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Schmier (Panzer)

Interview with Schmier from Panzer
by Daniel Fox, Silver Tiger Photography at 09 January 2015, 10:05 AM

A unity of DESTRUCTION and ACCEPT… What more could you want? Featuring Schmier of the former, and Herman Frank and Stefan Schwarzmann of the latter, PANZER is a supergroup for the ages, having just come out with "Send Them All To Hell": a rip-roaring slab of an album that melds a little of the best of both bands, with catchy melodies and odes to the classics. Band mastermind Schmier sat down separately both Daniel Fox and Silver Tiger Photography and touched base on a myriad of subjects, ranging from their imposing stage presence, his criticisms of the human condition and why Heavy Metal is in their hearts.

Daniel Fox

Greetings man, it’s an honour to speak with you. How is life treating you these days?

I’m doing good, doing good. Having a little break at the moment, so doing some  promo for the Panzer release and gonna hit back on the road with Destruction next week to Brazil, so looking forward to escaping the German upcoming winter and going to some warmer territories.

Oh, very nice man. Look, let’s talk some German Panzer. You’re from Destruction, the other two guys are from Accept, so what made the three of you get together and create Panzer

It’s. I don’t know, sort of amount of craziness I guess, we’ve known each other since a long time ago, and I remember one day when we played together, Herman said to me, “Schmier, one day we’re gonna play together” and I was like, “yeah, he’s joking” and stuff, and somehow they remembered me and I see Stefan (Accept) the drummer quite often here at the local club scene because we live not so far from eachother, he lives in Switzerland and I live in Germany, but it’s at the border, and somehow they called me up and said “listen, sometimes we’re home and we’re bored and we’re looking for a second band.” And I was honoured that he called me up, and at the same time very interested, and it was a very spontaneous decision to start all this.

Alright, cool. Now the band’s namesake, “Panzer”. Do you have a fascination with tanks, or is the band really just a monstrous vehicle for heavy metal?

Exactly, yeah, it’s like, we’re all heavy metal guys from day one; we’re veterans of the scene and Panzer is a very classic metal trio, and the tank, the panzer, is also made of metal; it’s a big metal monster, so we see ourselves and when we came to the name, of course, it was difficult because people are also saying when you call it Panzer there’s some war thinking behind this, and then we’re German, and “Oh my god Second World War” and stuff. We knew this would be a little problem for the name but on the other side we saw this cover, and we saw it’s just a perfect thing that people remember also, I mean there's so many new bands and a lot of projects going on, and Panzer is just so much easier to remember it’s so German, so classic, and we just had to do it. Then of course the problem came up that some other bands were called Panzer too, “The German” into the logo, to be legally safe and not have any problems.

Alright, ok. I kind of have to wonder: you guys are already in huge bands right now; is Panzer supposed to be a fun side-project, or are you trying to make it a serious, full-blown endeavour?

I mean, we can’t make this bigger than our main bands; we all know that. But this is something that is great fun, and it’s something that has no expectations yet. It’s something we just can do without people, you know, expecting something, whatever. With Destruction and Accept there’s certain limitations and certain expectations; it’s a long history. So with the Panzer thing we can just do what we want and it was a great ride; songwriting was very spontaneous also and with our main band, we can’t really do this, you know? So I think there was a challenge to do this as a fun project but also to take it seriously enough to make a strong record and see what the future will bring. We definitely wanna keep this going and do more records and also play live, but you know how it is in the end, it’s also the people who decide; if nobody cares and nobody books it then it’s gonna be difficult but I think this has a lot of potential, and of course there has been a lot of name dropping now and a lot of promotion, so people have to build their own opinion and see if they like it, but if you love heavy metal and classic metal, the Panzer album will be a perfect choice.

Well, I mean it definitely helps on the publicity side if everybody knows that, you know, you’re from Destruction and Accept, right? That’s gotta help with putting your name out there.

Sure, sure, but you then of course magazines call it supergroup, and then there’s a lot of promotion because Nuclear Blast is helping us very well, and then of course there’s the first people that are skeptical, “oh my god, this is so blown up, can this be good” you know, and you know how it is, all the haters are gonna hate, you know? So I can feel a lot of support especially on the net and Facebook, and people are writing everywhere, but also I can feel a lot of people are skeptical and wanna hear it first, and the thing is we are releasing bits and pieces here and there, but I think basically you have to hear the album itself to make your own opinion, that’s what lots of people told me that they first heard one track and they were like “Let’s wait and see, this is not that promising”, and when they heard the whole album they were like “Wow”. So I think the whole album together is a strong piece, so we’ll hear what the kids say when the album comes out.

Yeah, You know, speaking of tracks like, well, like the track “Why?”, It sounds quite removed from what you normally play. Are you trying to keep Panzer like a completely separate band with its own identity? Separated from Destruction and Accept?

Yeah, I mean, I really tried to keep the songwriting away from Destruction, like when I wrote songs for this album I tried to go as far away as I can go without trading my roots. So for me it was far away from Destruction, if I listen to it now it still sounds here and there like Destruction, probably because it’s me singing, and in the end it’s heavy metal, and Destruction also has heavy metal influences. But we are still trying to be original in our own way, of course it will sounds like a bastard of accept and destruction somehow, but we also have a lot of other classical influences of NWOBHM in there, and we don’t wanna reinvent the metal wheel, you know, it’s not possible; we’re just paying tribute to our roots and to the roots of metal, and it’s just great fun, and if we’re able to write good songs, I think there’s a good future for the band also, and so far we had just a great time together; it’s a privilege to play with guys like this, they were in the scene even longer than I am, and it was just great fun; I can learn something and we can trade ideas and stuff, so it was a great experience.

Ok; you know, speaking of that track, I feel like it’s one of the deeper tracks on the album. Are you just looking at the fucking shitty world we live in, and asking, “WHY?”

Exactly! A lot of those lyrics are just directly in your face, just like questions I’m asking myself sitting on the plane travelling somewhere or when I just do daily stuff, or like “Mr. Nobrain”, it’s a song that I wrote when I had a difficult day with idiots, you know, same with “Why?”, like we only have one song on the album that’s a little deeper, it goes a little more atmospheric, and we’ve been jamming it in the rehearsal room, it was basically a song that we wrote together in the rehearsal space, I see this more in the tradition of Black Sabbath in the Heaven and Hell era, you know, more like groovy and atmospheric kind of metal, and it was nice to write something like this because I usually can’t do this for Destruction and Herman is the perfect guitar player for those kind of riffs, so it as great. And yeah the lyrics, of course, “Why the fuck?” You know? It’s a question I’m asking myself a lot of times a day (laughs).

So would you say that both those songs are sort of criticisms?

Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of criticism on the record; basically a lot of my lyrics are going in that direction; I’m not asking for a solution; I’m just saying what I see, and I’m still trying to be positive somehow, and you know, not told to be negative about stuff but I’m just telling my opinion basically. Some of the songs of course are going into different directions like “Freakshow”, it’s a song about us, about musicians, about people that are different, about people that are freaks of society because they aren’t doing what the mob does, so those are my turning points and my views on the world and I’m just trying to put them into lyrics.

Yeah, Ok. About the band’s sound; other bands like Rage or Anvil stay as a 3-piece but still manage to keep an incredibly heavy sound. Many other bands take on two or three guitarists, but Panzer is heavy enough with just the three. Are you looking to stick to a threepiece?

As a band, for sure, because we work best as a threepiece together you know, we are all three leader kind of guys, we know how the business works; it would be difficult with a fourth member. But for live, we were talking actually about bringing in a second guitar player, because the album now sounds so heavy, just a lot of harmonies on the record and a lot of twin guitars and stuff, so I think it would be very difficult to do this live as strong as the record, you know, because there’s also a lot of backing vocals. I mean, the great thing is, the other guys can sing as well so that’s not gonna be a problem, but for a second guitar I’m seeing us right now bringing us a second a guitar player, one of our friends, you know; there’s a lot of good friends playing in other metal bands and we already had some guys calling us like “Hey, when you ever play live and need a second guitar player, call me up!” so I think it may be not difficult to find a great guy to help us out with the live shows.

Oh, very good. Speaking of live shows, how do you see Panzer working as a live band, considering you both must be really busy right now; I mean Accept’s still in Australia, Destruction's going to Brazil, how is that gonna work?

I see us having some warmups next year before Summer, and then play some Summer festivals; that should be the first step. We have confirmed the first couple of festivals already now, so that will be the first step. Then hopefully we can do some collab shows and maybe even some support tours; that would be a great thing for us, doing a support tour in Europe for a first tour, and then we will see from there on. I think there’s always time; we will release a new album in August, I’m gonna do some promotion and stuff and this will give us definitely some weeks where I have time here and there for Panzer also. So I can negotiate Destruction really well with the Panzer thing, and for Accept they will be mainly done before Summer, they’ve been touring now for like months and months on the road so they need a break for sure, so I think we can find a way to make this work; I’m not worried about that.

Oh, great. Do you have any live shows confirmed to promote the new album right now, or is everything still in the planning stage?

Right now, for Panzer, I think the first shows we can play basically will be early summer, because until then Accept will tour and also Destruction will record the new album, and then we can actually focus on Panzer again, so we cannot really like play a tour right away when the album comes out like other bands do of course, but we definitely wanna play live because when we founded the band, we did this because we wanna play live, and that’s what we’re gonna do this year; I’m very positive about it. It’s also gonna depend a little bit on the success of the record, when there’s demand and people like the album, the promoter’s gonna come and ask if like, nobody likes the album, it’s gonna be more difficult for us to play. So, we’ll see; but I’m very positive that we already have so many offers and interest at the moment; it should be a nice schedule next year, I’m gonna be a busy guy next year.

Oh yeah, that’s gotta be good news. Now just a side thing, I’ve been kind of curious; say Panzer and Destruction were to play at the same festival, would you be open to say, I don’t know, doing a double set?

I mean, it’s gonna happen next year I’m sure, I already know one festival where both and will play on different days though. I think it’s difficult on one day, that’s actually really twisted on one day, but the thing on two different days is no problem, and I still think it’s weird to do that but when, you know, when we’re closer, it’s still gonna be a different thing because with Panzer we’re gonna have 2 guitars and it’s gonna be classical metal and with Destruction we’ll do what we always do what we always do, so it’s gonna be interesting. But it’s a little twisted for sure (laughs).

Well, you know, that wraps it up. Thank you very much for your time, this is certainly not a supergroup I was expecting, so I love that we got a chance to talk about it. Do you have any last words?

Well thanks a lot, I hope people are giving us a chance and listen to the record, and it’s been fun doing this, and I’m glad we took the chance because you know, first of all, we all knew from point one that it won’t be so easy because there’s a lot of bands jamming together now and a lot of projects going on, and of course a lot of people say “Oh, another one”. So we were aware that there could be like a little cold breeze from the press also coming, but so far so good, we’ve had a very positive response from the press, and hopefully people are gonna like it, because without the kids, we wouldn’t be here and we still love what we do, so hopefully people are gonna give us a chance and check the album out.

I have no doubt about that. Well, thanks for your time. Goodbye!

Thank you Daniel! Thanks a lot man, thanks for promoting and supporting us

Silver Tiger Photography

Danke schoen mien lieber freund for your time. It is an absolute pleasure to speak with you. Firstly congratulations for the debut album of send them all to hell, it is an absolutely brilliant album. I wanted to ask you first if I could about the cover art, can you please describe some of the elements of your panzerkampfwagen

Hahahaha you mean the cover artwork? It is a tank and like the most massive one ever because of course it has been done before and it’s not the first time a tank has been on a heavy metal album so ours had to be super intense and super evil so that’s why we chose all the little details with the little devils on the side and the little fire throwers and of course the guy who is in charge of the tank is a fucking clown, an evil clown and that represents all the leaders of the world or for people who lose their mind and have a power trip. It was also important to show how big the tank is so we have the little victims in front of the tank that are suffering and it is a very nice cliché heavy metal cover and that is the way we wanted it to be.

It is indeed it is terrific. I get more out of the album every time I listen to it, it’s one of those albums I can’t stop it at the last song, I have to put it on again. Did you and Hermann write most of the tracks?

Yeah we wrote some stuff together and some stuff separately. Of course Hermann being the guitar player, provided a lot of riffs, he is like the riff machine and I am mainly a songwriter so we worked very well together in the song writing process. We had to fulfil a certain time frame to get this album done but I am sure for the next time it is going to be interesting to see what we get out of it, because this is just the beginning so I think there is a lot of potential, and like you say you get more detail every time you listen to it

Indeed, I was lucky enough to spend some time with Hermann and Stefan here is Australia over the last few days while touring with Accept they are obviously great to work with.

These are great guys, I mean I have known them for a couple of years, Stefan I have known for years and Herman…. I mean one of my first shows ever was with Accept on the Restless and Wild tour back in the day when Hermann just joined the band so it was a big honour and a great thing to work with friends and people that I like musically and that are in the scene as long as me or even longer. It is a great collaboration because everyone is so experienced, we know what we want and we know what we don’t want, so it’s an easy game we don’t go into this with the danger you have of doing this with the younger fellows who don’t know what the business is all about.

Most certainly, and that type of experience is invaluable. I wrote a review about the album and one of the things I noticed was your sound on the album, it’s like there is 6 or 7 people playing, it really is a shock to realise there is only three.

Hahaha I guess everyone knows their sound and everyone has a distinctive style of playing. So together it sound professional. Sometimes in the studio if you’re not experienced then it would be hard but we have been in the studio so many times so it is a fun thing to do. Many musicians are afraid of the studio recordings and all the buttons but for us it is just a great thing to nail down the tracks.

Is there an essential difference between this album and your previous work with Destruction and head-hunter?

What is really different this time is you been working from different cities and you have to travel a lot, some stuff is from just sending like Hermann will send me a riffs and ideas over the internet and of course this is a different way than we work with Destruction. And we work very spontaneously also like when Hermann sends me stuff and I say “that’s good lets go for that riff and let’s make a sing out of this” or the other way around where I write some songs and send to Hermann and he confirms the ideas. It was very spontaneous. This is a rock n roll project, we have ideas, we nail them down and we record them and that’s a different way than recording with Destruction where we take more time to write songs. Of course as well, the chemistry is great between us so the spontaneous work worked really good, we all come from different backgrounds but in the end it is all rock n roll.

You and Hermann along with Stefan must have such a commanding presence on stage being such big guys.

I guess why that’s why Hermann asked me to do the job, hahaha, all the time I see him he is like “what the fuck, your even taller than me Schmier, one day we have to do a band together!” and I was laughing the first time he said this to me, but now it has finally happened. I asked him if he remembered that and he said “yeah yeah sure you’re the only guy who is bigger than me”.

Is there any chance of seeing you in Australia?

I hope so, we definitely going to play festivals next year. It will definitely be the first of Panzer shows next year, when Accept is back from tour and I have done all my destruction duties than we are going to play festivals which have already been booked and I know Australia has some festivals too so hopefully some people will recognise this great album and book us. Australia is obviously such a difficult place to play because it is such a long travel but I have been in Australia with destruction twice already, and I am always looking forward to coming back. I noticed more and more shows lately and the scene is still healthy. I know it is not the usual in Australia but a very dedicated one.

Do you have a favourite track to play from the album?

It is difficult because there is a lot of little anthems on the album but I think maybe the one I like the most because of the history and it was the first song Hermann wrote for the album. Firstly I wrote one album and then Hermann write one. So the song Herman first wrote for the album was Death Knell. I think it is my favourite song, it’s the opener it so much like a mixture of Judas Priest and something a little thrashier. It was the song I heard the most on the album because it was one of the earlier ones and we also we just recording a video clip for this one.

Your voice is so unique; you bring such a fresh new sound along with the work of the other members, it is such an astonishing new sound and when I looked at all the tracks and listened through I could not pick one favourite/

Yeah it is difficult I think it has definitely some real nice tracks that sticks to your ears. Even if the album has a certain brutality a certain attitude, it is still melodic enough to be catchy and remembered. That was a hard task to achieve and now its brutal and really metal and at the same time it is mellow and not cheesy.

I agree whole heartedly, it has such speed and ferocity I am prompted to ask, why is Heavy Metal your chosen genre?

Heavy Metal, how did it happen? It was so long ago. I think when we started there was no thrash and no Black and no whatever, there was just metal and I came into metal because I come from the country side so everyone at the school was listening to this cheesy music and I liked rock n roll. I liked Status Quo and my fathers Elvis records and shit. That school never really caught the spirit of rock n roll. I couldn’t realise why all these people are always listening to all the same shit, like on the radio. And these same people actually had an urge to listen to all the same music and for me rock n roll was different and it stood out and I really liked that fact. Because I was never guided to go with the masses. To me rock n roll is a part of freedom a part of standing out, a part of not following all the trends and stuff, that’s how I found heavy metal when I started listening in 1979, I think was my first real heavy metal record, it was Judas Priest’s Unleash in the East. The whole thing just made my day, the outfit, the sound, the whole look of the album and when I heard this I was like “this is the music I would die for. And ever since when we started with destruction for me this album was always there.

Listening to all of your albums and music it seems to me that Judas Priest had a big influence throughout your entire career would this be correct?

Judas Priest? Yes yes they, out of all heavy metal, at least for me, is the most “metal” band ever.

That would be cool seeing you guys playing Soundwave next year right next to them/

Oh that would be excellent, we are up for it hahahaha

If you could have your choice of anything and money was no object, what would you like provided for you backstage?

Oh my god if money was no object? I think I would like one of those beamers that they had on the Enterprise, so Scotty can beam me anywhere and I don’t have to fucking fly the next morning at 4am to play at the next show. Hahahahahaha I actually think that would be the best invention for a rock n roll person. Then you don’t have to worry about getting no sleep and shit because of travelling all the time hahahahahaha

Well it was terrific to meet Stefan and Herman in Sydney last week and I can’t wait to finally catch up with you, you are such a revered in Teutonic metal. Congratulations of “Send them to hell” it is a magnificent album and we can’t wait to see you hopefully in Australia.

I am proud of how people have reacted to this record and I do hope to tour and see the world I think it is a fresh heavy metal album and if you are really true heavy metal fan you have to really enjoy the type of music that we play with Panzer. Would be a really great experience to play at your festivals. And HOPEFULLY the people from Soundwave hear about it and book us, I think maybe there is a good possibility for this.

I am not an expert Schmier but I did put on the bottom of my review, that this album belongs in every heavy metal collection.

Alright Yah!!! PERFECT!!!

Thank you very much for your time Schmier and am very much looking forward to catching up with you very soon


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Edited 28 January 2023

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