BALLS TO THE WALL

Gui­tarist Wolf Hoff­mann delves into one of the 80s’ most iconic metal an­thems

Metal Hammer (UK) - - The Story Behind The Song - WORDS: DOM LAW­SON • ILLUSTRATION: MATT DIXON

IT ONLY TOOK FIVE MIN­UTES TO WRITE

“When we write songs, 99.9% of the time we start with the music. But in this case at least, we just had that phrase, ‘balls to the wall’. It was noted by my wife, and our man­ager back then, Gaby, who wrote the lyrics and was re­spon­si­ble for al­bum cov­ers and songti­tles. ‘Balls to the wall’ sounded cool, so we de­cided we needed to write a song with that ti­tle. I was sit­ting at home and sud­denly I came up with the riff and the cho­rus. That was it. It took five min­utes. I wrote it at home, put it on a tape and brought it to the guys at the re­hearsal room and it took maybe an­other 15 min­utes to com­pletely work it out.”

WE WERE WOR­RIED THAT WE’D STOLEN IT

“When I wrote that first riff,

I thought, ‘Does this al­ready ex­ist?’ It sounded so com­plete and right. It wasn’t some­thing I sweated over for days and days, like I of­ten do th­ese days. I thought I must’ve for­got­ten that the riff al­ready ex­isted and I’d just stolen a song from some­body else! Thank­fully, it didn’t ex­ist, so it was a song that wrote it­self. I sup­pose you could say that’s quite mag­i­cal. It cer­tainly doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten.”

IT HAS BE­COME OUR AN­THEM OF RE­BEL­LION

“It was all down to Gaby’s lyrics. She chose to make it an an­them against op­pres­sion. It’s re­ally a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage, that one day the tor­tured will rise up against their op­pres­sors. She’s al­ways been a very po­lit­i­cally aware per­son. Back then the band couldn’t write lyrics. We were just dumb kids from Ger­many, what did we know about pol­i­tics? But Gaby wrote the lyrics with that po­lit­i­cal spirit and peo­ple re­ally con­nected with it.”

THE VIDEO NEARLY CAUSED AN AIR DISAS­TER

“It was shot in Lon­don at an old aban­doned fac­tory near Heathrow. The di­rec­tor had a bril­liant idea to use a wreck­ing ball and de­stroy a build­ing. But there was a prob­lem. We were so close to the air­port and we had this huge light­ing rig and gen­er­a­tors… we got com­plaints from the air­port con­trol tower be­cause it was so dis­tract­ing! It was wickedly cold and we had to go out in the wind and rain to play. You can see it in the video, we were freez­ing our asses off! But you do what you have to do.”

BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD THOUGHT IT SUCKED

“At the time I just thought it was a pretty good song, but the more we played it, we slowly but surely re­alised it was the win­ning song of the whole lot. It caused a lot of at­ten­tion. We got a new record deal af­ter that and we even ap­peared on Beavis And Butthead. They didn’t like the video and they took the piss out of us, but that was fine with us.

It was an hon­our! Be­ing on MTV was a big deal in those days.”

WE NEVER DROP IT FROM THE SETLIST

“We’ve played it at ev­ery sin­gle Ac­cept show since we wrote it. It’s al­ways there, and it’s al­ways the last song. Nu­mer­ous times I’ve been blown away by the re­sponse. It’s been with us for so long and it’s lasted for more than a gen­er­a­tion. Peo­ple still love it. It’s one of those songs, it’s just so sim­ple and easy to play. It’s no chal­lenge, so when we re­hearse we usu­ally skip it, ha ha ha! We don’t need to re­hearse it, we know it! But it’s one of the best songs to play live. You for­get about ev­ery­thing, the au­di­ence kicks in and it’s amaz­ing. The au­di­ence al­ways goes nuts, and that’s why it’s still so much fun to play.” NEW AC­CEPT AL­BUM THE RISE

OF CHAOS IS OUT NOW VIA NU­CLEAR BLAST

“BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD TOOK THE PISS OUT OF US!”

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