SCHMIER from DESTRUCTION talks about the new live album, live shows and more

Destruction recently released a new live album called ‘Born to Thrash – Live in Germany’. The album comes right in time to provide a very solid live vibe in a time when we all should be at festivals but instead stay home and listen to music. Destruction mainman Schmier made some time for you guys and Markus Heavy Music Blog to describe the background of the album, the importance of live shows and other interesting insights.

Markus Heavy Music Blog: Schmier, a few days ago Destruction released a new live album just in time, considering the cancellation of all festivals this summer.

Schmier: Actually the album was not planned. It’s a kind of ‘Corona product’. We recorded the show last summer at Party.San and we had no use for it at the time. Now, in the Corona phase, we thought “if not now, when then?”. In the period, when everything was cancelled, we talked to Nuclear Blast and said that we have these live recordings and would like to release them in an unconventional way. We thought about streaming it soon, and then adding the regular product in summer. But first of all the record has to be released soon because people are sitting at home and there are no concerts. For us it’s also a connection with the fans. Not only do you have a live record that comes out, but you also have interviews and talk to people. You are just more connected when you have a new product.

MHMB: This has already answered another question, which is why ‘only’ a classic live album without DVD.

Schmier: If we had done everything the usual way, the label would have arranged extra filming and we would probably have had a different setlist. What we had was a recording from a festival, a very good and very atmospheric one. Usually you record several shows for a live album and check which one is the best, which are the best songs. Most of the time you do it in a way that you are like, “Oh, here is the ‘Mad Butcher’ better. Let’s take that one” and all of a sudden you don’t have a whole show anymore. Then you have mixed 2-3 shows and you get into trouble. The good thing about the Party.San show is of course that it’s a ‘Best of…’ with some new songs. It’s a compact, tight and seamless show without any fading in and out. There are no frills and it goes right in the face. There’s not a lot of chatter either. It’s just 55 minutes of Destruction and done. Well, it could be a little longer, but in the end you feel like you want to listen to it again. And zap, you press ‘play’ again. Of course there are some people who say that they miss some songs, but we couldn’t do that in addition. The label checked if they had anything else to add, but we didn’t want to do that, because that ruins these 55 minutes of intensity.

MHMB: An album like this has its own flow and reflects the best of Destruction, even if there are some Destruction classics missing.

Schmier: Of course, if we had known that in advance we would have done it a little bit differently. I would have wished that we had about fifteen minutes more, so that we could have added 3-4 of the essential songs to the setlist. But it’s a snapshot and that’s what makes the album strong. And who knows, maybe this album will be a huge success and the people are thrilled. Maybe then we can make a second live album at some point. Kiss did ‘Alive I’ and ‘Alive II’. Maybe we can play the songs we didn’t play at Party.San and make another record with all the remaining classics that are missing now.

MHMB: And one could still listen to the other songs on the original records and the Thrash Anthems albums.

Schmier: Yes, of course, but live is live. Live is just pure and without frills. It just has this real punk energy. I think in the past, live records were like magic. It was all about live records. Nowadays, when everyone can record live with their mobile phone, live records have disappeared. Nuclear Blast also said in the beginning that nobody needs a live record. Our argument was that in Corona times a live record is something special and we could convince them. In normal times it is even more difficult to get a live record out, because the labels are not interested in it anymore. A live record doesn’t sell as much as a normal record, the retailers aren’t as much interested in it and it’s not easy to get the records on the shelves. I grew up with live records. My first vinyl record was Status Quo live and my first metal record was Judas Priest ‘Unleashed in the East’. That’s why live records are still very important to me.

MHMB: Schmier, what are your memories of Party.San 2019, one of the first bigger festivals for you guys as a quartet.

Schmier: Luckily we had an amazing show the day before at the Brutal Assault festival and it motivated us a lot. We were a bit nervous though because we had two new songs on the setlist which we had never played before. We played them for the first time at two big festivals and also with a new line-up, so we were a bit more nervous. But since the show at Brutal Assault was so good, we were actually in a good mood and confident that the Party.San show would be a good one. The vibe got really cool pretty fast. You can see that on the two video clips that will be released over the next few weeks. People were great.

MHMB: Destruction as quartet sounds stronger, even more powerful. What does the addition of Damir to the band give you in further possibilities, also in terms of new songs?

Schmier: With a second guitar we have much more possibilities, something you could already hear on the last album. There are no compositional limits anymore. As a trio we sometimes in the studio thought that we could not do some parts because it was impossible to perform them live. Now we can do whatever we want with two guitars. You can compose songs spontaneously without thinking about whether things are doable on stage. And with Randy Black we have a drummer who plays very groovy, very tight, very band-oriented and nevertheless very technical. I am looking forward to the songwriting session for the new album. A lot of people are already asking us if we have started, but we haven’t started yet. The time will come in summer when we are sitting at home and unfortunately can’t play concerts. Then we will start composing music. When the new record will be released, I don’t know. First we want to make up for all the concerts we couldn’t play this year. 

MHMB: The set list is pretty balanced. Old classics, like my favorite song ‘Life Without Sense’, are in the mix. Besides that you also played new material and what is noticeable is that everything fits together very smoothly. Destruction created and maintained their own sound without repeating oneself. What is the trick?

Schmier: I think that’s the magic a band has. When Mike and I play a song, it automatically sounds like Destruction. We can play “All my little ducklings” and it will sound like Destruction. We work together very well and the band has a certain magic. We found our identity very early in our career and we created our style. We moved away and experimented a bit, but in the last 20 years we grew with what we invented. Some people say that Destruction always sounds the same. I see it differently. I see that we also have developed and at the same time never moved away from what makes us to who we are. You have to develop your own style and when you have achieved that, then it is a great and big thing.

MHMB: Actually you should have just come back from the first round of the Thrash Alliance tour but thanks to Corona it didn’t happen. The tour is now moved to November/December. Predictions are hard to make, but what do you think is the most realistic scenario for future live shows?

Schmier: I think it looks good. November/December, that’s still a while to go and we hope for the best. You hear interesting ideas, interesting concepts. First countries have opened up. Parts of the USA have opened and first concerts have taken place in the Western parts of the country. These have been seated concerts. Denmark are the first ones to open in Europe. They are doing concerts up to 200 people as a start and will go up to 500 later. I also heard that several countries have said that capacities will be reduced. 40% of the capacity of a club should be allowed, i.e. if you have a capacity of 2,000 fans you can only let in 800. And very simple, common sense. If one belongs to a Corona risk group then maybe one won’t go to the concert. Or there will be a safe area at a concert where you can only come in with wearing a mask and where you are not allowed to stand so closely together. Like you do at festivals for example. There you have an area for handicapped people so that they are protected and can also see everything etc.. You could create a closed-off area, a kind of “VIP area” for fans in the Corona risk group. You do not have to do any miracles and I think it will be possible. It is of course a change, but life must go on.

MHMB: The streaming of concerts has reached a peak in no time. At the moment almost everyone is streaming. Was a streamed concert also what you discussed for Destruction?

Schmier: I am not a fan of that at all and I don’t see that for Destruction. It will only happen if there are no concerts until next year. Then I could imagine that we have to think of alternatives. It’s like these soccer matches without fans in the stadium. The atmosphere is gone, the players are not really motivated, the game gets boring and the people are without energy. It’s the same with live concerts. We live from interacting with the audience, the crowd is pushing us forward and the energy flows between the audience and the band. I mean, a video is not the same as live anyway and then without an audience 😦 Many live streams also use the technical possibilities you have these days but they cost money and most live streams don’t sound good. I think a live stream has to sound great, it needs studio technology, good recording technology, good cameras etc. and that costs money. It is nice and a good intention but the quality suffers. I rarely saw a live stream during the last weeks that was really good. 

MHMB: Schmier, thanks for making time for MHMB and hope to see you and Destruction onstage soon again.

Schmier: Always welcome.

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