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U.D.O Bassist Talks Steelhammer

"Us Who Are Old, We Have This Sound In Our Blood And We Cannot Change It And We Don’t Want To Change It"

Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 11:47:25

By Martin Popoff

German power metal machinists U.D.O. returned recently with a shiny new studio album called Steelhammer. BraveWords usually talks to Herr Dirkschneider on such matters, but this time, we sat down with bassist, co-writer and long-time U.D.O. member Fitty Wienhold for a few quick impressions.

“First of all, it’s different songwriters, different producer,” begins Fitty, who hails from ‘80s German legends BULLET (check ‘em out!). “So it is all me and Udo, and yeah, in the past it was Stefan (Kaufmann - guitars) and Udo who wrote all the songs, or most of the songs, and I write different. For me, the album is more human—it lives. I really must say that the first time in all my 18 years, I’m listening to an album from ourselves, from the first to the last song, because we’ve got a really huge variety, as well as really going back to the roots of the first three U.D.O. albums with some heavier stuff inside. We did most of the recording in my studio, where we were living, and then we just recorded the drums in a studio in Italy. Of course you always say your last album is the best album, but really, I really like the way this one came out.”

“We are in the songwriting 50-50,” confirms Fitty, asked about the working modus operandi. “Most of the time, because Udo doesn’t play guitar, I come up with an idea for a riff, and he says, ‘Do like this, do like this, do like this,’ and then he already has something in mind, and we look for a hook line, together with the lyrics. Lyrically, we get our rough ideas and just write them down in a way like we are talking now, very, very roughly, and then we have somebody from England who is working with us put it in the right words, and so they fix it up. We’re always looking for—in the past, not so much—but now we really are convinced we need to get critical lyrics that say something, because the world has changed so much.”

“I don’t know if you know, we have a Spanish song on this album,” continues Fitty, “because the crisis in Europe is really big. And it’s not only the money, it’s the whole thing together. The people are really messed up, particularly in Spain. So we have a song called ‘Basta Ya’, and ‘Basta Ya’, the meaning in Spain, or in Spanish-spoken countries, is really huge, because I don’t know if you remember, in the ‘80s in Spain they had the problem with the terrorist group called ETA, and millions of people went on the street with just this sign, ‘Basta Ya’, and the meaning is ‘Finished, stop, we’ve had enough.’ And now after this crisis, they did it again, going in the street, millions of people, and so we made lyrics for that in Spanish.”

World-beating band that they are, U.D.O.’s main geo-political affinity however has always been with Russia...

“Yes, Russia for us, we don’t know why, but we are quite famous there—the Russian people say that we have a Russian soul, for whatever reason. We made two songs in Russian, and they are quite popular there. In the earliest days, on the first tour, it was really an adventure. The venues... the soldiers came with trucks and they just pulled out cartons, pulled out brand-new equipment. It was all new! It was all new. And the venues are huge. We’re playing there between two and 10,000 hall, and so for us it is still an adventure, because in the last years, we always traveled by train, so we really could see the whole country. It is all different from what we were told in school from our parents. People are really nice and really open, and you have also the poor and rich like everywhere. But it’s really, really, really nice. There are so many stories. It’s just amazing.”

“I think we tried to keep the old metal style,” summarizes Fitty, back to Steelhammer. “Particularly us who are old, we have this sound in our blood, and we cannot change it, and we don’t want to change it. So I know you will find 50,000 names for this sound, but we always say okay, we are making heavy metal, and we like it like it is and it should be as honest as possible. So with the new album, we really went a little bit back to the roots, made it a bit more rough. There was a time, over the last ten years, everybody really went in for all this perfect production and triggers and computers, and so it lost a little bit of spirit and little bit of soul—and this album for me sounds a little bit more human, let’s put it this way.”