Although hailing from the opposite coast, Northern California punk trio Destroy Boys have recently familiarized themselves with the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, where they recorded their third full-length album, Open Mouth, Open Heart, which dropped October 8th on Hopeless Records. Early this year the band found themselves holing up in Fishtown and recording in Conshohocken’s Studio 4. And, while they were largely confined to their living and working spaces, during a recent chat, guitarist/vocalist Violet Mayugba tells me she certainly found a fondness for the city, even amidst lockdown.
“I literally love Philly… I loved the snow… which I mean, I’m sure you’re all sick of, but I’m from California… We had so much fun hanging out there… I got a pork roll egg and cheese every morning with my coffee… There was a bar where we were recording, right underneath the studio, so we got take-out drinks… I like Jim’s Steaks.”
In the six years that Destroy Boys have been kicking out their jams, critics and fans have primarily placed the band in the realm of pop punk, but the trio — also comprised of co-founder, lead vocalist, and guitarist Alexia Roditis and Narsai Malik, who has been drumming in group since 2018 – have publicly acknowledged their love of artists as diverse as Black Sabbath, Deftones, The Distillers, The Growlers, Lady Gaga, Mannequin Pussy, The Police, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Vampire Weekend. Mayugba also admits to me that she’s a huge fan of Knocked Loose, Code Orange, Scowl, and Turnstile (“I’m a huge hardcore fan.”), in addition to Denzel Curry and Jessica Lea Mayfield (“Sorry Is Gone was a huge inspiration for me.”)
Open Mouth, Open Heart – which contains songs about cyber bullying, the desire to escape the trials and tribulations of daily life (whether through substance abuse or literally leaving home), and battling the powers that be – is as poignantly punchy as the sociopolitical punk anthems that Destroy Boys have become known for, but the recording of the album itself (their first as actual adults) was quite different from their first two LPs. This time around the band spent an entire month in the studio with producer Will Yip, which Mayugba tells me is unlike any previous experience they’d had in the studio: “It’s definitely a serious progression. We actually had time to try things out, try different progressions, try different sounds. I mean, we recorded the first album in 10 hours [laughs] and, for the second one, we had two days for the instruments and two days for the vocals.”
Destroy Boys had to pull out of Sad Summer Fest earlier this year, due to mental health issues, but they have played a handful of shows since Open Mouth, Open Heart dropped, and later this week they kick off a month-long tour in Anaheim that will have them headlining our very own First Unitarian Church Saturday, December 4th. And Violet tells me that their recent shows have been some of the band’s biggest highlights so far.
“These last shows were incredible. We sold out most of them, which we had not done before. My favorite reaction to the record has been, at these shows, learning the lyrics people like to sing. [She notes that the second half of the chorus of “Drink” and the bridge of “All This Love” tend to be the favorites.] These last shows felt like our first shows, very natural, very fun, Alexia and I like to talk shit to each other [laughs]… It’s the most fun I’ve ever had on tour… We haven’t done a lot of headlining shows, so this is still new to us.”
Mayugba tells me that the current state of Destroy Boys is the most excited she’s ever been about the band. However, she also admits that the group has had a handful of amazing experiences throughout their first half-decade of playing together, as well. “When Billie Joe Armstrong took some time to talk about the band on Rolling Stone… I owe him my life for that. That was such a cool, once-in-3,000-lifetimes event,” she gushes, before adding, “The Sacramento Music Awards in 2017 was a big deal, and being able to tour so much at such a young age is massive.”
On a more serious note, Violet admits to me that the pandemic actually gave her the opportunity to not only get herself in a better personal state, but put her in a place where she can have a better relationship with the people she’s hoping to encounter in the near future: “I suffer from anxiety and I entered into treatment during the pandemic, so just being able to meet our fans and hear their stories is really amazing for me.” And when I finally ask what the future holds for Destroy Boys, she tells me that they’re excited to spend a whole lot more time on the road and amongst their fans: “Massive, massive touring is our main focus right now. For the first time, I feel like the future looks bright.”
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