’I thought Heavy Metal Will Never Come Back’: Accept Guitarist Speaks Up on How Grunge Affected Metal Bands in the ’90s

Reflecting on the 1990s and the hardships that the classic 1980s metal bands were facing after the rise of grunge, Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffman recently said that he felt like metal was “dead” back in the day. Sure, things sorted themselves out in a way, but at the time, Hoffman wasn’t so optimistic.

Talking to Headbangers Latinoamerica recently, Hoffman looked back on this time, which was also marked by the band’s breakup after one album with David Reece on vocals, and offered (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“It was a sucky time. The ’90s were really terrible. To make it short — I’ve talked about this so many times that I don’t even like thinking about it much, because it was just one of many, many things that happened along the career — but, basically, to sum it up, we made a record with David Reece, and we never had the good chemistry, and the times were hard, and it was the wrong album at the wrong time.”

“And then the band basically just broke up after. It’s as simple as that. It just wasn’t meant to be. It was one of those things that you try — everybody had great intentions; we had some good ideas; but it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Going further into it, Hoffman expressed the importance of timing for such an album. If it had gotten out years later, it would be more successful. He continued:

“You know, there’s always timing — right time in the right place. And just the opposite happened in 2009, when we met Mark Tornillo as a new singer [for Accept], and we met [producer] Andy Sneap, and everything basically fell in place. It was almost like the stars aligned properly. And with David Reece, nothing aligned; it was just not meant to be.”

Accept - Generation Clash

And, of course, there’s also the issue of the constantly evolving music scene. Whether you like them or not, it’s difficult to deny that the 1980s bands kind of got too comfortable and didn’t expect that the genre will take a completely unexpected turn which resulted in what was later named as “grunge.” Hoffman continued:

“Nobody knew where the music would turn and nobody knew where the music direction, what people wanted to hear. I know we didn’t feel comfortable with grunge and alternative; that wasn’t really our thing.”

“We tried to adjust a little bit to the times. And, basically, all these metal bands that I’m familiar with, they all struggled. Nobody quite knew what kind of songs to release. We all didn’t think heavy metal was ever gonna come back or would survive.”

Accept - X.T.C - Official Remaster 2002

And, as it seems, Hoffman was far from optimistic about the genre’s future. In fact, he thought that they’re all doomed. As he explained:

“Personally, I thought ‘heavy metal is dead.’ In the ’90s, I thought, ‘Okay, it’s over.’ I thought we had a nice time in the ’80s and it was great, but I thought ‘heavy metal will never come back.’ But to my big surprise, it’s back stronger than ever, and it’s still here… And the opposite happened — grunge has disappeared, basically. It’s strange, isn’t it?”

Of course, Accept weren’t in the minority back then. Plenty of 1980s bands would still complain to this day. And those who happened to barge into the lineup to replace some of the classic or original members had a particularly bad time. One such case was John Corabi who replaced Vince Neil in Mötley Crüe back in the 1990s.

Mötley Crüe-Hooligan's Holiday

In a last year’s interview with Ultimate Guitar, Corabi looked back on the decade that changed everything in rock music. Asked how badly did grunge affect his band The Scream, which he was a member of before joining Mötley Crüe, the singer mentioned grunge as one of the factors but couldn’t put all the blame to it. He replied:

“Well, it was a tough time for rock music because trends were shifting and such. I don’t know; I guess the label did what it could. We were on MTV, and we had a lot of radio support.”

“Honestly, I could sit here all day long and try and say grunge fucked us, or the label didn’t support us, but the thing that stopped us in our tracks was me getting the phone call from Mötley. Who knows? Maybe if The Scream stayed together, we would have gone on to sell a million records. I have no idea.”

The Scream - Man in the Moon

“Because, at that point, I think ‘Let It Scream’ had sold a couple hundred thousand records. And you gotta remember that we didn’t get to tour much either. We did a tour with Bullet Boys, and another tun with Dangerous Toys, and that was it.”

“We were supposed to go back to Europe and do an entire European tour, and then we were gonna go to Australia, Japan, and all these places, but then I got the phone call. So, would we have sold more? I don’t know. I know we were making some noise, but Mötley called, and everything just stopped.”

But on the other hand, some of the glam metal legends had a completely different take on the situation. For instance, Poison frontman Bret Michaels said last year that he blames “nobody” for glam metal’s demise, explaining:

“There was definitely a change in the music business but I only blame myself. There was a lot of partying.”

Bret Michaels - A Beautiful Soul (Official Music Video)

“Grunge was great. We used Nirvana’s director, Sam Bayer, on the video to ‘Stand.’ Alice in Chains’ first arena show was opening for Poison. I was like, ‘I didn’t know I was in a fight with Alice in Chains. They were just at my house riding go-karts,’ you know what I mean?”

“All you can do is just be who you are and stick to your guns. And it all came back bigger and better than ever.”

“I don’t have a victim mentality. I take responsibility for things that happen. You own it and you just keep rocking. That’s what happened. Within a couple years, everything comes right back around.”

Photo: Accept-Finland (Accept kolme kitaristia)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.