Interview with Schmier of Destruction

Interview with Schmier of Destruction

- in Written interviews

With the worldwide coronavirus scuppering the touring plans of every band on the planet, there has been a void of live music. For German Thrash Metal Kings Destruction, who had their own tour planned this summer, this situation gave them an opportunity to release a live album to satisfy those thrash metal fans desperate to feel the power of Destruction in a live setting. The resulting album, entitled Born To Thrash: Live In Germany will stop the craving until the band hits the road again. We caught up with Destruction vocalist/bassist Schmier to talk about the live album, upcoming touring plans that have to have been changed, how the band’s new lineup is working out and the status of the new Destruction album.

Your new live album Born To Thrash: Live In Germany is out now, what made you want to bring out a live album now?
Basically, it’s 100% a coronavirus product, without this crisis, there would not be a live album. We didn’t plan to do one as we have a new album that hasn’t been out that long and we had a tour but, of course, all the tours were cancelled. We ave a new lineup but we can’t tour do we said, what are we going to do now, but luckily, last summer we recorded a festival show at Party San and with this, it was time to do something with it. I said to the guys, we have this amazing show, it’s not the longest one but it’s a great show so why don’t we release this as a live album. These are times when people have to stay at home and can’t go out, the band is making no money and it’s frustrating at home. It was a great decision because in the last five or six weeks, instead of being frustrated, I was mixing the live record and doing the cover. Were also working on some video clips that are coming out so we’ve been very busy with this album, which is good for me. You lose all the shows and it’s just negativity all around you but now we have something positive happening. The album has two new live songs and the rest of the album is like a best of and it’s been really well reviewed so I’m really glad about that.

What made you choose the Party San Metal open-air gig to record for the live album?
That was more or less like an accident because we didn’t really want to record the show but the festival had recording equipment there and it was a friend of ours, he used to be our front of house engineer, he was there recording the other bands and he recorded our show, without permission actually. After the show, he told us he had recorded it and he came to us after the gig and said he had recorded our gig and we were like “what the fuck!” but he asked if we wanted it so we said actually, sure. It was a great night but we didn’t know that we were going to use it so quickly, we thought one day, we’ll use it as an album or as bonus tracks but then corona came and we said, let’s do the live album, we have it just lying around so it’s like a little gift leftover from last summer.

How did it make you feel, looking back and listening to the album, especially as no one can play live at the minute?
We are a band who always plays so it sucks that we can’t play live at the moment. This is the first time in many years that we’ve had a break and not played live so it’s kind of a weird feeling. It was a fantastic festival and we can record an album or have a great movement in the rehearsal room or the studio but nothing beats a live show because there is that connection with the fans and the energy.

How did the set go from the band’s perspective and how was the crowd’s reaction?
The set was a best of Destruction, so we have played that many times. We were quite certain that it would kick ass but we also had the two brand new songs in the setlist and there is always a chance with the new songs that you can fuck up basically! With new songs, no matter how much you rehearse them, once you’re onstage it’s a different situation, you can hesitate for one moment and then just forget something. I’m glad we managed the new songs very well and we played good versions of them I think. To look back at the show, I have great memories. It was a great day, great weather and ten thousand people there. It was a perfect time in the open air. When we play in Germany, it is always special to come home. We played some other shows before that, we played in the Czech Republic which was also a great event and then we came to Germany for Party San.

Was it important for Destruction to have the live album recorded in Germany?
It could have been Live In The Czech Republic, you know. We didn’t plan to record any live shows especially because in the summer festival gigs, it was the first time we had played those new songs so we never planned to retire because the risk was too high to fuck it up! It was really a big chain reaction of funny accidents that led to this live album.

How difficult was it to choose the setlist for the gig that sums up almost forty years of Destruction? Obviously, you had the two new songs too.
You know, it’s funny. I think the set lasted for one hour and it’s super difficult for a band with such a history but of course, you play a lot and we k ow what the set is like. We basically have to play the essential songs, the real thrash anthems that we have. There are a certain amount of songs you have to play. If you don’t play those songs, people will go home disappointed and they will write a nasty comment about it on social media, the next day you can be sure of that! We know what the fans like but it’s to have time to add a few surprises for songs that we haven’t played for a while. This setlist is basically the setlist we played on all the festivals last summer.

What are your favourite Destruction songs to play live?
I think, maybe, the top song for me, even after thirty years, actually thirty four years is Curse The Gods, the opening song of the album Eternal Devastation. That is one of my favourite songs. The vocals, the chorus, the ups and downs, the rollercoaster the song had, it’s speed. It’s just one of those classic Destruction songs that never gets old. It’s always fun to play live.

You have launched an interactive map with the release where fans put their names and mark the location of their first Destruction concert. How did this come about and how did the process go?
I don’t know, it’s the first time we’ve done this and it was definitely interesting to see how many people are going to contribute to this, is it going to be fifty, five hundred, five thousand? We had a time constraint because we had to go quickly to get the physical release out from the factory so we only had a week to plan the whole thing and make this interactive map and the interface in our website and to announce it online so the fans could put their names on the map. It was definitely relay well received. We have had almost two thousand people putting their names and dates of their first Destruction show. We though initially of doing one thousand people on the poster but we quickly had one thousand six hundred on there and the webmaster called ma up and said dude, it’s getting too many people but we got them all on there! We fitted them in, but it’s a lot of fucking names!

Would you like to do something similar in the future?
It seemed to be a well received idea, the interactive interaction with the fans is more and more these days. We always work on stuff with the label so if we can come up with new and fresh ideas then yeah, we also had the opportunity to do something like this that we had never done before. I don’t think any other band have done anything like this before. We have released the album in a digital way before, almost three months before the album comes out in a physical format. This is, of course, a high risk for us and the label that nobody will buy the CD or LP anymore because everybody is streaming the songs already but on the other side, with this album, it was the only way to do it because now people are sitting at home and they are wanting live music and we wanted to deliver this album as soon as possible.

Despite this worldwide pandemic at the moment, have Destruction had any ideas about a follow up to Born To Perish?
Yeah, we said we were going to start writing this summer anyway, before that it doesn’t make sense. We have been busy the last few weeks. In a few weeks the festivals would have been starting so to avoid frustration and to keep from losing perspective, we said that we are going to start writing new material. It been very quick, I mean Born To Perish hasn’t been out that long so to start writing already feels quite wrong compared to what we are used to. On the other side though, with no live shows, I’ll be totally inspired to write new music I think. We don’t know yet how it is going to go, only time will tell what future concerts will go on. I don’t know if we will manage to write a whole album this summer but hopefully we will get a lot done and hopefully we will be busy for the rest of the year or next year so I don’t see us bringing out an album that quick but who knows at the moment. Who knows if there’s even going to be any concerts next year. Never say never though and I think you’ve got to go with the flow and see what happens. If we have concerts next year, I can’t see us bringing out an album yet. I think everybody is going to bring out an album next years, it’s the coronavirus music year next year I think! All the band sitting at home this year will release an album next year. It’s going to be crazy!

Have you got any tentative rescheduled tour dates as yet?
We have basically rescheduled the tour we cancelled for April and May that we are supposed to be on now, it was the second leg of the European tour and that is now in November and December we hope. Before that, we still have some shows in October that haven’t been cancelled. Everything else has been cancelled, North America, South America, Latin America, Australia, Asia, all got cancelled this year but we have been having new offers for September too so it looks like then for some if the shows now. Some indoor festivals too may also happen in September. Hopefully we will have more shows starting in September. With the summer festivals, everything we were supposed to play this summer has basically been postponed until next year.

How is the new lineup of the band working out?
For me, it’s a great thing, with the new guitar player. We love to be a trio because it’s so classic and everyone has a lot of responsibility when there are just three people but with a second guitar, there are much more possibilities, more power and more reaction onstage. The possibility for guitar harmonies working together and the solos is so much more fun. I love it. We should have done this earlier but we couldn’t find the right guy and Damir is the perfect addition to the band, he’s a great rhythm payer, very tight and a fantastic solo guitarist, also he’s a funny bloke, always positive and in a good mood. A guy you need in the band because he’s never in a bad mood and that’s perfect.

What have been some of the most memorable moments in your career with Destruction?
There’s a lot if them, it’s very difficult to say which one I’d the best. I think when you start and you first meet your rock star heroes are very important. I recall the first time I met Lemmy from Motörhead, he was one of my super idols and we did many tours with Motörhead in the 80s as we had the same management for a while. The first time we met Lemmy in Copenhagen, Denmark was very special. I also think the first time you play a big festival too, it’s like going bungee jumping or jumping out of a plane. The adrenaline is just beyond belief, it’s a big kick and those moments you don’t ever forget. I’ll never forget when you go to exotic places too, we were one of the first bands to go and play in Indonesia and Malaysia, Turkey too. We have played a lot of crazy places in the world, a rainforest in Brazil. Those moments are special ones as you may be the first metal band to go there, we were the first metal band to play in Harbin in China, close to Mongolia. Everybody in the fucking club had their cellphones out so there were hundreds if cellphones in the air so for the first song, I couldn’t even see the crowd because there was just light! Moments like that are magical that you don’t forget.

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