WOLF HOFFMANN Thought Heavy Metal Was 'Dead' And Would 'Never Come Back' After Rise Of Grunge In 1990s

March 23, 2023

In a new interview with Headbangers Latinoamerica, ACCEPT guitarist Wolf Hoffmann reflected on the band's ill-fated late 1980s period when they were fronted by American singer David Reece.

Reece was recruited for ACCEPT's "Eat The Heat" LP in 1989 following the departure of Udo Dirkschneider. Reece's higher-pitched delivery was in sharp contrast to Dirkschneider's distinctive style, and overall, the album was a critical and commercial disappointment. Midway through the "Eat The Heat" tour, differences between the band and Reece had come to a head, leading to the altercation between the singer and then-bassist Peter Baltes in Chicago. By the end of 1989, ACCEPT had hung it up.

Asked what he thinks about this particular record and ACCEPT's struggle to survive as a band in the 1990s, Wolf said: "it was a sucky time. The '90s were really terrible. To make it short — I've talked about this so many times that I don't even like thinking about it much, because it was just one of many, many things that happened along the career — but, basically, to sum it up, we made a record with David Reece, and we never had the good chemistry, and the times were hard, and it was the wrong album at the wrong time. And then the band basically just broke up after. It's as simple as that. It just wasn't meant to be. It was one of those things that you try — everybody had great intentions; we had some good ideas; but it just wasn't meant to be."

Wolf continued: "And you know what's interesting. Let me tell you this, what's interesting also about… Every album you need to see it in the context of the time. Maybe if we would have released this album five years earlier or five years later or 10 years later, it would have been all different, but at that point it was the wrong thing. You know, there's always timing — right time in the right place. And just the opposite happened in 2009, when we met Mark Tornillo as a new singer [for ACCEPT], and we met [producer] Andy Sneap, and everything basically fell in place. It was almost like the stars aligned properly. And with David Reece, nothing aligned; it was just not meant to be."

Hoffmann went on to say that he and his ACCEPT bandmates "felt lost" when the rise of grunge in the early 1990s forced most hard rock bands off the radio and MTV, with album and tour sales plummeting.

"Nobody knew where the music would turn and nobody knew where the music direction, what people wanted to hear," he admitted. "I know we didn't feel comfortable with grunge and alternative; that wasn't really our thing. We tried to adjust a little bit to the times. And, basically, all these metal bands that I'm familiar with, they all struggled. Nobody quite knew what kind of songs to release. We all didn't think heavy metal was ever gonna come back or would survive. Personally, I thought 'heavy metal is dead.' In the '90s, I thought, 'Okay, it's over.' I thought we had a nice time in the '80s and it was great, but I thought 'heavy metal will never come back.' But to my big surprise, it's back stronger than ever, and it's still here… And the opposite happened — grunge has disappeared, basically. It's strange, isn't it?"

More than two years ago, Wolf said that the "Eat The Heat" album "was a dark time in our history of ACCEPT. I would say that all of the '90s were very difficult and very dark in a way, and I don't even like to think about it so much," he added. "If only you journalist guys didn't constantly ask me about it, I would never even think about it. [Laughs] 'Cause it was just a time when heavy metal was going through a very dark period. The traditional sound was out of style and nobody wanted to listen to it, so it was sort of searching for a new direction — especially in the '90s. 'Eat The Heat' came out at the beginning of that era and it was meant to be a new chapter, but it's just never panned out because basically everything went wrong with that album. And it's just something you go through in life. I don't see why I still have to defend myself in a way… People always ask me this question almost in a provocative way, as if I have to defend myself about this album. It's ridiculous… It's almost like people have to apologize that they like it."

He continued: "There's something about this album that rubs a lot of people the wrong way and they have such a strong opinion about it… It's sometimes laughable. In my mind, it had some fantastic songs but it was just never executed properly, and it was not meant to be. But over the years, I've met so many fans who said exactly the same thing, 'Man, I really wanna apologize, but I really like this album… I know nobody likes it, but I think it's great.' And I think that's so bizarre. If you like it, you like it. It's so strange that people are so opinionated about it.

"It's just music," Wolf explained. "You can like it or not, but it's not more than that. In any case, it wasn't the period of time that I like to even think about much, 'cause it was very difficult."

Hoffmann is the sole remaining original member of ACCEPT, which he formed in 1976 in the town of Solingen, Germany with Dirkschneider and Baltes.

ACCEPT's latest studio album, "Too Mean To Die", was released in January 2021 via Nuclear Blast. The LP was the group's first without Baltes, who exited ACCEPT in November 2018. He has since been replaced by Martin Motnik. ACCEPT's lineup has also been expanded with the addition of a third guitarist, Philip Shouse, who originally filled in for Uwe Lulis during 2019's "Symphonic Terror" tour, before being asked to join the band permanently.

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