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DESTRUCTION is a living legend. They wrote history with their albums, starting their carreer 20 years ago. Now, in 2003 they are still around, still making albums, proving that they still kick ass. Their latest effort came out last month and I had got the chance to talk to Mike about it and everything else related. I hope he enjoyed this interview as much as I did.
What can you tell us about the new album in first place?
It's killer, haha. The last three albums we recorded in Sweden with Peter Tägtgren in Abyss and we were very satisfied with his work but this time we wanted a change. You know, sometimes you have to change to stay open minded. This time we recorded the album in Switzerland with a good friend of us, V.O. 'Praaaaschtwia' o tschisssi' Pulver. He is a guitar player in the Swiss band Gurd. In Sweden we reorded everything on digital equipments but this time we decided to try the old way again and we recorded on analogue. We changed technique and that's the main difference now. The result is a "warmer" sound. Maybe it's a stupid thing but I like to listen to LPs and analogue stuff.
You mean, it sounds more real?
Yes, it sounds more real. That's the point! And this time we tried to go back to the roots and do the recording in the old way again. We are satisfied how it turned out.
How much time did you spend in the studio with this album?
Hard to say because we did breaks in between but let's say all the recordings were done in two weeks, and two more weeks while we finished with the mixing.
Were you there at the mixing?
Yes, we've been there. Sometimes it can be a problem when so many people are sitting around in the studio and everybody listens to different things. Sometimes it's better to leave the producer alone. We weren't there all day long, we just checked in to see what he was doing and just hung around in the house. It's not useful to listen too hard the whole day long because your ears are getting tired.
How much could your producer friend help you with the songs?
The basics were almost done when we went to the studio so there was not much left to contribute to. But we always listen to good ideas. For example I like to record my solos with a person who also plays guitar. So, it was perfect to work with him. Just like it was perfect to work with Peter before but this time it was a bit different.
Mark, the drummer, is in the band for two years now but this was the first time you recorded an album with him. What was it like to do the recording with him?
It was very easy. We did a long tour, lots of shows but between them we didn't find the time to pratice together. It was a bit strange this time. I recorded my ideas on tape and I sent it to him to Berlin. We could practice only 2-3 weeks before we went to the studio. But it went very easy there, Mark learnt fast.
How do you work on new songs?
Mostly I start it with a riff idea, work on it to find out what are the best drum beats for it and then Schmier has to say what he prefers for his lyrics ideas. More or less he arranges the songs. He has to say what riff fits to the refrain and since he writes the lyrics he has to choose which of the riffs he does want for the lyric lines.
Has it changed through the years?
No, not at all. We almost always start with a riff I came up with. Though this time it was a little bit different. Mark is living in Berlin, we are living in the Southern part of Germany. Fortunately it went pretty well with this tape-trading shit but next time we will try to find more time to arrange the songs.
How much time did it take to write the songs?
We were in a hurry. We started very early with the songwriting and finished with two song but then we didn't have more time for it because of the tour and travelling all the time. I can't write songs on a tour, I need quiet to do that. At the end we had only two months left to compose something like eight songs. It was pretty stressful.
So, you need quiet to work on songs. What is the best environment for it?
My home of course, my living room. But I get the best ideas when I take a bath. I'm a type of person who sings when he takes a shower, haha. I can't sing so I do it very low...maybe I just think about it then, haha. But when I'm taking a hot bath, I get the best ideas. Strange? Taking a hot bath and smoking a joint.
Schmier writes the lyrics but can you tell us a bit what are they about on "Metal Discharge"?
They are in the same direction as the last time. You know, we hate lyrics that have nothing to do with real life. We are not into lyrics like "the night is catching the rainbow over the mountain shit", you know what I mean. I would say, our lyrics are based on real life, on what's happening over the world.
Where do you get the inspirations for them?
It's mostly the news on the tv. But it's rather a question for Schmier because he writes all the lyrics.
Yeah, but I guess you agree with his lyrics...
Yes, I agree with his lyrics, we talk about them a lot. We are sharing the same opinions. Schmier is always looking for reality. He doesn't want to give you advices or something, he just wants to tell you his opinion and make people think about things that're happening around us, in this world because there is a lot of shit.
What do you think about mankind in general?
I'm not really proud to be a member of it. It's really hard to tell. Everybody has a brain and more or less the same brain and everybody should use it but I would say 80 or 90% of the people don't use it for thinking enough and just do what they got told. In one word it's called stupid. I'm really not proud to be human. Because we make so many mistakes, we destroy so many things.
...and we are not learning from the past.
No, and that's a shame.
If you were given the power to change something, what would you do with the world?
Maybe not kill 80% of mankind but make them just leave the planet. I don't know. There are already too many people on Earth and if it goes on like this it won't work. It's still working, for example there is enough food for everybody at the moment but we are already very near to the borderline.
I guess you like sci-fi?
Yes, of course. But I'm a kinda picky guy with that. My favourite author is Stanislav Lem. And it's really interesting to read really old sci-fi stories, like Jules Verne's.
Have you seen "Metropolis", made in 1926?
You mean the German movie? Yes, I've seen that. It's a great movie! Its director made another great movies, like "Golem".
What's up with the live album we are waiting for a long time already?
We made that album for Japan. Now you can get it in Europe too but just as an import, so it's fucking expensive. We always wanted to play in Japan. The organisators said it would be better to promote the tour if we put out an album before. So we just took the material we recorded at Wacken last year. It was a bit fucked material because we had lots of problems during the show, like no sound on the stage, no electricity - we had a five-minute long break because my guitar wasn't working and shit like that. But we said: "anyhow, if they want something, they get something." We just took that Wacken recording, didn't do much with it, just mixed it and sent it to Japan. Now everybody likes it.
Do you know how many have been sold?
Not sure, I can just guess. Maybe 5000 copies in Japan but I don't know how many imports have been sold in Europe. It's strange. This album is nothing special, we made it to promote the tour in Japan. We played only two shows in Tokyo. And the album is pretty successful.
You put the live album's songs online for downloading. Why?
We've been nice guys, that's why. Maybe it's not fair to the people who ordered it from Japan. That is fucking expensive and we don't want to "steal" money from our fans. Of course it is better to have a real album and listen to that and maybe if somebody who likes the downloaded songs will buy the album anyway.
Since the reunion of the band you've played lots of gigs. Have you thought of putting together a DVD?
We are working on that. This summer we recorded most of our open air performances. Now we have a lot of material to choose from. We are working on it now, it should come out sometime in the beginning of next year.
What else will you put onto the DVD besides the live recordings?
Some backstage material and everything we can find. We have so many tapes and old shit we have to check out in first place. From the live recordings it will be pretty easy to choose by soundwise. But at the moment I'm not sure what kind of older and backstage material will be used.
The band is 20 years old now, it would be really nice to put a DVD together that covers the history of the band.
Yes, that's what we intend to do. The old material sometimes has a bad quality, so we have to check out if we can do something about them. There is so much material we have to go through - it takes time.
You've played at Swiss Metal Dayz, at the Z7 in Pratteln, that was something like a celebration for the 20th band anniversary. What as it like?
It was great! It's like our home venue there. It's near to the place we live, something like 20 kms. Everything was fine on stage. We had a killer sound and there were maybe a 1000 people.
The title fo your new album can be interpreteted differently. What is your explanation for "Metal Discharge"?
Of course Metal is written with a big letter and discharge is just there. Of course there is metal inside, haha...I hope so. And as you said you can have different meanings with "discharge". Let's say it's like metal overloaded, it's like a gunshot. But you can find the one that fits to your taste.
And the skull again that is with the band since the beginning...
There are a few people who complaind about the cover, that we are using the same skull again instead of something new. I think sometimes you don't have to complicate things. If you have a good idea but simple, that's still good. This skull is with us since the beginning, it's a symbol for us. And there are a lot of people who have it as a tattoo.
Yeah. I've seen a few mad butchers too but most of the time they have the skull tattooed on their arms etc. Maybe they are crazy, I don't know. But sure, I always like it!
By the way...what does this exploding skull symbolize?
The end of mankinddddd!!! (evil voice) And if you watch it really closely, maybe you can find Earth there. Between the eyes there is Africa, haha (roflmao for minutes).
You've had a lot of problems with the first edition of "Antichrist". Will this happen this time again? ;)
So far nothing like that. I just saw the first press of the cover and this was black, no blue or green. I hope the songs are in the proper order, too.
I've read that you put some bonus stuff on the limited edition of the cd. Demo versions, covers and unreleased version of "Bestial Invasion". Which demo songs are those?
These are just pure demo versions of some songs, "Butcher Strikes Back", "Metal Discharge" and "Nailed To The Cross". They are like rehearsel songs, with low quality.
You've made a video clip to "Desecrators (Of The New Age)". What was its making like?
The making was pure hell. The whole summer was very hot and when we shot the video it was like 40 degrees. It was tiring to headbang a whole day and my neck hurt very much at the end of the day. It felt like I couldn't move my head anymore. We recorded it in an old factory. Schmier's brother chose the place, who also did the cover artwork for "Metal Discharge".
What kind of responses have you heard about "Metal Discharge"?
Surprisingly good. I read just one bad critic where the guy was complaining about the sound. I know you can't do it right for everybody but I'm really suprised on the very good reactions. I'm proud :)
What might be the key to your success in your opinion?
I think it's because we are just honest. We try to stay on the ground and we always work on the music. I always try different things with my guitar to give our best.
How much do you play on your guitar?
If I'm in the right mood sometimes I play on my guitar for five hours a day. If I'm not in the mood I may not play on my guitar for a month. It depends on how and what you are practising. There is no use practising things you can already play.
How do you feel when people are talking about you and Destruction as their influences?
Of course I like that. It shows my work was useful for somebody. It's a big honour for me if they like it. Especially when musicians I like are coming to our shows and enjoy it. For example when we played in L.A. and I saw Lee Altus from Heathen, Gary Holt from Exodus and guys from Testament like Eric Peterson in the audience. It made me kinda nervous, he is my favourite guitar player. It also makes me really proud when they come to me after the show "hey, it was cool Mike"'. I really like Eric Peterson and every time we meet we have really fun together. Two or three years ago he told me "oh Mike, I like your riffs and I steal from them all the time" and I told him "how cool Eric, I do it with yours too", haha. He is a very cool guy.
What is the best thing of being a member of Destruction?
Maybe travelling around the world but there are so many things that have happened. So the whole package that goes together with a band. I like to play music and I like to travel, it's rock'n'roll you know ;)
Do you remember the very first Destruction show?
Yes, it was sometime in 1984. I was fucking too nervous to play. I had shaking knees and so...That wasn't our best show but now it's a sweet memory. It's a part of my life.
When I go on stage now, I feel more active. We played so many shows so I know it will or won't go well. You have to work on it to make it well but sometimes you can't do anything about it.
Do you like to go concerts?
Sure! And I'm more a listener. I like bands that sound "cool" on the stage and not the noise mess. If I don't like a band I go out, smoke a joint and wait for a better one. There is no sense to watch bands you don't like. I was at a Classic Rock festival in The Netherlands this summer where I saw bands I have never seen. That was the highlight of this year so far. I saw Uriah Heep, Manfred Mann, Budgie from England - they are one of the first bands from the NWOBH, Deep Purple and shit like that. It was really nice. ;)
What kind of music are you listening to at home?
Oh come on, that's not a fair answer.
Hahaha...but it's true. :) I'm not just fixed on thrash metal or so. Still, metal is my favourite genre but I'm also listening to jazz, flamenco, classics...everything. What I don't like is the commercialized German folk music, that is really crap and that fucking mainstream pop music, that is so childish. Of course there are good pop bands but most of them are crap.
Have you heard "Return To Fantasy - A Tribute To Uriah Heep"?
Yes, I've heard it but most of it is just crap. Two or three bands only made good covers on it.
When you started Destruction you've had lots of leather and bulletbelts. I guess then it was for shocking and surprising people. And nowadays?
I guess people still want to see us wearing this kind of clothes. We looked silly in pink trousers I think..haha. It goes with metal. When we were young we used to wear them on the streets too, and sometimes I still wear a bulletbelt.
It's a typical question but you are into metal for more then 20 years. What is the difference between the 80's and the current metal scene?
Now it's more open minded. In the 80's you could seen only long haired guys in leather at metal concerts. Now it's more mixed, there are some hippie, there are some really young guys, there are some grandfather aged people...everybody. It's more fun than 20 years ago.
I'm sure you've met many crazy or not crazy but not-regular fans through the years...
Yeah, a lot. For example our youngest fan is 2,5 years old now. He is the son of our friend who produced our album. He is a really cool boy, he is really intelligent, he knows our songs and can sing along them. He is lerning English by singing our lyrics. He is really into metal. I know it sounds funny...
You've got a nice homepage with chat and forum to keep in touch with the fans. Do you participate in it?
It's more Schmier's job. I'm an old fashioned guy, I don't even have a computer at home.
Thank you for the interview. Last words?
Stay metal and keep using your brain.
submitted by Katalin 11.10.2003