Interview by Arto Lehtinen
Destructor, hailing from Cleveland, gained a cult underground reputation in the mid 80’s when releasing the legendary thrashing output MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION (1985). The four-piece was about to unleash their second opus until tragedy hit the band in the hardest way. The Cleveland thrashers have returned to the limelight with the new punishing thrash metal assault. Their brand new album FOREVER IN LEATHER is truly a must purchase for every old school thrash metal worshipper. The band’s guitarist/vocalist David Overkill sheds more light on the past and the future.
Howâ€™s it going there in Cleveland and whatâ€™s up in the Destructor camp ?
Things are good here. Destructor have been doing some shows around the midwest of the U.S. and writing some new songs that we hope to record in the beginning of 2008.
FOREVER IN LEATHER
As to the new Destructor output called FOREVER IN LEATHER. It presents brutal old school thrash metal to the bone. This may be a typical question, but are you pleased with the final and achieved result on the album or do you think some things or parts should have been carried out in another way?
Destructor are very happy with the end result of FOREVER IN LEATHER. There are always things that could be a bit better but that’s why we keep writing and recording and doing shows. To improve on what we can do.
There will be 11 songs, but there are a few older songs rearranged for the album such as â€œTear Down The Heavensâ€ and â€œWorld Of Warâ€. I think they were originally released (sorry if I am mistaken) on the STORM OF STEEL Ep. Did you think those particular songs needed to have a sharper and more brutal thrashing version than the original ones, or how did you end up re-doing them?
We just wanted to give a sneek peek into the FOREVER IN LEATHER release to come. â€œWorld Of Warâ€ was was remixed but â€œTear Down The Heavensâ€ was the same.
How long did you work on the songs for FOREVER IN LEATHER and did you already have in the early stage of the writing process of the material a clear vision what kind of album and songs you are going to have ?
Our vision is always clear on what kind of songs we will write. FOREVER IN LEATHER was in the works for about 3 years. Some songs like â€œSkullspliterâ€ were written in 2003 and many of the others followed. â€œTear Down The Heavensâ€ was the last song written. We recorded the record in 2006 and spent the better part of 2007 in post production.
Was it an easy going process for the Destructor four-piece to create the brutal thrash hymns?
Our songs are like our blood. They just kind of pour out of us. There may be a gap in the song writing process but then they just seem to come to us naturally.
Where did you actually record the album, in Cleveland I assume and who was responsible for sounds and producing?
The recording was done in Cleveland. Don Depew (from the band Breaker) recorded and produced. Don was great to work with. He really knows how to get the most from us.
In my opinion Destructor have managed to maintain recognizable sounds where the bandâ€™s music can be identified easily. In my opinion you have been able to have the Destructor sound since the early days or how do you share that standpoint?
Thank you. We have not changed and we will never do so. We don’t want to be remembered as the band that got confused. That’s why the recording is named FOREVER IN LEATHER . That title sums up what we stand for. We are forever a heavy metal band and we love to blast the metal.
Frankly, it took some apx. three years since SONIC BULLET was unleashed in 2003. I canâ€™t help but ask what was the reason for having such a long gap between these outputs?
We actually recorded the album in 2005 but we had a plague of recording problems in the studio we were first in and had to scrub the whole deal. We decided to go to another recording studio and record everything all over again. I was not happy at the time but in hind site it was for the best. Some times you have to go with the flow. One thing Destructor has is patience. Now we strike.
The album will be put out by the old common record label from Auburn. Have you figured out that being on the same label who already supported the band in the early stage of the career is the best as well as win-win situation for both parties ?
Yes. Auburn is really just an extension of the band. Bill Peters and Destructor have come a long way together and bill continues to promote us with conviction. Bill is like the fifth member of Destructor.
Did you ever try to look for other labels to release for example SONIC BULLET and the new one, or do you rather stay on Auburn ?!
We are happy with where we are at.
THE SPLIT EP WITH NUNSLAUGHTER
As for this split ep with the NunSlaughter outfit, how did you end up working with NunSlaughter for the Ep ?
We are from the same city and are friends. It was an idea that we wanted to try and the recording came from my basement. Destructor wanted it to be real raw. It was a fun experiment.
As far as I know the Ep is a limited version with different vinyl colours. How many copies were actually made and what was the purpose on using different sorts of colours? Was the Ep released just as a vinyl version?
Yes just as vinyl. Thats all “Hells Headbangers” do. The lay out and different vinyls were all the record companyâ€™s ideas. I though it was really cool. It seems to be received real well.
As far as the song â€œWatcher Of The Nightâ€ is concerned, which is a cover song. I think you could shed a little bit more light on why this particular song was chosen?
â€œWatcher of the nightâ€ is a Torch song. Pat Rabid and myself have always liked the 1980’s Torch stuff and we thought it would be better to do a cover of a great song than to give one of new songs. Destructor don’t really do a lot of covers so when we decide to do one we want to make it a song that is a great song that will fit our style.
Presumably it was an obvious choice from NunSlaughter to cover the old Massacre song â€œDeath In Hellâ€.. How did you like that one anyway?!
It was cool.
SONIC BULLET was the first studio album since the classic debut album. How was the feeling amongst the members to start writing the new stuff for SONIC BULLET?
That was the beginning with our bass player Jamie and it was real good for us. That proved to us and everyone else that we were back and ready to start writing again. SONIC BULLET was another turning point for Destructor.
That album included the Hawkwind cover song â€œMaster Of The Universeâ€, does that choice reflect your passion toward Hawkwind as some kind of tribute, because as far as I know you all are long time fans?
Sure, â€œMaster Of The Universeâ€ is a timeless riff and that song just seemed to fit the destructor sound. Lemmy was in Hawkwind…..Need i say more?
There are a couple of live songs included on the album, right? What was the purpose on having them on the album?
We never really had any good recordings live untill 2002, so we wanted to give a taste of MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION live.
â€œG-Forceâ€ and â€œThe Triangleâ€ are said to be leftovers from the unreleased 2000 sessions, what was that session one?
The session you speak of was all the songs that were going to be our second record ” DECIBLE CASUALTIES. We plan on releasing all of those songs together in the near future. We havenâ€™t done so yet because we wanted to show our fans that we still have a plenty of new songs.
As the debut album MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION was re-issued by the French label Listenable, why didnâ€™t the co-operation with Listenable carry on any further, did you view being on the good old Auburn turned out to a better choice after all?
Of course. Listenable didn’t have enough faith in Destructor. When Destructor reformed Auburn Records was just in the early stages of coming back as well. By the time the Listenable deal had passed we started talking more to Bill Peters about our future together.
However, the re-release of MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION somehow pushed you to return the band back to the limelight and getting the album became easier as only rare copies were left and available with incredible huge prices. The re-release version contains some bonus stuff anyway?
We wanted to make the listenable release of MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION a bit different and we had some post maxim recordings that we threw in the mix. We wanted to give everything we had up until that point.
Did you have to do the new mixing to the Listenable version?
We used the first mix of MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION for the listenable records. The old vinyl version, for Auburn was actually the second mix. The vinyl mix will be reissued in the near future.
How did Listenable get interested in putting the album out?
Laurent was a fan from back in the day and contacted me after reading an article in Germanyâ€™s Snakepit Magazine. There were a few other offers then, but we decided to go with Listenable Records.
Letâ€™s go back in time; what kind of process was the making of the debut album in the mid 80â€™s? Was it some sort of ‘dream come true’ feeling to get the album done?
Yes it was. We were fresh out of high school and we had only done one show when Bill Peters from Auburn Records approached us to make an E.p. at first it was to be called POUNDING EVIL, but after Bill heard all of our songs it was decided to become a full length recording. This was what we had dreamed of and we jumped at the chance to make a record.
Do you have any kind of idea how many copies were sold back then, as you have a licence deal with RoadRunner back then?
That’s a question for Auburn Records.
MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION was unleashed back in 1985, but why did it take a year and a little bit more from you to start working on the follow-up to the album?
We recorded MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION in the summer of 1985 and we started to record the second one in the summer of 1986. That’s normal isn’t it??
The second album never came out – instead I have come across plenty of kinds of official and not so official demo-tapes. Have you been able to keep pace up with these so called demotape outputs? What are actually the official Destructor demos? For example I have this Smash the Skull the power demo somewhere in my collectionâ€¦
SMASH YOUR SKULLS WITH POWER was something that every few months we added songs to. That demo evolved over a year period and was only intended to deliver Destructor to the metal fans of the world. it was never sold only passed around SMASH YOUR SKULLS WITH POWER was only a basement recording.
BACK IN THE HISTORY AND PRESENT DAY
The band faced an unexpected setback and tragedy due to the death of Dave Iannica. That shock kind of paralysed the whole band in that point and everything was put on ice?
Yes, that is true. the loss of Dave Iannicca was a very hard time for Destructor. We had so much going for us at the time and after Dave passed we lost our major record deal with Island Records (same label that had Anthrax) as well as the momentum. Things just changed so fast and next thing you know the whole metal scene in America had changed.
However, you tried out an amount of different bassists for the Breaker bassist filled up the place temporarily? But somehow those bassist choices didnâ€™t work out?
Dave was a family member and no one else seemed to fit in. The magic was lost. We tried but just couldn’t seem to catch a break. Not every band has the same fortune.
Even though the band was on hiatus since the late 80â€™s till the late 90â€™s, but Destructor never pulled the plug officially?
Destructors last show was in 1992. We had a different drummer and bassist. When the drummer wanted to quit because of different ideas in direction we (Pat Rabid and myself) decided to pack it in. We never quit making music but the metal scene in America along with all of the bad past forced us to take a break.
During the 90â€™s you didnâ€™t want to put the band back to the limelight instead let the sleeping dogs lie?
Knowing there was still interest in destructor along with the revival of old school metal in Europe helped us to bring the leather back out of the closet. We saw another chance to finish what we had started.
When Destructor went on hiatus, you however continued playing with the more Hawkwing oriented stuff in another rank named Spacecore. Could you tell more about Spacecore?
Space Core was a project that was spawned out of a chance to open up a show for Hawkwind. We knew Destructor was not the band for the show so we started the project Space Core. After we had written songs we realised that this was fun again and we were playing gigs again, so we kept going on with it.
LEATHER AND CHAINS
You have relied on using chains, bulletbelts and leather since the early days till now. It is obvious the Destructor guys will never be seen with normal pants on the stage, so image is important?
Leather is better than spandex and the leather is really what we are all about. We donâ€™t see a need to change like so many other bands who try to “fit in” with the newer sound and images.
As for the leather/chain image, I canâ€™t help asking if you were influenced by Priestâ€™s leatherebel image ?!
Of course!!! Kiss was a big one for us as well as The N.W.O.B.H.M. in general. Nothing says heavy metal as much as studded leather. Eh?
How do you still keep the anger and the evil sounding pounding metal sounds after these years? I mean by that the new stuff sounds damn aggressive and above all vicious brutal thrash how thrash should sound?
Destructor is still angry because we never had our chance back in the ’80’s . We now have a second chance at showing what real metal should sound like and to reach so many more people. Life is hard for every one and there will always be inspiration for us to scream metal!!!!!!!!!!
Destructor have visited a couple of European metal festivals, Keep It True and Bang Your Head. I believe you must have been surprised and overwhelmed about the reaction received at those festivals, did you ever dream of getting such a response?
It has been great. We always knew Europe was great but you never fully realise what the metal fans are like to you play for them. It’s interesting that very few of the fans just come to “make the scene”. The fans travel from all over Europe for one thing. Heavy metal. It not like that in America. The hard core fans will travel more now days just because the scene in their town sucks but most people want the bands to come to them.
As far as I know you have opened for Slayer and were involved as an opening band for Maiden/Dio/Motorhead gig in Cleveland, how were those experiences after all and what kind of reception did you get from the audience?
Those shows were great. We had the chance to play with many bands over the years. Megadeth, Anthrax, Overkill, Nasty Savage and Impailer to mention a few. Slayer was our third show, Haunting The Chapel tour I think it was.
How much do you still keep your eyes, checking out bands and can you name some particular ones which have caught your interest?
I like alot of different music and i like some of the new ,young, bands that play thrash metal as well as all of the old greats. Amon Amarth is one of my favourites. They are so brutal.
All right, I guess I may have asked a little bit too much, but I hope you enjoyed doing the interview. But I for one wish all the best for Destructor and final words are all yoursâ€¦
Thanks to metal rules and thanks to all who continue to support true metal and we look forward to playing for them around the world. Never give up on your dreams.
The official DESTRUCTOR site