Interview: Destruction Frontman Schmier Talks New Album and Influences
German thrash veterans Destruction celebrated their 30th anniversary last year with some special shows played around the world and the European release of their latest album, Spiritual Genocide, in November.
The album saw its North American release in February.
I recently caught up with the band’s vocalist/bassist Schmier to discuss the making of the album, reasons for the delay in its American release, his love for Saxon and Motörhead and more. Read the interview below and visit the band online at destruction.de.
GUITAR WORLD: Your new album, Spiritual Genocide, came out in North America in February, but it’s been out in Europe since November 2012. What's the reason for the gap?
If I was the label I would have released it at the same time, but it’s not up to us. I think the reason was, December is not a month for heavy metal releases in America so the label said there was no chance of releasing the album that month. So we pushed it to January. But then we have to wait until Nuclear Blast found a new distribution company in America. That’s why there’s been a three-month delay now in America as compared to Europe, which is kind of bad, but there’s nothing we can do. All we could do is provide some extra bonus tracks. We have four additional songs for America only.
I was going to ask you about the bonus tracks. It’s four re-recorded songs from the Metal Discharge album, right? Why did you pick songs from that particular album?
They’re not even re-recorded, but re-mixed versions, actually. Metal Discharge is a cool album, but it doesn’t have the best sound. We tried to make it like a "back to the roots"-sounding album, but it didn’t really work out that well. The drum sound is very bad on that record. So it was kind of a good thing for us to show the world that Metal Discharge has cool songs if they have the right sound, so that’s why we took some songs from that album. They were re-mixed and as you can tell, it worked out really fine if you compare them to the original ones. It sounds just so much better.
On this new album, I think your drummer, Vaaver, has done a great job. Do you think the album has a lot more of a groove to it because of his drumming style?
Oh yeah, he’s definitely a big part of this record. He’s able to play everything. He can play jazzy and crazy stuff. He’s very groovy and he’s also able to play really fast. So the album is a really good mix of all that. It’s a very fast record but it has more groove moments also. He was already doing a good job on the last album, Day Of Reckoning, but I think this is the first time he has shown what he’s able to do with Destruction. He’s been in the band for two years. I’m really looking for the future because we have an amazing vibe, he’s a fantastic drummer and the chemistry within the band is a lot better than ever.
What do you think of your guitarist Mike’s work on this album? Has he done anything different from previous albums?
Well, Mike is doing a lot of stuff at home now. He got a lot of recording equipment of his own, so he worked a lot at home on his guitar tracks and stuff. So he’s been really focusing on a lot of details for the record, and he’s been really working the hardest. He has spent several hours to create guitar tracks and come up with riffing ideas and stuff like that. We didn’t get so much time to finish everything, but we still sat down and worked it out in some tough shifts. It was great fun to do this album and Mike did a great job on the guitars. He has brought in new influences and ideas, and there’s a lot of really heavier doom songs also, which is important for Destruction.
Would you say the album is more atmospheric and darker than some of the recent albums?
Possibly. It’s kind of difficult for me to say, to criticize my own work. I think the new album is fast and groovy, but it also offers a variety. If you go on playing just thrash, of course you’re limiting yourself in your thrash costume. None of the songs on this new record have the same tempo. All of them have a different root and speed, so the variety on the album also makes it a little bit darker. It’s not a slow album, it’s just that there’s variety. Some of the albums we did in the mid-2000s were slow. This one has some ultra-fast parts too.
Was it your aim to do an album with more variety, something more than just thrash, or did it just come out naturally when you started writing?
When you start writing, of course you are aware of the style and aware of where you want to take it. As a musician you always want to create something new, you know. Otherwise you’ll be criticized for repeating yourself. With this new album, we are not just copying our own work from the past or from other thrash bands. There are a lot of new ideas, and I’m proud that we’re still able to come up with that even after all these years. It’s easy to write a brutal album, but it’s very difficult to write a brutal album that has variety and style on its songs.
For the North American release I think there’s also a cover of Saxon’s "Princess Of The Night"?
Yes, the Saxon song is one of the bonus tracks. It’s a European bonus track and it’s also on the American version. Saxon is, of course, one of the first bands we listened to when we were kids. "Princess Of The Night" was on Denim & Leather, and we saw Saxon in Europe on their tour for that album. This was before we formed Destruction, basically, when we were just hanging as kids back in the day, ’81 or ’82. So the song has a very special meaning to the band. We loved the '80s, we love British metal, so we’re just paying tribute to that.
Speaking of covers, you also did a cover of "The Hammer" by Motörhead, on the Big Teutonic 4 EP with Kreator, Sodom and Tankard. What was it like working on the song and being on that release?
We’re huge Motörhead fans, and I think Motörhead has been one of the biggest influences from our early days. So Motörhead covers are always great fun. We’ve actually been covering a couple of their tunes in the past too. Motörhead have a very special vibe, they are also a three-piece like us and that’s something that has always appealed to us. And being on a mini-album with Kreator, Sodom and Tankard was a big honor as it has never happened before. It was a lot of fun to do.
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
We go into South-East Asia in late April-early May. We’re talking about some more shows there, but right now we are confirmed for Malaysia, Indonesia and China. Hopefully we’ll have more shows coming up in that part of the world. We’d love to do a show in India. We were supposed to do something over there in late 2011 but somehow it got canceled. So if any Indian promoters out there are reading this, we’re looking for a show!
Then, of course, we have summer festivals in Europe. We’re also going to South America again to play Rock In Rio, which is the first time for us. Then there will also be a second leg of our South American tour. We’ll have a few US shows in September and October. Other than that, we’ll see if we get offers for more shows. We’ve been asked to do a Sodom-Kreator-Destruction tour, but there’s no date for that yet, and we still have to discuss some things. Hopefully it’s going to happen in late 2013 or early 2014.
Andrew Bansal is a writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, news, reviews and pictures on his website — with the help of a small group of people. Up till February 2012 he was based in Los Angeles. After that, he had to move to India, but is still carrying on his heavy metal endeavors with the same intensity.