If there’s one reunion-band who really managed to convince me, both with their album and in a live situation, it’s the Thrash legend DESTRUCTION. During last year, they were almost non-stop on the road all over the world to support their comeback-album “All Hell Breaks Loose”. Besides their very intensive tour-schedule, they even managed to find the time to record a new album, entitled “The Antichrist”. More than enough reason I thought so to hook up once again with DESTRUCTION mastermind Schmier…
The new DESTRUCTION album is called “The Antichrist”, obviously a link to one of the classic DESTRUCTION songs. Since the album is called that way, I thought you would have also re-recorded that song…
“Well, we decided not to re-record the song itself, we also re-recorded ‘Total Desaster’ on “All Hell Breaks Loose” and we don’t want to re-record old songs over and over. We don’t want the people to say that we wouldn’t have enough new songs. The albumtitle “The Anitchrist” just really fits the lyrics and the cover of the album. When we were playing in Columbia, some fans came to us at a show and gave us this book of Nietsche called “The Antichrist” and they wanted us to sign it with our autographs since we already had a song called that way. That’s from where we got the idea to call our new album that way.”
The album is once again recorded at the Abyss studio, but I must say that it doesn’t sound like an Abyss production at all, it sounds much more old-school…
“That was also our intention, we wanted to go back to the original DESTRUCTION Thrash sound which maybe didn’t totally work out on the “All Hell Breaks Loose” album. “All Hell Breaks Loose” was our first real DESTRUCTION album after 11 years, I’m still very satisfied with it, but it’s just that we want to do things even better this time and wanted to make sure that the old trademarks are very much into our sound again.”
Did you approach the recording of “The Antichrist” in a different way than the recording of “All Hell Breaks Loose”?
“About half a year after the recording of “All Hell Breaks Loose”, I talked to Peter of HYPOCRISY on the phone and told him exactly how we wanted our next production to sound like. He agreed on all our suggestions and so we could work and record in a really relaxed atmosphere. This time we knew what we had done wrong in the past, although ‘wrong’ is maybe not the right expression, it’s more what didn’t work out for 100% last time.”
I can imagine that the recording itself must have went much more smooth then on “All Hell Breaks Loose”, I mean I can imagine that you’re a much more tight band in the meantime…
“Obviously, we recorded all the basics for the bass, the guitar and the drums in only 6 days. We took our time for all the rest. We’re definitely more a real unit now, because when we recorded “All Hell Breaks Loose”, we had just played something like 5 gigs I think.”
When did you actually write the material for “The Antichrist” as you were almost non-stop on the road since the releases of “All Hell Breaks Loose”?
“Each time when we came back from a tour, we immediately started rehearsing new material and a few days before we would go on the road again, we would practice our setlist again a few times. We did that on and on and so we wrote the material for the new album in the 6-7 small breaks we had between the touring. The whole songwriting-process went very easy this way, all that worked out really fine.”
What’s your opinion about the DESTRUCTION line-up as it is nowadays?
“It’s very difficult to have a real opinion about that. We have a very good drummer and musically we progressed without denying our roots to my opinion. When we started, we were very hungry and that was a really nice time also. At that time, we wanted to be the heaviest band around but we didn’t know how to put that aim also into the music. The second line-up was too far away from our roots, they wanted to do something different and that’s the point where the band fell apart. At the moment, me and Mike do most of the songwriting and that works out really well this way. We know exactly what we want, so…”
Does Sven actually also contribute something to the music and the songwriting?
“He worked with us on the finishing touch of most of the songs, but I must say that about 99% of the material gets written by Mike and myself. He worked on one song of the new album.”
When you enter the studio, do you have a specific plan in mind like ‘Today, I’m gonna finish this and that and record that part of that song’ or do you have to be in a specific mood to work on a certain song?
“I’m very inpatient in a studio and I always want to get the songs on tape as fast as possible. Peter thinks I’m a bit too hectic, he always calls me the ‘master of disaster’ (laughs), since I always want to do things so fast. When I recorded the bass-lines, I immediately wanted to put my vocals on it and Peter had to calm me down as he said that we had more than enough time. I’m always full of power in a studio and want to get things done as fast as possible. I just can’t wait and sit around all the time.”
Do you actually have any idea how many copies you sold of “All Hell Breaks Loose”?
“You would have to ask Nuclear Blast about that. The last time I got any figures was December last year and at that time it was about 40.000 copies. I think it’s really OK for a band like us. It’s rather difficult to sell many albums these days, especially for the style of music we play which is really not that popular. “All Hell Breaks Loose” was our first album after a long period of silence, many people saw us live again in the meantime, so…”
When you’re holding a jam-session in the studio when you’re recording in the studio, do you then sometimes also cover a song or play a classic metal anthem?
“It happens sometimes but we were never that much a cover band. We played METALLICA’s ‘Whiplash’ sometimes and we also recorded that song for the “All Hell Breaks Loose” album. We covered MOTÖRHEAD in the past which was a pretty cool thing to do as well. We also recorded a THE EXPLOITED song, ‘Fuck The U.S.A.’, as a bonus-track for the new album. We got various proposals to record songs for tribute albums, but we just don’t have the time to do that and if we would do something like that, it would have to be a band that we all really like and appreciate. It’s fun to cover a certain song but we prefer to concentrate on our own material.”
Speaking of tribute albums, there has been talk of a DESTRUCTION tribute album for quite a while. Do you know anything more about that?
“No, I heard for already over a year that somebody in the U.S. is working on something like that but I haven’t heard anything yet about a release-date or something. I’m very curious because there are some bands out there who really recorded great DESTRUCTION covers, like for example DEFLESHED. When we were in the U.S. I heard an American band who covered ‘Invincible Force’ in a really good way, I just can’t remember their name for the moment.”
Do you know the band DESTROYER 666?
“Sure, their vocalist was at some of our gigs during our festival-tour.”
I saw them play a couple of weeks ago in Ghent and they covered ‘The Antichrist’ during their gig.
Since you toured so much last year and this year, are there any cool stories that happened and that you’d like to tell about?
“Well, some things happened to us which were really extra-ordinary. For example, when we played in Chile and when we were giving an autograph-session in a record-store, the fans really went berzerk! They totally destroyed that store, nothing was left! We had to stop our autograph-session, the police came in with machineguns and totally shut down several streets and the inner-city so we could go back to our hotel safely, lead by a police-escort! That was really bizarre! Apparently, the people over there were so excited to see us, I thought it was really cool, but they somehow over-reacted. We also played a sold-out show in Columbia and there were still many people who wanted to get in. When we came with a bus from the hotel to the hall, it turned out that there was only one entrance and so we had to go through the fans. When they opened the doors to let us in, hundreds of fans just ran into the hall and really fought to get in, it was almost like a war! It was almost frightening, really, afterwards they started jumping before our bus, the atmosphere was also very violent, it was really intense! Also the gigs we played in Turkey were really remarkable, the audience also really went totally nuts there.”
Do you also get special gifts sometimes?
“Most of the time they want to have a gift from me, they want to have my ring or my bulletbelt (laughs). But we get many demos from bands who are passing by and we also get a lot of alcoholic liquids to try out in almost every country. In Czechia, some fans gave us a special kind of liquor which should have like 70% alcohol, when you drink too much of that, you get hallucinations, that’s the stuff we get (laughs).”
When you reflect the metal scene and the metal audience of today to the audience at the time you left DESTRUCTION, so about 10 years ago, do you think there’s a big difference?
“I’m not the person to say that in the past everything was better and all that, because I don’t think that’s true. It was very difficult to play metal in the eighties as that kind of music was still very new to people. When metal started to get really big at the end of eighties, everybody was just interested in making as much money as possible, there was also very much pressure of other bands, you saw them as competitors. I think this pressure is not that present in the scene of today, when we have to play with other bands, we get along really well most of the time. We just returned from our tour with DIMMU BORGIR which was really very successful and there was also a really good atmosphere between the Black Metal and the Thrash Metal fans.”
What is it for you personally that you still like so much about touring?
“You get to travel through countries that you would normally never see. You play gigs and everywhere there are people who listen to DESTRUCTION which is just an amazing feeling. That’s mainly it, that you get to experience that there are people everywhere who listen to DESTRUCTION. Of course touring is sometimes hard and a bit stressy, but you get the chance to celebrate and have a big party each night so…”
During a tour, do you sometimes change the setlist, or do you always play the same set?
“We have a huge list of songs to choose from, we can play all the songs of all the albums live and that way, we can always choose songs which we think the audience will like best. When a certain song doesn’t get much response, we replace it through another one, we did that already quite a few times. Certain songs get appreciated by certain countries, strange but true. In the U.S. or South-America, people really like the material of “Release From Agony”, and there we play something like ‘Reject Emotions’, something that we wouldn’t do in Germany.”
Just a few weeks, a CD and video has been released of the Nuclear Blast festival-tour. I haven’t seen or heard it yet but nevertheless, are you satisfied with the result?
“You’re never 100% satisfied. That video and CD got put together in close cooperation with the bands, but we were just on tour when those releases were compiled and put out, and so we didn’t have much influence on it. But we have chosen the songs and we had also heard the live-recordings in advance, but we just saw the shots and the live-recordings when everything was finished. I think it’s really OK quality-wise.”
Personally, and I don’t think I’m the only one, I would have preferred to see a very long DESTRUCTION live video instead of this compilation.
“Well (laughs), the festival-video is more thought as a sort of appetizer for a full-length DESTRUCTION home-video which will be released somewhere next year. I know that many fans are waiting for something like that for already a really long time. We will still record some festivals and some shows of the upcoming tour at the end of this year. It will include many live recordings from all over the world, all our video-clips which are very difficult to get these days, backstage- and studio-recordings and much more.”
To be honest, I really don’t understand how CREMATORY got the chance to headline those festivals. I mean, I think they are about the most overrated and worst band ever to emerge from Germany.
“I must say that HYPOCRISY, DESTRUCTION and CREMATORY had the same status during the tour. Somebody had to play as last band and that was CREMATORY because since they were playing with keyboards, they had take other places on stage. It was not easy for CREMATORY to get on stage as the last band, because many people already started to go home by the time they had to play their set.”
Why would they stay in the first place? I mean, I think that band is so bad, you just have no idea…
“Well (laughs), they split up recently, I think the last tour was very hard for them as I already said many people left by the time they had to play and since they didn’t have that much success. People often threw food and drinks at them, maybe they didn’t fit to the bill that good but they really wanted to do that tour.”
I also recently saw in the Nuclear Blast catalogue that they have put out a 7” with your METALLICA cover on it, ‘Whiplash’, as well as a live version of ‘The Final Curtain’. Was that your own idea or the idea of Nuclear Blast?
“That was the idea of Markus of Nuclear Blast. The version of ‘Whiplash’ was just released on the 2-LP vinyl version of “All Hell Breaks Loose”, so not that many people will have that song.”
I think it was released on CD as well.
“No, it wasn’t.”
Yes it was, it was put on one of the latest “Death Is Just The Beginning” samplers.
“Yeah, now that you mention that sampler, it was indeed released on there as well. But you can’t expect that a DESTRUCTION fan will buy that sampler, just because there’s an unreleased song of us on there (well, I would … – S.W.). I think it’s OK to put that song out on 7”, it’s limited to 1000 copies, I think it’s a cool item for the fans.”
During the festivals, you also stated that we can expect a tour with DESTRUCTION, SODOM and KREATOR this year. Is this now finally going to happen in the end?
“As it looks right now, it seems like KREATOR is not going to play on all the gigs. The tour will take place but probably most of the time without KREATOR, it will be SODOM, us and 2 other bands, one of them will maybe be WITCHERY. KREATOR will probably join the package for just a couple of shows, it’s all a matter of money. The tour will start in December.”
Do you have any news about this ‘mad butcher’ contest that Nuclear Blast organised (fans had to send pictures where they looked like the famous DESTRUCTION butcher – S.W.)?
“Yeah, you will be able to see the pictures when the album will be released. We have found a fan who really looked very much like the mad butcher and we had a lot of fun taking the pictures. The pictures have become really good.”
What are your concrete plans for the near future? I mean, there are obviously some summer-festivals coming up but for the rest?
“We don’t want to play too much this summer as we were present very much last year. We will play at 2 festivals in Switzerland, one in Norway and then we will take a break. After the break, we will start the promotion for the new album, after the promotion we will take a small break again and at the end of this year we will go on the road again. But we really need a break from it all for the moment, you can’t be on the road and play all the time.”
LIVE IN COLOMBIA, MARCH 30, 2001
Two months ago it was confirmed that DESTRUCTION would play some shows in Colombia. And one of them was gonna take place in Cali (my city). So, the next weeks became very stressing mostly because we were so anxious to see one of the bands we grew up on in the early 80’s. The awaited day came and at about 6am I got a call from a local friend asking me to go to the airport to welcome the band. Even though I had a terrible hangover I immediately went together with him. I couldn’t believe it. DESTRUCTION, one of the best Thrash Metal bands will play tonight in my city. After talking to Schmier & Mike for a while we went to the hotel with them because they were so tired and they needed to take a rest for a while. In the afternoon me and some friends went to the hotel with some whiskey bottles in order to start the devastating & chaotic event which would occur in my city in approximately 5 hours. Mike & Schmier showed a great Metal attitude and did not behave like fucking rockstars at all. So, we drank, took pictures with them and things like that. I was supposed to do an interview after the sound check but everything turned out so shitty because the sound wasn’t the best and the organizer had to get that fixed. Cali is a big city in the west part of Colombia, which gathered about 600 Metalheads, all thirsty for Metal. The bad thing was that the organizer had forbidden the use of spikes, bulletbells, spike belts and videorecorders – which was really shit. The first band to enter the stage was NAMELESS, a good local Death Metal band, but people were waiting for DESTRUCTION’s live performance and started to scream "DESTRUCTION, DESTRUCTION, DESTRUCTION…" After almost 40 minutes these German Metal maniacs finally entered the stage and without any word started the fucking show with ‘Curse The Gods’. People became so wild and insane, sincerely I couldn’t believe what I was watching because this was the first big gig in my city and even more if we judge the quality of the band in front of our eyes. Then the killer instrumental track ‘Thrash Attack’ and people continue to bang their heads to the fucking ground and scream for more. ‘Release From Agony’, ‘World Domination Of Pain’, ‘Total Desaster’, ‘Tears Of Blood’, ‘Invincible Force’ and finally ‘Bestial Invasion’. 600 Metalheads were screaming for more, devastating guitar riffs and at 35 degrees the whole place almost became a Metal hell which nobody wanted to stop. Schmier & co were supposed to finish the show there, but due to the madness of the audience they decided to play 3 more tracks: ‘Life Without Sense’, ‘Deathtrap’ and ‘The Butcher Strikes Back’. The show was totally amazing, my neck was almost broken and my voice totally gone. All of us were so fucking tired but totally pleased having just seen one of our all time favorite bands playing live. We continued to drink vodka until dawn and kept talking about the show in a local park. Unfortunately I couldn’t do the interview I had planned but I enjoyed the show to the maximum. Some days after the shows in Bogota and Medellin I heard from a man who talked to the organizer that DESTRUCTION were very fascinated by the fucking show in Cali and they said it was their best show in Colombia and better than in Chile. By the way, I know that SODOM will play in Colombia again but this time in Cali… So I just hope to have another week drinking and a whole night of pure sodomy…
A live report by Tshoggua666 / 2001 A.S.