PETER BALTES On ACCEPT: ‘I Felt Like We Were Always Doing The Same Album Or Concept Again And Again, Only With Different Lyrics’

In a new interview with Marko Syrjala of Metal Rules, former ACCEPT and current U.D.O. bassist Peter Baltes was asked about the songwriting process in U.D.O. and how it compares to that of ACCEPT. He said: “Everyone is involved in songwriting in U.D.O. It’s great because so many different writing styles come together to create something unique. In ACCEPT, it was always just Wolf [Hoffmann, ACCEPT guitarist] and me. Herman Frank [former ACCEPT guitarist], Udo [Dirkschneider, former ACCEPT and current U.D.O. singer] or Mark Tornillo [current ACCEPT singer] didn’t write music, which is why the albums started to sound the same towards the end. I didn’t like it anymore and felt like we were always just doing the same album or concept again and again, only with different lyrics. I was thinking, like, ‘This is just the same. It’s not growing.’ In contrast, I still grow as a bass player. I listen to other bass players and other types of music, whatever it is. I practice my bass every day because I want to become better. The growing never stops.”

When Syrjala suggested to Baltes that ACCEPT‘s first album with Tornillo, 2010’s “Blood Of The Nations” is “amazing”, Peter said: “‘Blood Of The Nations’ was different because all the material I wrote for the album had accumulated over the years. Once that was gone, we had to write the next album from scratch, and we only had a year, and so on.”

Circling back to his involvement with U.D.O., Baltes said: “With U.D.O., we’ll see how it goes, but I really hope we can capture the band’s essence as it is now. I think it’s very different than it was before. I have a completely different style than the bass players they had before. That doesn’t mean it’s better; I’m just saying my style is different. I try to play the songs how I would play them, so I just do it. Udo said, ‘Do whatever you want,’ and everyone is extremely happy. My writing gives it a slightly different touch, and we’ll see if we can capture that next time.”

Last October, Peter spoke to Jorge Botas of Portugal’s Metal Global about his decision to exit ACCEPT in 2018 after spending more than three decades with the Hoffmann-led outfit. He said: “Everybody knows now. I did a lot of interviews, and I really don’t wanna talk about it anymore, but basically we used to go up as a band, as friends and stuff, and then these things change business-wise and music-wise. And then it always seems that somebody wants all the influence. Once you’re not involved anymore in the decision making, what’s the point? I’m not interested in that. So I left.”

He added: “In order to be creative and in a good spirit, you have to feel good about what you’re doing. That’s the number one reason you’re doing it in the first place that you started. If you go back, when you were really little and how you started, it was just a love for music. You had no idea how good you were. If you ever had talent, that all didn’t matter because you just worked hard on it, and that’s where you ended up.

“I had a lot of fans write, ‘Why did he leave the mighty ACCEPT and join the little U.D.O.?’ And they just don’t get it. It doesn’t matter — it really does not matter.”

In September 2023, Udo told Robert Cavuoto of Metal Rules that he was “not surprised” to see Peter leave ACCEPT. “I knew what was coming up already a long time before it was official,” Udo said. “But Peter did already some interviews [where he talked about it]. I don’t wanna make any comments about this.”

In June 2023, Baltes discussed his departure from ACCEPT in an interview with Rock And A Hard Place. The 65-year-old bassist said: “I wasn’t the happiest person in ACCEPT before. In my life, every day counts. When you reach my age — I’m 65 now — I wanna enjoy my life and I don’t wanna do anything I don’t like. I have that right now.”

Asked if Udo‘s exit from ACCEPT was caused by the singer’s disagreements with Wolf and Hoffmann‘s then-wife Gaby Hoffmann, who also managed ACCEPT for several decades, Peter said: “The problem was always between Wolf and his wife and Udo. I never had a problem with Udo. I guess [Udo] wasn’t sophisticated enough. He was a blue-collar guy. He was a singer. It never worked out between them. They just hated each other.

“I said that in another interview a while ago, I said here we made the biggest mistake,” he continued. “I was asked, actually, by Metal Hammer [what I thought] the worst ACCEPT album [was], and I said it must have been [1989’s] ‘Eat The Heat’ [which featured David Reece on vocals], because we left our true destiny. The singer, which was the sound of the band, is gone, and we try with an American singer to sound like DEF LEPPARD. What a stupid idea there.

“I think in 2005 we did a reunion tour with Udo. But I kept in touch with Stefan [Kaufmann, former ACCEPT drummer], and through him with Udo. Wolf and Gaby always had their [spats with Udo] back and forth in the media, and I kept out of that.”

Peter added: “I told the guys in the [later version of ACCEPT], because they all chimed in, ‘Eff Udo,’ this and that. And I’m thinking, ‘Without Udo, you wouldn’t be in this band. You’re the singer now and you’re drummer. You’re all humping on Udo. You never met the man, first of all. You never said a word to him. It is so easy to judge somebody. Without him, you would be nowhere.'”

Asked if he felt like he was stuck in the middle between Hoffmann camp and Dirkschneider, Peter said: “Of course. You grow up together, and you have a band. Fans — people who follow a band — for them it’s hard to fathom and understand what you’re going through, because you spend half a lifetime together or even longer. And you trust people. And then trust is betrayed. And you think, ‘Why? What is there to gain? A little bit more money? Power? Is that it?’ And I guess that is what it is. Certain people need control; they can’t let go. And if they don’t have it, they’re not happy.”

Baltes also reflected on the Mark Tornillo era of ACCEPT, which began with the aforementioned “Blood Of The Nations” album and has produced four more LPs so far.

“In the end, when you mention ACCEPT albums, yeah, the first one was really good because that was stuff that mostly I had accumulated over the years,” Peter said. “So Wolf and I wrote that first album together; that was killer. But after that, it was so predictable — it was the same riff; it’s the same thing. So we were very divided. One side just wanted… I’ll never forget that — he said, ‘We can just do this and ride in the sunset together.’ And I said, ‘I think I have a different sunset in mind,’ because I wanna be relevant with my music. I don’t wanna just keep my fans happy and don’t go anywhere else and just keep doing this. I wanna evolve; I wanna explore things. I come from a progressive background — EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, things like this. So I was, like, ‘This is the same stupid riff again, the same vocal line. Just another word.’ I didn’t wanna do it. [There were] too many things that were just bad — financial situations, trust issues, musical [ideas]. Everything was wrong. So that’s why I left.”

Baltes previously discussed his departure from ACCEPT in an interview with Finland’s Chaoszine. At the time he said: “Well, it was… maybe the last two years, it started to go down. I didn’t like it anymore. And I found out some things — I don’t wanna elaborate — but I found out some things that are really not nice. I’d been together with Wolf my whole life, and that wasn’t really necessary. Some people have to have all the control, and when it started going into the artistic control, then it really bothered me more. So I really wasn’t into it anymore. And I was glad I did it, because it was 2018, and it was the last tour. And then corona happened anyway, so I got to record a lot of different albums. I played on Mick Mars‘s [MÖTLEY CRÜE] solo album. I did so many different things. And I was writing music for television and radio anyway, so I had two years of working [on] other stuff that I wasn’t used to. And then, on the other hand, sitting at home for two years, when Udo called [and asked me to join U.D.O. and DIRKSCHNEIDER], that’s why I took about five minutes to answer.”

Peter‘s latest comments are similar to those he made in March 2023 in an interview with Scott Itter of Dr. Music. At the time, he said about his exit from ACCEPT: “The statement that came from the band literally five minutes after I announced that I’m leaving [back in November 2018], that I wanna spend more time with my family, well, that wasn’t true. No, no. I was extremely unhappy. And I found out a few things. I’d been in the band forever, and I found out in the end, in this incarnation of ACCEPT, I wasn’t even really a member; I was a hired gun. And it’s these things that come out where you don’t have any input, insight, and you start getting bitter. And there’s no reason to, but somebody else’s ego is just so big or whatever — two of ’em — that it just takes them there, and they just need to control everything and have everything and you name it. That’s what got Udo out back then, and I think in the end it hit everybody. So I was the last one standing, but I couldn’t stand it anymore. I needed happiness in my life, and there was no happiness there. It was just a dead horse. So I left after the tour. And in my case, it was the best I ever could have done.”

Baltes also talked about what it was like to play bass for U.D.O., on the group’s fall 2022 European tour after U.D.O.‘s then-bassist Tilen Hudrap was hospitalized after the band’s show in Munich, Germany.

“In retrospect, when I stepped on stage in Berlin [in September 2022] with Udo after so many years — the last time was 2005, I think — it was a moment that I can’t even describe it,” Peter said. “We went on stage first, and then Udo comes, and he starts singing. And the first note brought me back instantly to our days when we played little clubs. The man is such a legend, and his voice… And it’s nothing to do with you’re short, you’re tall, you’re fat, you’re skinny, none of that — you’re in shape or you’re not — none of that matters to me, to him and the audience. [What is important is] when something is authentic. And that’s what got me at that moment. I was, like, ‘Man, this is the real deal.’ I wasn’t used to that; I wasn’t. I totally forgot. And you can into this where you think, ‘We’ve been doing this all our life.’ No, we didn’t. We played kind of like it, with people that kind of sound like it. But no. He’s the real deal, and the power that comes out of his voice is second to none. Sheer power, meaning volume, power. Bruce Dickinson [IRON MAIDEN] has power. When he sings, you can see it — he has power. Some singers, they have power. And Ronnie [James Dio] had power. Udo has power. That’s certain power that just captivates you in your ears, in your stomach, and you go with it.”

Baltes was replaced in ACCEPT by Martin Motnik.

Three years ago, Hoffmann was asked by SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” if he had had a chance to talk to Peter since his departure from ACCEPT and if he had gotten clarification on why Baltes left the group. Wolf said: “No, man. That’s kind of the sad part about it. He kind of made that decision alone, and we never really had a sitdown and a man-to-man talk that I was hoping we’d have. He just announced it to the world, and that was it, and at that point, it was almost too late. I have to respect his decision.

“I miss him very much, and I think he’s always gonna be my buddy or whatever,” Wolf continued. “But right now, we don’t really have much in common. Because when somebody leaves the band, it’s usually that we never really see them much again, as sad as it is. I wish we would, and maybe one day we will. But right now, we don’t, really. But we didn’t have any fights or anything. I can only speculate why he left the band, but I’d rather not.”

Hoffmann was also asked if he was surprised to see Baltes working with Udo on some new music in 2020. He responded: “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t say much about that. Again, I can only speculate what that was all about. At the end of the day, we do our thing, and everybody has to know for themselves what they wanna do. Yeah, let me not say as much about that as I can, please.”

In January 2021, Hoffmann told Australia’s Metal Mal that he was “a little bit heartbroken” when Baltes left ACCEPT. “I felt it was not only a sad day for ACCEPT, it was also a sad day for rock and roll, or heavy metal, in general, because I thought we were gonna be doing this until the sun goes down — I don’t know; until forever,” he said. “But he all of a sudden decided otherwise, and he made that decision, and that was it. And that’s sad, but what can you do, man? I decided, along with everybody else, the show must go on, and we continue without him. So this is what we did. And here’s the new album — without Peter. But it’s still sad. I still miss him sometimes. It’s just the way it is.”

In November 2019, Hoffmann told that he no longer kept in touch with Baltes after the bassist exited the group a year earlier. “Unfortunately, when somebody leaves the band, they’re always kind of out of sight, out of mind,” Wolf explained. “It’s very sad. I wish it wasn’t that way, because we’ve been friends for so long. But the reality is I haven’t really heard from him — even though I reached out a couple of times. He’s almost like he wants to disappear or he wants to leave the music business altogether. It’s sad and I still don’t quite understand what really happened. But it is what it is, and we move on.”

A new U.D.O. album, “Touchdown”, featuring Baltes on bass, was released in August 2023 via Atomic Fire Records.

Photo credit: Martin Hausler / Atomic Fire Records

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