Hitting the scene with Accept in 1978, Udo Dirkschneider has enjoyed success for nearly forty years as a metal frontman. The stout camouflaged one has been ruling center stage across the globe with his unique gruff vocal delivery. After seven studio albums with Accept, Dirkschneider left the band in 1987 and has gone on to release fifteen albums under the U.D.O. moniker. He returned to Accept 1993 pumping out three more releases, but the reunion was short-lived. Now hitting the road as ‘Dirkschneider,’ including a date at Slim’s in San Francisco, it is Udo’s final farewell to performing the Accept classics live, ever. We sat down to pick his brain and reflect on his path leading to the bon voyage of the Accept-era tunes. Here’s what he had to say.
SF Sonic: Your early solo material had a very similar continuation from your previous work even down to vocal production. Was it critical to you to try and maintain that same sound that fans were used to initially?
Udo Dirkschneider: No, it was not a problem for me. I was very lucky.
SF Sonic: Over the years you’ve proven to be very diverse and really exploring your creative realm. It can be a brave and bold decision by an artist known for a specific genre. Has your confidence ever wavered when taking risks?
Udo: Oh yeah, of course.
SF Sonic: How does the writing process happen for an U.D.O. record?
Udo: There’s not a lot of difference from writing an Accept record. The guitar players form the ideas; I come up with melody and lyrics. It’s also now a little easier with modern technology sending files over the internet. So, it’s very, very good.
SF Sonic: Album production has changed so much over the past few decades. After 15 studio albums, do you consider yourself an analog man or are you a fan of new technology and what digital can offer?
Udo: No, we don’t do analog, all digital now. But with the new album, we’ll start on in the beginning of March. I want to go back to the old days where we’re all sitting around together at the studio writing ideas like pre-production in the old days. Normally the band shares ideas and everything over the internet and email, whatever. I think it’s a good thing to get together to work on the ideas, arrangements, have a good pre-production.
SF Sonic: At the end of the day, it is literally your name on the finished product. Do you feel there is any more pressure or scrutiny as a solo artist vs part of a band?
Udo: I don’t feel any pressure, ya know? Either way, I don’t see myself as a solo artist. Many people see it as Udo is solo but I have always thought of it as a band. I like to work as a band, not like a solo artist. If I worked as a solo artist I could change the musicians all the time. This lineup together already has our bass player with over twenty years in the band. So I definitely see it as a band, not myself as a solo artist.
SF Sonic: It must’ve been a proud moment seeing your son Sven play drums for longtime peers Saxon. What is it like having him in U.D.O. and on the road with you as a professional?
Udo: Yes! I mean, this is not easy going. It’s great to have him as a member of the band. If it’s a Father/Son thing we talk in private. I am proud of him he’s doing a really good job and I also think he has a really bright future as a drummer.
SF Sonic: Are there any collaborations or projects that you would like to do professionally if given any opportunity?
Udo: Not at the moment. I am so busy. I’ve done stuff with Doro, with Lordi, and other bands and musicians. But right now I am so busy with the Dirkschneider thing. We’ll see, maybe if something interesting comes up but at the moment I don’t have any time to do anything on the side.
SF Sonic: What do you think the key is for artists such as yourself and many other bands that gained great popularity globally during the NWOBHM-era to still have success touring and creating new music 30-40 plus years later?
Udo: What I can see is the bands are going back to the classic metal stuff. It’s especially interesting for U.D.O. over past few years to see so many young people coming to the concerts. Also with the Dirkschneider thing there are old Accept fans but also interesting to see a lot of young people that definitely never saw Accept in the old days. I think there’s a new generation coming up for this type of music.
SF Sonic: Can you share something about Udo that most fans don’t know about you? How do you like to spend your down time?
Udo: Oh definitely like to relax. That is why I spend most of my time on an island in Spain. I hate cold weather, it’s usually nice and warm there. I just like to relax as much as possible, I don’t get much down time. I don’t listen to music, I maybe read a book or just walk around. But the main goal is to relax, it’s very important to me.
SF Sonic: This being your last tour ever playing the ACCEPT-era material, is there any song in particular that you’ll miss performing?
Udo: I mean there are so many songs. If I wanted I could put up another whole set of Accept material. Of course, there are so many but I am really happy with what I am doing right now.