DESTRUCTION Frontman On Illegal Music Downloading, Groupies And Religion

U.K.'s Terrorizer magazine recently conducted an interview with bassist/vocalist Marcel "Schmier" Schirmer of German thrash metal veterans DESTRUCTION. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

On economics:

Schmier: "Yeah, as we're touring now and we're already feeling the first reactions, it's a disaster. I think it's going to be a disaster for the entertainment industry in general.

"I think people will still drink though, harder than ever (laughs) because in bad times you want to forget, don't you? So the alcohol industry will have a great time. But the music industry and the entertainment industry will suffer.

"Right now we have a problem because there are so many tours out there, and people don't have the money to go and see all the bands they want to see. And the forecast for Germany next year is very bad. Japan is also on the floor again. Those two markets are so influential for the world economy because Germany produces for everybody. Steel, electronics, cars. I don't know how it's going to go.

"In England they lowered VAT right? It might be one of the few solutions. But for me as a musician it's kind of fucked up because if people don't have the money to go to shows, and to buy CDs anymore then it's kind of hopeless."

On illegal downloading:

Schmier: "The problem is the record industry reacted too late, people don't see it as a crime now. They think it's just downloading stuff, it's a not a 'crime,' you know? They don't see it as stealing, and you won't convince people otherwise. I think it's too late now.

"They will have to find new ways in the future. I don't know how it's going to work. I think records will become just promotions for the tours. But again, if people don't have money they won't come and see the tours.

"What would I say to people downloading? You're going to make a lot of musicians homeless. And there will be no more music, because who's going to record the albums? You? (laughs)

"It's basically the labels' fault because they didn't react quick enough. They could have done some good online stuff like iTunes many years ago. When they came up with the first online stores illegal downloading was already normal.

"I'm guessing there will be a lot of unemployment in the music scene in the future, especially with the record labels. Lots of small labels will suffer big time.

"Many markets are illegal download markets anyway, South Eastern Asia, Eastern Europe, and especially South America. In those markets you don't sell many records. But the difference there is that a lot of people come to the shows. It weird over there. You'll sell 50 records, but have 5,000 people coming to the shows."

On good business sense:

Schmier: "What can you do, you know? As a musician, you're at the end of the line. Unless you do your own record label, you have no chance. And I don't want to do that because it's too much hard work. You end up having heart attack at the end of it, and you have no money because you have a lot of employees to take care of.

"I used to have my own restaurant for some years, I know hard it is to have a lot of employees and have to take care of them. It's why I like being a musician, you still have some sort of independence."

On smoking...

Schmier: "I don't smoke cigarettes, just a bit of marijuana sometimes. I think it's quite ridiculous what's happening now with the smoking bans. As a non-smoking guy it's comfortable to go out for food or something, and people aren't smoking. But in general it's pretty terrible, to give people all those restrictions you know?

"I think you should have bars with smoking, and bars without smoking. People should be able to decide for themselves, because people are old enough. They can choose to go to a smoking bar or a non-smoking bar."

On sex:

Schmier: "No, I'm not married. I've got a girlfriend. That's another restriction too, you know? The best sex I've ever had? Mostly with myself. (laughs) Sometimes sex sucks ass, you don't know what you get. It's like a big parcel, and then at the end it's a little bit eggy.

"I think the best sex is with a partner, or with a good friend that you've known for a while. That's the best sex I think.

"Yeah, we still have groupies that are offering their services. It's mostly in South America, and in Japan, there's a lot of groupies in Japan. So when you come to the hotel there's all those girls waiting. But in Europe it's not so much anymore, the groupies thing was more wild in the '80s, for sure.

"A groupie is like a used toy. If you know where she's been then it doesn't turn me on. They're worn out. I've never been in any of that gang-bang stuff, it's not for me. But we're all on tour now trying to stay faithful to our girlfriends. And it's hard sometimes. We're just men, you know how men are. Always thinking with our dicks."

On religion:

Schmier: "I don't believe in a religion. I think religious beliefs create fanatics, and you see where we are with these fanatics now. Bush thought the Iraq war was a holy war, and all the fanatics in the Middle East are crazy as fuck as well. When you go back into our history you see what we did to many countries in the world. Especially Latin America. I don't see anything good that religion has to offer, except maybe the ten commandments.

"I don't think religion is a totally bad thing, but people take advantage of it and that's a bad thing. Religions could work, as people need something to believe in. Otherwise they'd be jumping out of the window saying 'Oh the world is hopeless, we're gonna die!' It's good that people have a belief in something. But most of the time it's getting abused.

"Stuff like Buddism really works in life because it makes people more happy. I just don't think religious beliefs work because people are abusing them most of the time, for their own money and for their own greed.

"Calling it a Holy War was the biggest disrespect you could give to the Arabs. People say 'I'm a religious man' and then they go out and kill people. Is that in the ten commandments? It makes no sense. Doesn't The Bible say to turn the other cheek? So how can you go over to the Middle East and kill everybody then? Religion doesn't make sense sometimes."

On living for metal:

Schmier: "I'm sure there are a lot of heavy metal front men who are calm. For me I don't really have to pretend, I'm authentic. I can go crazy onstage but also crazy backstage. I'm not playing any games. What I'm like onstage, I'm also like at home. I'm not putting on my wig and tight pants for the weekend rocker thing (laughs) a lot of people do that in this scene. Doing the music business just for the money. That's not my belief, I like to live my music 200 per cent.

"I've been doing this for 25 years now, so I've been through a lot of difficulties with my weird look. You get used to the abuse, and it just makes you more angry. People treat me like a fucking retard because I look different, even after all these years. And sometimes it's people with low jobs that are looking at you like you're fucking scum. After that it's tough for me to have respect for people in general when they are treating me like this. I give maximum respect to people.

"Of course I make fun of funny looking people as well, but I still have respect for a human being. And I think a lot of people don't have that anymore. I think the best thing about the rock and roll lifestyle is that you see the world, and it makes you more tolerant to a lot of things. But most people are just living in their own little world, so they can't be tolerant at all.

"In some countries people treat you well, they think the image is really cool in the States, or in some Latin American countries. They think it's cool that you're a rocker. In other countries people treat you like you have AIDS. They don't want anything to do with you.

Read more from Terrorizer magazine.

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