Destruction are one of the leading German thrash metal bands. Just a few months ago they released a live album and a DVD shall be in stores soon. At the moment Destruction are out to play some shows and I caught up with Schmier before the Christmas Metal Meeting.
Schmier, as far as I know you started back in 1982, is that right?
We started 1983. And 1984 we released our first album.
After all these years you are still alive and kickin', even if there been some short hiatuses... What do you think is the most important or prominent thing which changed between 1983 and now regarding the thrash metal scene?
No easy answer, let me think... The people always think that back then everything was just great and glorious, but that's bullshit. Back then it was more difficult - at least partly - and worse. The early years were hell, coz people laughing at us and there was no way to play live. We've been through all and everything. We saw all the trends, the bands come and go. Thrash metal was big and then it was going down. Now it's somewhere in between... A bit like it was in the early days and there are a lot of newcomers who remind me of that days... Thrash metal is now established worldwide, so I think it's better then in the days when it all began.
The first years weren't easy for us, even if it was fantastic to be on tour with our heroes! To be on tour with Slayer and Motörhead was a blast! Don't get me wrong, I'm not glorifying the old days and say that nowadays it sucks. Nowadays we have all these festivals which we can play, back then there were only Monsters Of Rock and they didn't book thrash metal bands. At Monsters Of Rock bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden played and some American bands. So it changed for the good, coz the scene got bigger and there are more different genres and many more fans now.
Something I also wanted to talk about the fans... As you mention it now, I grow up with it, so not that much changed for me... Do you see a difference?
I agree, it haven't changed that much. Sure, people expect that everything was better back then, but it wasn't. Thrash metal is established now, and that's cool! Sure there is still argy-bargy about it, but it was the same back in the days. The mean thrasher and the shitty poser... It has always been that way. Ha ha ha! Even today it happens that fans argue about what's better, but at the end of the day it's all metal and we should be happy about the variety we have now. I think that nowadays the fans are more tolerant, coz mixed packages do work well. We are on tour with Arch Enemy at the moment and I think it fits well. Beside that there is a black metal band with us and a US power metal outfit. The fans seem to like it... A couple of years ago it wouldn't have worked. There is more tolerance now.
A big metal magazine had listed the top 25 thrash metal albums last summer. Among them Infernal Overkill. Do you think they picked the right one? Or would you have chosen a different one of your albums?
I think it's a matter of taste... Many regard Release From Agony as an important release, coz we started playing technical thrash metal and later added some death elements. So, if you ask bands like Deicide and Morbid Angel they will name Release From Agony, not Infernal Overkill. Anyway, Infernal Overkill was an important album, coz it marks the beginning of thrash boom and Destruction released Infernal Overkill at that very time. We had a head start due to the tour with Slayer and then we toured with Motörhead. It was something new at that time, so I understand this. Even nowadays I listen to the album. Okay, these days it would sound different, but it was a very important album for us.
Which band influenced you mainly? Who made you pick up your instrument?
(Pointing at my arm) Motörhead really is one... I should have get this tattoo... Hahaha. Beside Motörhead it's some more extreme stuff nobody seems to know at that time. The early stuff of Raven, Jaguar, Anvil - and Motörhead. Also the punk rock stuff of the the 80's like GBH and The Exploited influenced us. The early Accept albums as well as all this NWoBHM bands, even underground stuff... Bands like e.g. Angelwitch. They were important for us, we all were huge fans of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but you won't find this in our sound. Our sound was more punk rock meets Jaguar - something like that. Jaguar really influenced us, they recorded fast songs and so sounded different - that's what we wanted to do, too.
You are talking about Power Games?
Yep! Power Games was a big influence, then they released the follow-up and it was totally disappointing! I think a mix of punk rock, Motörhead and early NWoBHM is what we did. Then Metallica popped up and they did what we wanted to do - they just did it way better! Ha ha ha.
Are there any bands you have a special relation with? Someone you've been in touch with through the years?
There are quite a few bands who are friends of us. In the past there was a kind of fight about the throne of thrash metal. We all got more mature and so it's more relaxed. We have a good relation to many bands, also thrash metal bands. Exodus, Testament, Kreator, Sodom, Death Angel, Sepultura, actually quite a lot. Same became friends like Mille from Kreator who I talk to quite frequently about new projects and the scene in general. So we stay in touch and it's always nice if friends show up. There are some more bands who visit us when we play live and it's not necessarily bands from the thrash scene. At festivals you meet all kinds of bands and some became friends.
The famous question about the island... If you were just allowed to pick on thrash metal album, which one would you take with you onto an uninhabited island?
Kill 'em All! No doubt about it! For me this was the beginning of it all. A very important time and lots of memories.... To name Kill 'em All for the emotions it brings, it was the first one. The first Exciter album came around that time too, but Metallica were better and more important. There are many releases which influenced me, and when the album was released a lot happened for us. Great memories. For thrash metal it's Kill 'em All, and when you ask for a heavy metal album, then Unleashed In The East of Judas Priest.
In January you'll release a new DVD called The History Of Annihilation. What can we expect?
The DVD is split into 2 parts, a live part - Savage Symphony - which offers the Wacken show with all former members, full show, Mad Butcher, lots of naked skin and fire. Everything a cool metal show needs! Part II is the history part, the History Of Annihilation. This is going back to the early days and has it all incl. the all arguing and battles we fought, I think it's pretty interesting. But you also get some funny pictures and pieces from our early days. Quite funny and I really had to laugh about some of the stuff the former band mates said. It was funny, coz they talked about things I didn't know! It's a very interesting documentary which gives a lot information, but isn't lengthy. Very professional and entertaining, too. Even if you aren't a Destruction fan this is probably a good advice what you shouldn't do... How to survive and what to make the band last. We made a lot mistakes, coz we were very young. And so I think it's very interesting, a nice package with a 12-page booklet, tons of photos and a lot of knick-knack. Running time over 3 hours, we really tried to give value for money.
If you would have one wish for free for tonight's show, what would it be?
No more snow, so that a few more people will show up... Ha, ha, ha.
And about the next years? I guess you'll continue and we will celebrate the 30th anniversary then, right?
At least that's what we plan to do. What can stop us is some serious health problems or that the people no longer want to see us... So we hope that both won't come true. Metal is our life, you can't say 'I retire now!'. It's a way of life and as long as there are people who want to see us and listen to our music, we will continue! No doubt about it!
Perfect way to end this interview! Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview!