BW&BK Interview: U.D.O. – Nailed It!

By Carl Begai

udo2Udo Dirkschneider will tell you – and a host of press people and fans will agree – that his U.D.O. metal machine has been on cruise control for the past few years. Not that anyone was expecting the 62 year-old vocalist to abandon the sound he created with Accept a lifetime ago and kept alive with U.D.O. while Wolf Hoffmann and Co. explored their options before getting back into the game with a new singer, yet there was something painfully tired and all too predictable about U.D.O.’s last couple albums. As a result all but the diehard fans kept expectations low leading up to the new slab, Steelhammer, only to discover a vibrant in-your-face yesteryear U.D.O. pounding at the door. Gone are guitarist Igor Gianola and guitarist/producer Stefan Kaufmann, and along with the latter the compressed punch-card production and nigh-on-industrial tweakings have also disappeared. In exchange, Dirkschneider and his new bandmates have turned out an album worthy of the classic U.D.O debut Animal House (‘87) and over-the-top Timebomb record(‘91), proving there band has plenty of ammo left.

“I wasn’t really happy about the sound of the last two U.D.O. albums,” says Dirkschneider, singling out Dominator (2009) and Rev-Raptor (2011) as the guilty culprits in the band’s catalogue. “They were very cold. There are some great songs on those albums but there’s no feeling in there, no atmosphere. I think it was good that things happened the way they did. Steelhammer is a new start for U.D.O.”

Kaufmann’s departure was a surprise to folks outside the band, given that he and Dirkschneider came up together with Accept and have worked together pretty much non-stop since 1980. The decision to part ways was health-related, however, and not a typical music industry “creative differences” divorce.

“When we did the recordings for the Rev-Raptor album we had to stop for three months because he couldn’t move anymore,” Dirkschneider explains. “Then, on the tour he had to take painkillers, so he wasn’t in a good mood and the whole atmosphere in the band was bad. I’ve known Stefan for nearly 40 years or something, and after the last show in Kiev I told him we needed to talk about this, and I said that I thought it would be best if he stopped touring. Continue reading BW&BK Interview: U.D.O. – Nailed It!

HYDROGYN – So Far, So Good… What’s Next! (Part 2)

Hydrogyn-CollageBy Carl Begai

The last place anyone expected two former members of Megadeth to resurface is with a band hailing from Ashland, Kentucky. Sounds like the set-up for a redneck joke, but in actual fact it’s a very serious buzz now that guitarist Jeff Young – from Megadeth’s 1988 record So Far, So, Good… So What! – and recently departed bassist James Lomenzo have officially joined Hydrogyn. An extensive overview covering the how and why of Young and Lomenzo coming aboard can be found on the BW&BK site here. Below is an inside look at Young’s relationship with guitarist Jeff Westlake and vocalist Julie Westlake, which amounts to a trial-by-fire gone right.

Westlake: “After Deadly Passions we had problems with our label, Demolition, and it left such a bad taste in our mouth that Julie and I were about ready to completely shelve Hydrogyn. We were thinking about doing some solo projects and see where that would take us, but then Jeff entered the picture. I feel like I’ve known the guy my entire life. We get along great. He brought in some songs, I brought in some stuff, we’re teaching each other the parts that we have to learn, we’re writing stuff together, and that’s really brought Hydrogyn back.”

Young, who has more or less steered clear of the metal world since leaving Megadeth in favour of a career working in world music and classical guitar, reveals his return to the realms of distortion was all a matter of finding the right people to work with.
Continue reading HYDROGYN – So Far, So Good… What’s Next! (Part 2)