Napalm Flesh: Destruction Interview

Posted May 17, 2012 in

Welcome to Napalm Flesh! This week, we have an interview with the mighty Teutonic Thrash Titans, Destruction! Even though their show in Salt Lake on May 7 was canceled, we caught up with bassist/vocalist Schmier and talked about the early years that shaped Destruction into the iconic band that they are today. And, as usual, we have a rundown of this week's metal happenings in Salt Lake and beyond.

Events compiled by Bryer Wharton

Tonight, May 17, catch Koala Combat at Burt's Tiki Lounge (21+) with Burn Your World and Hypernova Holocaust. $5 gets you in the door with music underway around 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Artists for Local Agriculture (AFLA) hosts a benefit in Ogden at The Basement (all-ages) with Gaza, Loom, Cedars, Gunfight Fever and Merlins Beard. $5 gets you in the door with the music underway around 6:30 p.m.

Friday, May 18 catch Southern metal/hard rockers the Texas Hippie Coalition from well Texas at 5 Monkeys (21+) with Ravings of a Madman, Meat and Autostigmatic. Tickets, $15 are available doors open at 7 p.m.

Next Thursday, May  24, get a dose of hardcore at Burt's Tiki Lounge from North Carolina's Double Negative. Locals All Systems Fail and Chainwhip will open up the show. Tickets are $5, music starts around 10.

Interview with Schmier of Destruction

When we heard about the cancellation of Destruction's first Salt Lake City show in nearly two and a half decades, metal fans wondered what combination of bad luck and poor judgment inspired the decision. Contentious rumors began to spread about band and venue alike, but ultimately, the situation was out of their hands. Salt Lake City's metalheads have grown accustomed to being passed up on most major tours, but as Destruction's tour bus pulled away from Burt's Tiki Lounge, the small gathering of Destruction fans couldn't help but feel slighted. Before the band left town, I was able to catch up with bassist/vocalist Schmier to conduct an interview. “Say hello to the fans here. We're sorry about that shit,” says Schmier, his eyes tired from long days of touring in South America. He leans back in his chair, and we talk about the early years that shaped Destruction into the iconic band so many longed to see in Salt Lake on May 7.

The following interview is dedicated to local bands Gravetown and Visigoth, who played a kickass last-minute show in the wake of Destruction's cancellation.

SLUG: Thanks for sitting down with me, even though you guys didn't get to play tonight. It's still an honor to sit down and talk with Schmier of Destruction.
Schmier: Yeah, the last time we came to Salt Lake City was fuckin' '88, '89. It's a big bummer. We tried to promote it and do our best with what we had. Everyone was ready to do it. It sucks. I hate that [we had to cancel].

SLUG: How was the South American leg of your tour?
Schmier: It was actually pretty cool, because of those big festivals, you know? Everyone heard about the Brazilian problem so we canceled there. But we played the first day, and the audience was awesome. So it was actually a great show in Brazil. We actually did a lot of shows in South America, so it's kind of hard to tell which was best. San Diablo in Chile was awesome, they did a big open-air festival that was indoors, but there was a lot of people, like ten thousand. The mosh pit was enormous, like a two-thousand person circle pit. So there were a lot of crazy moments, and amazing shows in South America. It's always the best part of the tour. This last year we did a lot of festivals, which is pretty new to us, too. It's pretty amazing to play in front of a hundred thousand metalheads.

SLUG: I heard you played your own show in Mexico – just Destruction.
Schmier: Yeah, we wanted to play some more Mexican shows, but there were some problems with security, so everybody said, “Let's do this later.” So we played some shows in Mexico, just one before this tour. Mexico has a decent metal scene. It's been going back to old school. It wasn't always like this. At the beginning of 2000, Mexico was very much gothic and American-influenced, and now it's going back to the roots.

SLUG: What cities are you looking forward to playing on your North American tour?
Schmier: It's always good to go back to New York, which is kind of like our hometown in the states. So we're kind of looking forward to that. Canada also, we used to be in Canada a lot when I was younger. We're looking forward to Chicago, which should be a nice one. Those are always the best shows in the states. Of course, we're touring back to Hollywood, with all the satanic hispanics, and playing some thrash.

SLUG: You mentioned that New York City is kind of like your hometown in the states.
Schmier: Yeah, I was there so many times, we started our career in America basically in New York. We played our first couple of shows there and around New York, so it's like coming back home when we go to New York. It was my first impression about the states. We've been touring with New York bands like Overkill. It's always nice to come back, it's like our second home in America.

SLUG: What are your favorite aspects of touring?
Schmier: Not being home, maybe. Of course, it's great to be in new countries, meet new people, or make new friends, and see the world. I think that's amazing. And it's the best feeling as a musician to go to crazy places and there's Destruction fans, like Ecuador or Indonesia or the Rainforest, you know? Metal fans, Destruction fans, wow! That's the amazing thing about touring. Of course, performing in the United States is a great kick, you know? But I like the whole thing, the whole package. Every day is a new one, anything unexpected can happen, and shit like today is a part of it. That's a big downer, you know, but what can you do?

SLUG: Tell me about your early experience playing local shows in Germany.
Schmier: Well, we were young and we didn't have any experience, so it was kind of... bad. We had to grow into it over the years, but we were young and wild, and we wanted to do it. We always gave it our best. It was more difficult back in the day to play. Today, the scene is bigger, the name Destruction, of course, has grown over the years. So, those were wild times, but I prefer to tour now, because if you're more experienced, then you enjoy it more. Like every job, you get better with the time. I think the band has never sounded as good as now, because we're a fucking tight unit.

SLUG: You guys have been thrashing for about 30 years, what are some of the biggest changes you've seen in the metal scene since you started your career as a musician?
Schmier: I think the scene became bigger – that's for sure. The most important thing that changed is that now we have a lot of festivals, which are kind of like the big meeting points for metal, and very important to keep the scene together internationally, and there wasn't back in the day. The metal fans now can be very happy to have all those festivals worldwide, to meet and enjoy the music together. Back in the day, people had to do a lot to see shows, it was difficult to see shows. These days it's a lot easier. People always want to go back to the '80s because it was the glorious '80s, but it wasn't that easy in the '80s. It's nice how the scene developed, and how it got bigger, and how a lot of new styles have been rising. Heavy Metal was buried many years ago by various media and people who wanted metal to be not existing anymore. It's nice to see that the underground never stopped rising.

SLUG: How does it feel to play with bands like Warbringer from the newer generation that play music you helped to influence?
Schmier: It's an honor to see that young kids are continuing our legacy somehow. It was also a great motivation for us, because those young kids have the energy, and they have the craziness. You cannot go back when you're older, you have to compete with the young ones. So it's always nice competition for us. What's the word – physical band, headbanging band – we aren't getting any younger, so to compete with the kids is always a kick in our ass, you know? For them, it's always a big honor to play with us, so we're happy. I like a lot of those young bands, like Evile. Ten years ago there was no thrash metal bands. Everyone was playing technical death metal, or Swedish death metal. Nobody played thrash ten years ago, so it's great to be involved in the growth of the second wave of thrash metal.

SLUG: So when you guys first started, you called yourself “Knight of Demon” and you played more Iron Maiden type stuff. What made you change your mind and start playing more Venom-inspired metal?
Schmier: We always liked the more aggressive music. All the bands at that time had one fast song. Usually the album opens up with the fast song, and the rest of the album is normal. So we said, “We need to have songs that are all like the first song on the album, and we need a whole album like this.” Then Metallica came out with Kill 'Em All and we were like, “Exactly like this! They did it!” It was amazing to see a band doing the same thing that we wanted to do, mixing punk rock with more aggressive guitars, with the metal domination. It was just some young crazy dream from some German guys to have the heaviest band in the world. We never thought it could get anywhere. We wanted to have a good time, you know? We never cared about labels and records and stuff, we just got signed by luck. It was like bang bang bang bang bang, you're up there! It was weird.

SLUG: You guys helped to shape the death metal scene over time, even though you guys just kept playing thrash.
Schmier: The Release from Agony album especially was important for a lot of the technical death metal bands later on. It was funny, I didn't realize it until some of those bands came to me later on and were like, “Without Destruction we wouldn't have played this stuff.” It's nice to see that generation by generation, bands are going back to their roots and find out where it comes from, and that we're a part of it. It's amazing. We were just there at the right time.

SLUG: You guys have that elderly sense, where bands look up to you and they want to be you.
Schmier: Yeah, it's amazing to see that we made it so long and it's great that people still honor what we do. We've never played more shows than 2011, we must have gone through 150 countries or something. We've been having a two month break between January and February, but still we've been doing a lot of shows since. It's great to know that it's appreciated to play thrash after thirty years, because we never thought it would go that far. All our enemies are shutting up, basically.

SLUG: You mentioned you might have a new album coming out around November. Have you guys already started writing it?
Schmier: Yeah, we've written a good half of the songs. We're coming back to Europe after this, we have two months with only one festival. We're going to focus on the writing, and obviously going to record, and it's going to be out in November through Nuclear Blast. We'll see. We want to do what we can do best. It's going to be different from the last one, there's a little more heavy power riffing, but I look forward to writing new material, it's always a good challenge. It's the band's 30th anniversary, so we're going to invite some of the old members to play on it also.

SLUG: Which members have you contacted so far?
Schmier: All of them. All the old members, Harry [Wilkens] on guitar, Tommy [Sandmann] the old drummer, Sven [Vormann], all the old drummers. We'll see what we can do, if we can do one, two songs together that everybody's playing on or something. The Release From Agony lineup, basically. We always wanted to do a song with Kreator and Sodom also. Maybe, if it is possible, you know. Maybe a song that was first done by us, then on the next Sodom album too, and maybe the next Kreator album as well, different versions. We'll all sing together, you know. That's something we've wanted to do for a long time, and maybe we're going to make it on this album. I just talked to Mille [Petrozza] of Kreator about it and was like, “Let's do it!” It's not so easy, but it would be fun. Some of the ideas are to just make it special, but would also call for a tour with Kreator and Sodom that we want to do in 2013, hopefully.

SLUG: Wow. So you'd have all three of the Teutonic Thrash bands together.
Schmier: We want to do it. There's talks, you know. We're trying to work it out for 2013, it would be a perfect tour. Worldwide, I think a lot of people would be excited to see them.

As our conversation drew to a close, Schmier had a few parting words for Salt Lake City. Smiling, he said, “We'll be back.”