» Mark Tornillo - Accept
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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 on it.

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.

So, 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.

Tobbe: 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 to play.

But 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 live.

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 go off.

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.

That 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 going?

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, of course.

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?".

And 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 band?"?

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, okay.

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.

See also: a review of the gig the same day

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