“I like Spice Girls, so what?”
Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Paulo. Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on your latest album, Are You Kidding Me? No. (Ed: reviewed here) To begin, can you give us a brief history to bring us up to speed with the band?
Paulo: The current lineup has been consistent since 2007 and after their first demo, Self Id Generator, Destrage signed a deal with Howling Bull Records, Japan, and released their first full length, Urban Being, which also saw a worldwide release by Coroner Records in 2009.
The second full length The King Is Fat’n’Old was released in 2010 by Coroner Records and Howling Bull, supported by European and Japanese tours and international festivals such as Heineken Jammin’ Festival, Euroblast and Mair1 Festival, The Bad Side Festival, Metaltalia Festival, MAV Festival and more. The eclectic festival run afforded Destrage the opportunity to share the stage with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Parkway Drive, Hatebreed, Unearth, Municipal Waste, Sick Of It All, Freak Kitchen, Monuments, Jeff Loomis, Penny Wise, After the Burial, Puddle of Mudd, August Burns Red, Enter Shikari, Caliban, Every Time I Die, Lordi, Moonspell and many more. In 2012, we wrote and recorded our third album. The result, the band’s most focused and dynamic effort yet, Are You Kidding Me? No. led to a worldwide deal with Metal Blade Records.
Jason: How have the band evolved since it formed?
Paulo: We believe that our evolution as musicians and composers fully reflects our personal growth in real life. You gotta experience something before you can say something; that’s the main reason why we are always evolving, and we’ll always be. So, expect something really different from the albums to come… About how we changed through the three albums, there are a couple reasons that can explain the process. At the time we were composing and recording Urban Being, there was a big change of line up, and all the song were composed mostly by Matteo; only with The King Is Fat’n’Old we started working all together to the songs, so the main difference from Urban Being is the result that came out from a combined work. We had the same approach in composing Are You Kidding Me? No., but a few years passed, so we were more close-knit as a team, and above all, our music influences had really changed in the meanwhile, as well as we grew up as persons.
Jason: Who are the band’s main influences? Are there any that have had a significant impact on the band’s sound?
Paulo: We have 5 completely different backgrounds. Destrage influences goes from fusion music through math-core to electronic music so it would be really impossible to list them all, also it’s impossible to predict where Destrage’s style is going. But Destrage have an attitude, we’re open, we don’t like to have any kind of limits and these are the most important things that link every member of this band.
Jason: Is the writing for Destrage a collaborative effort or do you write individually? Do you discuss ideas about what you want of each track or is it an evolutionary process?
Paulo: During the composition process we usually work in both ways. In the beginning, every member will write and collect his personal ideas. Then we start to work on that material all together and every member pops out with his idea. If everybody likes it, perfect: it goes straight into the song. But sometimes you gotta give up an idea you believe being incredible because other four people, who really want the same thing you want, say it’s not working. And you keep it for yourself, it’s alright, you trust them. We also love to use post-it to keep always in mind the structure of every song, and be able to get an overview on the whole album structure as well. A Destrage song can start from a riff, a melody, or a drum pattern coming out from any member. Then we work on it all together…in the name of post-it!
Jason: With such complex and technical material, how do you balance the technical aspect of the band with song writing?
Paulo: We just try to make music that makes us happy and that is fun for others. If this means diverse people will come to our shows then be it! Can’t ask for more. We believe a band is like a person. No human being is always angry, happy or introspective all the time and a project of five different people should naturally deliver many feelings and states of mind at once.
Also it is easier to swallow a bitter pill if before and after you eat a spoonful of sugar, that’s why complex parts are inscribed in a creamy song with melody and apparently simple rhythm. It is then choice of the listener to enjoy the surface or dig to the nerdy core, it is our business to make both levels as enjoyable as possible. We don’t want people to come to our gigs and take notes, we want them to come and jump.
Jason: Who writes the lyrics? Is there a common theme to them? And where does inspiration come from?
Paulo: Me and Mat write the lyrics and no master concept unifies them all. Our lyrics are structured on different layers and moods. You can easily find funny, ironic or provocative parts as well as serious contents. Since we take inspiration from everything around us it’s almost impossible, in my opinion, to deliver always the same mood. “Are You Kidding Me? No.” is the key to understanding our attitude, our music, our lyrics. Purania chorus says “I like Spice Girls, so what?” Probably the first reaction to words like these would be “Are they f****g kidding me?” and our answer would simply be “No.”. We usually hide serious concepts under jokes, so the pill goes down. Then it’s up to the listener to stay on the surface or dig under it. Anyway we try to make both experiences enjoyable. As already said, it’s pretty much the same way we write music.
Jason: Are You Kidding Me? No. is your first release through Metal Blade Records. How did you come into contact with the label and why did you choose to work with them?
Paulo: We did a label research, sending tons of emails all over the world! The contract with Coroner Records was expired, so we decided, according with the label, to do not renew the deal and try to get something different that could make the band grow up. We definitely found it!
Jason: How did you approach composition for the album? Did you have an idea of how you wanted it to sound or did that take shape as the tracks were being developed?
Paulo: Our approach only refers to our attitude, tastes and what we are. We’re not a flawless metal band. Destrage is extreme, but it is also quite layered, in music, communication and lyrics too. That’s what we are. We chose to follow our instinct as we realized that saying “yes” instead of “no” brings us much more fun and satisfaction.
It could sounds a bit obvious, but being ourselves and doing what we love is the only way to use at best the little time we have, live happily and get exposure without losing our soul. We believe in what is real. Open your mind to experiments without fear is actually revealing.
On the other hand we always keep in mind music should be much more about sex than masturbation, and just like lovemaking you shouldn’t care about your ego more than partner’s pleasure. If you do a decent job you will get a wild blowjob in the end. Sometimes less you means more you.
Jason: Are there any of the tracks on the album that stand out as favourites for you?
Paulo: This is like asking a father which is his favorite son! By the way we would probably say “Are You Kidding Me? No.” for two main reasons: Its origin and its content. The song was born randomly, as Mat sang what became the trumpet melody while going around on his red Vespa.
So, in the beginning we only expanded what comes after the trumpet, all that gipsy-sounding part. We wanted to make it a bonus track and leave it as it was. Then with no reason or precise plan, we wrote all the rest around it, putting no limits and setting no borders, following the lyric concept “Everybody does all kind of shit, I’m sorry that I’m sorry, I had to do this”. The content came along in exceptional short time, and surprisingly our mindless creation gave birth to some of the most cerebral and psychotic parts of the whole album.
Jason: If someone were to ask (and the odds are probably against it, I’d say), is there any one track from all of your works so far that you would say best represents the band?
Paulo: Another hard question, hahaha. Probably I would say ‘Destroy Create Transform Sublimate’ for its lyric. We consider that lyric as our manifesto.
Jason: The artwork for the album is fantastic. Who’s the artist?
Paulo: Thank you! The artwork is illustrated by the tattoo artist Marco Tafuri at The Jack Stupid Creative Collective.
Jason: What was it about their work that drew you to him/her? And how much direction did you give the artist in its creation? How does the artwork relate to the music and/or the band?
Paulo: This time we wanted to change the creative process regarding visuals, so instead of starting from a precise concept with a brief and translate it into graphic, we went first for an inspiring and fresh key visual, to be later adapted to the concept. We probably used to be way too cerebral. Mat (aka The Jack Stupid) always took care of the visual identity of Destrage, but on AYKM’N, we all agreed it could be good to rely on an external point of view, at least at the beginning, to break the ice, so that during the process we could shape it together and bring it close to our vision. All we said to Marco was: “you know the band, you know the people, here’s the album, listen to it and come up with what you feel.” As Marc started drawing a few proposals we just felt the thing was fucking fresh and still close to us in a way, coz we though the freaky style matched the music amazingly and at the same time surprisingly. We took the risk.
Then Marc moved at The Jack Stupid with the drawings and in the studio the process took life. So we thought about the grid, the composition, the colour and the textures, as well as the typography. All hand drawn.
The artwork is geometry-based, but the geometry is hidden by an apparent chaos. If you put away the sense of disorientation and read through this chaos you’ll find the sense. This is exactly what happens in our music.
About the seventies effect… It’s not intended. It just came along during the creation. We believe our music has a strong psychedelic part that can fuck your brain with pulsing colors and stimulating inputs. Of course it’s not slow and dreamy but rather delirious and saturating. We like to call it lucid psychedelia, hahaha.
We have been talking about the cover, but the unfolded 36×36 cm poster, which the very CD cover is only the centre, will please your eyes, as well as the back with hand drawn typography only.
Jason: You’ve released the video ‘Purania’ for which the concept was written by The Jack Stupid Collective. Why did you choose to work with them?
Paulo: Destrage always work with The Jack Stupid Collective simply because Mat is the co-owner and the director of all our clips! We’re like a big family who loves to work together and never stop to create. Of course we also are big friends.
Jason: Can you tell us about the concept for the video?
Paulo: I should start from the lyrics. Sometimes I like to listen back to my childhood albums. I mean sometimes, about once in a month, and feeling the past sensations. I don’t know why, but I like it so much. One day it was Spice Girls debut album turn (suggested by a good friend of mine) and my first thought was: “Wow, if people knew that I’m listening to this album, what would they think?” but what I really thought in the end was: “Well, I don’t give a shit”. The only sentence in my mind was “I like Spice Girls. So what?”
Actually the point of the song is not about my music tastes, but about how people should relate with its own tastes. The story is set in an imaginary city, Purania, where personal choice has been banned, and people are controlled by a central brain unleashing an army called Select& Defend, divided in small squads of Blamers and Erasers. An underground secret movement, which the government calls “The Incoherents” is planning a revolt.
Jason: How much involvement did the band have in the concept and the video?
Paulo: A pretty large team of people was involved in the process of making this video. The Jack Stupid Collective came up with the concept together with the band, wrote the screenplay, set the style and organized the production. There was quite a lot of stuff to do. Location managing, set design (that place was a total blank warehouse). Casting, illustration, actor and extras managing and a lot of logistic shit. We also hired a D.O.P. and two camera operators, an electrician and everyone we needed on the set. When everything was shot, The Jack Stupid collective worked on it very hard for a few months in post-production.
It was a pretty exhausting process, especially the animation of every single drawing, but we’re satisfied about the final result. We would like to thank everyone who was involved; you are too many to be mentioned, but you know who you are!
Jason: Early days I know as the album is yet to be released, but is the band working on new material?
Paulo: Not at the moment, I think we’ll start to write again in 2015.
Jason: Any plans to tour in support of the album? And will we be seeing you in the UK any time soon?
Paulo: Absolutely yes! Everything is “work in progress”. Our goal is to bring these tracks live, touring as much as we can, bringing our music everywhere…we’ll see what will happen! We can’t wait to be on the road!
Jason: Again, thank you very much for your patience and taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Paulo: Thank you for your attention! Our new album Are you Kidding Me? No. will be release on March 3 in Europe through Metal Blade Records. More music and videos will be released soon, so stay tuned though our official pages facebook.com/destrage, youtube.com/destrage and twitter.com/destrage!