Interview conducted April 23 2015
Interview published April 29 2015
A delay in U.D.O.'s flight schedule
put my interview opportunity with lead vocalist Udo Dirkschneider
at stake. Eventually I'm told that I will have only 10 minutes if things
are gonna work out in the end and although the German obviously doesn't
have much time for answering questions this evening, it's still a happy,
accommodating and nice 63-year-old I meet when I enter the room.
Tobbe: All right. Let's get going and welcome
back to Sweden. It seems like you're here like 5 times each year or something.
Udo: Yeah. I mean, we do 4 shows now and then
we have 2 festivals coming up in Sweden and that means 6 shows. Or is
it 7? I don't know.
Yeah, I saw 6 dates in your itinerary. So let's talk about your latest
album, Decadent, for a while. It was released in fact 3 months ago today
and how has the response been thus far?
Udo: Yeah, so far very good. What can I say?
I mean, the reaction is fantastic so far. We went in at number 16 at
the German charts and that's the highest entry we've ever had for U.D.O..
Everything at the moment looks perfect. The album is doing great and
the tour is doing great.
Tobbe: You're a lucky man, I guess. A few
songs remind me of the old U.D.O. school, you know. Like with Meaning
Of Life. It sounds like that song has been taken from the vaults. Is all
material newly written?
Udo: I mean, I never start thinking about writing
something like this or this or this. The songs just came up. I never
did this with U.D.O. before, but the whole band was writing together,
except for the lyrics, but music-wise the whole band was writing all
the songs. What can I say? Maybe sometimes your things come out similar,
but you never think about it and you just do it.
Tobbe: Yeah, because it must be really hard
to come up with entirely new stuff when you've done so many records as
Udo: Yeah, but I mean, with 2 new guitar players.
I mean, of course they are really fresh. For Andrey [Smirnov] it was
the second U.D.O. album and for Kasperi [Heikkinen] it was the first
one, so of course they have a lot of ideas and still have great ideas
for the next album, so I don't worry about this.
Tobbe: You still release a lot of albums.
If you look at bands from your generation, many of them release albums
every 5th or 10th year, but you release an album like every second year.
Udo: Yeah, in a way. It's like, you know, now
we're on tour, let's say until the end of this year or maybe the beginning
of next year. And then we start slowly working on the next album after
the summer of 2016. Maybe it takes 4 months to work on an album, so
in 2017 you have the next album.
Do you think there will be a time when you eventually stop making albums
and just tour instead?
Udo: No. I mean, for me it's always interesting
to make a new album, you know. To have some new songs. I mean, the only
complicated thing is to put a setlist together. Now we have 15 U.D.O.
albums and I have 10 albums with Accept and still of course people wanna
hear some Accept and definitely the classic stuff. A lot of U.D.O. fans
say "You don't have to play any more Accept songs than this."
and this is like "Hm, hm, hm.". [Twist and turns] The only
thing that I'm doing now is that I play 3 Accept songs, but they are
in the encore and not in the main set, you know. The people enjoy those
songs, but the rest of it is now completely U.D.O. stuff. And this is
already a nightmare, but you can't satisfy everybody. it's impossible.
We have also now, for the first time ever - I never did it with Accept
and I haven't done it so far with U.D.O. - but we have an acoustic part
in the set. It was a little bit risky to do this, but so far it has
Tobbe: You're playing together with your
son nowadays, although he wasn't on the recordings. I could never work
with my old man, so how have the first months been for him?
Udo: Let's say it in this way. We made it clear
in the beginning. Of course he's my son, but he is a member of U.D.O.
and he get no extras. He's just a band member and I mean, it has worked
so far very well. He's doing a great job and you can ask him yourself.
[Points at Sven, who now has entered the room.] A lot of people think
"Oh. Father and son now and every day they are together.".
No, I mean, he can do his own stuff in his free time and the most important
thing is that he's doing a good job on the drums, and he does.
Tobbe: With him, your 2 guitar players and
your new keyboarder [Harrison Young], there's a big age difference between
those 4 and you and Fitty [Wienhold, bass].
Udo: Yeah, but I don't know. A lot of people
ask me this also, if there's a problem with the younger people. Sven
is 21 and the keyboarder and the guitar players are around 30, 31, 32.
But no, I mean, if you have the same direction music-wise, you don't
have any problems. You know, we can speak about politics and whatever.
So for how long will you personally keep going in this tempo?
Udo: I don't know. I always say "As long
as I have fun.", you know. That's the most important thing for
me. At the moment I don't know. It can be 2 years, can be in 10 years.
Of course I hope to stay healthy, but you never know. I go every year
to a doctor and check everything and so far it's fine, you know.
Tobbe: Do you think that you have anything
left to prove?
Udo: I don't know. I mean, definitely now, one
of the things that I always wanted to do is, it's coming out in the
end of July, a live DVD with the Marine Orchestra from Germany. We did
a show with them together. That will be something very interesting and
in a way it's been a dream for 10 or 15 years. In the end it worked
out in a different way, a heavy way. But I don't know. Maybe we will
see. Maybe something interesting is coming to my mind.
Tobbe: So how do you think that the internet
has affected your band?
Udo: Let's say it in this way; it has a good
side and a bad side. The good side is you can spread news around in
seconds. The bad thing is of course that the CD sales are going down,
you know. For U.D.O. and especially for me, I mean, I have such a huge
back catalogue and I don't have to think about it. But especially for
new bands it's very hard to make any money off records, but I always
said, and maybe some record companies hate me, to young bands not to
sign a record deal. Make it on your own and sell it over the internet
and get all the money for yourself. I'm sorry, but that's the best way
for young bands to make any money. Now normally you make money on touring
and on merchandise and not with selling CDs. Maybe for AC/DC, Metallica
and Iron Maiden, but if you're on a level like Saxon and Motörhead,
it's tough to make any money on CDs.
Tobbe: What was it like to realize, a couple
of years ago, I don't know, that your albums wouldn't sell as much anymore?
Udo: I mean, it was like going down, down, down.
We're on a level for our record company. In AFM we're still number 1,
selling-wise. For example, if you would sell 30000 nowadays in Europe,
that means in the old days 100000-150000, so if you sell between 30000-40000
in Europe, that's okay.
It was very different when you first started out a lot of years ago.
Udo: Oh yeah, that was completely different.
I mean, those days are over. When we had found a record deal with Accept,
the record company gave us time for 5 albums. I don't think that any
record company is doing this nowadays. Definitely not.
Tobbe: Fitty has been in the band for almost
20 years now. What makes you and him such a well fitted machine?
Udo: Yeah, what can I say? We are really good
friends and now he also has a studio very near, so everything is really
close. He is the only long-time member left now at the moment.
Tobbe: Yes, it's you and him.
Udo: But you know, sometimes things have happened
and you can do nothing about it. Like with the drummer Francesco [Jovino]
now. I mean, he was in U.D.O. for 10 years and then he came up with
private things, you know. He said "U.D.O. is doing too much. I
cannot do it anymore.". Father, 2 kids, you know. But this was
up to him. I said "Are you sure?" and here we go. What can
I do? - Nothing.
Tobbe: Do you personally take all the bigger
decisions in the band?
Udo: Let's say, in the end I'd say yes and no,
but in the first place it's always a really democratic thing going on.
I mean, I don't wanna say no. First I need some input and in the end
I say "Okay, but I wanna have this and this and this.". But
most of the time it's so easy, you know, and especially now with the
new members, with the 2 guitar players. I'm really lucky with these
of the gig the same night