In times of Decadence... UDO Dirkschneider speaks out!!
German Legend U.D.O Dirkschneider returns with yet another hard hitting real metal album 'Decadent', which is to be released on 23rd January 2015 through AFM Records. Yet again this is yet another fine album by one of the legends of German metal. Like The Scorpions, Accept were both of the biggest metal bands of all time in Germany. UDO left accept 87 to peruse a solo career and his hasn't looked back since. U.D.O. has released 14 previous albums to date and with the bands last superb album 'Steel Hammer' been such a great album this is yet another album that follows the last album if not a better album. I managed to chat with the man himself a week ago to find out about the new forthcoming album and what the future holds for the band. Here is what he had to say to the following questions.
Nice speaking to you again UDO, my 1st question to you is, how well are things going with you and AFM Records? You have been with them for many years now so I guess you have a good relationship with the label? So which is you're previous favourite album with the label?
"Well I am still happy with AFM everything is fine and I have been with the label for 10yrs now. So far with interview the new album is receiving great response from the press. A lot of people are saying it is better than 'Steelhammer' album, so what can I say right now? I am really happy at the moment. When it comes to previous album I do like 'Time Bomb' album 'Faceless World' and 'Animal House' & 'Unholy' are ones I really like. There are a lot of if different topics on each album but there pretty much the same, if you listen too 'Faceless World' and then 'Time Bomb' they are completely different albums. So I do try to do thing slightly different on each album and after a while we started composing songs as a band and now we have 2 new young guitar players."
I have noticed that AFM have re-released some of you're older album with I think bonus material, what was the reason behind this?
"I think AFM just wanted to re-release them with special booklets, but there is nothing much more special about them."
Let's talk about the last album 'Steel Hammer', how much of a success was that album for you?
"Well it was more of a success than that of 'Mastercutor' in sales wise and it looks like the next album 'Decadent' will be even better in sales from what I have been told."
Do you still keep in touch with Stefan and Igor?
"No not really, I keep in touch with Stefan over the internet and he left the band due to ill health. I think he maybe coming back with some songs and I may sing on them for him."
Where did you find Andrey and Kasperi as the new guitarist? When I hear the last album you can hear the freshness of the young guitar players, do you agree?
"Yeah Andrey did the guitars on the last album 'Steel Hammer' and Kasperi came later after the recording of that album. This new album will be his 1st album with the band and I found both of them when I was looking for replacement guitarist and in the end I found 4 guitarist, 1 from Finland, 1 from Norway, 1 from Germany and 1 from Russia. I took Andrey 1st and Igor said he didn't want to do the next album so for private reasons.
So I called Kasperi and asked if he wanted to join the band. To which he agreed, after that everything was so easy and he went on the 'Steel Hammer' tour with us and he is a huge UDO fan, So we started writing songs for the new album and everybody came up with some great ideas and in the end we had 18 songs ready for the new album and in the end we recorded 15 of them."
So the band are from various parts of Europe and Scandinavia how do you guys rehearse and where?
"Well we rehearse in Germany and Witty has his own studio for recording and we always do the mixing in Northern Germany and the mastering was done in Denmark by Jacob Hansen (Ed he is one of the top producers in Denmark right now for melodic metal right?) Yes he is a great at mixing and producing albums and he is a really nice guy and I am sure we will work with him in the near future. With this release we will be doing a long tour next year and we are coming to the UK to play in London and 2 more shows in the UK after that."
OK moving on.., why did you come up with the title for the album 'Decadent' and did you have any other names in mind? Also what are the songs about on the album?
"It was not planned to call the album 'Decadent', we had a song called that and the song is about some people who have too much money and its about giving money to people who don't always have a lot of money. Its about people spending money on something like 100.000 Euros on a party when you don't need too and this is 'Decadent'. We also have lyrics about government stuff were they says they will do stuff but in the end they do nothing. We have songs like 'Rebel of the Night' which is about when we were touring the Ukraine this year when all the shit happened out there. The song 'Pain' is about how much pain we can take, when you watch the news on how much can you take when there is a bomb attack or a massacre at school and there is nothing nice to really talk or sing about any more. Another song 'Breathless' is to do with stress when everything is going very fast and in the end. So getting back to the 1st question this is why we called the album 'Decadent' because of all the things that are happening right now. We had another title for the album which was 'Speeder' which we decided was not a good title for the album."
Tell me about the art work, the guy on the cover with devil horns smoking a cigar, it kind of reminds me of Glam Metal band cover 'Warrant', have you seen there old cover?
"Well we had a crazy guy who has been working with the band since 'Mastercutor' album, so for this new album we didn't really have any ideas we just gave him the title of the album and he came up with this decadent guy, wearing gold and smoking a cigar and when you look at the sun glasses there is a child and in the background you see the notes of the dollar so there are a lot of little details on this album and I also think that it really is a good one."
On the new album which songs stand out for you and why?
"Well for me, vocally I like the song 'Secrets in Paradise' because it is a little bit different and I can sing now a little lower in my range which has become better and better. About 10yrs ago I could not sing a song like this. I also like the song 'Pain' very much as well as the song 'Under your Skin' because of the fantastic guitar work. I also like the song 'House of Fake' which is a little bit different, and the song that really stand out for me is 'Mystery', because it is a little bit psychedelic about a paranoid guy who has nightmares about cancer, death and there is no cure."
Do you write the lyrics yourself or is it a team effort?
"No the lyrics are wrote by Witty and myself. which we did also on the last album. With the lyrics we get so many ideas that you just have to watch the news then you get tons of ideas and it becomes easier to get a story. Once I have the hook lines & the stories then the melodies and then the music comes last. (Ed: Do you actually play the guitar at all and a studio?) No not at all , the guitarists come up with the riffs and I do not play any guitars and I put all the music they send me to my mobile phone and later on I can sing lots of ideas from my phone for vocal melodies and harmonies. For me it is a easy going thing."
Are there any bonus tracks on the digi pack or Japanese CD?
"Yes there are bonus songs on the digi pack and Japanese CDs. The European digi pack contains 'Shadow Eyes', 'Let me Out' and for Japan 'Fallen Angels'. I actually hate all these stuff to be honest, it is up to the record company and they come up with the normal CD and then a digi pack with bonus stuff and then you have to decide which songs go on which version of the CDs you are releasing."
How long did it take to record the new album?
"Well we started in the beginning of May 2014 and it was finished by the end of September 2014, but in between that we had a lot of festivals to play. We recorded for about 3 months and then mixing for 2 wks in October."
Moving lets talk about the latest live DVD in Moscow, how did that come about?
"Well that DVD was not actually planned. When we did that show in Moscow Andrey had some friends who had a professional video company who asked if they could film us, and it would not be released to the public. So we said yeah lets do it, after which it turned out really good and when we saw the DVD footage we were really happy with it. We noticed that the sound and picture was really good we decided to release it after speaking to the record company. So that is the story for that DVD."
Do you find it hard to keep up with young musicians these days?
"I really don't know, when I was just looking for one guitar player I received 300 demo tapes and most were young guitar players between the ages of 20, 26, and the rest were in their 40s. That was very interesting and when Andreys came to us he was only 29 and Kasperi is 31 and they could be my son's (laughing). They are very open minded to things and I think I now have a very good chemistry within the band now."
Will you be releasing a promo video and if so for which song?
"Yes we have already done a promo video for the song 'Decadent' and will be released in mid December and it will be heavy stuff!!"
So far how well has the album been received by the press on a world-wide basis?
"Well the released date is the 23rd of January 2015 so we will let Xmas and the New Year in 1st with our families. Then I will do some shows in South America with Tim 'Ripper' Owens and Blaze Bailey under the name of 'Metal Singers' also with Mike Vescera and we will be doing classic stuff which is something for the fans."
Well thank you for the interview and calling me UDO, do you have anything to say to you're fans reading this?
"Well I am really looking forward to coming to the UK finally in March 31st in London and I hope a lot of people will turn up so that we can come back later on in the future. I hope my fans like the new record too."
Updated Interview dated 2.4.15 (Sheffield - UK)
Well it's good to meet you again UDO, so how are is the tour going so far?
"So far it's going really well. This is the 1st date of the tour in the UK, it has been a long time since we last played here 2001/ 2002 for the 'Holy' album which was just a show in London. It has taken us a long time to come back, but we will see how this tour goes. (Ed: Why has it taken the band so long to return to the UK?) Well it's all down to promoters, a lot of them had no interest in the band and also money problems and you need some money to carry on."
I find it very hard to believe you couldn't get any promoters to get you over here. You are a legend in your own right!! How well is the tour going so far for the band?
"Yes well that's the way it goes. The tour is going really well so far, so far we have played Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, and after the UK we go to France and a lot of shows in Spain. After that we go to Austria and then we do Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. We will be on tour until the end of May 2015. So far the tour is going good. After all this we do some festivals this summer, we will played Wacken with a German military orchestra and this will be very big performance and we have a new DVD out in July with a orchestra. It will be something different for sure."
After this tour is over we will start the 2nd part of the tour playing Russia, Bulgaria, and them we go to America for 2 months touring and South America. (Ed: talking of touring South America, you have just been there with Tim Owens, Blaze Bailey and Mike Verscera. How was that tour?).
Yes I did the 'Metal Singers' , it was a lot of fun. We had a band from Brazil who did covers playing with the singer and it worked out really well. We had a lot of fun talking about things in the past and it was like a family. There was no pre-Modonna thing going on. We chatted about who was playing and singing which songs 1st and last. I did 'Living after Midnight' with Tim and he did 'Balls to the Wall' with me. Next year will be starting work on the next album.
How excited are you to be playing Sheffield tonight?
"In the 1st place I was thinking of changing the set list but I think we will do the same set list we have done so far. We will do songs from the new album, 'Faceless World', 'Mean Machine', 'but we can't play everything! We are also doing an acoustic set tonight and on the tour and I have never done this before so it has been fun so far, so it will be interesting to see how the crowd will like it."
How is the tour with Sister Sin and the other band going so far?
"It's going well, there both great bands, and I didn't pick the bands it was the management who told us which bands were interested in the tour and Sister Sin was with us on the 'Rev-Raptor' tour."
Have you ever been approached to play Bloodstock here in the UK?
"No we haven't, we have tried and one year our management said we would come for free and and they still were not interested in us!! it was really strange and we wanted to get into the English market again. So we hope to have more people come to our shows and maybe some promoters showing interest in us for the future here in the UK. We are hoping to go on tour with Saxon as special guests in the future.
How did your son become the new drummer?
"Well my old drummer Francesco had some private problems with family and wife. I said I was sorry to see him so. So I announced I was looking for a new drummer and I got over 250 tapes and I knew my son was a good drummer, in the end i said why don't you try out , which he did and the rest is history. I told him in the beginning that he is a member of the band and he would be treated the same as everybody else, he is 21 and he is doing a great job."
How well is the album selling since we last did the interview?
"So far from what I have been told the album is selling really well. We had a chart entrance in Germany at #16 which is good for Germany and in America they love it. I'd like to say we finally made it to the UK and I am looking forward to the shows and the rest of the tour."
Thank's to Mr Exley and AFM German office for setting up this interview!!