Interview: Schmier Talks About the Promising New Era of Destruction

Iconic German thrashers Destruction have been an unstoppable force within the genre for 40 years and are currently riding one of their strongest waves of momentum to date. What makes their recent charge impressive is the fact that it’s coming off a monumental lineup change, leaving their record label, and, of course, weathering a pandemic.

Lead vocalist and bassist Schmier has rolled with the punches during his prestigious run with the band, including being fired, and is motoring forward full steam ahead, cherishing the opportunity to thrash crowds in support of a new release. “I can feel the momentum. It feels really great. We can tell the fans are supporting us, and are excited to see us live again. The (new) lineup kills; the band has never sounded better.”

When founding member and longtime guitarist Mike Sifringer parted ways with the band officially in 2021, outsiders might have been thinking it would throw a monkey wrench into the songwriting process, but Schmier claims otherwise:

“It was a relief after struggling with Mike for several months. He didn’t want to write, and when he started writing, he wasn’t very inspired, and it was difficult. I was a little bit shocked, and I didn’t know how to continue. I was lucky to have Damir (Eskić, the new guitarist) who was thrilled to write these songs with me. Even though we lost Mike, which was a sad thing, it’s not like we didn’t see this coming. It was a process over the year; he kind of distanced himself from the band more and more. When we were at that point, it was shocking, but we saw that it might happen one day.”

Joining newcomer Eskić on guitars is Destruction’s former tour manager and live sound engineer Martin Furia. When asked to give his assessment on these new shredders, Schmier glowingly says, “They’re super professional, super responsible, and super musicians. What I really like about them is that they’re always positive—the bus is on fire, and they’d stay calm. There’s never a dull moment with them; they’re always funny.” For the record, I was relieved to confirm that their tour bus didn’t catch fire while ripping through North America.

Speaking on that tour with Nervosa which wrapped on May 30th, Schmier went into detail about the obstacles going in: “The American visa we needed, it’s a complicated procedure that costs a lot of money, three to four months of your time filling out online forms, and you have to go to the American consulate where they interview you. It’s a big procedure. This time, with COVID, you needed to be vaccinated of course. You also needed a fresh covid test before you enter the plane. It was a lot more demands than normally. Everyone was a little bit nervous because if you fuck it up you might miss the first show and you don’t want that.”

Luckily for Destruction, they successfully made it into the States and then hit the ground running, starting in Brooklyn, NY, at the gig I attended and was floored by how razor-sharp and ferocious they sounded. Schmier was clearly satisfied with the tour overall, saying, “In general, there were a lot of die-hard people at the shows. Usually, you have a stinker on the tour, one show that is really bad in America because America’s so big, there are so many clubs—competition. Sometimes you go from A to B, and then in the middle of nowhere, you play at a bowling bar to nobody. On this tour, there were no stinkers. The reactions (to) the new album have been excellent. We are already talking about coming back for a second run, maybe later this year.”

In discussing his tour regimen for maintaining a strong voice, Schmier reminisced about a nightmare he experienced during the early days of his career: “On that tour with Cro-Mags in ’89 I lost my voice so badly that I had to get some injections from a doctor. The vocal cords were so infected and full of puss. It was bad. I got a huge shot of penicillin or something, and after two days the voice was back. The worst thing you can do after a show is pour whiskey down your throat; the vocal cords are open, dry, and dehydrated. I got a lot of Gatorades I drink before the show and after. I always see the vocal cords as a sponge, and during the show, the sponge gets really dry and that’s when you start to lose your voice.” He also mentioned the fair amount of water he strictly drinks during his set. Take note, fellow metal vocalists!

Destruction’s new album, Diabolical, is their first studio release with Napalm Records, following a long relationship with Nuclear Blast Records. Regarding the label change, Schmier says, “It’s been a great run with Nuclear Blast, 20 fuckin’ years, and there were no hard feelings. When they sold the label and everyone left, I wasn’t satisfied, and I really tried to talk to the label to see what was going on. When I saw that this wasn’t really Nuclear Blast anymore, I started to think about changes. Luckily in the last years, I was always in touch with Napalm, following their steps. I feel that Napalm is in this position that Nuclear Blast was 20 years ago; they’re uprising, and they have a young staff that is eager to work for the bands. So far they did a fantastic job for the album; promotion is running great, and the chart entries are the best we’ve ever had!”

Diabolical is a 13-track assault of pure thrash, bursting at the seams with adrenaline-inducing speed and energy. You can feel all the pent-up emotions being released through the songs. Closing out the album is a cover of GBH’s “City Baby Attacked by Rats,” and Schmier explains the inspiration behind its inclusion on the full-length:

“It’s actually a song I wanted to do for a long time. The last time we wanted to cover it was when Arch Enemy covered it. Michael Amott is a good friend of mine, and I was like ‘Whoops, you were first, and we’re not gonna follow,’ but then I listened to their version last year or so and was like, OK, this sounds like Arch Enemy; it doesn’t sound like how Destruction would do it. Then I said let’s just do it. It’s a tribute to a great punk band and to our roots, and it’s important to show the young generation of thrashers where we’re coming from.” As far as playing the cover live, Schmier playfully remarks, “The punk cover would be the easiest song to play live. It should be pulled out of the pocket when it’s a special night.”

Destruction is scheduled to play numerous festivals this summer, including Graspop, Hellfest, and Mexico Metal Fest, all of which have Schmier champing at the bit. Going on how they performed with such veracity and vigor when I saw them, I can’t blame him for being excited to unleash this new era of Destruction on the masses.

Buy Diabolical here.

Photography: Hexphotography / Edit: Gyula Havancsák

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