Back From Hell
CoC talks to Schmier of Destruction
by: Adrian Bromley
Not much has changed for Destruction ringleader/singer/bassist Schmier since I last spoke with him two years ago, when the classic German metal outfit released their much-anticipated comeback record _All Hell Breaks Loose_ on Nuclear Blast.

Since that point in time the band toured non-stop in support of that record, played festivals and even found time to head back into e thstudio once again to rekindle the metal magic that had re-entered their lives -- a fire that had been dormant for more than a decade.

Their new album, titled _The Antichrist_, finds Destruction tighter, faster and hungrier to spread the word of metal music. Schmier is excited to be back with a solid new disc and a fan base that has once again been rejuvenated.

"I think our return to the metal scene was very important for metal. It seems almost impossible for a metal band to write their best album after almost a ten year absence, but we did", starts Schmier. "We needed to come back into the scene with a really strong record like _All Hell Breaks Loose_ and to show people that we weren't coming back for the hell of it. We came back showing people that we still love metal music. It was important to come back with a record like that and then go onto a disc like _The Antichrist_. The last record brought us back into the spotlight; the new one shows people that we are here for good."

About the experience of having to come back into the grind of things as a band and the last recording experience, Schmier notes, "I think the last record was a learning experience, because it was somewhat new to us, to get back into the studio as a band and to find out how things were going to be. We knew the last one had weak production, but that was something we noted and made sure we focused on this time around. We knew what we had to tell Peter Tagtgren [who produced _All Hell Breaks Loose_ and the new one -- Adrian] to work on, and what needed to be omitted. He is a great producer and really made an effort to make us sound good."

"On the last record, our guitarist Mike Sifringer was a little skeptical about the studio work at the beginning and how things would turn out, but it turned out great right after the first sessions. Peter was a great producer for us, because he just let the band be the band. We did what we wanted to do in the studio and he just gave us some great ideas and helped add to the sound. That is why we chose to work with him again on the new record. He knew we didn't want a typical death or black metal production sound, but rather a Destruction metal feel to it. He succeeded on the last record and the new one as well."

"I am really excited about this record and the songs on it", he points out. "We toured for a year and a half for the last record and wrote a lot of the songs during the breaks on tour. Things were just flowing out of us and we had to capture them. We were back and we had to keep things going."

He adds, "The good thing about what we were doing was that we weren't pressured by anyone to write this material or sound a certain way. There is a lot of pressure when it comes to making music, but it is something that every musician must face. Making music is like having sex. You get together, have fun and try new experiences. I think the best thing about all of this was that we didn't tour continuously for ten months and then come back and go into the studio and write. We were doing small tours, returning home and heading into the studio if we needed to. Had we toured for such a long period of time, we might have not wanted to create music at the rate we were doing. Having those stop-gaps to create was really cool to grow and try new things. In the future, we will for sure use this same formula to create music."

It seems almost impossible for a band to fade away and come back after ten years and ignite such interest.

"I know, I know", he agrees. "It was weird, but we felt it. We got together and just started to create music and play the old numbers and you could feel the fucking magic. I am a metal fan with taste I think and if I had started to see things turning out really shitty for Destruction, when we were recording the last album and coming back into the scene, I would have stopped it right then and there. I am a fan of good music and I wouldn't want shitty music bringing down the name of Destruction. I was pretty sure that this three-piece [at the time Destruction was rounded out by recently departed drummer Sven -- Adrian] would be able to make music and try new things, but still maintain that Destruction sound that metal fans have known and loved over the years. When we started off playing again at festivals, it was us against all the new heroes in metal and we had to prove ourselves. And we did. I was pretty excited when it all started to work for us and we were recording demos again. I knew that our music was sounding good, especially with early reactions from the label, the fans and the fanzines. It was great to have people excited about Destruction again."

Is there a special way Destruction writes material?

"I can't really explain how all of this happens, really", laughs Schmier. "It just does. The music of Destruction, then and now, is full of character. You know what to expect and you can always tell it is us playing this noisy, thrash metal music. Even though when we all come together to work on songs ideas and we all bring in new approaches to making music for the band, it always ends up with a real heavy, gritty sound. A Destruction sound. I recently re-mastered an old Destruction demo from 1983 and it is so amazing how Mike's guitar sound today is so similar to back then. The same characteristics are there and it is his original sound that helps make Destruction still sound so good."

Why do you think this new record turned out so rabid and vicious?

"This is a very hateful record. It really is full of a lot of anger and just allowed me to vent my ideas and thoughts", he responds. "I hate religion. I think it just causes so much conflict in the world today. We did a lot of travelling around the world in places like Colombia, Turkey and other countries on the last few tours that have so much turmoil regarding religion that it just really helped fuel our thoughts on religion and what we brought to _The Antichrist_. We felt that anger and it just carried over into the songwriting for this new album. It made the record, really. I'm glad we channeled into that sound and those emotions."

"We kind of knew what we wanted with this record, as did Peter [Tagtgren]", continues Schmier about the production of the new disc. "Early on with the writing of the material, Peter had asked to get advance work of the music in pre-production so he could listen to it and get some ideas flowing. He'd call me up and say, "Killer! Better than the last record!" We were well prepared before we went into the studio and the band was in the right frame of mind. Everything was in sync. We made notes, as I mentioned before, and we wanted to make the guitars better. Last album they sounded like shit and we wanted to fix that for sure. And also, I have noticed that things seem to be going too well for the band in the studio and I am a bit scared that it is "too well". But, I think that just goes to show that we are developing as a band and getting better as the years go on."

Do you ever compare the old Destruction with the new Destruction?

"When we write songs together, Mike and myself, we go through the ideas and see if we can use them for Destruction and not try to copy what we have done before. As a songwriting team, we have grown and become very honest with one another and about what ideas work and don't work for Destruction. It is important to have the two of us working as a team. We don't purposely go out and try to match ideas with past Destruction songs, we try to make music that flows out of us."

"We'd be foolish to try anything else, really. The fact that we can still make good music after all of these years is a great feeling. I am excited about what we have done here with the new record and what we plan to do in the future."

And how do you know when a record is done and have the right songs for that recording?

"When you have been doing this for such a long time as we have, you just become very close to what you do and can feel the energy of the recording process", he says. "You just experience the record as it comes along. It is up to the fans to decide if it is your best record or if it is great. As musicians, you always try to do your best. We basically tried to do the same thing with this record as the last one, though we had a few new ideas to try out. We didn't change much. It is still the Destruction way in the studio. We are a lot more sure of what we are doing now. Some people are saying this is the best record we have ever done. I say this is one of the best and could be compared to our _Infernal Overkill_ disc [1985], which many say is our classic record. We got along really well for this record and it shows. Any band that doesn't get along within the studio or as a team, it shows. We were tight in the studio when we went into record and people can hear that."

Learning to work as a team in the studio was something that you had to learn all over again with the _All Hell Breaks Loose_ record, right?

"Yes. The last few releases of Destruction more than a decade ago was us just coming to the end of the energy between us. The _Cracked Brain_ [1989] record was an average release for Destruction, but nothing great. That was a time when I was learning about creating music within the band, being a musician and understanding the music business. It just all fell apart. Back in the early days of Destruction, I got goosebumps when I played our music and that was what pushed us forward. We lost that feeling and now, more than a decade later, I am getting goosebumps again and that makes me know deep down inside that we are on the right path with _The Antichrist_."

And while things are going fine and dandy for Destruction right now, Schmier admits that this won't last forever.

"The scary part about all of this that is happening for us is that it won't be like that forever. Every one is excited, critics love the record and our sales are up -- but how long will that last? I'm scared not knowing if I'll be able to make this kind of good music in the next few years. I might be able to, I might not."

He ends, "Even though I am thinking about all that could happen in the future to the band, right now I am excited to be creating music and being inspired to make Destruction sound as good as it did back in the '80s. Making music for Destruction has been a rewarding experience, with these two past albums being very special to me. These albums proved that we as a band still have it in us. It also goes to show that we have at least one album left in us. If I have my way, we'll be making records for the next ten years. We came back to the scene a few years ago and I'm not going to fade away that fast. I just won't have it."

(article submitted 14/1/2002)


CHATS
7/16/2004 P Schwarz Destruction: A Fully Loaded Discharge of Metal
ALBUMS
2/25/2011 A McKay 8 Destruction - Day of Reckoning
1/12/2007 Y Stefanis 5.5 Destruction - Thrash Anthems
4/12/2002 M Noll 7 Destruction - The Antichrist
8/12/2000 M Noll 6 Destruction - All Hell Breaks Loose
GIGS
12/26/2003 J Smit Deicide / Destruction / Nile / Akercocke / Dew-Scented / Graveworm / Misery Index Redemption at the Palace
8/12/2001 C Flaaten Dimmu Borgir / Destruction / Susperia Puritanical Destructive Predominance
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