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June 6, 2000

Veteran German thrashers Destruction are back! Well, at least the two most important and distinguishable elements of Destruction, guitarist Mike and vocalist/bassist Schmier, have reunited. The success of their new album 'All Hell Breaks Loose' proves that the world will once more get the opportunity to experience the devastating thrash attack last felt a decade ago. Fresh from their appearance at Dynamo 2000, on a bill with the likes of Iron Maiden, Korn, Testament and Immortal, Schmier took a moment to check in with the metal update to reflect on their appearance at this legendary event, their upcoming headlining slot at Milwaukee Metalfest, their fifteen years in the metal business and the state of the modern metal scene.

Metal Update: Welcome back.

Schmier: Thank you! It feels good.

MU: The mad butcher returns.

S: Yeah, it's been a long time. Nobody expected it to be that cool. People reacted so great on Destruction coming back. It's been a real fuckin' great time we've had since last year. We played the first festival up here in Germany. Since then a lot of things have happened.

MU: How are people reacting to the new record?

S: Very, very good. We had the best spots in all the magazines and all the reviews gave only highest notes and were very, very good reactions. We were kind of skeptical of how the press would react because, of course, they're very important to show people what's going on with the band. Hopefully, it turned out that the reactions were like, almost 100% fantastic.

MU: When did Destruction get started?

S: We started in '84, that's a while ago now.

MU: How was the metal scene back then?

S: It did not exist actually. There were a lot of New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands around, but, here in Germany, it was a little scene with almost no concerts.

MU: What bands were you listening to at the time?

S: At the beginning, of course, all those English bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. A lot of punk stuff also, GBH, Dead Kennedys, and Exploited. The second wave after that were newer bands like Angel Witch and Jaguar and some American bands came over in the beginning like the first Metallica stuff on the Metal Massacre sampler and stuff like that.

MU: Were you thinking of yourselves as a heavy metal band back then?

S: Of course. We wanted to be the most brutal band around. We tried to make a lot of noise when we started. As I told you the scene was very small, so out of the bands and their friends in our part of the area here, we were the only heavy metal team around.


MU: What other German bands were you looking to? Scorpions?

S: Of course, at the beginning - the first couple albums they were cool, but they turned out to be wimpy after 'Blackout'. The German band we most looked up to was Accept. "Fast as a Shark" and the 'Restless and Wild' album. They have to be credited with putting out one of the most important German metal releases.

MU: Was Destruction focused on technicality in the beginning?

S: No, first of all, we wanted to be brutal. Brutal and fast. We hated the mainstream stuff and wanted to be different. We took a punk attitude and mixed it with metal guitars and leads from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The technical thing came after a couple of years as we developed our style.

MU: What's the best Destruction album?

S: Oooh. Good question. For me, the live album, 'Live Without Sense' because it has all of the best songs we wrote and all of the atmosphere on this tour we had - this big tour we had. It left a nice impression all over the world. After 'Release From Agony' we did a big tour and we recorded 'Live Without Sense'. But the all-time most classic Destruction record is probably 'Infernal Overkill' because it will always be the album with the most good songs we ever wrote. When we play live these days we still play a lot of material from'Infernal Overkill'.

MU: Which ones are you playing?

S: It depends on how long the show is. Most recently, at Dynamo, we didn't play so much 'cause we only played a fifty-minute show. But, of course, we played "Bestial Invasion" and "Invincible Force." Sometimes we play "The Antichrist" and "Tormentor" or "Black Death." Sometimes we play "The Ritual". If we get like, two hours to headline, we can really switch things up a bit.

MU: How was Dynamo 2000?

S: We weren't supposed to play. Entombed cancelled the show. One week before, the Dynamo guys called us up and said "we have to have a good band here 'cause Entombed cancelled." We said sure. It went very well. The support was very good and there wasn't even one asshole in the audience screaming for Entombed.

MU: What was the atmosphere like backstage?

S: It was really cool. At each of the festivals we've played so far, so many bands come up to us and tell us that we were a big influence or that they've liked us for a long time. That's cool, whether it's a black metal band or a death metal band or even an industrial metal band. Whatever type of band they are, it's cool to hear them come up and say "Destruction's back! That's so cool!" It was really good for us to have all of those great bands out there be glad that Destruction is back. It's good to have so many other musicians who like the band.

MU: What other veteran metal warriors did you meet up with backstage?

S: Of course, Testament was there. It's always nice to see them. I said to Chuck, "thirteen years ago we played at Dynamo together, and now we're standing here again. Isn't that cool?" He was like, "fuck yeah."

MU: Is the scene still just as cool?

S: Back then people might have been a bit more into it because it was just starting, but it was a lot harder in those days to survive in the scene. The one way the scene is better today is that circumstances are a lot better. The bands are treated better. The circumstances are a lot better for people to get in touch with the bands and to see the bands live and hear the music. That is the most positive thing about it. Of course, in the beginning of metal people were perhaps a little more wild about it, 'cause there was just a show every couple of months. Now the scene is overloaded, there is a show almost every day. I remember when we started people would say that our music would die really fast 'cause it's too heavy for the world. So fuck them, you know?

MU: Maiden headlined Dynamo. What do you think of their reunion?

S: Smells like money. I like them a lot, you know, but Bruce Dickinson in the band . . . they're just doing it 'cause the fans want it and they can make a lot of money. It won't last for too long. If the new album is OK, it's gonna be OK for the fans, and they have so many great songs that's it's also going to be a great live show. What the future will bring, I don't know, but I don't want to think about it now, 'cause I don't think it's gonna be too good. I don't know what the new album sounds like, I haven't heard it, but many people have told me it doesn't sound too good [this interview was conducted before the release of 'Brave New World' -mu].

MU: What do you think of Korn?

S: Too trendy for me. I think they are doing a good job of what they are doing, but to me it's just what I call hyped American music! (laughs)

MU: Who else was at Dynamo?

S: Of course, Testament played.

MU: What do you think of what they are doing these days?

S: 'The Gathering' was a fucking killer album. It was the best Testament album in years. Testament had the strongest album they had had in some time. They just really need a more certain lineup.

MU: Catch anyone else worth talking about?

S: Immortal. Abbath, the singer and guitarist, told me that he loves the new Destruction album. Immortal are one of the real good black metal bands. It's not really directly my kind of music, black metal, but I think Immortal are a really good band.

MU: Tell us how you feel about black metal generally.

S: I hate gayboards. (laughs) I hate keyboards. So that's why I'm not too much into those bands.

MU: So what's different about Immortal?

S: I think they have a lot of thrash riffing in there. Also, their vocals have more identification - they're not totally growly. It's easy to totally growl, but everybody sounds the same then. If you listen to those bands that are doing well today, all of the singers have their own certain style.

MU: What about your style?

S: It's just my way to fucking scream. (laughs) It doesn't get any better. (laughs)

MU: Can you still sing "Life Without Sense"?

S: Of course we play "Life Without Sense". Even when we switch around a lot of material, we always still play "Life Without Sense".

MU: What do you think of 'Release From Agony'?

S: I think that's where the problems started. Getting too technical. The drummer and the guitar player, new members in the band, were trying to get more progressive. I tried to keep them a little more in the thrash way. I said, we can't leave our roots too much. 'Release From Agony' was a little bit of a compromise. On the 'Cracked Brain' album, we started having problems already, and I told him, we can't go away from the roots too much.

MU: You weren't on 'Cracked Brain'.

S: Yeah, but we recorded it together. They fired me during the recording session. That's one of the main reasons that the album was not as progressive as it was supposed to be. I was fighting with them the whole way. They wanted to go more progressive, more melodic, and they thought "we're gonna have a lot of success without you Schmier so fuck off." (laughs)

MU: Was it tough to patch things up with Mike?

S: It was easy after a long time. We didn't talk for five years. After five years, my anger was pretty much gone. Then we met a couple of times at some bars or some places to have a beer together and to see how things are going. It was easy for me to come together with Mike, 'cause Mike was a friend for a long time. I don't think it would have happened with the rest of the band. I decided that Destruction would be able to just go on with me and Mike, and nobody else from the last album we have.

MU: What do you think of the new Destruction album?

S: I had more input into this one than any other Destruction album ever. I had input into everything, every fart on the record. The producer, how long I want to go into the studio for, how many beers I want to drink that day, which record company I want to release it. It was very cool to have all the decisions on my side, the band's side.


MU: Which is your favorite track?

S: "The Butcher Strikes Back" of course. That is my favorite one. It has the really strong lyrics for the fans.

MU: The Butcher is like Iron Maiden's Eddie!

S: (laughs) Yeah. We thought about leaving the Butcher away. But on the other hand we said, we won't put him on the cover, but we can put him into a song 'cause he's been around forever - for all time. The Butcher album and shirt we did - I see it all over the concert scene, he's around still.

MU: So what do those lyrics mean to you?

S: It's a tribute to Destruction fans. Right after the band reunited, there were some people at my place, and some fans, at the restaurant. We had a great party there and after I left I wrote the lyrics for "The Butcher Strikes Back". I was impressed about how many of those young people - they were all like between fifteen and eighteen years old - and they had all the records. Old stuff, unreleased stuff, bootlegs, whatever. I was impressed how much those people knew about the band. So the song is a tribute to those people who kept the band alive.

MU: I love "Tears of Blood".

S: That's a cool old school type of song. One of our favorites too. "Butcher Strikes Back", "Tears of Blood" and the opener "Final Curtain" I like as well. The more technical song I like a lot is "World Domination of Pain".

MU: You'll headline Milwaukee Metalfest.

S: The Destruction lineup after me - which I call new Destruction era - they played there but they failed 'cause they only played new stuff which nobody knew. They didn't play too much old stuff from my era, so people didn't like it. It was a whole different band with the same name disappointing a lot of people in America. That's why we knew we had to come back to America to prove that Destruction was back for real. Some nice bands are playing at Milwaukee this year. It's gonna be a great time and, of course, a great party. That's why we do music - to have a good time and to party.

MU: How long will this Destruction reunion continue?

S: We are ready to go on as long as possible. You know how the circumstances in the scene are, if you don't sell, the record company will drop you. If you don't sell, you can't tour.

MU: Is the new record selling now?

S: Right now it looks pretty good here. There's some difficulties in some countries where Destruction never sold, so that's normal. I think the whole of Europe looks very good. The middle of Europe - Italy, Greece, Scandinavia, East Germany - all look very good.

MU: What are the expectations for the United States?

S: It's not released yet. What is today, the 6th? It's not released in the U.S. for another two weeks, but many people in the U.S. on our Internet site are telling us the new album is great or that they're waiting for the new album. I'm pretty sure that it's gonna go over well there. New York has always been very good to us. We've played many times when you include all the surrounding areas. On the tour with the Cro-Mags in '88 we came back at the end and it felt like coming back home because we had played New York like four times by then. I'm really looking forward to playing New York again. The whole American situation . . . I'm wondering how it's going to be. It's good to have been getting such a strong reaction thus far.

MU: Tell us about the upcoming U.S. tour.

S: We'll have some dates surrounding the Milwaukee Metalfest. When is that, July 29? Dying Fetus will open in the states, perhaps Old Man's Child, Kataklysm, maybe some others. [Old Man's Child will not be on the bill - mu] Kataklysm are on Nuclear Blast so it would be cool to bring them with us - they're label mates.

MU: Are you happy with Nuclear Blast?

S: So far in Europe they've done a really, really good job. I hope they're American promotion is going in the same direction. We get treated like a major thing in Europe, a major important band. They respect what we think about things, and things went really very smoothly.

MU: What do you think of Metallica?

S: The only thing I can say is that if I was a millionaire, I don't know if I would have the balls to play rock and roll either. If you get rich, you get greedy.

MU: Slayer.

S: They've still been flying the flag of thrash metal a little bit - keeping the flag held high. Even if their latest album was not exactly typical Slayer. I hope they release a strong album with the next one they do, and I hope they don't take all the time. They're an important band in the scene and sometimes metal needs a kick - Destruction's back now, and the new Testament was great. I think the new Slayer album is important for the scene also.

MU: Megadeth.

S: Megadeth are not my kinda style anymore. Too far away from the roots for them. Too commercial for me.

MU: Overkill.

S: They're a great band. Still. I just saw their show when they played in Switzerland, here in my area. I still think they're doing a good job. They've been keeping up the flag of the music for a long time. They've been touring a lot in Europe. Even if they had two albums that I didn't like very much, at least the latest album was pretty good. They are a good live band. I think we play one festival with them this summer in Czechoslovakia.

MU: Kreator.

S: Mille is a great friend of mine still. The latest album is not a typical Kreator record. The fans didn't really like it here in Germany and Europe, but I think Mille is a real good musician and songwriter. He just tried something new and he saw that it didn't work maybe. Maybe he'll go back to the Kreator roots, and I'm sure the Kreator fans won't be disappointed by the next album. Sometimes you have to experience new stuff. Destruction did this ten years ago already, and Mille's been in the scene for a long time. He has the right to try something new.

MU: Well we're glad that Destruction is still flying the flag.

S: Yeah, we will kick some serious live ass in the U.S. soon. All the people who are skeptical right now about this reunion - we're gonna blow them away. We did it in Europe already so far, and it's gonna be nice to see the American people.


review of Destruction's 'All Hell Breaks Loose'






Interview: Eric German [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
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