DESTRUCTION Frontman On RALPH SANTOLLA: 'He Was One Of The First Really Skilled Lead Players In Death Metal'

September 8, 2019

Andrew McKaysmith of the "Scars And Guitars" podcast recently conducted an interview with frontman Schmier of German thrash veterans DESTRUCTION. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET) .

On new second guitarist Damir Eskić:

Schmier: "Damir, he's been a friend of the band. We met some years ago when he supported DESTRUCTION the first time with his band, and his girlfriend is the guitar player of a band called BURNING WITCHES, they're an all-female heavy metal band which I produced. We had a lot of contact in the last three or four years. He also played some leads on the last DESTRUCTION album, 'Under Attack'. We always knew he's a fantastic player. He was always somehow, I always admired him, but we never had the idea to ask him about joining DESTRUCTION. We were looking for a guitar player for a while, actually. We wanted to wait for the right guy, the right moment. Damir was the right guy at the right moment. He's somebody that we knew. He's an outstanding player. Now that we had finally the balls to change to a four-piece again because we were talking about it for many years. It was a big step for us. We were just sure that he's the right guy to fill in those big steps because we didn't know how the fans would react. For us, it was an important step to finally write an album with two guitars again, and also for upgrading the live situation. Being a trio was great, but now with a second guitar, the band sounds wicked."

On the benefits of having a second guitar player:

Schmier: "It has a lot of pluses. First of all, when you compose songs with two guitars, you have more possibilities. You can double leads; you can do more harmonies. When you compose with one guitar and you always have the perspective of playing live as a three-piece, you will never give it all. You will always hold back on some ideas. You will always hold back on harmonies and possibilities. I was fed up with this. I was like, 'I want to compose a DESTRUCTION out of the thought where we can really do everything.' Of course, for the live situation, two guitars, there's more power, of course, there's more harmonies. Also, we're able to do double-harmony solos again, which we already did in the '80s, so that's always a great 'a-ha' effect when you're live and the guitar players unite and the double har money lead is great. We always wanted to have this again. It's a plus on many levels. Also, Damir, he's a fantastic lead player. He's a shred-god. He adds a lot of little shredding details to the band."

On the 2018 passing of former DEATH, DEICIDE and OBITUARY guitarist Ralph Santolla:

Schmier: "Ralphie was a character. He was a crazy person. He always liked to party. He maybe partied too hard. That's a [price] you sometimes have to pay when you party too hard in life. I was very sad last year that he wasn't in a band anymore; he wasn't in an active band anymore because he was such a great player. His background was always more the '70s stuff like RAINBOW and SCORPIONS. He loved all of those '70s players, but he brought this stuff into death metal. He was one of the first really skilled lead players in death metal back in the day. He was always funny, also, and had a very black humor. Every time we played in Florida, he came to the shows and brought his great humor and great entertainment to the shows. It was very sad for me to see; I think the fact the tragic ending had to do with everything involved in his music business. When you kind of don't play in a band anymore and you're used to it and you stay home all the time, and you see all your friends touring and you don't, and you're such a passionate musician as him. That was really something that killed him also in a mental way. I was talking to him often and he was always hopeful for a new project. It never really happened. It's very sad because Ralphie was one of a kind. He was one of the guys you met, you meet him once, you'll never forget him."

"Born To Perish" was released on August 9 via Nuclear Blast. The disc was recorded in January and February 2019 with V.O. Pulver (PRO-PAIN, BURNING WITCHES, NERVOSA) at Little Creek Studios in Switzerland.

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