Before diving into consecutive nights of getting sweaty in mosh pits, I had the pleasure of speaking to Alexia and Violet from Destroy Boys about their new album and their recent string of UK shows, both as headliners and support.
Hopefully you’re here having already read my review of Destroy Boys’ London and Brighton headline shows. If not, may I humbly recommend doing so, and we can begin on your return. Excellent. Maybe grab a cup of tea as well.
You’re back? Excellent. Hopefully now you’re aware of who Destroy Boys are and how badass their music is, all the more ready to enjoy this interview. Shall we begin?
Is this your first time playing the UK?
Alexia: No, second time, last time was 2019. Pre pandemic, the before times.
How’s it been touring with Alkaline Trio and Taking Back Sunday?
Alexia: It was so sick. So. Sick. They’re really lovely people. Very experienced, it was a lot of fun to watch them each night and get to hang out.
You got to play some pretty great wild venues as well, like Brixton Academy last night.
A: Oh my god that was so crazy.
Violet: That was so special, like not a lot of bands get to do that, especially from the states, so we’re so lucky. It was really cool, especially with such sick bands.
I don’t know how much you’ve been playing live with different rules everywhere, but what was it like to jump back into the scene following the last two years?
V: We were pretty active to a point during the pandemic, still in February 2021. I mean it’s obviously not over but post 2020 we recorded our newest record. We just spent the whole year before that just on and off writing that, and also doing other things outside the band. We did the band straight for five years with no breaks. Jumping back in and touring has been nothing but fun. The shows are way different than the shows we used to play, and we’re very lucky to still be a band and still be seeing people come to the shows and everything.
I was gonna ask what was it like writing during the pandemic, but I guess it wasn’t too much of a disruption for you then?
V: I mean yeah, there’s more time to be at home so there’s not much else to do. I got really into home recording which motivated me to do a load of demos – ‘Drink’ and ‘Cherry Garcia’ were Garage Band demos.
Did it make much of a difference to the actual writing process?
A: We weren’t practicing as much so that was a little different. Honestly a lot of the songs were written before the pandemic, like right before. January 2020, I wrote ‘Escape’, Narsai and I fleshed out ‘Locker Room Bully’, we started ‘Te Llevo Conmigo’, ‘Muzzle’, ‘Sweet Tooth’ were all before that. A decent amount of the songs came before. ‘All this love was 2018’. We worked with an actual producer which was how the writing process was different this time. We worked with Will Yip who did Turnstile, Code Orange, bands like that, so that was pretty different for us.
With ‘All This Love’, you said it was an older one, does that feel like a throw back to when you started out doing acoustic stuff?
A: Yeah, low key. I wrote it on a whim. It’s very personal, I was upset about, you know, love. Vi was like ‘yeah I love this song it should go on the album’.
V: I’m obsessed with that song.
A: I kinda hate it, but it’s alright.
Everyone I’ve showed it to is like, oh hell yeah.
V: Oh, thank you, that’s really cool.
I guess it’s really not like ‘I Think I Should Make Out with Other People’ either…
V: Oh yeah, that’s cool you know about that!
Obviously ‘All This Love’ is one of your more emotional and personal songs, but do you think that’s something that’s come through across the whole album? With songs like ‘Lo Peor’ and ‘Te llevo conmigo’ you connect with your heritage, and with songs like ‘Drink’ and ‘Bob’ looking at mental health, was this a conscious choice?
V: I think that’s just naturally how we write
A: All our other songs on our past albums are very emotional, it’s not like that’s been lacking from our music. You can look at our other albums and I don’t think either of us really write throwaway lyrics. This album is more soft, and that’s just because that’s the direction we went it. I don’t think it was a conscious choice, it’s just what we wrote.
V: Yeah, I don’t think there was an intention for a theme behind the record, but definitely just the theme of a lot of our stuff is emotional vulnerability, because how we express and purge our emotions is through music. It just comes out really naturally.
I guess now you’re further in and more developed as musicians you can sort of articulate musically with more nuance?
V: Yeah, since we’re older now and we know a little more about music we can do a lot more stuff. We have a lot of influences throughout the band too, so it just manifested a little differently than just punk.
A: Yeah, I was gonna say, during the pandemic I got a lot better at guitar and getting older makes us want to change our sound and do different stuff. As I learn new chords I wanna use them. I got so good, its actually kinda crazy. Like not to toot my own horn, but also to do that.
So the next record could totally be shredding.
A: I can shred a little bit; I’m working on it. I just didn’t have anything else to do.
After saying all this it’s not as though you’ve totally dropped the punk sound. ‘Muzzle’ is still that sort of full throttle, and then also ‘For What’. Did for what come around a bit later in the process?
A: For What was written, well actually I think the chords were written right before the pandemic, probably December 2019. The lyrics, I wrote in the studio, I think. Certainly the first lyrics were written there, in 2019, but then I finished them a lot later. Even back then in 2019 I wasn’t like “this is gonna be about fuck the police”, it took us actually writing the album to finish the lyrics off. Gotta put the pressure on, you know.
A: It’s funny, escape was written before the pandemic, but it totally sounds like a pandemic song.
V: I didn’t hear it until the pandemic, until we were gonna go in the studio, and I don’t think we were even talking about putting it on the record. We were writing another song that hasn’t been released, that we were writing for the record but got cut, in Alexias room, when they just started playing the escape chords. I was just like what is that one, oh just this dumb song, it’s some dumb four chord song, and I was like that’s so good.
A: Five chords.
V: What is it? What do you mean five chords?
A: C over here, over to C on the fifth fret. It’s a completely different chord, changes the song.
While I was looking through the lyrics this morning, I did see “six feet apart” in ‘Cherry Garcia’, and was like is that…
V: That’s a reference, but it’s like… thank you for asking, no-one ever asks about the Cherry lyrics… those lyrics were written during the late summer of 2020, so it was during pandemic but it’s also a reference to a physical distance I had with the person its written about. He lives very far away from me…
A: I love that song
V: It’s like I love this person very much, we’re very close friends but I was very in love with him at the time. Every word in that song is a very cutting reference to things that I know about him. Like, “add me to your shopping cart” is about his shopping addiction
A: Yeah, I know this one…
With 2020 being their year off and still seeing most of an album get written, surely Destroy Boys won’t be waiting on their laurels throughout the remainder of 2022. Perhaps we’ll hear some songs that didn’t make the cut on the album? Maybe, if we’re incredibly lucky, we’ll get more UK shows?
Header photo by Ash Gellman