Accept’s Wolf Hoffmann Never Realized the Band’s Classical Influence
Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffmann was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. He's been quite active in recent years, issuing the Headbangers Symphony solo album in 2016, Accept's Rise of Chaos last year and a forthcoming live Accept album from the band's Wacken 2017 performance where they were joined by an orchestra.
He discusses how he's more in tune with his classical influences, something he didn't realize was as prevalent in his writing as it is. Even so, his writing approach won't change now that he's more perceptive to this, as he discusses below.
There are several defining periods in Accept's history, including the band reforming in 2009. What makes these most recent years special and unlike any other time in your career?
Well, to me it feels like the most consistent — in a weird way, the most successful period of our time -- even compared to the '80s where everybody [is] always talking about the glorious '80s compared to this, I think we're now having a better time, we're having a better consistent period of strong albums and you know, I think overall everybody's very happy with the way things are going right now.
Accept have always had distinct European characteristics to its sound. What helps maintain that European style with an American singer and you and Peter being long-time U.S. residents?
Well, probably the German in me, or us. I think it's the way that we write the song and the way that we structure everything. That never goes away. I think that's what is deeply ingrained no matter where you live. I still feel German, I think pretty German and the way we write the stuff is what people call distinctly German. I'm not even fully aware of it myself but it has something to do with that I'm sure.
Symphonic Terror was recorded and filmed last year at Wacken and it presents Accept in a different musical context. How did performing with an orchestra change your perception of Accept's music?
That was kind of the experience of a lifetime, I have to say. I mean, this was the first time that we've ever done it and of course doing it in front of 80,000 people in the audience there and having it streamed worldwide, that was an experience I probably won't forget for the rest of my life. I was really amazed at how well it worked together. It made me aware of how classically inspired a lot of the songs were that we wrote all these years ago and now that we have an orchestra playing along, it really brings it out even more.
It's weird, even though it's written for guitar and heavy metal and all that, it works extremely well when the orchestral arrangements are done properly. I thought it was really a musically, amazing experience and of course the whole evening there and that whole Wacken Festival is an experience in itself. So, luckily, we filmed everything professionally and I'm super glad that it's now out on DVD.
Performing with an orchestra last summer at Wacken and releasing a classical solo album has given you a unique insight into classical music. How will a first-hand understanding of classical music influence the new music that you write for Accept?
Well, it would be a stretch if I would say I have a deep understanding of classical music. I would say I'm more of a fan that really. I'm not classically trained, I don't really want to be either. I'm still in my heart a metal guitar player. I just happened to have always had a huge respect and love for classical music, more from an outsider perspective. To me, this album Headbanger Symphony is almost like a tribute to the classical world because it's still metal in a way. I'm just playing melodies written by somebody else 200 years ago.
It's an amazing, fun project because it’s quite challenging in a lot of respects, logistically and also musically it's not the easiest thing in the world to do but there's the fun and that's why I enjoy it so much because when it works, it works really, really well. I don't think it necessarily changes the way that we write songs for Accept because they've always been somewhat classically inspired in a weird way and I think we know what we want to write and we know what fans want to hear.
Mark Tornillo has established a strong continuity between past and present with his voice. What has his voice brought to Accept that maybe wasn't there before?
One thing we noticed when we met Mark for the first time all these years ago — it's now 10 years ago when we met him by chance — that his voice had a real familiarity in it and it felt perfectly suited for singing the old stuff. But at the same time his range and his vocal capabilities are so that we can write almost anything for him. We could do ballads - I mean, he's got a huge range which is great for us. It's perfect.