DESTRUCTION's SCHMIER blasts bands who use pre-recorded tracks during concerts: 'play live or go home'
DESTRUCTION frontman Schmier has once again blasted bands who rely heavily on backing tracks during their concerts, saying “many rock acts betray their fans with pre-recorded tracks to have a flawless live performance.”
In recent years, more and more artists have been given a pass for relying on pre-recorded tracks, drum triggers and other assorted technology that makes concerts more synthetic but also more consistent. For better or worse, pre-recorded tracks are becoming increasingly common for touring artists of all levels and genres and they’re not just used in pop music — many rock artists utilize playback tracks to varying degrees.
Schmier addressed some rock acts’ reliance on pre-recorded tracks in a now deleted social media post on Monday (January 16). The 56-year-old German musician shared a graphic for a festival called No Playback Festival, and he included the following message: “The difference between Rock N Roll and Pop music was always that we play live and they use backing tracks. That has sadly changed. Many rock acts betray their fans with pre-recorded tracks to have a flawless live performance. Do the fans really want that? Or do they want honesty and a raw live feeling of real musicians playing real instruments and not computers playing their fave songs for the hard earned ticked money? I made a stand about this a long time ago but it got worst since. Now I just saw a Romanian promoter slandering my band cause I spoke out against backing track bands on his festival before.
“Sorry but there is no excuse to use a laptop. Play live or go home … if you have pride and you are musician, stop the cheating!!!
“There is this festival near Karlsruhe/Germany from fans for fans that want real honest live music. This is a real GEM nowadays …support real music – not laptops! #noplaybackfestival”
After some of the people commenting below his post disagreed with his sentiments, suggesting that there are circumstances under which the use of enhancements is acceptable, Schmier fired back: “sorry but its all freakin bullshit. If you wanna listen to a laptop and pay money for it ok. I do NOT and it is not neccesary to find excuses to cheat – just don t … I have ZERO tolerance cause it is the beginning of the end. It is called LIVE for a reason! Play live or go home …”
He added: No song EVER needs backing tracks sorry. Excuses from overproduced studio recording are lame as fuck. Do it live like the rock bands always did. Imagine the BEATLES were like: ‘well live we can not do it really – need a little help …'”
Schmier also clarified his original comments, writing: “The problem is you don t know what really is LIVE anymore, once the backing track is running. So to justify choirs is also wrong. It is all a cheap cheat. What happened to handmade music? Do you think the BEATLES would have used backing tracks as well cause it is easy???”
The DESTRUCTION bassist/vocalist went on to explain that he has nothing against bands using intro tapes or relying on a click track to keep from rushing tempos.
“Intros are Intros and nobody is faking to play them, they are a tool to announce shows and build up tension,” he wrote. “A click-track is an important tool to keep the band tight and has nothing to do with fake instruments, choirs or vocals coming of a pre-recorded hard disc. Musician to me, means to play live and real. But the word ‘live’ lost the meaning to many so called ‘musicians’. There is even bands which play their whole show from a hard disc…and then play along the playback.”
Schmier previously discussed the use of pre-recorded tapes at rock concerts during a 2016 interview with Metal Forces magazine. Speaking about the DESTRUCTION track “Elegant Pigs”, which addressed that very topic, Schmier said: “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.”
Regarding why some rock bands use backing tracks, Schmier said at the time: “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.”
DESTRUCTION‘s latest studio album, “Diabolical”, came out in April 2022 via Napalm Records.