Destruction Interview by Mike Exley.

With memories of the Alliance Of Hellhoundz romp through Europe (with Candlemass) already falling swiftly into last years’ misty background it would be easy to forget the tones of the wonderful "Inventor Of Evil" album (released in August) and begin planning for the next one, such has been Schmier, Mike and Marc Reign's strong and consistent output in recent years. But, as Schmier tells Mike Exley, you'd better be ready for quite a bit more from this three piece before they're done with Inventing things, because this album is much more than simply 'another stepping stone to the future'. Destruction are clearly not content to sit on their laurels……….

Schmier - "No, you see, we invested a great deal of time in this project. As well as joining a new label (AFM Records) and putting together the project from start to finish with Peter Tagtgren, which included arranging the whole 'Alliance' concept with many, many people from different styles like Doro Pesch, Peavey and Messiah singing on the one song, we also had to address very carefully the way we approach our music. We wanted to bring in a lot of the opinions some of our old friends had brought to our attention previously but also look for new avenues at the same time."

The 'Alliance' track was a very ambitious step, true!

Schmier - "Definitely, but it was also very rewarding for us because so many people who we feel very closely for agreed to get involved. I think, a few years ago, it would have been highly unlikely. But, now, because of certain factors - age, whatever - we found a great deal of unity amongst many of the people we approached and everybody really loved the experience. I think many of those people who participated are themselves Inventors in certain styles and for that reason I hope it meant more than simply writing and singing on a song. When we’re all old, I hope it’s something we can be proud of."

The most revealing moment of that whole project really is the last song on the album where you sing 'Alliance' solo…………

Schmier - "That was the basis of the whole idea, the moment I had to convince the musicians, really. Some people love the idea, for others it’s a bit much, but the meaning is important to me and if even one person takes away the meaning and tries to bond together with the musicians around them, then it’s done its job. It’s impossible to draw a line and say, "Oh, I’m not going to cross this line and try to interact with that particular style or that particular person…….."

Mike - "You can’t ignore the past. We don’t do it and the new fans don’t do it. You’d just be stupid if you put your head in the sand and said that you wouldn’t acknowledge those who came before, like us - people say that we‘ve influenced people and I‘m really proud when I hear that."

OK. You certainly planted that flag firmly at the top of the mast with your touring as well.

Schmier - "Sure. Some people may be surprised. Doom bands like Candlemass, and us; surely the styles are too far apart? No, I disagree. It’s all about tolerance and in the end the tour was a great success because we all love Heavy music, you know? OK, some of the shows were not sold out, in fact, some of the shows in Germany even were a little ‘lame’ in a way which is disappointing for us as it’s our home, but you’ve got to remember that it was at the end of a very long year - we seem to have many, many more festivals in Germany than we used to and money is short - so you kind of accept this. The UK is the same too, I believe? What I don‘t like though, and as the Internet freak in the band, I see this, is that attitude - "I‘m not going to pay 20Euros to see them and Candlemass because I don‘t like them. Why did they have to tour with them?" That‘s not a fan of heavy music, sorry!"

"What’s important for us is to get back that hunger that you see in places like London where we hadn’t played in two years - South America, Eastern Europe… I don’t know, we might not play the cities at home in Germany for a while?"

"What I did notice particularly in the UK though was that the crowd here is younger than it was last time… There are the old veterans of course, in Bradford and in London, but there’s also a new element and I think it makes sense now for more bands to include the UK on their tours. I guess it’s still expensive but there are a lot of other nations represented there as well and the news spreads. Like, take Israel for example. We played with Megadeth there and people really freaked out, were really hungry. That really kicks you in the ass in a way that playing your own, safe, backyard does not."

Let’s move on, whilst keeping that theme of not playing it safe. "Inventor Of Evil".

Schmier - "Well, yes, I would agree with you but what was important was to give more room to the guitars this time; to move Mike into playing more and have me singing a little less. I know Mike doesn’t make such a big distinction with it, but "Metal Discharge" (released in 2003) was completely different to this one simply because it was more complex and we had to do this one to reveal the differences…… Basically, more time meant better songs."

"Metal Discharge" was an important moment for the band. After we got the hunger back with "All Hell Breaks Loose" and "The Antichrist", it was the first album where we’d tried a lot of different ideas, but to me, "Inventor revealed just where some of those ideas didn’t quite make it. Maybe, Peter’s involvement helped, maybe it just comes down to keeping an analogue feel there in the studio and not relying too much on the digital tools that are there, I don’t know, but the hunger of this band comes, a little like Motorhead, from the three of us? Keeping the production tight, not loose like on "Metal Discharge" where it was a bit too rough - just tightening up on the songs so you don’t need triggers or loops or whatever!"

How much time was actually involved, because, of course, initially you didn’t have a deal when you started writing?

Schmier - "No, that’s right and of course it helped us in the beginning, but the pressure is always there when deadlines start to get closer so it’s nice to be able to have a bit more readiness. It has led to a better album, definitely…"

"I guess that leads on to the AFM deal too, right?"

You could do this interview thing, no problem!

Schmier - "It was a very strange time for us and very shocking for me certainly. Andy, the head of the label, had been in touch with me for ages; "Come to my label, Schmier…." etc., then two days after we sign he was killed in a car accident and boom; My God, what are we to do? It’s turned out very well actually; the people there seem to be very dedicated and everybody seems to believe that together, the two parties should just go for it and take it as far as it can go, so we’ll do our bit by playing the hell out of this new album wherever we can and I’m sure they’ll do their bit. Andy was a very, very special guy though, and he’s not easily replaced……………"

So, that taken into account. Where are you in the scene of things that you looked ahead to when you came back originally with "All Hell’s Breaking Loose"?

Schmier - "Well, still looking for challenges, I suppose. We’ve come to realise that we have so many fans in other countries where, sometimes, we have never even had the chance to play, you know? Then, like all musicians, we still have that desire to write the ultimate album. To improve as much as possible on your instrument, develop as a person, work on better songs…….. Just improve like an actor improves, or whatever."

"We have some great footage from Wacken 2004 where we had the full flaming stage show, so maybe there’s some future in that as a DVD; Mike and I have already talked about using the momentum we’ve gained with "Inventor for writing new material, and there’s been talk of going into a studio and re-doing some of the old classics updated with the new production techniques, as a "Best Of Destruction" idea but, of course, you have to wait and see. We’re already planning a full US tour, there’s dates to arrange in South America I think, then Summer festivals again. It never stops."

Now, to "Inventor Of Evil", itself. What many readers will not know is that Schmier is also a very good chef and used to own a restaurant in his home town … So, we asked him to come up with a menu, or series of ideas for flavours that would reflect "Inventor Of Evil"?

Schmier - "My God. Well, because we are a band that writes very hard, strong music, I would have to have meat as the centre of the menu with sharp sauces - not too rich and creamy but tangy like 'Soul Collector', vibrant - like a rare steak. Spicy sauces, tender meats later on with a wine base to the sauce…. Then, take people through some of the middle tracks like 'Dealer Of Hostility' with lots of flavour and finish with cheeses, red wine and cognac - or Grappa…… to represent a track like 'Killing Machine'; how‘s that?"

"It’s really important that you open with a strong track, 'Alliance would be interesting too because you could have some kind of Mezee with lots of different flavours representing the different singers, maybe also fish. 'Twist Of Fate' would be, like pasta or something like that and then, well, you have to let the whole thing flow. It’s definitely an earthy, very rural idea. Not over polished but very rewarding!"

And, so, we come back to where we started. There’s no doubt that Destruction are one of the few bands that have jumped right back to their very best only a few years after a sometimes painful rebirth…….. And long may it continue. Schmier has only this left to say.

Schmier - "We’re eternally grateful to the people out there who told us, when we got back together, that our music would never die, you know? And, every day, it’s now our aim to try and pay those people back. We can tour all over the place, write hopefully great albums; the road is where rock and roll was meant to be, right……And just be a band that can see places, not go to the same place every day and save up for that one week of the year in a holiday resort - the same one every year…?

"We might never really pay those people back, but we’re putting out heart and souls into this and we‘ll definitely try. We hope to see you all very soon."