DESTRUCTION's SCHMIER Says Heavy Metal Bands Using Backing Tracks In Concert Are 'Lying' To Fans

May 23, 2016

Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces recently conducted an interview with DESTRUCTION vocalist/bassist Schmier. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On making of DESTRUCTION's new album, "Under Attack":

Schmier: "It's the biggest time off that we had between albums — four years — so we had enough time to write, which I think was much better than finally starting to write again after a few years. I think this was a good step that we took. We also chose a procedure of how to record. We left a bigger gap between this album and the last album, because before that, for 17 years now, we've been writing an album every two years or so. We've been very productive, but this time it was just important to do a good album, and so we took some more time."

On the title track to "Under Attack", which deals with the Paris terror attacks:

Schmier: "We actually played that night, also. We came off stage into the backstage area, and there was a football game — Germany against France — on the TV. When we came into the backstage though, there was the news. Everybody dropped all of their stuff, and was shocked. We sat down, and watched the news that was going on. I had to play another show the next day, so this was, of course, a brutal experience. As you said, this could have happened to anybody. It's a similar feeling like when Dimebag (late PANTERA / DAMAGEPLAN guitarist Darrell Abbott) got killed back in the day (December 8th, 2004). I was just sitting in front of my computer for days, shaking my head and not believing what I read on the online news. It's something you can't believe, and something you have to face when you are a musician. I guess it's not just a problem in the music industry, though. This terrorist problem goes much further than just the music industry, but, of course, music festivals in the future will be an easy target."

On the DESTRUCTION track "Elegant Pigs", which deals with rock bands using backing tracks:

Schmier: "It's just a sad fact that a lot of rock and metal bands nowadays are using backing-track tape for backing up the band, with vocals, and strings, and backing vocals, and guitars, and keyboards, and all kinds of shit. For me, when you play live, there should be no backing track. A lot of vocalists also back up their whole lead vocals with backing tracks nowadays, and that's a very sad fact. In that song 'Elegant Pigs', I'm asking 'What the fuck happened to rock 'n' roll?' It's lying. The fans don't know when the band is cheating, but for me it's a fucking topic that I want to talk about. A lot of my musician friends don't like the fact that I'm talking about it, but I don't care. For me, rock 'n' roll is a holy spirit, and it's a fucking no-go to do this in this kind of music. A lot of pop bands have been doing this for generations, but not in heavy metal. Yeah, I'm dealing with stuff that is basically bothering me. It's also a big release for me to write lyrics — kind of my own psychological session."

On why some rock bands use backing tracks:

Schmier: "I think there are different reasons. What I hear on times, of course, is that the big bands are doing it so they sound live like they do on the record. They say, 'The big bands are doing it, too. I wanna sound good live,' and so then they use all of this backing stuff. Then there's another reason, which is that there are a generation of singers that can't do it anymore, or could never do it. Then they're backing up their vocals; the high parts, the melodic parts, the harmonies. They're backing them up with all of those backing tracks. Then there's a third thing, which is the new generation. The new generation is the laptop generation, who grew up producing their albums on their own laptops. When you go onstage, you just flip out that laptop, and then you have like 20 backing tracks running with the band. I see this a lot with all of the new bands. There's one singer, and he's singing in three harmonies live, and it's, like, 'What the fuck?' It's different. It goes from generation to generation — it's not just the old guys that can't do it any more. It's also a new thing which the young guys do too."

On the "brickwalling" phenomenon:

Schmier: "When your song is on some kind of a compilation, you want your music to have a certain volume to be kind of comparable to the rest. When you put your CD into the CD player and your music is much lower, it just leaves a weak impression. That's what's in people's heads — that they have to be louder. The American recording industry inspired this some years ago. In the beginning of the 2000s, it was getting to the stage where all of the American productions and masters had such a loud volume, and everybody was following it. Over the years, it became normal that all albums were sounding fucking compressed to death. I remember the METALLICA album — the latest one ('Death Magnetic', September 2008) — where it had like cracks. It was so compressed, and it was starting to crack through the speakers. That's definitely not the way to go, so I'm glad that we have the control to move back to where we want. That's why we didn't choose to work with a big producer this time, because even if you tell them not to compress it so hard, they still do it."

Read the entire interview at Metal Forces.


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