Only a few days before the quarantine days ended here in Greece, while waiting from the new interesting album from U.D.O. to be released, I had the great pleasure to talk with Udo Dirkschneider himself and discuss with him various topics about the new album, the new reality in the music industry due to the coronavirus pandemic and other interesting topics. Here is what ιt all was about…
– Hello, I hope you are all doing fine over there. I am guessing you are home right? What is the current situation in your city according the virus situation?
UDO: I was lucky that I got home otherwise I would be stuck in Ibiza, Spain, because of the entire virus situation, there was no chance to come back to Germany, so I have to do a lot of things here you know. I am lucky because things in Spain are bad; in Germany we are more free. Things are improving, restaurants are slowly opening and things are getting better and better, we will get back to normal soon.
– I hope so too. So, let’s start, you have a new album out soon, the release date is set on the mid of July. Some bands have postponed their album releases because of what is happening. You are moving as planned, right?
UDO: Yeah, the release date will still be the 17th of July.
– Great. First question about the new album “We Are One”, if anything, after listening to it many times, it was a big surprise, it sure has the classic UDO elements but it’s a totally different thing. Do you agree?
UDO: Yes, of course there is some UDO stuff in there, but there are some different elements in there, it is an album with a lot of variations, different kinds of stuff that we wouldn’t normally put on a regular UDO album, now we were free to do different stuff which was definitely a good thing for the band.
– A collaboration like that was a dream come true situation that started taking shape in Wacken 2015 or you had this idea earlier? Is that when you met Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Scheibling or you knew him before?
UDO: We already did a concert for a UDO DVD with the Navy Symphonic Orchestra (the “Navy Metal Night” DVD in 2015) so yeah, the idea came when I was doing the mixing for the “Steelhammer” album, at first the Navy Orchestra heard it and said yes to do it but then the government broke up the orchestra so they couldn’t do it anymore, after that the Concert Band of the German Armed Forces came and said they wanted to do it together, we did Wacken with them together and then we did another show in Germany. It was a show with great atmosphere; we played for over 2 hours so after that we had the idea of maybe doing an album together. So we were talking about this for some time, everything went ok, we started writing some songs, we ended up with 20-25 songs in all, we had a meeting in Berlin with the 2 guys who were doing all the arrangements for the orchestra, we checked the material and decided which songs were good for the orchestra to perform and we started the recordings. At first of course was the guitars , bass and drums, as a 3 song demo which we gave to those guys to do the arrangements and that’s how the whole thing started, I was really surprised how good this started getting together, then we started doing some changes, little things here and there, harmonies and after one year we are here ready, I think the album and now it’s ready, I am really happy with it, it’s not a typical UDO album, it’s something different.
– It is different for sure, but still I think it is something that only UDO could do, right?
UDO: Yeah, you can do anything, but you cannot change the voice (laughs). But yeah, I don’t know, I haven’t heard anything like that before, a lot of bands are doing albums with an orchestra, but not in this way, so you know, it’s very interesting stuff and I am really looking forward to bring it one day to stage.
– Did you work together with Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Scheibling or where also other people involved?
UDO: He is the constructor and he was doing stuff according to how he thought they have to be, but they main guys were the 2 guys from the orchestra who did the arrangements, also me, I was working with Stefan Kaufmann and Peter Baltes on the UDO stuff we recorded and everything went great.
– It’s not common for a National Army to be involved in a music project, let alone heavy metal, how hard was it to organize it, any bureaucracy and other stuff you had to overcome ? Were the rest of the orchestra members happy to take part?
UDO: No, everything was very easy to do, you know we found a lot of people into rock n roll and heavy metal in there, this was very interesting, everyone was really open-minded, we had a lot of fun, a lot of laughing, I’ve been there for 3 days for the recording of the orchestra, it was really fun, everybody was having a good time, so it was an easy going situation. Also the rest of the orchestra was happy to be involved, for them it was something different, obviously they never thought of doing something like this but they were all interested in it and all went well.
– Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Scheibling (I didn’t even try saying his last name), Is he a fan of heavy metal and your previous works?
UDO: Yeah, I mean he wasn’t really into metal, but when we started working for the show for Wacken, he was “why, that’s great, we can do a lot of stuff”, so know we can say that, yes he is more into heavy metal nowadays than before.
– I noticed various vocals in songs like “Neon Diamond”, male and female, should I assume that these are members of the orchestra too?
UDO: No she is not a member of the orchestra but she was doing something with them so I was looking for some duet and one of the guys, Guido, who was doing the arrangements, came with her and suggest we work together, we tried out and I think she really has a good voice, she made it more interesting (unfortunately I don’t have her name).
– About the lyrical concept of the album, whose idea was to cope with these kinds of matters?
UDO: It was very important for the orchestra to say what’s going on in the world, how we have to keep an eye not to destroy our planet with all these plastic things that are everywhere, in the oceans, the forests, but its not only about that, it’s also political stuff in there, about a revolution without war or weapons, like in Leipzig, East Germany, about everything is going on in our world today. We at UDO are not only talking about military stuff, we always wrote about social and political things but yes, in this album its mostly about what happens in the world it is what the guys in the orchestra wanted to, you know ? And I think it worked out, the title “We Are One”, well, we are one you know, we only have one planet and we have to live together, work together and don’t be everyone on his own, like Amerika, with this “Make Amerika great again”, no, we have to be together its only one planet, there is no planet B.
– Of course but do you think something like that can happen, in our modern world with all these different religions, cultures etc. ?
UDO: It will be a dream come true, but let’s say that everybody could be more open-minded with a lot things, a completely united world, I don’t think so either but what we did with the lyrics, is a warning and a hope!
– In my info I read that it will be available on CD or DVD. As I don’t have more info is there going to be a video DVD or just audio?
UDO: There will be one “Artbook” coming out, with the audio Cd, one book and a DVD that it’s a “making of” DVD, like documentation, you’ll see us in the studio, how we were doing stuff, you’ll see the orchestra, some comments, and on and on, so the actual material is going to be audio only.
– About the bands line up, I see 2 new faces since 2018 album “Steelfactory” , Fabian and Tilen. Fitty the previous bass player was with you many years. Did they take part in the compositions at all?
UDO: Fitty was with me since 1996, over 20 years, he said he doesn’t want to do it anymore, no more touring, just staying home more, so we had to look for a new bass player, we found Tilen Hudrap, he was the bass player for VICIOUS RUMORS when we toured together, so we knew him and thought that he could fit to be our new bass player, then we had to look for a second guitar player since we didn’t have one when we started recording the album, we found this guy we didn’t know, Fabian Dee Dammers, what he did was to send us some demo tracks and videos, we did an audition, everybody said “that’s the guy”, so, yeah, he is here and so far he fits very well with the band. What can I say, everybody is happy now, open-minded and everything and there is a really light atmosphere in the band after a very long time. Everybody took part in the compositions, Tilen would come up with some song, the guitar players too, and everybody did their part here. We are now already working on a new UDO album as there is nothing else to do.
– Really, a new album on the works already?
UDO: Yeah, a new album will come out next year, I don’t know when but now I see about the new guys, that they come with really good ideas, it’s a lot of fun to work for the songs, it’s a little different this time of course as Andrey Smirnov is living in Ukraine, Tilen is living in Slovenia, so we work through Skype, video conference, send each other tracks through internet etc. it takes a little more time but it works and it’s a lot fun which is the important thing. We are looking forward to start recording a new UDO album which hopefully will be done till the end of July, but we’ll also see how things with touring next year will go.
– What about Sven? It’s his second studio album with you. I assume he grew up watching you making music so he wanted to follow your steps …. Was he planning to join the band or you asked him?
UDO: We are getting closer and closer now, I was singing with him on “Here We Go Again” with the orchestra on a duet with him and now in the new UDO album we are making, he is also involved in the songwriting, we are working together on the lyrics, it’s all really well, what can I say, it’s not really a father – son but a really close friend relationship.
– I see in my info sheet that 3 live shows were planned in July and Wacken for August, obviously all of them are cancelled right? Was the orchestra going to participate too? Any plans for rescheduling?
UDO: Yeah, the orchestra was going to be with us too, but of course everything is cancelled, we were going to do a small our in Germany but now we have to wait until next year. Nothing is planned for the moment; there will be no shows until the end of the year. For us it’s sad, our South American tour is cancelled, we’ll do that next year, our Russian tour is for next year, we planned to go with HELLOWEEN on tour, also an American – Canada tour, everything has moved for next year. Same with festivals, they all try to keep the same line-up for next year, I only know that we’ll definitely be in Wacken next year with the orchestra.
– Some “Conspiracy theory” stuff now. How much of a coincidence is that a concept album like this is coming out during a pandemic?
UDO: (laughs), well we finished the album by the end of last year, there was no virus yet, but now with what happens everywhere it fits the lyrics and everything, even if we planned it, it could never work like this, what can I say, I think nobody could really expect something like this, the whole world is infected, some places more, some places less, what happens to America now is a nightmare, my girlfriend was telling me some stories from Russia as she is living in St. Petersburg, and I must say here in Germany we are really lucky you know, I see in the news that numbers are going down every day now, so hopefully any day soon, things will start going back to normal.
– What do you think of this entire Covid19 thing? Music industry is wiped out, with your experience how easy will it be to overcome it and get back to normal, both musically and in general as societies?
UDO: Yeah, it is a big industry, not only in Germany, I know a lot of people working, not only musicians, it’s a mess, I don’t know how we can overcome this, there are all these promoters and small clubs, let’s see who will survive, we are not getting any money from the government you know, we have to wait and see what the situation will be after all this is over, that’s why we cannot make any plans until next year.
– Before we close, a couple of things from the early past. You are now almost half a century in the music scene, as you formed your first band in 1968 before reaching 1976 when ACCEPT took shape, I won’t bother mentioning your huge impact to all of us , just want to ask what keeps you going after all this time. ACCEPT were formed in 1976, what were you thinking back then since there was almost no heavy metal yet.
UDO: Well, I still have a few things to do, this is the most important thing you know. People often ask me “when are you going to retire”, it’s simple, if I start thinking like, oh no, we have to do another album now, go on a long tour and I’m bored, then yes it’s the time to go. But for now, I still have so much fun doing it, being with the band I have now, doing this project with the army that’s coming out now, looking forward to play live, and who knows, maybe we’ll do another interview in 10 years from now!
– Oh I really hope so !! Well, thank you very much for your time, I really hope to see you in Greece soon, you are coming here often, so visit us one more time!
UDO: I hope so too !! Stay heavy, stay healthy and I hope to see you soon !
Interview: Antonis Livanios
Cover Artwork: Alexandros Soultatos
Design & Editing: Alexandros Soultatos
Date: July 1st, 2020
External Link: UDO – Official Page
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