American singer David Reece, who fronted ACCEPT in the late '80s, says that he would have "gladly" rejoined the band had he been asked.
The current BONFIRE vocalist was recruited for ACCEPT's "Eat The Heat" LP in 1989 following the departure of Udo Dirkschneider. Reece's higher-pitched delivery was in sharp contrast to Dirkschneider's distinctive style, and overall, the album was a critical and commercial disappointment,
Midway through the "Eat The Heat" tour, differences between the band and Reece had come to a head, leading to the altercation between the singer and bassist Peter Baltes in Chicago. By the end of 1989, ACCEPT had hung it up.
"That album was a blessing and a curse for me… being in that band," Reece told Canadian rock journalist Mitch Lafon for a recent edition of the "One On One With Mitch Lafon" podcast (Facebook page). "'Cause, obviously, you know, the stigma of Udo, and I'm an American guy with a bunch of Germans, and they were terrified about the change. They were following the corporate rule: 'We need an American blond guy to cross over.' 'Cause 'Balls [To The Wall]' did, like, four hundred thousand [copies in the U.S.]; they never really cracked gold. So they thought by Americanizing the band, they would go platinum. But, basically, it was taken wrong by the fans. And the new fans really didn't know, because we were a new band to them."
While ACCEPT had done reunion shows with Dirkschneider in 2005, the singer did not feel that recording new material with the band would work. He was happy with his solo act U.D.O. and was reluctant to put the band on hold to make new music and tour with ACCEPT. Eventually, Baltes and guitarist Wolf Hoffmann found a new singer, Mark Tornillo, who had paid his dues in hard rock outfit TT QUICK and had performed cover versions of ACCEPT's classic songs.
ACCEPT has released three albums with Tornillo, including 2014's "Blind Rage". But Reece says that despite his difficult past with the group, he would have considered a return.
"It was funny, because ACCEPT were talking about getting a new singer before [they hooked up with] Tornillo and everything, and my name actually came up again, and I honestly would have done the band again," Reece told Lafon. "I would have gladly said, 'Let me jam with you guys. Let's see if it works.' Because we left a lot of unfinished business on that record; there's some great tracks on that album."
He continued: "Every show I do with BONFIRE, I see 'Eat The Heat' in everybody's arms at the autograph table. And they tell me what the album meant to them, how it took a few years to really grab a hold of 'em, but now they listen to it all day. I hear that all the time. I just did some shows in the Czech Republic, and people were carrying it around. There was vinyl editions of it in different countries. I mean, I see it everywhere."
Reece also talked about collaborating with legendary German producer Dieter Dierks on "Eat The Heat", an experience he says "was really good" for him.
"Working with him as a producer, I had no clue," Reece said. "I sang in nightclubs since I was 16 years old. And at the time I was 27, I think, when I got that gig, and I thought I had it all. I had no clue what it was like to make a record and really sing. 'Cause I had no identity as a singer. I mean, I'm trying to emulate [Ronnie James] Dio and [Rob] Halford and all these guys in clubs. I thought I had it all, but I knew nothing. I mean, he really taught me to be a singer. He put me back in vocal training. I'd already had a lot of teaching, but he [told me], 'You need more lessons. I want you to work on this.' So I went three months during that record to a teacher. We would start recording about 1 p.m. and end about 1 a.m. seven days a week. It made me vocally strong, where I could, basically, do gigs at noon — matinee shows — and do a festival that night, you know what I mean? He taught me discipline… many things. I mean, it was really good for me. I brought a lot of that into BANGALORE CHOIR and what I do to this day. I use a lot of that teaching."
Reece and his BONFIRE bandmates, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2016, will release a new double album, "Pearls", on March 18. The set will be available as single CDs and also as double CD/LP. The "Rock Pearls" CD features BONFIRE rockers that were not played so much in the past. The "Classic Pearls" CD features newly recorded BONFIRE classic ballads together with an orchestra.