Destruction Interview with Schmier
A new Destruction album is upon us. 34 years in the business and the band just doesn’t want to slow down. In the last few years there has been a huge demand for Destruction shows around the world. That’s why the band took a little more time to write and record ‘Under Attack’. I had a chat with a very excited Schmier. The legendary frontman shared some details about the new album and gave me an overview of a busy year ahead.
Marc: Your new album ‘Under Attack’ will be released on May 13. What can you tell our readers about the new album?
Schmier: It’s our fourteenth studio album. If you count all the live and mini albums it’s almost 20 releases. That’s a lot of albums. That why this time we took some more time to make a really good one. It’s been four years since the last album. I think it was important to change the procedure a bit, take some time off from the songwriting and not overly rush the production. It was a good thing that we took a little bit more time to make a strong release. We also kept on playing live all the time. So we’ve been recording on and off in between the shows instead of writing and recording for two months straight. It kept the whole process fresh. I liked it this way. It was the first time we did it this way. Maybe it’s a good thing to do in the future as well. However, you need the right studio for that because you need to go in and out for short periods. That’s not so easy to find. We were lucky that we had a studio close to us in Switzerland that allowed us to record the album this way.
‘We tried to make an album that is tidy enough to hear all the details and still has a lot of power.’
Marc: This change of procedure from one long stint in the studio to several shorter ones, was that planned deliberately or was it a result of your touring commitments?
Schmier: Basically, we wanted to play all the festivals and still record the ideas for new material. Once we started this way we realised the earlier we start recording the songs the better it is for the songs because that allowed to us to move things and change stuff. As a musician you always look at a song differently once it is recorded. When you just play it in the rehearsal it’s a different thing but once it is on tape you always find little details you wanna change. So we found out that it is good to record really early and make a song out of the material you have and then just keep on working on the track. That means some of the first vocals I recorded on the demos for this album – first takes and stuff – they became the final product in the end. There are some really spontaneous ideas on the album that we kept from the demo phase right until the final production. Sometimes you change too much stuff around and then you re-record it again. Sometimes it’s just good to keep the spontaneous work. That’s what we did on this album.
Marc: How do you write song these days? Do you get to the studio with certain ideas already or do you create the songs while jamming?
Schmier: Our drummer lives in Poland. That’s a bit too far away. So I and Mike collect our ideas and then we meet. We then start recording the first bass and guitar stuff as demo tracks. Then we send it to our drummer. He gives us his opinion. Mainly it’s about the speed. Some songs have 230 beats per minute. That’s when it gets a little tricky for the drummer to follow with the bass drums. So we always talk about the speed of the songs first and then we take the guitars and the bass to the studio and record the first vocals also. Then the drummer puts on his drums. We always record guitars and bass first. We record to a click track and then we record the drums. This way we keep the ideas fresh. If we have no drums at the beginning it is also easier to change things around. That’s what we do when we don’t like one part and kick it out. So we deliver the final songs to the drummer and he puts his drums on. Also our drummer has a lot of crazy ideas. We give him the freedom. He is a great drummer and he needs to put in a decent amount of fills and good ideas.
‘There are some really spontaneous ideas on the album that we kept from the demo phase right until the final production.’
Marc: Would you agree when I say the album sounds like a classic Destruction album with a modern sound?
Schmier: Definitely. Regarding the sound we tried to make an album that is tidy enough to hear all the details and still has a lot of power. We kept the drums real. There are no samples and stuff like that. It was important to build the bridge between old school and new school. I think the biggest difference to the last album is that the harmonic resolutions are more like classic heavy metal, less diminished scales and stuff like that. That makes the album a bit catchier. And the riffs are hard. It’s a bit more like at the beginning of the band when we used these very classic, heavy metal harmonic resolutions.
Marc: On the release date – May 13 – you are going to kick off the touring cycle with a show at the famous RockHard Festival in Germany. That’s the way to do it I suppose.
Schmier: It’s a great festival. It’s in an amphitheater and organised by the most famous metal magazine on Germany, the RockHard. It’s also great because with Tankard and Sodom on the same days of the festival. So that’s three of the big 4 of German thrash metal on the same day. That’s gonna be great. We actually never played a festival on a day when an album came out. It’s gonna be very special.
Marc: Next thing for you is your tour through South America. You will go to quite some special places like Guatemala and Honduras. Normally bands don’t go to these countries. What did drive you to book shows there.
Schmier: It’s the excitement of being able to go there is what drives us. It’s very difficult to play there because they are so poor. Honduras is one of the poorest places. The problem is that they can’t charge more than a couple of dollars for the show. So it’s difficult to bring a band there and make any money. So we usually try to book some shows around there that will bring the money to go to these places. The show itself doesn’t bring us any money. Most bands don’t wanna take that risk. They also don’t want to be than adventurous. There are always some problems like technical problems that you have to find a solution for. But I think exactly that is the great thing about heavy metal that we are able to do this. Also the fact that we might be the first band in a country or a city is special. We were the first band in some places in Latin America. We played shows in cities that are not so common to play. Still 1000 to 2000 people came to these shows. It’s a nice, adventurous thing. Of course you gotta live with the fact that you are going to face problems when you go there. But it’s not about money. It’s rock’n’roll. It’s about discovering the world and seeing our fans everywhere. That’s the excitement about it.
‘I promise the Australian fans that they will see Destruction with that record back in Australia.’
Marc: Is there a chance that you will come to Australia?
Schmier: Yes, yes, yes. If we’re not going to make it with this fucking great album then we’re never fucking gonna make it again. We are actually talking with a promoter from Australia right now. It’s now about finding the right time frame. Hopefully this will happen towards the end of this year or beginning of 2017. I’m very positive this time as we had several talks already and have a strong album. It’s not so easy to come to Australia but we are also planning a little Asian leg of the tour. So maybe we can get to Asia first and from there to Australia. That’s always a lot easier with all the costs and so on. It’s looking good. I promise the Australian fans that they will see Destruction with that record back in Australia. The scene in Australia is very dedicated and people are always friendly. I like the country. I will definitely take some days off to see the country and hang out with some friends. We are looking forward to it. The routine in 34 years has been that you come to some countries a lot of times and Australia doesn’t happen that often for us so it’s always very exciting.
Marc: You haven’t booked anything in the US yet. Are there any plans for another tour there as well?
Schmier: The US is a big country. There is a lot of demand for heavy metal. On the other hand, it’s swallowing a lot of money to tour there. So it’s also not so easy to play there as you might think. We have been there frequently in the last few years. We’ve just been there with Sepultura again. We definitely will go back. It’s between the US, Asia and Australia what we’re gonna confirm next. Maybe we play the US in November or Australia. It’s about who’s going to present the offer first. That should be decided in the next two or three weeks.
Marc: In 2014 you released an album with The German Panzer. Are there any plans for more shows or a new album? Is the band still alive.
Schmier: Playing shows is a bit difficult because I’m playing with Destruction in the coming months. It’s gonna be a very busy year for me. The band is still alive. We just talked with Nuclear Blast. The record sold well and Nuclear Blast extended the contract which means we can do another album if we want. And of course we want to record a new album when we have time to write. I guess somehow next year I’m going to do the first demos for the next Panzer album. It might be even possible to release it next year. But now I’m going to focus on the new Destruction record. It’s gonna be a very busy one-and-a-half year touring schedule. I think the Panzer album was very good for me personally regarding songwriting and the overall experience to help me make a strong Destruction album. Sometimes you have to do something else to come back to your real baby and bring in all this positive new experience. Panzer definitely helped me to make a good Destruction album.