Phoenix band Destruction Unit's 2013 album Deep Trip was among the finest of the year, a scary mess of nightmarish psych-punk that played out as body music, because each of the band's members share two roles: making noise and conjuring rhythms.
The band was formed 14 years ago by Ryan Rousseau and the late Jay Reatard, but in the last few years now features Rousseau (vocals/guitar), N. Nappa and J. Aurelius (guitars), Rousseau's brother Rusty (bass), and A. Flores (drums), though additional noisemakers do tend appear often.
We talked to Rousseau on an early Monday morning, as the band prepares to wind down its tour as unlikely opener for Deafheaven.
Up on the Sun: Let's talk about the origins of Destruction Unit.
Ryan Rousseau: This version of the band's been going around for a couple of years now, and the original band started in 2000 with just me, and we've had various members throughout the years, but we have a solid lineup that's going pretty good now. This is probably the only lineup, you know? I can't see myself doing it without these guys.
Is the songwriting more collaborative now?
Yeah, I used to write all the shit, but now we all do it. [Since the last album] we recorded a track for the Adult Swim singles thing and we're currently working on new stuff.
What's it like playing for Deafheaven's fans?
Yeah, you know, we've played with them a few times. People seem to dig it, they just don't know what to expect. It's a different crowd, I guess. It works out somehow, which is cool, 'cause you know I'd rather do that then play with some shitty generic garage rock band.
How would you describe Destruction Unit's music?
I don't know; you can go for it. I'm cool with other people's opinions. But to me, it's about letting go of all rules and boundaries when it comes to music, or making an art form. You know what I mean?
Do you want to talk about how being a member of the Reatards informed what you're doing now?
Not really. I've talked about it a lot. Doing the Reatards was the same thing as what we're doing now. It's just a progression, I guess. I don't want to do the same bullshit. I'll go to a show or something and see, like, last week I saw the Paul Collins Beat, you know. And Lenguas Largas. And Lenguas is just fuckin' badass. I used to listen to the Paul Collins Beat. I got the record; it's a cool record, but to be playing that shit -- the same shit -- I'd rather be driving a truck or something.
So it's about constantly moving on for you?
We never play any old shit. When we went on tour in Europe, we played this place in Barcelona. People were so excited that we were there. They made T-shirts and shit. They gave us drugs and everything. We played our set, and they were so fucking mad. They're, like, "What? You have three albums out!" We're like, "What the fuck does that matter? We're not a fucking bar band." They couldn't get that fucking idea, and they're in punk bands.
You'd think they'd be more open-minded.
Yeah, I tried to explain it, but they were high on shitty speed, I guess.
What can we expect from this Destruction Unit show?
I don't know. If someone wants to join in, we'll have a synth guy or a drummer, but it'll probably just be us doing the same shit we've been doing all year. We'll see what happens. Sometimes I'll just pull out a fucking tape recorder because I don't want to play that song . . . We're all ready to move on to the new set but we haven't had fucking time to do shit and we don't want to sit there and fucking jam. I don't know. We'll just see what happens at the spur of the moment.
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