Latest Release: Day of Reckoning (Nuclear Blast/Riot!)Website: www.destruction.de
Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer is still feeling the effects of Destruction’s recent shows in Mexico and Costa Rica when he calls. The Central American jaunt accompanied their commitment to the incredible 70,000 Tons of Metal festival in the Caribbean – an ocean cruise featuring 40 metal bands playing sets virtually around the clock for five days. Despite being on the road for almost 30 years, Schmier reckons that this is one of the greatest things he’s ever done.
“It was actually one of the best experiences ever! I think everybody on the boat, and all the bands had the time of their life,” he says. “It was an outstanding festival… fantastic atmosphere and of course all the luxuries that you have on an ocean liner. Fantastic food. Everybody was so impressed with four days of pure atmosphere and amazing metal. The fans got to spend so much time with the bands, 24 hours a day.”
He also thinks it was good for the bands, giving them a chance to catch up, watch each other play and develop some camaraderie.
“At other festivals you see each other for ten minutes, have a beer and then go to the next festival,” Schmier says. “At this festival, we see each other every day. It was awesome. So it was one of the best events for many years. It was a fantastic experience and I am going to have to really sit down and collect all the memories I have of those four days, although there is a good chance some of those memories won’t come back!”
With new album Day of Reckoning about to lob only a week after this interview, there isn’t much time for Schmier to recover, and he admits to being a little jet-lagged after the flight from Central America. Regardless, he is fired up about it.
“It’s definitely, with The Antichrist, the best one we done since the reunion [in 1998, preceded by several years when Schmier was away from the band]. I would say so far that it’s better than The Antichrist, which is a compliment. Usually when an album comes out, you listen to in your car for a while for only about two weeks after you recorded it. But I still have this album in my car, which is a very good sign. I guess I still like it after all those months, which is a good sign for me.”
He describes the album as “very quick, fast, speedy” with “a lot of aggression, a lot of fast shit” but notes that it also offers some diversity and the most pure sound for many years.
“I like the guitar tone on this record,” he says. “I think it is one of the best guitar tones Destruction [has] had since our very early days. It’s very basic, scratchy, in-your-face… very pure. And I think that makes the whole album amazing. Of course we also have a new drummer with very fast feet and very fast hands so that’s big plus for the album too. The album is very fast, but there is enough diversity so it is not boring. If the whole album was just speed, it would be boring,but this album has a lot of interesting parts and cool songwriting.”
Day of Reckoning is the tenth album in the “official” Destruction discography (1998’s The Least Successful Human Cannonball and its two preceding EPs are not considered canon) and the sixth since Schmier rejoined the band. While creating new material after almost three decades is getting easier for him, he concedes that it can still be a testing process.
“It’s always a challenge for a band who’s come from the 80s,” he explains, “because people expect a lot, and you can never win with a new album basically,because the 80s fans want to have an 80s album, and the other people and critics will tell you that you’re repeating yourself all the time. So a new album is always a fantastic challenge. Nothing bad. In the old days songwriting was difficult for us. Nowadays songwriting is a positive challenge. We had real good fun recording this album too. It’s very exciting for us, to do that still after all those years.”
The new release is the first for Destruction with new drummer Wawrzyniec “Vaaver” Dramowicz who replaced Marc Reign after almost nine years of service in 2010. Reign was the band’s longest serving drummer, to the point where it seemed as though Destruction had finally found stability. But Schmier reveals that this was just a veneer for some time.
“Most people don’t know […] we had problems with Marc for many years. We didn’t want to fire him, we kept on fighting to keep the band together. Now thinking back I would say that we should have stopped working together some years earlier. For us, it was the best thing that could happen. With the new guy, there’s no problems, better chemistry and also… Marc wasn’t a bad drummer, but we have a better drummer now.”
For those who hope to see the legendary trio Down Under again, Schmier says that the chances of that happening sometime in the next twelve months are very good.
“The chances are pretty good this time, because first of all we’ve changed labels, so we have better distribution and better promotion in Australia again, which caused us problems last time with our old label. And of course it was a huge letdown for us when the show didn’t happen.”
Destruction first came to Australia in 2002 to appear at the subsequently-canned Metal for the Brain festival. They were due to return for Screamfest on New Year’s Eve 2009 and a brief run of shows, but only a fortnight before, Schmier announced that Destruction had pulled out in a series of acrimonious web postings directed at the tour’s promoter. It is obviously still a bitter point.
“The whole year we had been fired up about coming back down to Australia, and then two weeks before the tour the promoter tells us he can’t do it,” he says. “So it was a huge letdown, huge disappointment… huge lying also! So it was a big, big negative thing that happened in the past. In Australia we haven’t played much, just one time so far and it’s one of the countries you want to come back [to]. You want to return and we’re definitely going to make it this year. We’re talking to some promoters already and it looks good. So I can hopefully say now that by the end of this year we will definitely be back in Australia.”
He also declares that there’s a very good chance of a big tour by the three kings of Teutonic metal in the not too distant future. Schmier says the idea has been brought up from time to time, but in the wake of the Big 4 shows it seems to have been given more serious thought.
“We have talked about this on and off for many years now,” he explains. “But I’ve been thinking about it quite often lately that there will be a King of European Thrash Metal [tour] in 2014. Actually 13… we made our first demo, and Kreator/Tormentor came out in 1983, so that will make thirty years and I think that is when Destruction, Kreator and Sodom should go on tour together on this massive worldwide tour. Everyone has been demanding it and I will do my best to make this happen.”