Destroy This Place,
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"Destroy This Place"...as a singular phrase, wouldn't normally conjure a sense of surety, savvy or a kind of stability.
And yet, it's the name, ...and on one level also the philosophy, of a band that is "new" only in the same vague sense that their "first show" occured just as recently as last year's Ferndale DIY Street Fair.
Destroy This Place is the allignment of "seasoned vets," who aren't trying to fit into any new fad, not trying to rub elbows in any scene, not trying to get out and tour and not trying to reinvent the wheel.
Two bands, both of considerable local renown (and substantial, intertwining resumes) started winding down at the same time in mid-2010. Singer/guitarist John Nelson and bassist Monday Busque saw the inevitable end coming for their venerable noise-pop band New Grenada just as the dashing power-pop trio Friendly Foes (with singer/guitarist Ryan Allen and drummer Sean Sommer) was essentially splintering (with its bassist Liz Wittman moving onto work with Lettercamp).
...and it sounds like a senseless battle-cry from some upstart basement anarchist - But with these four, combining two bands and thus recording an entire album together (with a forthcoming release June 3rd at the Lager House in Detroit), they're the utter antithesis of senseless.
Forging the two bands -just made sense. Finally getting together to set down to work extensively and shrewdly, together on an album together -just made sense.
And bringing a healthy bit of bellicosity, an edge, and a heaviness to their sound and their stage show -just made sense. This is what happens when musicians are done fucking around.
"What we're doing is just natural," Nelson said. "There's some bands that just try to fit whatever's current at the time and I don't think we do that at all. We might sound sorta 90's or even 80's and we sound more throwback then we do current. We're playing rock songs, but we're also doing what's true to us, we're not forcing anything."
Now then, to harp on all their steadier and sober qualities ("dudes in their 30's, with familes or future families and full times jobs") would be a disservice to how imposing, how declarative, how loud and how dynamic their sound is -
It brings a marrowy, blunt bolstering and gravelly haymaker's sledge swing to a somewhat pop sensibility. The guitars are crunchy and grimy, the drums are pounding, the bass throws body checks and the vocals are belted with ardor; it's aggressive and, yes, heavy, but compacted into 2 1/2 minute kickers that exhort the primal, almost sinister sneered fun of rock n roll.
Destroy This Place takes you back to the glory days of early 90's indie-rock, with ears that flex a penchant for happy/hazy 70's A.M. pop and early 80's metal. But again, it isn't a pack of privileged 23-year-olds naively angling their own bright-eyed tribute, it's a group of adults, Allen said, who aren't wasting any time. There's confidence and committment, Allen said, for a group that gets "together" to write and rehearse" after work and after the kids are in bed" who "don't need to go out to the bar and rub elbows or to be seen."
"With 'heaviness,'" Sommer said, "obviously we run into this with the choice of the name. It's because we're a little bit older and we thought maybe people would be looking at us that way, so we kinda wanted to come out with a middle finger and have the sound back it up."
"Heaviness," Allen said, "or hard-rocking, is up to interpretation. But the 'heaviness' comes in the form of, just, energy and maybe that spark to really want to kick the doors down a little harder than we have in other bands."
"I'm not hiding who I am," said Busque said. At 35 and a father of two, he knows there's a whisper of anxiety--that the kids might see you as the aging hipster up on a stage.
"But, I'm still playing relevant music," Busque said, "stuff that's important and catchy, but smart. It's not stuff that's rehashing or where I'm trying to be a 30-year-old wearing clothes from Hot Topic. I can still kick your ass and I can still fucking play."
"Part of that," Sommer adds, "is that we are all very secure in the reasons that we're in this band. We don't have any delusions."
The band set up at Russian Recording (in Bloomington, IN, where Nelson recorded with his other current/active band Copper Theives), and, Allen said, were considerably benefitted by its owner and engineer Mike Bridavsky's keen reading of DTP, as people and as players.
"He got our band," Allen plainly exclaimed. "We didn't dick around, we didn't pile things on, we didn't put extra anything. Songs are short and their punchy; you don't need a mellotron or a vibraphone or a saxophone" (or a six-stringed raccoon bone) "in there if it doesn't need it. There's no clutter, it's like a live show."
"He made it sound like us," Nelson said.
As the four of them chime in, charting out Destroy This Place's progression, the conversation is dotted with a handful of reflections varying on similar phrases:
"...maybe we did that before..." or "maybe we felt that way before..." with the tacit implication of learning from one's youthful foolhardiness...
"...but not now... not with this band."
Nelson said he was inspired by seeing bands like Dinosaur Jr. on their reunion tours - and noting that sound better, tighter, and yes, louder. "That's because they're just better players, now," Nelson said - mirroring the decade's worth of playing, performing, writing and recording these four have amassed around the greater Detroit area.
"Obviously, yes, we started this band to have fun, but at the same time, all of us have a little bit of something to prove," Allen said, "at least to ourselves."
"We're not gonna say anything on stage," Sommer said, nodding to the band name, "or even anything to each other, but, we're kinda throwing down the gauntles with other bands."
Out of three bands in a night, Busque said, which one will you walk away remembering? "You're gonna remember us..."
Resurrect the Mammoth is available on Bellyache Records.
As Destroy This Place nears its one-year-anniversary, it celebrates the release of Resurrect the Mammoth - June 3rd at PJ's Lager House - with Pewter Cub and End Trails. - Free CD+LP voucher with $8 cover charge.