We built up this album like a live show
Interview with vocalist Udo Dirkschneider of U.D.O by Vera in April 2007
Udo Dirkschneider is a metal icon for so many years. He put German metal on the map with his band Accept in the early eighties, but later on he released a large number of records with his own band U.D.O as well. With the release of ‘Mastercutor’ it is about time to have a nice chat with the man who does not think about retiring yet.
‘Mastercutor’ is another album with the typical heavy metal U.D.O style that will please the fans. How does Udo looks back on it after making this one?
I am more than happy with the new album. The music is still U.D.O except that we changed the sound to a modern sound and we did a lot of different arrangements in the songs. For me the album has a more nowadays approach. We said to each other after ‘Mission X’, with the next album we have to do something new, though not changing. Our live sound engineer is much into modern sounds and stuff like that. He always said to us the last two years “Maybe you should try and change your sound a bit” and we said: “Okay, come into the studio and show us what you mean”. And I have to admit, 60% of what you hear on the new record was the work of our sound engineer. We got also different ideas to arrange the songs. For example, for the first time in a song like ‘Master Of Disaster’ there is no guitar solo. We never did this before. There is a synthesizer solo. A lot of different things. This guy was really important for the sound. When you have a guy like that, he is also involved in the producer’s thing of course, together with Stefan Kaufmann. It all fits together. This album has an interesting production and we had a lot of fun recording it.
You did a lot of touring after ‘Mission X’ isn’t it?
Yeah, we went off in January until the end of November 2006. When we had a break in May 2006, we had a brainstorming for the new album. I think we worked also a bit different than other heavy bands. We started first with the lyrics. When we worked on the lyrics I already started singing some melodies and Stefan was coming up with some riffs directly and then we said: “Okay, enough for two months and went on tour” (laughs). We let it sink for a while and asked the rest of the musicians to come up with their musical ideas to complete the songs. Then we could see which ideas fit to the meaning of the lyrics. In this way we did it since the ‘Man And Machine’ album. We found out it works for us much better than the other way around.
You played at Sweden Rock festival with an All Star Band. Can you tell a bit more about that happening?
Normally it was planned that U.D.O was playing on the kick off party, but then they said: “No, we want to do something different, something special. We will do a Sweden All Star band.” Then I got a phone-call that I had to sing there. I said, well, I am not Swedish. But they said they wanted me as a singer anyway, so I said, okay, why not? Over e-mail we decided which songs we were going to play. We did a cover version of ‘Metal Gods’ of Judas Priest, we did a cover version of ‘School’s Out’ of Alice Cooper, then we did one U.D.O song ‘Independence Day’ and two Accept songs. But interesting was, there was a mix up of the drummer of Europe, the guitar player of Alice Cooper, Oscar Dronjak of Hammerfall, I know Oscar (laughs), Mia from Crucified Barbara and the bass player was from Treat. And there was one guy I don’t know in which band he plays, but I think he is very well-known in Sweden. Everybody was very well prepared. We had one evening before, we did a rehearsal for two hours, played each song twice and then the next day on stage was a lot of fun. And I had the feeling that people enjoyed it very much. It was recorded and shown on TV in Sweden. I think it is always important that you are open-minded to a lot of things. We did also a song together with Lordi. I did not know that Lordi was a big fan of U.D.O. Then I got a phone-call of the record company of Lordi and they said “Maybe you are interested in doing a song together with Lordi”, but it was before they won the Eurovision contest. They sent me the song and it could have been a U.D.O song. It was easy to do. And then they won the Eurovision festival, haha, what can I say? When you see these guys in those monsters outfits and you listen to their music… in a way it doesn’t fit together. It is a lot of fun sometimes to do something outside U.D.O. You get more inspiration and like I said before, it is good to be open-minded.
You also worked together with Doro, isn’t it?
Yeah, she was singing a song together with me on the ‘Man And Machine’ album, ‘Dancing With An Angel’. Then she asked me to sing on the classic album she did. We did together ‘Breakin’ The Law’ of Judas Priest. I sang together with her on her 20th Anniversary show in Düsseldorf. I know Doro for a very long time, when she was in Warlock (laughs). Back in the eighties.
You even recorded a track in Russian (‘Cry Soldier Cry’ on the single version of ‘The Wrong Side Of Midnight’). That must be a challenge as well…
It was a tribute to Russia, I did the chorus in Russian during a live gig. Then I had an offer to sing with a Russian popular band Aria. I did a song with them, called ‘Still’. I was singing more Russian then hehe. On the new album we had a bonus track for Russia, the song from the ‘Mission X’ album, ‘Cry Soldier Cry’. I sing the song now completely in Russian (‘Planchet Soldat’) and the record company said “Why not put this also on the EP?” which is coming out on the 27th of April in Europe. So people in Europe can hear the song in Russian as well. And of course in Germany are living almost two and a half million Russians (laughs), it may be interesting for some people when they hear UDO sing a song completely in Russian. We start a tour in Mexico on the third of May. There is an old Accept song on the ‘Objection Overruled’ album, called ‘A Mamas La Vida’ (?). At the moment we try to change the lyrics completely in Spanish. So maybe I will sing then this song completely in Spanish live. It is very nice for the people over there and for me it is interesting too, to see how the sound of a language is. When I sing in Russian it sounds a little bit different to when I sing in English.
What about your first visit to Israel last year?
A lot of fans said: “How can you go to Israel?” (laughs) All that bombs… But why not, I don’t have any problems with that. I never felt unsafe in Israel. We were also in Jerusalem to see all those holy places and it is so beautiful. Also the show in Tel Aviv was a blast, fantastic! I did not expect this. We did the song in Russian and they all sang along. I did not know there were so many Russian people living in Israel. Now we have an offer to go back in June, they want us for two shows in Haifa and Tel Aviv again. When we come back from Mexico, we do festivals the whole summer until the beginning of September. The end of September we start a new European tour indoor and go to Ukraine and Russia again. Then we have to go back to South America again. And the beginning of next year we go for two or three months to America and Canada. This is coming back after a long time for us. We also got some offers from China, I think that will be the next market. A huge market, I am looking forward to it. I think at the moment everything works out very well. Good new album, good new artwork, good new videoclip…
Can you tell anything about the videoclip of ‘The Wrong Side Of Midnight’?
You see the birth of the mastercutor. The beginning is that a lot of people do experiments with this guy. You can see how his face is changing through his mask. He is very crazy and he is looking for a stage where he can show his craziness. Sometimes bad things, you know, sometimes funny things. So he ends as a show-master in all these crazy games shows, reality shows you see on TV. But to explain it, I think you have to see it. I always say “this is modern art”. It is not a typical video that heavy bands normally do. You can say it is different.
In which countries are you most popular?
Definitely in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic States. Spain is a very important market for us. And Scandinavia is a very important market for us. And the rest is, let’s say, in a way normal. Oh yeah and South America! Now we don’t do it as headliner, but together with a Spanish band that is very popular in Mexico, Mago De Oz, they play arenas like 20000/30000 people. So this is big business (laughs). We got an offer for co-headlining. We were in Mexico last year with the ‘Mission X’ tour and I think they were quite impressed by U.D.O. So they said, come back to Mexico and do these shows, which is a very good offer for us to play in front of so many people. And I think ‘Mastercutor’ will be a very good album to tour with. We built up this album like a live show. It starts very heavy, then make it a bit slower and then up again, to end with ‘Crash Bang Crash’. These words stand for power. An important line is “I am not dead yet”. The songs fit together if you listen to it as a whole. On the other hand you have lyrics about games, all the games people play with us and we play with people or nature.
Are there lyrics you want to tell something special about?
Yeah, for me I think one lyric is very important. ‘One Lone Voice’ is about that we have to be very careful what we are doing with our nature. I think one voice is not enough, you need millions of voices. Otherwise I think we start to destroy our world. From a private point of sight too, I have two kids and they have to live in this world. This is for me at the moment the most important message!
The album comes out on the 18th of May 2007. There is a normal version with twelve songs and there is a limited edition digipack with two bonus tracks and the videoclip.
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