Destruction’s new album Born To Perish was released on August 9th via Nuclear Blast (read our review here and order the album here). The follow-up to 2016’s Under Attack officially marks the next chapter for these German Thrashers as they added Damir Eskic on lead guitar and have recruited Randy Black on drums. We caught up with bassist/vocalist Schmier to discuss their lineup changes, the new album, the evolution in thrash, and more.
How have things changed creatively with Randy Black on drums and adding Damir Eskic on lead guitar?
It’s always a scary moment when you have to change the lineup. But, for us, this time, it felt like a great chance to change. To have some new guys in the band that will inspire us, that are rather keen on playing with the group and have an excellent atmosphere. Through the writing and recording of the album. We’re well aware that new guys can bring in fresh blood. But, also you don’t want to change the style of the band. So we stick to our guns. Stick to our roots. The new guys are productive, but they didn’t overdo it, and I think you can hear the good chemistry we had in between each other writing this album when you listen to it.
Can you explain what convinced you guys to add another guitarist and how long was that in the works?
We talked about another guitar player for years. But, it had to be the right guy, and it’s not so easy to find the right person, because we’re touring a lot. We’re on the road all the time. And, it’s not so easy to be a musician when you have a family, a girlfriend or a wife, or kids, and stuff. So, we wanted to make sure we got the right guy for the job, also playing-wise. And, we were a successful trio, it worked — the chemistry between the band members. And, a trio is good because of the fewer people, the less trouble, you know, more people always have different mindsets and different opinions. We wanted to make sure to find the right guy and Damir, the guitar player, he’s a good friend of mine, and he already played some solos in the last album, and well, it was just the right moment to do it. For the songwriting and everything. For me, it was finally and maybe joining up again for two guitars, because you always hold back when you only have one guitar player.
In the trio, you aren’t using any backing tracks or something; you are a live band. And, then, you always hold back the harmonies and double harmonies and solo parts. Now with two guitars, you could go full speed ahead. So, they work for me a great experience, again, to have no limits writing the album and have two fantastic guitar players that can do everything. And it was fantastic. I wish we could’ve worked it out earlier, but, as I said before, it needed the right timing, like everything in life. It wasn’t possible before to do that. Now we have found the right guy for this position here.
It’s always a matter of timing. How was the process like creating Born to Perish?
We usually don’t write when we are on the road, and we had a lot of shows on the last tour. When we came back from the tour, we took two months off and started writing the album. We had a really good run. We created the songs right away in the studio. We did the first demo, we put down some lists together, and then I went home and started writing the lyrics. I put some vocal harmonies in places, and then the next day, we went into the studio and recorded the first demos. We nailed the songs right away, to see if we liked the ideas or not. Because, you can rewrite the songs in the rehearsal room a million times, but you don’t know 100 percent if it’s going to work if it doesn’t sound good on the record too. And, that’s what you only hear in the studio. That’s what we do; we learned this throughout the years. It’s good in the early phase of the album; we’re ready to record the first demos. And, that helped us have a very strong process of recording, writing, demoing. And, within three and a half months, the whole album was written, done, and recorded.
Can you discuss some of the lyrical themes?
I write the lyrics. I think it’s always weird when you see a band that the singer didn’t write the lyrics, because you have to express the lyrics. I wrote about social content, personal stuff. Most songs are personal experiences or opinions that I’ve written down. Some deal with negative feelings. A song, “Inspired by Death,” it’s a song that deals with life and death, and what happens when you’re dying. It’s a different experience, and I wrote this song when I had some friends that died, some musician friends, also. I try to keep lyrics close to reality, the most honest way I could write.
Born to Perish seems like a brand new chapter for you guys. Has this changed the way that you perform live?
The trio was very established. We worked well together, so when there was a new guitar player on stage, I was worried a little bit in the beginning. Because, the way we move, the way we walk on stage, the whole band prepping. It’s an essential thing. But like I said, the new guy fit into that well. He’s a very fearless guitarist also. So he blew my mind right away. From the musical side, this is a positive phase for the band. It’s stronger than a trio, of course. Even though we lost the trio because it was a sure thing that we did, but of course, now with two guitars, we can do a lot of stuff that we couldn’t do before. Like, the two leads, guitar duets. We have so much more to offer live. I enjoyed it. I think we became a stronger live band. Even if we didn’t start live before, but I think now the group is punchy.
I’m curious to see you guys as a four piece. Do you guys have any touring plans or are you planning on returning to the states again?
We have a European tour with Overkill and Flotsam & Jetsam. Then we play some more festivals during autumn and winter. We get to have a headlining tour, starting the beginning of next year. And, we will tour in Europe again, and Asia. We are talking to several promoters in the States about a cool headlining tour we are going to do in March or April. So, hopefully, this will all come together.
In your opinion, how has thrash music evolved over the years?
It’s great to see a whole new generation of kids playing thrash again. Because twenty years ago thrash seemed kind of dead. A lot of established bands were going into different directions. Thrash was dying out. And with some of that name, “oh, I play in a thrash band,” “oh thrash!? Oh, that’s old school, no one cares anymore.” Nowadays thrash is refreshed, it’s music for the young generation. A lot of great bands out there, a lot of young bands. Also, the old bands are still going strong. And, thrash as a band musically wise, we still evolve our styles. Of course, we have found our base, which is the 80’s old school way. But, we still on every album, we inspire having new ideas. We still write about stuff that is going on in the world, which is something that not so many metal bands do. Some people think that heavy metal shouldn’t be political or shouldn’t be about feelings. But, I feel heavy metal should express something. Especially thrash metal because it’s very close to the problems we all have in the thrash band. I think thrash metal still has a lot to say. I’m looking forward to all the young groups coming up in the next few years. For me, as an old schooler, it’s important to see that, once we’re not here anymore, the next generation will take over.
The younger generation is getting stronger and that’s good to see. Is there anything else that you want to say or add about the album?
I hope people will like the album. That’s what people never see is the whole process of how does this band makes decisions like this. It was difficult last year because we lost our drummer. And, to reform the structure in such a big way now. Once the process had doubts and had a lot of needed confidence. In the end, I’m very proud of the result. Other bands could have split up. We continued, we’ve been many times at this crossway, that we were like, “Hey, should we continue? And how does it go on?” And it’s always frustrating to lose a member. But, it takes some soul to stand up again, and we created a band back. And I’m very proud that the album is done. We’ve had a lot of great reactions so far. Many were screaming for two guitars for many years now. Here you have two fucking two guitars mother fuckers, you know. I hope you like it. There’s a lot of shredding going on, a lot of guitars, and thrash metal is alive and well, and so is Destruction. I hope people enjoy the album and I hope to see many people early next year in America. It takes two, three spins, but then the songs are catchy, I think. There are a lot of ideas on the album, and a lot of speed on the first two, three listens it takes. But, once you are in the album, it has a lot of songs that speak to your ears. That’s pretty rare for a thrash album, I think. I’m happy with the way it turned out. Sometimes it’s not so easy to unite aggressiveness and the speed and everything together with certain catchiness. I think this time, hopefully, at least for my taste, we made a good one.