Dirkschneider & The Old Gang (short form: DATOG) consists of (Accept / U.D.O. / Dirkschneider) frontman Udo Dirkschneider and his long-time artistic companions Peter Baltes (bass: ex Accept), Stefan Kaufmann (guitar: ex Accept / U.D.O.) and Mathias Dieth (guitar: Sinner / U.D.O.) as well as Udo's son Sven Dirkschneider (drums: U.D.O./ Dirkschneider) and singer Manuela Bibert. A top-class all-star line-up, the likes of which has not been seen too often in German metal history. The best thing about Dirkschneider & The Old Gang is that the new project is musically in the tradition of its legendary predecessors but presents brand new songs. The video clip of the first number “Where The Angels Fly” can be found on YouTube since September 2020, the second “Face Of A Stranger” has been online since 29 April 2021, with “Every Heart Is Burning” following on 28 May 2021. On 27 August 2021, a single with all three songs will hit the shops as a CD, a 12" vinyl and as a download.
DATOG came into being in a, as producer and band member Stefan Kaufmann puts it:- "flowing process" He says: "In the run-up to the production of the album “We Are One” by “U.D.O. & Das Musikkorps der Bundeswehr”, Peter Baltes and I worked together for the first time in many years and contributed some tracks to the album. In January 2019, when “Das Musikkorps der Bundeswehr” were doing the final recordings for “We Are One” in Siegburg, Peter happened to be in Germany working with me on other, unrelated projects. On one occasion we also went to Siegburg for a day to attend the recordings of the orchestra. Udo was also there, and so photos were taken with we three former Accept members, which of course immediately got the rumour mill bubbling. However, at that time there was no talk of a further collaboration between the three of us. The meeting in Siegburg was only the beginning of a phase in which our sporadic contact was intensified again, as it was with Mathias Dieth a little later”.
During the production, Christoph Scheibling, the leader of the music corps, expressed the idea of including Manuela Bibert, who was born in Kazakhstan and grew up in Germany, as a solo singer for the tracks “Blindfold” and “Beyond Good And Evil”, as well as for a duet with Udo on “Neon Diamond” during the “We Are One” recordings. Without further ado, Manuela was invited to audition at Stefan Kaufmann's “ROXX Studio” in Solingen, where she completely wowed everyone present. Stefan Kaufmann: "The exceptionality of her voice and her very own way of performing convinced us completely." So it was clear that Manuela would also be a part of the permanent DATOG line-up and would actively participate in the following studio sessions. Peter Baltes: "Usually there are more songs for an album than are recorded and released. This usually has nothing to do with inferior quality, but much more with the quantity of the song selection. From such a pool comes the title “Where The Angels Fly”, which could no longer be considered for “We Are One” due to time constraints and was thus withheld with a heavy heart. Since everyone involved thought the number was too strong to let it gather dust in a drawer, the idea came up to release it separately. Udo expressed the wish to sing a duet with me again after many years, and since Manuela had already sung the third verse, the idea of what Stefan calls a "diversified main vocal" was born." With this idea, DATOG was more or less born too.
In May 2020, “Das Musikkorps der Bundeswehr” first released its version of “Where The Angels Fly” via YouTube, then Dirkschneider, Baltes and Kaufmann rearranged the song and turned it into a thoroughbred rock number. Kaufmann: "We recorded more guitars, changed the orchestral and choral arrangements slightly, and remixed everything." The result, in September 2020, you could suddenly find a low-budget video clip of the new version on YouTube. The prompt reaction of the fans was overwhelming: without any advertising or marketing, the clip has been clicked 2.3 million (!) times to date.
However, there was still a small problem, albeit one that could be solved. Since it was clear that DATOG did not want to do without virtuoso guitar solos on the other new songs, (Stefan Kaufmann stubbornly refused to do more than just the rhythm parts), a solo guitarist had to be found. Stefan Kaufmann: "The first choice for this position seemed not to be at all realistic for us, so we thought at the time!... After all, we knew from U.D.O. classics like “Faceless World” or “Timebomb” what a first-class musician our first choice Mathias Dieth was. but the question was, would he accept? As we all know, “good bait catches fine fish” and the best way to lure a convinced Swabian like him, is with a free dinner! So in December 2020, I invited Mathias to my home for a lavish dinner. At first we shilly-shallied around a bit, discussed this and that, it turned out to be a long evening. When the crucial topic finally came up, Mathias was totally relaxed. He just said, "Why didn't you just ask me? I would have said yes straight away."
In order to help the arts and culture sector, which has been hit particularly hard by the Corona lockdown, and to support artists experiencing economic hardship, the entire proceeds from the first DATOG single (songs: “Where The Angels Fly”, “Face Of A Stranger” and “Every Heart Is Burning”) will go to the band and crew members of U.D.O.. In this respect, the DATOG line-up with Udo Dirkschneider, Peter Baltes, Stefan Kaufmann, Mathias Dieth, Sven Dirkschneider and Manuela Bibert is not only a spectacular but also highly a charitable project. Udo Dirkschneider: "This is despite the fact, that until now all six members have never been in the same room together and some only know each other through FaceTime or similar digital communication channels. Still, we all agree that this project is a stroke of luck for everyone involved, we make music for the sheer fun of it, everyone can realise their part according to their own taste, and there are neither conventions nor guidelines or even the pressure to succeed. What more could a musician want?"