Blood of the Nation's - Peter Baltes speaks out.
German metal god's 'Accept' return with their stunning new album 'Blood Of The Nations', their 1st in album in 4 years since the last album 'Predator' which featured original singer UDO Dirkschneider, which was a pretty decent album. The band 1st started out back in 76 by UDO & guitarist Wolf Hoffmann who both later on found Peter Baltes and Gerhard Wahl along with Frank Friedrich. Later on both Gerhard and Frank left the band and were soon replaced by Stefan Kaufmann and Jorg Fischer for their debut album 'I'm A rebel' released back in 1980. This was of course the beginning of a long and successful journey for the band with guitarist Herman Frank & drummer Stefan Schwarzmann until 89 when UDO left the band was was replaced by David Reece (Bangalore Choir). Both Stefan and Herman left the band but returned back in 2009. Of course we all remember the band for their successful albums such as 'Balls To The Wall', 'Metal Heart' and of course 'Restless & Wild', how can you forget such a classic album? With the new album 'Blood Of The Nations' been a fine comeback album it also features former T.T. Quick singer Mark Tornillo, who is a fine replacement for UDO who went onto a solo career. I managed to catch the band for the 1st time in 30yrs of been a fan in Sheffield (UK) on 22nd of March 2011 when I spoke to long time bassist Peter Baltes about the new album and about the past with the band. here is what he had to say.
Well I'd first of all like to thank you for taking your time out and for doing the interview for my website. I've never seen the band live, its my 1st time so I'm hoping to hear and see some awesome stuff later.
"Well thank you for taking your time out and for doing the interview. You have never seen the band life before? For you it's like been a 30yr old virgin (Laughing), so I hope you enjoy the show."
Let's start by asking you some questions about the band's history just to get the ball rolling, so looking back at all the recordings you have done with Accept, which ones stand out for you and why?
"Well I would have to say that the 'Restless & Wild' CD was very special to me because it was the 1st record to were we found our own style and every song on the album was great. Every song on the album we can play live because there are no gimmicks around it. I also like 'Balls To The Wall' and 'Metal Heart' as we did some classic stuff and they are big anthem albums. So we had to play them live as it wouldn't of been a live set without including those songs, and after that things changed a little bit, and I would say that 'Breaker' is also one of my favorites."
Are there any albums you don't like and for any reason?
"Well it is hard to tell really, I think it could be the album 'Predator' because UDO wasn't into the album at all, and it didn't seem like a band effort in the writing side of the album. UDO wasn't into the album at all, he hated doing it, singing it, pretty much everything. At that time the band had come to an end. I think we should of not made that album and to just forget about it."
So what bands were you influenced by as you were growing up as a child & in your teens?
"I Was into AC/DC, Rainbow, Deep Purple, and when I started play bass I was into a lot of Rush, E.L.P., Yes, and I was actually very good and fast at playing the bass when I was young. I then joined Accept and things started to slow down (laughing). (ED: What do you think of Glenn Hughes as a bass player?) I think he is great, we played on an album together, it was John Norum's album 'Face The Truth', he is an awesome singer and bass player."
What new bands Peter are you listening too right now?
"To be honest, Wolf and myself don't really listen too new bands, we never really listen to music when we are not recording or touring. Wolf likes a lot of Classical stuff & I just listen to the radio. I think when you are creating your own music it is good not to be influenced by other bands around you, as you get influenced by them and it could stop you from creating the perfect music of your own. I like a lot of Country music, and sometimes it depends on what mood I in. So when I write for the band, it just pours out of me and I listen too the way they do the harmonies and the way they produce an album, it inspires me."
Moving on, what did you think of the Nuclear Blast tribute CD to Accept when it was released back in the mid 90's?
"Well I can't remember all the bands but I know King Diamond did a cover of 'Metal heart' which was really good. There was a U.S. band called 'Holy Grail' who did a great version of 'Fast As A Shark', but I only skip through the CD you are talking about once, so I thought it was a good album. To be honest we don't listen to our own albums."
So how did you hook up with Andy Sneap?
"Andy Sneap our current producer made us listen too our old albums because he wanted to point out which are essential for the band and he is a big fan of the band. So he wanted to point out what he thought was out strengths and so we listened too all the old albums and he told us what he liked about a certain part of each song. In the end it brought out the best in us, we knew then we had to create a classic Accept album and I think we achieved just that. It brought Wolf and me back to a point to now I know what he wants from us. A couple of weeks later we ended up write songs for the new album and without Andy we would of never gone back to listen too our old songs."
Before Chosen Mark Tornillo as the new front man, formerly with T.T. Quick, who else did you have in mind as a replacement for UDO?
"Well we had nobody in mind, in 2005 the band was done, we never thought about reforming the band. Wolf is a famous photographer & I write music for radio and television and we have busy life's with family and kids in college. We both live in the U.S. and I had offers to play in other bands but I just wasn't interested. I had a great life and I was working everyday so reforming the band was the last thing on my mind. One day Wolf called me up and said he was going to be in the area doing photography so I said he could stay at my house. I then called my friend up and who has a studio so we went in and had a jam and I had a drummer friend who knew some songs so we did it and it just seemed boring without a singer. So my friend Joey said he knew a guy who would be perfect for a jam, his name is Mark Tornillo from the band T.T. Quick, and he sounds a little lie UDO and he knew the stuff. So we give him a call and he came out for a jam and he had a booth for him to sing in the studio and we did 'Starlight' and 'Flash rocking Man' and we stopped and both Wolf & I looked at each other we both knew he was like the next UDO. His voice we very similar to UDO but he also had his own vocal range and this was always the voice we were looking for. Even through the band was done we just knew we had someone special in our mists. The voice had that raspy sound and he could also scream like Rob Halford and he could also deliver something which was very soft and clean. When I listened too the T.T. Quick album much later he sounds totally different like a totally different person. So we spoke to Mark and asked him how he would feel if we reformed Accept and he joined the band as our front man. He was like over the moon and was very happy to give it a shot. So we all went home, talked to our family's which took a couple of days and a couple of days what we had recorded we put on Facebook, & I said 'The Metal Heart is beating again', and so people started to reply to this and it showed a lot of interest from old fans and new ones too. We were very happy to put it online and later on we realized what we had done and Andy Sneap heard about it and said whatever you do I have to produce it. So he found us through 1 of Wolf's friends and he wanted to record an album for the band. So he came to Nashville and we really didn't know who he was at that time, and we found who is was and who he had produced and that was it. He ended up staying for 4 days and things were just perfect from the very 1st time we had met, the rest is history."
OK Peter, so why the title of the new album 'Blood Of The Nation', what other titles did you have in mind?
"Well it is always hard to find a title for an album. I think we chose the title of the album basically because of the cover. We were think about having a cover with the peace sign and there is never a way to achieve peace without blood and it doesn't work. The peace sign drenched in blood is just something that Mark wrote from a universal idea from any solider from any country. So soldiers so to war, come back and people hate them for it and they are just doing there job. The whole idea was written from a soldiers prospective where they have to leave their homes and fight for a cause they believe in. We had a couple of titles for the album but nothing to talk about as we felt that the title we chose was the perfect title for the album with the cover having a statement. We are starting to come up with title ideas for the next album already, as the titles take the longest it is best to have that first and then write songs for the album. We have no titles yet."
So Peter, was the new album recorded at Andy's studio here in Derbyshire?
"Yes it was, We were in his studio for about 2 weeks, we did the drum tracks, rhythm guitars and lead and some bass tracks and vocals and then went back to Nashville (U.S.) and did some more vocals there and solo guitars and then went back to mix it at Andy's studio."
Are you happy with the end results of the album?
"Yes we are totally happy with the end results, and I think it is the best sounding Accept album we have done. I just wish that we could re-do and re-master the albums 'Balls To The Wall' or 'Metal Heart' with Andy. (Ed: Have you asked Andy if he wants to re do them for you?) Well we might ask him about it later on but right now it is not the right time for both of us. We need to establish ourselves once again and we had a great year last year and we just want to keep the ball rolling. We were very bold with everything we did and we took our time with the album and we went on tour before it was released with a new singer, which is unheard of and nobody has ever done that. We played the 1st show in New York at Time Square and it was an awesome show for us, the crowd love us. We even got a call from AC/DC asking if we would be there special opening act for the tour and they wanted us to play an hour in front of 80.000 people. We even got a call asking if we wanted to do Sonsphere with Metallica, and they wanted us to headline the 1st day of that festival, it was just awesome Jason. Then the album comes out & we get the best reviews we have ever had, best sounding album we have done too. Things just got better and better for the band."
Did Andy play any guest solo's on the new album with him been a massive fan of the band?
"No he didn't, but he I remember Andy sitting next to Wolf and I was sat behind him in the studio and Andy's eyes would light up haha!! For Andy it was a dream come true, Andy did come on stage with us once and there were 3 flying V's on stage doing 'Balls To The Wall', and now he is family. With most producers they produce an album and then move onto another album and nobody gets emotionally attached but with Andy he is really into helping bands out and so he does become the 6th member or whoever is in the band, he is a family of any band he works with."
I remember interviewing Nevermore who told me Andy's studio is haunted, did you ever see the ghost?
"No not at all, we never gave a shit anyway (laughing)."
Ok moving on, are the songs in general wrote as a team effort or individually?
"Well it was Wolf and me basically that wrote the material for the album, we always did before and Stefan did some writing too. UDO never did that much in the past, maybe a little here and there but it was basically us 3 that did nearly all the writing. When Wolf and I get together there always seems to be some magic moments where we can write some really good riffs and lyrics. I mean we have known each other back from high school we we knew how we both write as a team in song writing. The 1st song we wrote was 'Pandemic' with the riffs and we we knew then after a few riffs that we had a good song in the making, and our music is based on riffs and melodies and you know when you have a good song by the feelings you get. Metal fans have always been the outcasts in society and nobody gives a shit about them so metal fans take it as a 'Shove this up your ass' attitude which pays off for them. Mark was also involved in this album as we said any contributions from the start would be appreciated so yes he did have some input on this new album. He gave to my house nearly every other day as I only live about 20 minutes away from each other."
So am I right in saying Andy is the main man for the next album?
"Yes you bet he is!! He has brought out the best in the band and our sound. We would be foolish not too."
What songs on the new album do you like and why?
"Well Jason, I like a lot of the songs on the new album, but ones that stand out for me are 'Teutonic Terror', and 'The Abyss' because it has so many nice elements about it and the dynamics with the massive riffs and chorus and the screams are just great. I also like 'Kill The Pain', it is an interesting song and Mark sings the ballad so well, it is so beautiful. I also like 'Bucket Full Of Hate'."
So have the reviews be fantastic so far?
"Yes they have actually, we have had so many reviews from different parts of the world we have been on the top of the album charts in some countries which is great!!"
Have you any new songs or riffs wrote for the next album?
"Yes we do, we have so many riffs and ideas right now, we have about 40 riffs for the last album and we only used 16 of them so we have a lot of stuff left over which we could work on."
Have you done a promo video for the latest album?
"Yes we did a promo for the song 'Teutonic Terror', and the idea came about from 1 of Andy's friends, he hung out with us for a couple of days and decided to shot a video for us, which turned pretty well actually."
Ok before we come to an end, do you feel the timing is now right to do another DVD, it was a long time ago since you last did one which was recorded in Japan with UDO.
"Well I can answer that question now, we have been recording shows on this tour as we go along and we will do some more in South America and I don't think you will see it until the end of 2012 because the new album is coming out so it would be nice to have it out for Christmas. I personally don't like the DVD's with backstage footage and behind the scenes footage I just like really cool live footage. I just want a very high class recording of a DVD to be honest."
So what festivals are you playing this year? Is Bloodstock on the cards?
"No we are not playing Bloodstock (Ed: shame really), we are doing Sweden Rock, Bang Your Head, and we were going to do Graspop and others but we had to decline because we didn't want to be burnt out, we needed to go home and relax. We have been on tour since 8th July 2010 so we are very tired and need to go home after tonight."
Do you have anything to say before we end the interview? Thank you Peter and best wishes to you and Accept.
"Well thank you to our fans for their support, glad you like the new album, the next 1 will be even more of a killer. Also if you get a chance to check us out on 'You tube' then please do. Thank you for the interview and enjoy the show."
Thanks to Peter & Nuclear Blast for a great interview and show.
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