Accept – Live Review and Interview with Mark Tornillo

Some men are just too metal for one person to interview, so at Hammerfest 3 in Prestatyn CackBlabbath joined forces with our friends at Deaf By Dawn to double team Mark Tornillo, front man of metal gods Accept before the band’s headline set.

This was a reunion that came about almost by accident with a chance phone call leading to Mark joining the band “Peter was doing some work with his son’s band in the studio in New Jersey, where I live. Wolf had come up and they were jamming and someone told them that they should give me a call, and they did. So that’s basically it really. I went down there and started singing ‘Son of a Bitch’ and ‘Restless and Wild’ and having a good old time, then a few days later I received a phone call

We got our first taste of this new line up at a one-off gig the band played in London in 2010, and no one who saw it will forget the sight of three flying-V guitars on stage as the band were joined by producer, guitarist and uber-metalhead Andy Sneap, an occasion which Mark describes as “A real metal moment; a monumental metal moment“. I was interested to find out what Sneap brought to the band, and Mark was effusive in his praise “Andy’s a great guy, he’s one of the biggest ingredients in this band and album too; it wouldn’t have come out the way it did without him. Andy brought a lot to the table and he helped me a lot“.

But Sneap’s influence went further than that, “He went back to look at what Accept did best and recaptured it. At the end of the day, it’s the music. It doesn’t matter who is doing it, so long as you are doing it well“. And few would argue that Accept are doing it extremely well. “It’s such a killer back catalogue, and for me to go out there and do it every night… well, who could ask for more? It’s totally the music; it goes from song to song to song… the crowd loves every damn one of them, including the new songs we’re performing“.

Their headline set tonight was a prefect balance of old and new material, from a back catalogue stretching covering the best part of three decades. It’s unfortunate that some people still dismiss this band as not being “real Accept” as the shadow of original vocalist Udo Dirkschneider still hangs over them. Honestly, some metal fans just need to move on. Turning round this pointless whinging was a challenge that Mark was more than equal to” Ah, we were up against it right from the very beginning, people were saying: “you’re crazy. This isn’t going to work, it’ll never happen”. But we knew all along that if we made a killer record it would most definitely shut everyone up, and apparently, that’s what happened. Mainly because the naysayers aren’t saying “nay” any more; once we went out and started playing, things became a whole lot better. We toured a hell of a lot last year, way before the record came out, so I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I’d wake up some mornings and think: “are you crazy? Are you daft? What are you doing?!” But I was confident about it; I had no doubt that we could win them over.

Accept are a band who are back in a big way. As they kicked off their live set with the comeback single Teutonic Terror it was clear that they had lost none of their edge and they were as uncompromising and, well, metal as ever. It’s obvious they have been revitalised by Mark’s addition, and yet there are still some bearded idiots who say that this isn’t really Accept. For the sane ones among us it is obvious from the moment they open up with Teutonic Terror (from their frankly brilliant Blood Of The Nations album) that Tornillo is the perfect front man for Accept in 2011.

In addition he brings something else to the band, a genuine lack of any rockstar ego. We were impressed by this when we interviewed him beforehand and it manifested itself on stage when he would stand at the back clearing the way for guitarists Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Frank to do their thing.

Accept know exactly what their fans want, and by god do they give it to us tonight. This is Heavy Metal in it’s purest, most uncomplicated form played by a band who are clearly delighted to be back and are absolutely on top of their game as they played through a storming set which included Starlight, Son Of A Bitch and Metal Heart.

But we knew what was coming…

There was the encore…..

Fast As A Shark, Pandemic and Balls To The Wall.

Job Done !!

Throughout the set tonight it was good to see how well the new material stands up well against the classics, but then again the band weren’t on a nostalgia trip when they wrote the new album. It was a slightly nervous time as they started putting together the tracks, as Mark puts it “It was sink or swim, and the last thing we wanted to do was to create two or three new tracks and release a Best Of record. People have to know you’re serious, and we’re dead serious“.

So the ghost of their ex-vocalist has been well and truly vanquished and Accept are back in the big time. The reception they have received across Europe has shown them that there is clearly still an appetite for what they have to offer, and even in the relatively short time the band have been back in business it’s been a whirlwind ride. “There’s been all kind of highlights. We were in Russia for an entire week; the Moscow show was very special – those people are just starved – they love their metal“. So has the reception been the same everywhere, how about in Accept’s homeland of Germany, where Udo is something of a national icon ? “That’s the place that everyone was concerned about – well, for obvious reasons – but we won them over. Well, at least it appeared that way! The past – you can’t change it. All we can do is change the future. Embrace the past and move on“.

Based on their performace tonight Accept have very much still got what it takes and this is no short term comeback “We started touring immediately and we’re still touring, and when we’re done – hopefully by July – we’ll get right onto the next one“.

Can’t wait.