummed out and then by pure luck, a few weeks later, a couple of months later we met Mark and we figured, he’s the perfect man for the job. If anyone can replace Udo it’s him. And what we like about him that he doesn’t, he sounds, for moments he kind of reminds you about Udo, he can perfectly do the old material but he has a very broad range, he can do slower songs really well. And you know, he’s got those high screams so has everything you need to be an ACCEPT frontman. So he’s the perfect man for the job.

Do you have a real band feeling again?
Wolf: Oh yes we do! Absolutely! We’re getting along really well and we’re having a blast!

So Mark, you’re the new guy everyone’s curious about. How does it feel to be here, in a band like ACCEPT?
Mark: It feels great! Obviously it’s a different experience you know. I really didn’t know what to expect coming to Europe. Kind of knew what I was getting into in New York, not the first show there. It’s my home town pretty much but I had no idea what would happen in Russia you know and we’ve had a very warm reception everywhere we’ve gone this far so I really can’t complain. I’m just thrilled to be here.

New York being your home town, did you have any thing to do with the choice to start off in NYC?
Mark: Really no, it wasn’t my choice. It kind of worked out that way, I think it was Gaby’s choice actually but it worked well so…

It was an amazing show…
Wolf:Yeah, you might have seen it online?

No, I was there actually!
Wolf: Really? Wow! That was fun, everybody was pretty nervous because it was the first time ever and we don’t really know, we’d never really played on stage together obviously. We had rehearsed and all that but you don’t really know until you do the first show so, so we did and it went great and I thought it was fantastic.

And after that you’ve been touring here in Europe for a few days (!)…
Wolf: That’s right. After that we went to Russia, and then we did Finland and now we’re here. So it’s going great. Tonight is show number 5 or 6.

Has the response been as good here in Europe as it was in New York?
Wolf: Just as good, just as good! You can see that for the first few songs that sometimes the people stands with their arms crossed, you know, those sort of skeptic fans that want to be convinced. But it doesn’t take long for them to raise their hands and start singing along. I mean, Mark really wins them over and he’s got an amazing range and I think the energy is still coming across on stage. So it’s a good chemistry in the band right now.

The New York show was sold out. Have the shows been sold out everywhere?
Mark: Close, a couple of sell outs. A good turnout no matter what and it’s sold out here tonight. Obviously it’s a small venue but I’m having a good time at the small venues actually. Because you know, we’re getting really close to the crowd and we accomplish what we’d set out to accomplish on this trip which is basically just let people see the band, here some of the new stuff and let people know we’re dead serious about this.

You have this Club Tour and a few festivals this summer. You also have the album coming out! What’s going to happen after that?
Mark: We’re supposed to start in the United States in September that tour is still being planned, I know we’re going to play in Atlanta, the 'Prog Power Festival' on September 9th, that’s the first date. Where we go from there I have no idea but the album is going to be out a week before that. And we’re planning on a world tour, we’re going to play all the Festivals in Europe next summer and we’re gonna keep going as far as we can.
Wolf: Yeah, it’s a warm up tour. It’s to get to know the fans again and to get to know each other a little bit better. It’s sort of a meet and greet where we also play. And that’s why the places are so small. It’s really to be right in the fans faces and to shake hands and all these kinds of stuff.

This Club (Debaser Slussen) must be one of the smallest though?
Wolf: Oh heck yes, and especially this one. Some of the places weren’t quite so small but it’s all good. I mean, we’re going to play some AC/DC shows also so they’re going to be huge in comparison to this little mini club.
Mark: I got to tell you, this type of venue is all too familiar to me (laughs). Because TT QUICK played a lot of these places so I feel right at home here and I’m not worrying about it. Small clubs are cool, especially you know. You get right up front and very close, the other night in Helsinki, there’s no barrier and people were right on the stage and you could shake hands you know. It’s way more personal.

Is it still as great to be on stage even if it’s this small? Because you’ve done some really big arena shows, some really big tours in the past.
Wolf: It’s all fun, it’s all great weather it’s small or big. As long as we can do what we want to do in life and have the audience on our side it’s all fantastic. Even the bigger bands that tour arenas will tell you that they miss small clubs. It’s like those things, when you only play the small clubs you want to do the arenas. And if you only do the arenas all the time, I guess you would want to do a small club once in a while just because it’s different and something to be said, to be that close to the fans. Something people don’t realize so much is when you play a bigger place it’s sort of a disconnect from the audience. Sometimes there’s this huge pit in front of the audience right in front of the stage. There are the security people there, the press people but the audience doesn’t start until 20 feet away from you. And that is to me almost the biggest disadvantage to play bigger places. Because you can’t see much you know, everybody is so far away.

You have a new singer and of course there will be divided reactions on that. What are your expectations for the future?
Wolf: I think it’s going to be big. I think it’s going to be a good thing. I have a great feeling about this but of course I’ve learned to be cautious over the years you know, you never can tell. But you know, I’ve felt better than ever. I’m feeling better than ever with this new form of ACCEPT, new reincarnation with Mark. So far the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive, I mean much, much better than we could have hoped for. Even on, like online places like Blabbermouth where there’s always a lot of negative stuff but even there, people are very receptive once they’ve really heard us, and seen the new stuff.

How did Mark end up here in ACCEPT?
Mark: (Sighs) Probably more by chance, faith than anything else because it was just… I got a phone call from a friend of mine who asked if he could give out my phone number and it turned out to be Peter Baltes who wanted my phone number. And I said, sure, give it to him! What does he want? “I have no idea” And Peter called me and asked me to come and jam with him and Wolf and I was like, ok! I was sick as a dog but I said I was going anyway I don’t care. Worst case is that I get autographs and we really hit it off, I don’t think they had anything in mind really, it was just one of those things that. It was just a chance meeting and they decided they wanted to get the band back together and they wanted to work with me. I wasn’t going to stand in the way of it obviously so once I’d cleared it at home you know, everything was fine.

I saw the clip on your web-page from Eddie Trunk. You seem to be quite familiar with ACCEPT since before. You’re a fan of them too?
Mark: By all means. One of my faves, one of my all time faves I guess. Not too many band I would think coming back from retirement to front but they’re absolutely one of them. You know we were covering ACCEPT songs in my old band, before we got a record deal so…

Internet is good and bad in many ways…
Wolf: Yeah, tell me about it!

It’s easy to hide behind a nickname and slam because Udo should be in ACCEPT, have you gotten a lot of that?
Wolf: Initially when news came out that we were going to regroup without him, oh there were some vicious comments but I stopped reading them after a while. But I know there were some angry fans that thinks just, how dare we? But what people forget a lot of times is that he didn’t want to do it so what could we do. Our first choice has always been Udo but you know, then he said no. Then we only had the choice of staying at home, not going out on the road and not be… But we’re only musicians and we want to play and then when we found Mark, we kind of said to ourselves, it’s now or never, he’s the perfect man and why shouldn’t we? It’s our band, it’s what we do! I’ve been in this band for over 30 years! There has even been people saying we should name it somewhat different because Udo is not in the band but people forget, he has left the band 25 years ago to form his own solo band and he’s been out of the band so many times so why should I not…? It’s my band you know, I’ve never left the band and neither has Peter. There has never been an ACCEPT show without me or Peter and this is what we do. So it’s just crazy even speculate on that.
Mark: I haven’t been slammed… You know, I have been slammed on internet from day one but only by certain people. I mean, everybody is entitled to have an opinion but do I really think it’s ACCEPT without Udo? Yeah, I do. I really think ACCEPT is about the songs more than anything. We love to play it, I can see that. It’s the music, it’s not one person.

You have a new album coming out in September called “Blood Of The Nations”. We got a sneak preview of that one earlier today and it sounds really good!
Wolf: Awesome, I’m glad you like it! I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised and even those sort of skeptics, once they’ve heard the material it’s like they always says, the proof is in the pudding, either you deliver the goods or you don’t and everything else then becomes secondary. I mean, we can speculate all day long but in the end it’s the record that matters.

You recorded the album with Andy Sneap in England and he sort of gave you a hard time. Didn’t he?
Wolf: I wouldn’t say he gave us a hard time, he kind of nudged us in the right direction I’d say. He initially, when it was time to talk about the direction of this we… We had the over all deal of songs written initially, some a little more you know, bluesy oriented, mid-tempo stuff, some a little more aggressive and he sort of picked through ‘em and decided from a fan perspective what he would like for us to concentrate on. So it was great to have him there because he’s certainly an ACCEPT fan you know. He grew up listening to ACCEPT so he knows exactly what an ACCEPT fan want to hear and he’s a world class producer so it was the perfect man for the job. We’ve been very fortunate lately to have people, to meet people like Mark and Andy and all these people, Dave, Doug the Grid 41 video producers to come on board and they’re a part of this family but the come from a great… Andy and Dave came from a fan background so that really helps to have these people, to have these talented people on our side that really want to see ACCEPT succeed.

How was the recording process and the writing of the songs? Was it all new material or was it old material from Peter or Wolf?
Mark: Not really, I think possibly there was one track wind up on the record was a guitar theme Wolf worked on previously and we wind up turning it into a ballad. But that’s about the only one, everything else was written brand new. Andy had a lot to do with the whole process obviously, he’s the one who kind of pointed us in the right direction. When he came in we’d already written a few things and he goes, you know it’s okeeey… In his British way you know. It’s okey! And he sat them down and had them listening to the old records. I was already listening to the old records a lot you know, I had to learn the back catalogue. The ones that I didn’t know so I pretty much listened to it religiously so I was in that frame of mind to begin with and when they got into it, it was a very easy thing to song after song and really bang ‘em out you know. Because they came up with more ideas and riffs we could ever use so I think we’ve must have written 40 songs altogether, recorded 14 of them and there’ll be 12 on the album so…

You have a video for “Teutonic Terror”, filmed in L.A. It’s very cool and very Old School Metal…
Wolf: That’s what we wanted to get you know! The same as the record, we wanted an Old School record with new sound. Old School material if you want, stuff that could have been written in ’83 but it sounds modern because of the technology and the same thing with the video. We didn’t really want a story or something too edgy. We wanted something with that classic Video feel with Metal band performing and nothing else.
Mark: Yes, Los Angeles and it was filmed in a Military Scrap Yard where they had tanks and helicopters and bombs and jet chargers and all the old Military equipment they put to rest there. I guess it’s kind of a museum. But we shot it there, in the middle of the night and had the LA County Fire Marshall’s there, pyro technical guys and it was just a great experience to me. It’s not every day you get to do a guitarsolo standing on top of a tank. It was a lot of fun and in about a week it’s pretty much caused us a lot of havoc in the internet so it does its job.

You also have the single coming out, “The Abyss”.
Wolf: That’s right!
It’s going to be released tomorrow.
Wolf: Oh, is that tomorrow? I didn’t know! Alright, cool! I’m glad you telling me… (laughs)
Mark: It’s tomorrow? I would imagine it is then! Yeah, “Teutonic Terror” will be on that as well. It’s a 7” Picture Disc. And yeah, you know, “The Abyss” is getting a lot of plays too.

In the age of downloads and internet, do you think it’s important to have the actual albums, physical records out still?
Wolf: That’s what they say and I believe it because I don’t think Metal Heads are not downloaders. I mean, they do download but they still want to have a physical copy of something, which I understand. I mean, speaking for myself it’s just nice to have a physical thing! And they live to bring it to the show and have it signed, you know, you can’t sign an mp3.
Mark: The Internet, as great as it is it has put a vapor on the record industry but I think it’s coming back to tell you the truth. Especially for the Old School fans and the collectors and… You can’t sing an Mp3! Right? You know what I’m saying, it’s nothing personal about it.

Certainly not!
Wolf: (laughs)

I love vinyl…
Wolf: With the vinyl, those big ass covers so that alone makes it more fun to sign it!

"Blood OF The Nations", it’s being released by Nuclear Blast at the end of September. Why Nuclear Blast?
Mark: That’s a management decision really, the band don’t have anything to do with that. You have to ask Gaby about that. But I’m very happy because they’re a great label and they seem to be supporting us rather well so far but we’re still getting to know each other but it’s all have been working out really well.

Do you know what formats the album will be released in? Or isn’t it decided yet?
Mark: I’m not entitled to that information. I know this “The Abyss” Picture Disc will be on vinyl. Weather the album itself will be on Vinyl and CD remains to be seen and that somebody else knows about but I don’t know.

Do you have any more teasers coming up from it apart from the Video and the Single?
Mark: There’s a second Video that we’ve recorded for a track called “Pandemic” so I imagine that’s probably to come out sometime over the summer, I’m not positive but I think that’s what probably gonna happen.

My notes about that song are that it is very much Old School ACCEPT, very riff driven and has a great melody. And that is sort of the vein of the album and I really hope everyone will love it as much as I did.
Mark: Oh yeah! Breathtaking!
Wolf: Alright cool. I can’t wait for it to be out, out, out! Because it’s been, you know, quite a while now all finished, all said and done. You know, I want it out now. I’m tired of waiting now. But I think the whole album came out really sort of, each song got something unique and it’s really Old School Metal. There are really no fillers on this record. I mean, each song is strong in its own sense.

Yeah, it’s a really good song! Is it going to be an equally cool video to that one as to “Teutonic Terror”?
Mark: It’s going to be a bit different than that, we didn’t shoot that one in a Military yard. I haven’t seen it yet so I don’t really know what it’s gonna look like. So we all just have to wait together.

Can you give some more sneak preview information? Where it was filmed? Does it have a story line?
Mark: I don’t believe there’s even a story line. I mean, if there is, I don’t know about it yet. A lot of it was shot at Greens Greene and it’s going to be a lot of you know, techno, art type video stuff involved in it so. I haven’t seen it yet so I really don’t know.
Wolf: That’s right! We filmed another video. It’s not done yet but while we were in LA we filmed another, yes. So we have to see, we have to work on the editing part. We might release it before, I’m honestly not quite sure.

We got an opportunity to listen to most of the album today. There are 12 songs on the record, we got the preview of 8 them. Apart from the songs I’ve already heard there was two tracks that struck me the most was the title track, that’s also very much ACCEPT, it’s very catchy, perhaps not as heavy as the rest of the album, great sing along chorus line.
Mark: It struck me, when they first played me the piece of music Peter and I was throwing around some ideas, song ideas you know it just didn’t seem they were working to me. So I kind of scrapped all that and took it back to the drawing board. Just listening to it, it sounded very much Military to me. It sounded like a march and ACCEPT has always worn Military clothes and been into that sort of vain so I said you know, anyone wanna write one for the military that’s basically what it is. A tribute to the Military, all Militaries in the free world. You know, a song from the view point.
Wolf: It’s somewhat unusual… It’s not totally unusual but it stands out a little bit from the rest because it has this snappy almost you know, I don’t know what you call it, it’s sort of different type of groove, that’s a little different from the others. It’s just not “chunka, chunka” it’s a little almost sort of snappy or something. It kind of sometimes reminds me of.. What is that? “Head Over Heals” “chumkta, tumpka” I don’t know what it is but in any case, it’s a cool song and I love it. We made it the title track because it sounds, it’s really the name, “Blood Of The Nations” seemed to be the most title worthy out of all the songtitles that we had. That was the one we felt sound like ACCEPT the most, like an ACCEPT album title.

And the second one that really got stuck on me was the ballad, “Feel The Pain”.
Wolf: Oh nice! Yeah! That’s the song I was mentioning earlier. We wrote that after we heard Mark do that little bit of “The Abyss” and it’s based on an instrumental idea I had years and years ago and is one of the very few songs that is based on old material. Everything else was written brand new, right now.
Mark: That’s the piece that… Probably the only think that was kicking around for a while, a piece that Wolf had, I guess was working on for a solo type thing so, Solo project. And…I don’t think anyone knew that I could sing they thought I could just scream. So when Gaby heard the middle of “The Abyss” she’s like “I think you should sing on this one” and everybody’s like, that’s not a bad idea so we put some lyrics on it and I like the way it turned out. It was actually written for a bad… One of my wife’s closest friends was murdered a few years back and that’s basically what that song is about. Kind of reliving that all heartache.

What are your expectations on what’s coming up next?
Mark: You know what? I try not to have a whole lot of expectations I just want to ride it and see where it goes. I mean, this is all really up to the fans we would nothing better than to continue you know. To tour, for the next who knows how many years, to do another album (god willing), it’s just… It’s up to the fans, if we get the response and the supports then we have every intention on carrying on.

So, what can you say? Just go and check ACCEPT out?
Wolf: Yeah, come and see us and you will be surprised how good it all sounds now and what we’re going to do tonight for instance is that we’re going to play a lot of old stuff we haven’t played before. Of course we’re gong to play the old classics like “Metal Heart” and “Princess Of The Dawn”, “Neon Nights” and things like that but on the same time we’ve dug out a few songs that we really didn’t do that much in the past like “Losers & Winners” and “Demons Night” or “Run If You Can”. We never really played those songs before so it’s fun to do those too. So we’ll play a set of almost 2½ hours. So people really appreciate that and it shows you that we mean business you know.

ACCEPT are back to stay now then?
Wolf: Yeah of course!

Outro by Erika
Well, “Blood Of The Nation” sure sounded awesome. All I can say is I hope that the Metal Heads will receive that as positive as the concerts, that it’s possible to accept this band without Udo. It was so fascinating to sit down and listen to Wolf and Mark who’s been in this business for ages, they’re still passionate about what they’re doing, excited about the record release and excited to get back on stage. The thing most striking with this interview was how good I felt afterward. I barely had the chance to ask the question before Wolf started answering and he really gave the whole story, it felt like he was sharing his mind for the first time even if he must have been answering these questions a million times before. The thing that touched me the most was to realize how narrow-minded the public are, how the hell can people deny Wolf and Peter the credits for this band? I’m not trying to say I’m any better, the same thoughts ran through my head when they announced Mark as their new singer. ACCEPT without Udo, no way! But HELL YEAH, ACCEPT is back, we’re all in for a great ride, that’s for sure!


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Edited 05 June 2023

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