U.D.O. – A Decadent World

Sunday, 1st February 2015

Talking to some of my early metal heroes is a dream come true: especially when you develop a good relationship through the years. I’ve had the good fortune to meet and interview German metal legend Udo Dirkschneider now four times through the years – and see him perform live a couple of times with his U.D.O. band. Always friendly, very sociable, and flying the flag for traditional heavy metal high – he continues to unleash album after album at a time when most musicians retire to a sedentary lifestyle.

The new album Decadent features songwriting contributions from a younger axe duo, which probably aids the band in toeing the line between the past and the present. And even though the album cover has already been lambasted by many (Udo admitting some believe his worst ever), it’s good to know that the final product still delivers what we’ve come to know and love from the pint size gritty tour de force.

Catching the last international flight to New York City just in time for the first blizzard of 2015, Udo and I would discuss music, the weather, special upcoming shows, and unfortunate lineup changes that often come up as a band becomes a stronger draw and global touring entity. What can I say… here’s Udo!

Dead Rhetoric: Drummer Francesco Jovino recently announced his departure from U.D.O. after almost a decade with the band. Was this a surprise or shock, and are you hopeful in securing a permanent replacement before the worldwide tour starts?

Udo Dirkschneider: I was a little bit surprised, this came up after the recording of the album. We did a festival in Germany and then he said he didn’t want to be in the band anymore because of private reasons. It’s always the same story (laughs), when they come out and say it’s for private reasons. The touring is getting bigger and bigger, in a way I was a little bit shocked after ten years. What can you do? Nothing but search for a drummer- and in two more weeks I can announce a name and we are looking forward, not looking back.

Dead Rhetoric: The new album is the first with songwriting contributions from Andrey and Kasperi – do you think the worldwide touring in support of Steelhammer gave them an accurate feel for the U.D.O. catalog and a firm grasp of where you want to go for this record?

Udo: Yeah, I mean they are huge U.D.O. fans so when we started recording the album and listening to all the ideas, they came up with some really good stuff. It was very interesting because it’s not easy to compose music for my words. It was perfect you know, they came up with really good ideas that can fit my voice and we composed these songs together as a band, which I think makes things more interesting as well. There is a variety of material on this album and I am very happy with it I would say, the two guys are fresh blood.

Dead Rhetoric: The younger musicians now within U.D.O. – does it keep you on your toes as far as their spirit, musicianship, and experiences they bring to the table?

Udo: Yes, of course. They still play classic metal material but with a modern touch, it’s difficult to explain. It makes it also for me very interesting, some things are a little bit different.

Dead Rhetoric: Was this also another record where you did things face to face in the studio – as you seem to prefer that method of recording through the years versus trading files and recording all the time through home studios and the Internet, correct?

Udo: The trading files and internet writing happened in the Dominator and Rev-Raptor albums, so I started to do face to face recording again during the Steelhammer record so we did Decadent the same way. We have our own studio where I live in Ibiza, Spain with Fitty the bass player. In a way we have a little bit of luxury because we can record whenever we want, not paying any rental, so it’s an easy, relaxing way to record. We started working on the album at the beginning of May last year and ended up finishing this during the end of September. In the middle of this we had some European festival dates and breaks. You can hear a really good live touch in my opinion on this album.

Dead Rhetoric: Favorites on the record for me include “House of Fake”, “Meaning of Life”, and the down and dirty “Untouchable” – what can you tell me about these tracks in general as far as lyrical topics?

Udo: “House of Fake” is definitely a political thing, the government talking a lot of shit about what they want to do, but then never doing anything (laughs). “Meaning of Life”… it’s like belief in what you are doing. Don’t listen too much to other people. “Untouchable” that one is easy to explain- we are untouchable (laughs)! I am untouchable, it’s always saying that you can love it or you can hate it. I do what I want, and that’s the best thing you can do.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel the brief 2013 tour of North America went in terms of fan support and response? I for one felt the set list was quite potent at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY (where you premiered “Metal Machine” for the first time) and quite different than your last tours 13 years previous in support of Holy…?

Udo: In the meantime between those two tours, some albums came out (laughs)! I was changing the set list in Europe completely, I brought a keyboard player with me and I only played 3 Accept songs on that tour. I think now U.D.O. having 15 albums out of material we have enough songs to make our own set list with just U.D.O. songs. Of course I still play the classic Accept stuff like “Metal Heart”, “Balls to the Wall”, and “Fast as a Shark”- but only the encore. In the main set list we play U.D.O. songs, and it worked out very, very well I have to say.

Dead Rhetoric: Your appearance at Wacken this year will be quite special, performing with the German Armed Forces Orchestra. Will it be a challenge to figure out a set list which uses this added element in the best light?

Udo: I did one show with the Marine Orchestra in Germany on the Steelhammer tour, so there will be an album and DVD coming out for that show down the line. We are mixing all of that stuff- then the head of Wacken asked us if we could do this again, and I said normally it was planned that this would be a really exclusive concert (that) I did, so I said okay but I wanted to make things a little bigger. There will be nearly 100 people on stage and the set list … some songs I’ve never played with U.D.O. , of course they have to arrange the songs in a different way. We will also do some Accept songs – there will be an orchestra for instance doing “Balls to the Wall”, and that will be very interesting to hear. I have heard the arrangement already for “Princess of the Dawn” and it will really be something else.

Pages: 1 2