Difficult to describe but very easy to enthuse vociferously over, Are You Kidding Me? No. the new album from Italian metallers Destrage is easily one of the most thrilling and innovative albums to come along not only this year so far but over a long time. It is a fever of invention and imagination which confronts and seduces the senses through a maze flavours, styles, and experimentation. It is sonic and noise anarchy at its best, a psyche teasing triumph which declares its creators as the exhilarating maelstrom of adventure metal and music is always crying out for. To find out more about band and release we had the pleasure to explore the depths of Destrage with drummer Federico Paulovich, venturing into the creation of the album, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, tomato juice, audience sex and plenty more…
Hi Fede and thank you for talking with us.
Before we look at your new album would you tell us about the beginning of Destrage?
The current line-up 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, MetalItalia 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.
What was the spark and intent of the band at the beginning and does that still drive the band just as potently today?
We simply LOVE to spend time together, playing together, laughing and making jokes or just hanging. If “millions $$$” are not involved in a musical project (like in our case) every member needs to enjoy every single moment of the “band life”, form the sound check to the time spent on the van. It’s about alchemy in my opinion.
Of course conflicts, like in every relationship, are part of the game. But that was intent at the beginning and nothing is changed at the moment :)
How would you say the band has evolved over the years musically and emotionally?
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 songs were composed mostly by Matteo; only with The King Is Fat’n’Old we started working all together on 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.
Italy seems to have a rather rich and expansive metal scene, how have you found it on the inside and has it becomes easier for a
Photo by Michael Gardenia Photography
band from your country to break into a wider audience over recent years?
In Italy, being in a metal band is definitely not easy. Italian scene, especially on rock and metal music, can’t be compared to the German, UK, Scandinavian or American ones. Our scene is based on pop-folk authors. We have to face a pop and hip hop mainstream market which dominates our local music market, and you have to fight a lot to find, not only a good label deal or an honest booking agent, but also a decent place to play. I have to say that Destrage always met great guys on the road, who contributed to support local bands and this was a great luck for us. Nowadays for the first time we can see a metal scene growing in our country and that’s incredible.
You have just released your third album as you mentioned, the quite brilliant, and I am not just saying that because we are talking, Are You Kidding Me? No. Because of the album we described the band as ‘a ten-legged groove machine with just as many schizophrenic characters posing as songs within its latest temptation.’ The album must be your proudest moment to date recording wise, even over the achievement of making your very first release?
I think this album is what makes us really proud at the moment. The first Urban Being wasn’t even a team work, the whole band wasn’t even there. As much as it can be uplifting to see your first record see the light, we believe it’s much more precious to wait a few years and deliver something that really reflects what you are.
If Urban Being was modern metal with a touch of Destrage, The King was Destrage with some modern metal dressing, Kidding is finally the essence of Destrage.
Your sound as clearly shown on the release employs a maelstrom of styles and flavours crossing fields of genres. How would you describe it in context to Are You Kidding Me? No. for newcomers to the band?
We destroy, create, transform, sublimate. We worship enthusiasm and venerate the shake that it gives.
I think Destrage sound’s is spontaneously various and weird. It’s like we learned how to speak the “metal” language as kids, and then growing up we opened our ears to the world and learned so much more, and the process is still going.
Everything that inspires us, from movies to fine art to haute cuisine to love and sex, can be easily translated into hard music as it is our native language.
This said if you take a look to our Spotify profiles you’ll be surprised. Or disgusted ahahah…
I’d love to tell these newcomers: we’d love you to take what the album is actually giving, with a clear and naive point of view, not expecting this record to be something that is going in the direction you already have in your mind. We are not saying the album is a unique piece of music that doesn’t resemble anything else you’ve heard before, no, but it definitely has its degree of originality.
It comes to my mind a story: the first time i tried tomato juice I almost puked, since it is a fruit juice and I was expecting a fruit juice-like taste. My brain was ready to enjoy a semi-definite, predictable experience and was already projecting it in my mind as the glass got to my lips. By the time the liquid touched my tongue I was disappointed, disgusted. The contrast with what I imagined was just bad.
Now tomato juice is my favorite.
Let’s not expect cats to bark.
Simply listen, enjoy or not.
The songs on the album are almost exhausting in their imagination and ever evolving inventive anarchy, they border schizophrenic at times haha. They sound like a puzzle to excitingly decipher and it is easy to assume they are constructed in a similar way so how do you approach the writing and creation of your songs?
Ahahah you’re right. It’s a giant puzzle made by post-it! We love to use them 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 !
!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.
Do songs organically grow from those initial seeds or is there a stronger element of deliberate sculpting in their creation from you?
It really depends on the song, but usually what we try to do is to start from an idea or concept that has its own soul and then decorate it with our craftsmanship, instead of putting together many different elements, that most of the times wouldn’t match very well. It is way easier to write very complex stuff for the sake of being technical, so we try to make it enjoyable by anybody. Once I’ve been told by a wise person that we should put sex in every single thing we do, so we put a lot of effort in doing so because we believe that having sex with your audience is way better than masturbating on your own. So even if our technique may result impressive sometimes, we think that music must come before sport in any case.
Did you approach the recording of the album in any different way to your previous releases?
I think every time is different because we change, we evolve as persons and musicians. It’s really a big mixture of feelings, emotions and thoughts. For AYKM?N. after a long period of composition and pre-production, everybody was really focused and motivated to give his best. Somebody was excited, but still worried about some parts here and there, because we didn’t have that much time to rehearse every song properly, so the trickiest parts were kind of scary. Obviously everybody wanted to have fun as well, so jokes and funny moments happened all the time; that’s the way we like doing things together. Every time we enter the studio we realize how much we love making records, and how stressful it is at the same time. Everyone wants the record to be “perfect”, so sometimes somebody loses his mind or goes crazy. Fortunately we have five very different personalities, and we know each other very well, so everything usually sorts out very quickly.
Tell us about the recording of Are You Kidding Me? No. Did the songs evolve further in that environment and did you learn anything this time to take into your next adventure?
The recordings were a bit messy, definitely a non-linear path. Even in the final phase of the production we were having new ideas and insights. Probably hiking in nature, getting lost in an unknown city, visit art galleries, alternate your perception are good ways to get inspired in the beginning of the process and recording is the best way to get inspired in the end of it. Even in its half dark, closed, silent spaces the studio itself is a huge source of inspiration. You are there, but you are not what matters. The album is all and you disappear.
Many of the songs made it to the record the way they were written, other didn’t and we kept changing them until the very end.
We made a documentary of the whole recording process, it will be published soon.
As the album teased, seduced, and thrilled us we laid numerous comparisons at its feet; moments in the eclectic alchemy which reminded us of bands such as Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, American Head Charge, Mr. Bungle, Dillinger Escape Plan, Faith No More Kontrust and French bands Mucho Tapioca and Toumai, even at one brief point Ugly Kid Joe. It shows the diversity and expanse of your sound. Are there any specific inspirations which have really influenced you if not for the band as a musician?
All those that you mentioned played a crucial role in our inspirational feast, but not more than Michel Gondry, Quay Brothers or Paolo Barnard did. And they don’t release albums.! !
Are You Kidding Me? No. sees a guest appearance by Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal of Guns’N’Roses on its title track, How did that union come about?
We all are Ron’s big fans. When we finished the track Are You Kidding Me? No. we felt something was missing in the end. In fact, a Bumblefoot solo was missing. Since we had no connection with him, Mat emailed Mattias “Ia” Eklundh, who played on Jade’s Place (in our previous record The King Is Fat’N’Old) and became our friend (he’s such a cool guy!). He asked him for an address, a number, some contact to get in touch with Ron. Mattias as usual answered very politely, but didn’t give Mat what he wanted (he’s a very respectful person). So Mat was left with no choice other than going on Bumblefoot’s website and write to the general mail address. And surprize, Ron answered immediately telling us the song was super good and he’d do the collaboration. He told Mat he was touring with GnR in that period, so we should wait for a month or so. We thought it was his way to refuse. Instead he actually wrote back when the tour was over, asking what we wanted exactly, and we answered “we want you to do whatever you want for 32 bars”.
Few funny private messages followed and we got our perfect solo in 3 days. Smooth. The song seemed to be made for him, as he also said later in an interview. So, good experiment, and when we got to meet the guy in person we liked him even more. Ron is rad.
That track is also the most, can we say creatively and thrillingly psychotic on the album, probably our favourite song though it is hard to choose just one. Can you give us some insight into its creation?
Are You Kidding Me? No. is one of our favourite tracks too, 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. !
As you said earlier the album is also your first with Metal Blade Records. How has the link up impacted on the album so far?
Being signed with such a great label is a dream come true for us! Definitely it’s giving us way bigger exposure, and much more people are listening to the new album because of this. But on the artistic point of view it didn’t have any impact, simply because we could sign the deal with MB because we already had the new album finished and ready to go.
Destrage is a band never slow in hitting the road and stages, the same again for 2014 I can assume? Any details you can reveal?
Absolutely yes! Everything is “work in progress”, our goal is to play these songs live, touring as much as we can, bringing our music everywhere…we’ll see what happens! :)
We can’t wait to be on the road again!
Once more thank you for sharing time to chat with us. Anything you would like to add?
Thanks 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 http://www.facebook.com/destrage, http://www.youtube.com/destrage andwww.twitter.com/destrage!
Thank you so much for this interview guys! :)
Read the review of Are you Kidding Me? No. @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/destrage-are-you-kidding-me-no/
The RingMaster Review 19/03/2014