U.D.O.’s Udo Dirkschneider Discusses ‘Decadent’ Album, Touring Plans + More
U.D.O.'s frontman Udo Dirkschneider is one of metal's most enduring and prolific rockers, churning out great music since the late '70s, first with Accept and then with his own self-titled outfit. U.D.O. just released their latest effort, Decadent, and it's already spawned a standout title track. Loudwire had a chance to chat with Udo Dirkschneider about the Decadent album, his love of metal and what the remainder of 2015 holds in store. Check out the interview below:
First off, congrats on Decadent, your 15th studio album under the U.D.O. moniker. When you're this far into the career, it's obvious that you're in it for the love of it. What first drew you to metal back in the early years and what about how it has evolved over the years keeps you interested today?
Yeah, well, what can I say, I started back in '70s listening to this type of music like Uriah Heep, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, this was the kind of music that brought me into the hard rock / metal scene. It’s still interesting, I’m making new albums and still love to do this.
As we see in the video for "Decadent" and also plays out throughout the rest of the album, class warfare is definitely a theme. What drew you to this as an inspiration for not only the video but the album as well?
The idea for the "Decadent" song and title was inspired from when I was watching TV. There was a TV advertisement for Save the Children, for poor young kids who don’t have anything to eat. Then I thought about it, maybe it would be interesting to write a song that we are living in a decadent world. We have money, we have something to eat, we have a lot of rich people in the world. Maybe something is wrong and we can do something. That was the idea for the song "Decadent."
As for the rest of the album, it’s more political. Politicians talking about a lot of bulls--- but they do nothing on “House of Fake.” The song “Pain” is like when watching the daily news looks more like a horror movie. The song “Rebel in the Night” was written when I was on tour in the Ukraine, discussing their battles which are still ongoing. I get a lot of ideas when traveling around the world. I think it's better to write lyrics about current events instead of writing lyrics on dragons and the middle ages.
The "Decadent" video has been doing quite well on Loudwire's Battle Royale Video Countdown. Can you talk about the clip a bit and how much enjoyment you got out of the video?
I had the idea about the story, but as a band, we were not filmed much for the video. We choose to focus on the story. The video portrays more of the images on the story of how we live in a decadent world. You see the segment where people were eating. We were in the studio during most of the time when the director was filming the video. When I saw the final video production, it was in a way bit more. I was a bit shocked in a way on the angle, but in the end it was exactly the meaning and what I wanted to portray in the video.
U.D.O., the band, has undergone several lineup changes over the years. With Andrey and Kasperi both being somewhat new to the group and recently putting a call out for a new drummer, can you talk about the current lineup. What do the members bring to the fold and how are things coming together as you prepare for a lot of touring on the horizon?
Andrey and Kasperi they have been in the band for nearly two years. Also a new change going on in the band, we have a new drummer, Sven Dirkschneider, my son. The previous drummer Francesco was with us for 10 years had left for personal reasons. At the moment, we start preparing for the European tour. We will have an interesting set list for the tour, we will play some older songs that we never played or haven’t played for a long time. We will of course play several new songs from Decadent and songs from the Steelhammer album too.
You spent time in Ibiza and Wilhelmshaven putting the disc together and Fitty joined you in the producing the disc. Can you discuss what the process was like for this album and did your surroundings play any role in the influence of what was going on with the music?
It was an interesting process, great environment for writing Decadent. We first began in May 2014 with all band members together here in Ibiza. Everyone came up with ideas for the songs. We sorted out the best ideas that everyone agreed on and we ended up with 15 songs for the album. All fully developed songs were used, some are bonus tracks for special editions.
I’ve known and worked with Fitty now for 17-18 years. Fitty also lives in Ibiza and has a studio here which makes it a better for the recording process. Very important for me was to do recordings together in person in the studio face-to-face where we can talk with each other instead of sending files or links over the internet. This recording was more back to the old days of recording giving us a more natural sound.
Of course being here in Ibiza on the island is great for inspiration, always nice weather, we recorded during the summertime, so it was a really relaxed recording process. We completed the recording in September. Andrey and Kasperi both came up with a lot of great ideas. I think the new album has a lot of different songs, it’s not just one direction. It has a variety of different songs throughout the album.
Another standout cut on this album is the song "Pain." Sounds great. If you would like to discuss a bit of where that track comes from and what it was like hearing it back for the first time?
The main riff came from Kasperi where he had the riff in his head for a long time. Kasperi played the riff, we knew immediately it would be a song for U.D.O. We started worked on the song with the idea of the song title. The song, as noted earlier is about watching the news, its like watching a horror story, so it fits perfectly. In a way it’s aggressive, but has a lot of melodies. For me, it’s one of the best songs on the album.
As you get ready to hit the road for a major European trek, what songs off the new album are you most anxious to work into the sets live and why? Also, and I realize this may change on a daily basis, but is there a song out of your past catalog that is feeling fresh and you're really getting a kick out of playing live at the moment?
We have plans to play about 8 or 9 songs from Decadent, which is a lot. We will also play a few songs from our previous album Steelhammer, and the rest of the songs will be a mix up of older U.D.O. songs that we have never played or not played for a long time with U.D.O. It will be an interesting set list coming up as we also plan for the first time ever to include an acoustic set in the middle. We start rehearsing in 10 days, the last week of February, so we will see how everything works. I am really looking forward to it.
If you could impart one piece of wisdom to a young band getting ready to hit the road for the first time, what would it be? And what about the touring life still appeals to you after all these years?
You have to believe in yourself, believe in what you are doing, and try to be outstanding. It’s difficult as with everything already done, so in a way, try to create your own identity. For me, after all these years, it's still fun to go on tour, especially always when you have a new album out, meet the people, see their reaction and how the songs are working live. In a way I’m still get nervous before tours begin.
"Decadent" the single is out, the album just arrived. What should fans be looking for on the horizon from U.D.O. for the remainder of the year?
We are working very hard on organizing an American tour. It is looking like our plan for the tour will be sometime between September and December this year. Hopefully a lot of people will come out to the shows and seeing our very interesting set list. I’m really looking forward to this.
Many thanks to Udo Dirkschneider for the interview. As stated, U.D.O.'s Decadent album is in stores now. You can order the disc online via Amazon and iTunes. And for those in Europe, U.D.O. will be returning to the road in March with dates booked into July. See where they're playing here.