Life is definitely full of surprises. The first time I spoke to Mike, Destructionís axeman, I was a fifteen year old kid attending my first Thrash Metal gig in the famous Rodon Club in Athens. Fifteen years later and based on the release of their first ever DVD "Live Discharge", I got the chance to continue a long overdue conversation with my childhood hero. The butcher strikes back!..
Good afternoon Mike. Itís nice to hear your voice after almost 15 years. Where can we find you these days? What are you currently up to?
Mike: First we need to relax a little! We have just finished touring Brazil, nine days there and one show in Chile. After we returned home to Germany we did two more shows. Touring America is quite a tiring experience, cause you always have to fly and the distance between countries is far bigger than those in Europe (laughs). After every show you have to get back straight to the hotel to catch some sleep, cause next day you will need to wake up around five in the morning, catch the plain and get to the next place - itís a bit crazy and very stressful. Every one is feeling quite tired now, but there are more things to happen in like two weeks time...a few live shows...yeah Iím really waiting for that!
You have recently released your very first DVD "Live Discharge". Why did you decide to release it at this specific moment in time?
Mike: Well, we exist for quite a long time now. We never did a live video before, just a couple of TV shows, and I believe that we needed to give people who do not know us an idea of how the band looks like playing live. We decided that it was time to do something for them, so we recorded the Wacken show. It was kind of funny recording this show, cause we fucked up a few times...
Yes, but even fuck-ups are part of the show...
Mike: Yes, we did decide to leave them all in the actual tape...yes I really believe that we made the right choice to leave them in this DVD, itís like a best of (laughs). Itís really funny. We had a very shitty feeling about that show, and if you see the pictures we took and the reaction of the crowd, I believe that things could have worked out really well. At first, when we watched the tapes of the show, we were a bit disappointed and thatís the main reason why we decided to add parts of different shows in this DVD - to show people that we donít fuck up all the time (laughs).
I was about to ask you why you decided to put parts of different shows instead of one whole gig, but you managed to answer this question of mine before I even asked it!..
Mike: Watching a band performing live in an open-air festival in front of 30,000 people is totally different than watching them perform in a small club. At the Wacken show we played against strong sunlight, because we came on stage at half seven.
Again I believe that itís funny that the other two members of the German Thrash Metal trinity, Kreator and Sodom, have released videos and live shows long before you guys.
Mike: As you well know, we had a ten year break at the time when Sodom and Kreator released their very best shit. Their techniques and their sound was improving, and things (album recordings/rehearsals) were not that expensive any more. Destruction were unlucky back then, but now itís our chance! (laughs)
I cannot fail to notice that this is one of the most professionally made Metal DVDs, both sound and visual wise. Whoís the person or the team responsible for this amazing production?
Mike: Yeah, itís Schmierís little brother - Marco is his name, and his nickname is ĎSchweineyí which means little pig (laughs). He did a really good job and spent plenty of time recording things for this DVD. Without him all this would not have been possible. Everything costs money these days, and he didnít want any money for this...
Just to follow you everywhere with his camera (laughs)?
Mike: Yeah (laughs). Of course he had his own personal expenses, but he never asked money for things like artwork and stuff. Heís also a really great musician you know. Itís really not an easy thing to cut the sound to the picture and make a collage out of all these different shows. We have been very lucky to have him working for us, cause believe me when I say that I have seen so many shitty DVDs before. Putting all these things together, and the fact that Marco was following us around in order to collect as much material as possible, I feel really lucky that he decided to work for us.
Your fans will be able to find, among other things, two videos "Desecrators of the New Age" and "The Ravenous Beast", both from your latest album "Metal Discharge". Are these the only videos that Destruction ever released, excluding of course the bootleg TV performance of "Bestial Invasion"?
Mike: Yes, unfortunately thatís all. The only things we had as a band were TV shows.
Thatís unbelievable! I would expect songs like Mad Butcher and Reject Emotions to had a video supporting them. Was it the fact that the record labels didnít support you enough at the time that deprived us from having more Destruction videos?
Mike: Money was always the issue. We always wanted to make videos, but the labels could not afford it, we had no support as far as videos are concerned. But now we have two brand new videos and you can expect many more to follow (laughs).
There is a very interesting section on this DVD, which contains an audio-discography with short parts of every song, which I find quite clever. I couldnít fail to notice that the albums that you released after "Cracked Brain", such as "The Least Successful Human Cannonball" are missing. Why is that?
Mike: The main reason is because Schmier was not involved in the creation of these albums. Schmier is part of the history of this band, so presenting albums which were recorded after he left the band should not be presented in this collection. The only thing that was common with todayís bans was the name, and thatís all. In any other way we should have included the Headhunter albums too...
(Headhunter was the band that Schmier made after he left Destruction in 1989. If you guys manage to find their second album "A Bizzare Gardening Accident", buy it without any second thought -itís a killer!!!).
In retrospect, are you satisfied with ""The Least Successful Human Cannonball" as an album? Which were the other two by the way?
Mike: The first one was called "Destruction", and the second one was called "Them Not Me". "The Least Successful Human Cannonball" was the third album I recorded by myself. To answer your question, I am pretty satisfied with all three albums. It was quite a hard time for the band cause we didnít have a record contract and we had to put money from our own pockets in order to record those albums. Still we did quite a lot of touring, especially in Eastern Europe where we played a lot of festivals and small venues. I feel good because I was still able to write music, even under the worst possible conditions.
You have toured many places while recording this DVD. Which was the most memorable gig, and why?
Mike: Definitely the one in Wacken. First of all because we had a really great audience. We fucked up royally that day, but still the crowd was very supportive and understanding. Wherever weíre going, we bring chaos...weíre a huge pain in the ass (laughs).
My copy of the DVD contains the bonus CD "ALIVE Devastation". Clarify something for me - Is this a proper Destruction release or just a bonus CD that came along with the release of the DVD?
Mike: "Alive Devastation" is a proper release, but a Japanese one. Two years ago we toured Japan, a place that we never played before and we then thought that it would be a good idea to release an album to honour our fans there. Then some people started to complain that they couldnít find the album, or that it would have cost them a lot to order it from there, so we decided to keep it cheap by adding it in this DVD release.
Itís been almost a year since the release of "Metal Discharge". Are you satisfied with the way the album was received by both the media and your fans?
Mike: Yes, you canít please everybody and especially people and the press in England, we had quite a negative reaction from that island (laughs).
Youíll have to excuse them, but I can definitely say that Metal music has become stronger over the last couple of years. Just make sure that you come back and do some live shows, and you will notice a huge difference.
Mike: We visited London during our last tour. We played in a venue called the Camden Palace which had a great sound. The people were really nice to us too. We once had to cancel a gig in England because Schmier had broken his finger, and some idiots turned and said that we didnít want to play and that we were looking for an excuse. One other time we had programmed a whole UK tour, which was cancelled at the very last minute. Strangely, I never found out why!
Still problems with promoters after all these years?
Mike: Oh yeah. Sill we always try to stay in touch and play on that fucking island (laughs).
You have been playing in front of Thrash Metal crowds for the last twenty years. Which in your opinion are the main differences between todayís Thrashers and those of the 80ís? Do you believe that there is still room for Thrash in todayís Metal scene?
Mike: Yes, I believe that nowadays there is more space for Thrash than there was ever before. Twenty years ago there were not many girls in a Destruction show, now almost half of the audience are women - itís much better (laughs). Now we are playing in front of mixed crowds, which is very nice. Guys who listen to Black Metal visit our shows and thatís great. We have fans from the age of fifteen, up to the age of sixty or seventy (laughs).
You have a sixty-year-old Destruction fan? Thatís fantastic (laughs)
Mike: Oh yeah (laughs). The youngest one is eight years old.
Eight? Whoís that?
Mike: Yeah, the son of our last producer. Yeah, heís really into heavy electric stuff, and he does have a good taste in music (laughs).
You have been changing drummers like other people change ties. How long is Marc going to stay in the band?
Mike: Marc is a really good drummer. He enjoys being on tour and drinking beer with the fans after the show. We are pretty satisfied with his work, so I think that he will be staying for a while.
Do you have any new material ready? When are we to expect a new studio album from Destruction?
Mike: To be honest with you, we donít have any new material ready. We are thinking about re-recording some of our old tracks or even making a cover of our old songs in Portuguese for our South American fans - that would be cool. I was thinking about inviting some people from South America for the recording like Andreas Kisser (guitar player of Sepultura).
Isnít it true that you are really good friends with Andreas?
Mike: Yes, we have played a couple of festivals together. It was a good experience.
Two guitars on stage...You kind of help me ask the next question. Why did you guys decide to have one guitarist in the band instead of two as you did in the mid 80ís? Donít you agree that two guitars create a more "massive" sound while being on stage?
Mike: The reason is to individually earn more money (laughs). Sometimes itís better if you have one guitar on stage, especially if you play in shitty venues. Especially when you are in a place with a bad PA system, sometimes the sound is not clear even with one guitar on stage. On the other hand, if you have a good PA, one guitar is enough to deliver the goods.
Have you kept contact with any of the former members of the band?
Mike: Oh yeah, we made a very funny show in Germany some time ago and we played again with Harry on stage (Harry: the second Guitar player of Destruction, when the band was a quartet).
How did it feel to play with him after all this time?
Mike: Amazing! I think though that it was more amazing for him (laughs). We still do tours and write music, though he stopped completely. He listened to our stuff and he said that now weíre a much better band! That makes me really proud.
Experience brings perfection?
Mike: Whatís perfection? I donít really know the meaning of this word and I honestly donít like it. I prefer to be more realistic (laughs).
Any plans for touring? Are we to see the holy Thrash Metal trinity (Sodom, Kreator, Destruction) touring Europe once again?
Mike: Everybody is asking me the same question!
Of course they do! Thereís nothing better than to see Destruction, Kreator and Sodom sharing the same stage!
Mike: Everybody is asking the same question. I guess that we will have to sit down, all three of us, and see what weíre going to do. We have no such plans at the moment. Maybe it will be quite cheesy to do it again!
Oh come on now, do us a favour and do it again!
Mike: You really think so? We were afraid that it would be boring for people to see us doing this thing again, but if everybodyís asking, of course we will have to consider doing it! Ok, maybe weíll try (laughs).
Life on the road can be quite hard and demanding. Do you still enjoy touring after all these years Mike?
Mike: Hmmm...It really depends. I loved the shows in Brazil for instance but the whole process was quite tiring!
People are mental down there!
Mike: Yeah, the people are so fucking positive about the band. Maybe you should move down there instead (laughs). I donít like touring the States. Some of the shows can be very good, and some others can be a total waste of time I always like the west coast and I also enjoy touring in Canada. I do not like the treatment we received in the mid-west though. Donít get me wrong though: I love being on stage and playing music, especially in places like the South America, even though we donít get to sleep at all and things are quite stressful.
Which are the things that youíd like to achieve with Destruction? Do you think that the band has received the recognition it deserves?
Mike: I would like to have more money, for sure. There are so many talented musicians out there who never had the chance to make it, and they still have to go to their everyday jobs in order to earn money. I do not have to go to the fucking factory every morning, so I guess Iím pretty satisfied. On the other hand you have bands like Slayer , a fantastic band of course, but their latest releases are medium to boring and still they sell like crazy. Same thing applies for Metallica.
Whatís your favourite Destruction album, if I can ask such a question?
Mike: Always the new one (laughs). If youíre not that excited about your new album, it means that youíre doing something wrong, youíre getting weak. There are so many people, especially Black Metal fans, who tell me that they think that our first album was the best. Itís twenty fucking years that Iím trying to develop my technique, how can they say something like that? Itís kind of strange!
I think that it has more to do with the fact that theyíre trying to pretend that theyíre really cool, that theyíre listening to the band for so many years than understanding what youíre trying to do as a musician.
Mike: Too much image...I donít know. Itís the same English guys who gave us the bad review in the first place.
Oh forget about this thing now! Not all people in England are like that (laughs).
Mike: (laughs) Some of these people see us like some sort of Nazi Metal band or something. Theyíre so fucked up man...what do they want coming to our shows? They should fucking leave the building and leave me alone...shitheads!
Which are the highlights and the low-points of your career?
Mike: The worst memory was when I asked Schmier to leave the band. It was really depressing.
What made you make that decision?
Mike: Things back then were getting out of hand. We had really good material in our hands, but the lyrics that Schmier wrote were really bad...we were all becoming a bit angry with eachother...things were not really nice. The best memory: I always like being on stage. When I have a good sound and Iím on stage, thatís the best thing that can happen to me.
Well, I have covered all the things Iíve been meaning to ask you. The last words are yours!
Mike: We need to come to the UK to play some shows. Letís hope that the fucking promoters will do their job properly this time!!! See you on tour....
Iíll be there!
Interview © 2004