Interview conducted June 9 2022
Interview published July 17 2022
"There's no talent anymore, that's for sure."
Metal Covenant got some time with
Accept's vocalist Mark Tornillo at Sweden
Rock in June.
Tobbe: It has been 16 months now since you
released your last album, Too Mean To Die, and will we see another Accept
record out anytime soon?
Mark: You're gonna have to, 'cause we just signed
a new record deal, with Napalm. From Nuclear Blast over to Napalm. And
they're looking for a record already. So, we're on it. We're working
Tobbe: What actually is different for a
band like Accept to work with different labels?
Mark: You know, the thing with Nuclear Blast
was they had a lot of change in management there and a lot of people
that we dealt with left, jumped ship, and went to France. You know,
how the Germans feel about the French, c'mon. [Laughs] No, I'm only
kidding. But Napalm seem to be very, very interested, and welcoming,
in having us, and really wanted us.
you know, you wanna work with somebody who's gonna do their best for
you, so. Nuclear Blast did. Whether that was going to continue or not,
we didn't know. So, we'll see what happens, you know.
Tobbe: And, not getting into numbers, but
on a financial level I'm sure that you got a good deal with Napalm, of
course. Otherwise you wouldn't have signed it.
Mark: Let's say: I hope so. [Laughs] You know
as much as I do, so.
Tobbe: Like I said, Too Mean To Die was
out about 16 months ago, and it's kind of crazy to go out now and tour
for a new album even though it's been so long since it was out, and you
probably recorded it way before that.
Mark: Well, we actually recorded it during the
pandemic. We started recording in March 2020. And we were about 3 weeks
in. Most of the basic tracks were done, some of the vocal tracks were
done, and we were maybe two thirds of the way in when the pandemic really
hit hard. It was like, "We got to get the hell out of here, or
we're not gonna get home!". Andy [Sneap, producer] had to go back
to England, I had to go home to New Jersey. It was getting real scary,
so we changed flights and jumped ship.
I wound up going back to Nashville and the studio
in July when the pandemic was still going, but there was a little bit
of a lapse. And we wound up linking up with Andy online. Linking his
studio to our studio, and luckily we got it done that way. So it was
released the following January, and we were hoping to be touring in
2021, and it didn't happen, so.
Tobbe: When the album was released, not
a lot of bands did release albums at that point.
Mark: Well, we thought twice about it, I'll say
that. And then we thought, you know, "We haven't given them an
album in 3 years.". It's not fair to the fans to say we were gonna
do it and then not do it. So we said, "To hell with it! We'll just
take chances and see what happens.". And, you know, it was received
very well. It did well. But I still think we can go out and push it
down your throat, so to speak. You have to tour to sell records.
And I think most fans are understandable at this point.
Mark: Yeah, and the bands too, you know. You
know, that's how bands make money now. Ticket sales and merch, you know.
Luckily we make money selling records, but a lot of bands don't. And
that's how you make your money. So, you got to go out and play.
Tobbe: Accept definitely has its well-established
sound. Well, okay, not the first record maybe and one or two albums in
the '90s, but would it be a great risk to you guys if a few songs on an
album would turn out a little bit different now than the original sound,
so to speak?
Mark: It never bothered me, you know. I mean,
on the new album The Best Is Yet To Come is definitely a stretch, I
think, for us. It's more, you know, I'm not gonna say an '80s ballad,
but it's definitely, you know, a heart-wrenching ballad, where I really
sing instead of scream.
And apparently people like it a lot. We actually
played it live in Greece, and Jesus! It was, like, the lighters and,
you know, the cell phone lights, oh my God! It was crazy. Whether or
not we do it at a festival, we'll see. You know, obviously shorter sets
at festivals. So we'll see. But we're changing up the setlist pretty
much every night, so. I haven't even seen today's. We'll see what happens.
Tobbe: Personally, and I'm only speaking
for myself of course, I'm really eager for seeing an Accept gig with only
songs off the Tornillo albums. Will we ever get to see such a gig, or
will that just stay a dream to me?
Mark: If it was up to me, you would see that.
But we have discussed things like that. As you'll see I think we're
leaning more towards my era now than the past, but there are things
that you just have to play. Accept is not gonna go out and not play
Balls To The Wall. That's never gonna happen. The fans would just be
disgusted and walk out, so. So there's always the ones that you have
the more we release new albums it becomes harder and harder to figure
out what songs you are gonna play. And now with the pandemic also, not
only did we miss touring this album, but we missed the 10th anniversary
of Blood Of The Nations. So we didn't get to do that either. So we're
kind of doing that now. A lot more Blood Of The Nations songs in, that
we have been playing. Which is working nicely, so.
Tobbe: In your own opinion, in what way
is it different today playing for a live crowd than it was back in the
day? Well, is there any difference?
Mark: I don't think so. No for us, there isn't.
I mean, there is for a lot of bands. I mean, obviously there's a lot
of bands that run tracks, you know. So in that case I would say yeah,
but for us, I mean, we play everything live, so. All I think that we
do is run click, and that's it. And the reason you're doing that is
so the light show is on point. And for recording purposes, because you
record every night, and it'll always mesh together if you want to put
a live album together. But other than that everything we're doing is
So we are playing just as we always did, to the
audience. And the audiences are great, so. I don't really see the difference
in that circumstance. You see the difference now because of the pandemic
as far as ticket sales, because people are leery of buying tickets and
thinking that the show is not gonna happen. That's the way we're gonna
remedy that, everybody, by going out and play and making sure the shows
Tobbe: Yeah, I've been talking to promoters
and they're still worried.
Mark: Yeah, they're scared. And so are the bands.
You know, you brought this whole tour and now if you'll lose 5 or 10
shows you just lost your profit margin, so.
Tobbe: Some bands kind of don't release
records so often nowadays, but Accept is, and do you think that Accept
will keep putting out albums until the bitter end?
Mark: I hope so. You know, the whole creative
process for me is one of the biggest and fun parts of the whole thing.
You know, creating these songs and then having what's in your mind all
of a sudden played back to you. It may not exactly be the way you envisioned
it, but it's still wonderful. And, you know, that's half the battle
right there, and then going out and play them live. I mean, I don't
think we're gonna sit on our laurels and not release records.
was the one thing we said when I joined the band, "We have to make
a killer fucking record! Because we're not gonna go out there and just
play Balls every night and then rehash a couple of old songs and give
them a single or something. That's not how you do this. We have to go
make a new record and go sell it.". And it worked, so why not keep
Tobbe: Every band must come to an end. Do
you think that you will be going out with some really extended farewell
tour, or do you think that the band will slowly fade away? Hypothetically,
Mark: I'm hoping we don't slowly fade away.
We'll have to see, you know. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we'll
come to it. I mean, there has always been talk, and not among us, but
of, you know, doing something like Helloween did. You know, getting
the old bandmembers, and two singers, and all that kind of stuff. I
don't know, I don't see it happening, personally. But never say never.
I mean, we've never talked about it, but people have talked to us about
it. Let's say that.
Tobbe: If you look at the whole music industry,
what kind of odd things don't even surprise you today?
Mark: Nothing surprises me. There's no talent
anymore, that's for sure. It's all shipped out of the studio, and then
they go out and they play tracks. They're not even singing, even though
they're playing most of it. It's a sad state of affairs. And the fans,
if you ask me, are being robbed, 'cause they're buying into it. Kids:
they think this is great. Okay, to each his own. I'm glad I grew up
in the era I did.
Tobbe: Even in the '70s people were faking
stuff, and, like, a major band like Kiss
Who played on the albums?
Mark: There has been many tricks going on for
years and years. You know, it's always the live bands, the hard-core
bands, that don't change their stripes that I like the most. AC/DC,
c'mon. They don't change horses in the middle of the stream. That's
what I say. If it works, stick to it.
Tobbe: Honestly now. Have you ever, even
just a little, little bit, doubted your decision to join Accept? Even
just for one second
Mark: Maybe in the very beginning. Maybe in
the very beginning, when I saw all the comments, before we had even
released a record. Just announcing that I was gonna be in the band,
and all the people going, "No fucking way! Oh, my God! This guy
sucks! No Udo, no Accept!". Getting hate mail, you know. That's
when we all sat down and just went, "We're gonna make a record,
to shut these fuckers right up!". And miraculously it stopped after
the record came out. [Laughs]
Tobbe: But, you know, Blood Of The Nations
was, like, the perfect comeback record.
Mark: We slaved over that record, man. We spent
a lot of time writing it and a lot of time recording it. And you can
thank Andy Sneap for that, because he was the guy that sat us down.
We had been writing before he got involved. He came in and listened
to what we were doing, and he was, like, "Ah, no. No, no. Let's
have a talk, shall we?".
he actually took Wolf and Peter and sat them in a room and made them
listen to, like, Breaker, and Restless, and Balls, and Metal Heart.
And made them listen to all the songs, and, like, "This is what
we want!", and all of a sudden everything changed.
Tobbe: Did you ever ask yourself questions
like, "Why me? Why did they pick me to be the singer of this fantastic
Mark: I don't know; you believe in fate? I don't
know, you know. And it seems like destiny almost, because it was out
of the blue. I mean, my phone just rang one day. It was a friend of
mine, who asked if he could give Peter my phone number. And I'm like,
"That dude from Accept? What does he want?" - "I don't
know." - "Okay, yeah, give it to him.". So, "You
wanna come jam with us?" - "Yeah, I come jam.".
Their studio owner/engineer had just recommended
me, because they had talked about putting the band back together after
The Wrestler came out, 'cause Balls was the featuring song in that movie,
and it was actually played twice in the movie.
And it came out in 2008, so it was like, "There's
no better time. If you're gonna do it, do it now." and they just
could not come to terms with Udo, so. And they weren't really talking
about auditioning, or putting a singer together, or anything, and the
guy just said, "Call Mark." - "Who's Mark?" - "The
singer from TT Quick.". And that was it. The rest is history.
They never even auditioned anybody else. I went
down to jam with them in the studio. I was sick as a dog. I had bronchitis
and could barely sing. Still pulled it off. And two weeks later I got
the call, "You wanna do the tour? You wanna do an album and a tour?".
Wife: "Do I wanna do an album and a tour?" and she goes, "Well,
you better fucking do it or there'll be no living with you!". So,
Tobbe: Both musically and on a personal
level, besides singing with Accept, what else is there in life for Mark
Tornillo in 2022?
Mark: What most people don't know is that I
am a union electrician. I have been for many, many years. So, I'm actually
considering retiring now. [Laugh] I've actually been working. I worked
during the pandemic. You know, it was one of those things where I could
just go to the union hall and get a job. You know, as long as the list
isn't too long.
So this whole past year
Actually I started
in July and I went from July to Christmas. I was on a rooftop solar
job, as a foreman, running a crew. And of course, everybody's like,
[Whispering] "It's the guy from fucking Accept", you know.
And there was Accept logos in the shitters. [Laughs] But, busting my
ass, just like everybody else, man. Put my fucking boots on, one at
a time, just like everybody else.
And it keeps you humble, man, to go out there
and work. But I think it became too conflicting now with our schedules,
and, you know, I think I'm gonna retire, take my pension and be a musician
for a while. You know, I've worked hard for most of my life, so.
also: a review of
the gig the same day