A Conversation With Destroy Boys

The riot grrrl legacy has never been more alive thanks to the sound, the artistry, and the commitment of West Coast punk rock band, Destroy Boys. Born from the infectious melodies of lead singer Alexia Roditis combined with Vi Mayugba’s shredding guitars, the duo have always set out to bring diversity and inclusion into the punk rock genre. Now, with drummer Narsai Malik at their side, they are. The band’s name itself is all about tearing down the patriarchy and turning what is left into something valuable, and their daring yet exciting sound is one that’s destined to revitalize punk rock.

As artists of color, Destroy Boys are redefining the boundaries of punk. Their latest single, “Muzzle,” is a hard-hitting, fearless track that sounds like your favorite garage band’s tune but with personality and flair. With praises from Billie Joe Armstrong, the band is set on a mission to use their music to bring about change in a genre they had to search through to see themselves in.

Destroy Boys spoke with The See Through to give us an inside look into how they’ve navigated the punk scene so far, who inspires them, and what exactly keeps them dedicated to a genre so traditional. Thanks to them, however, it soon won’t be.

You’ve said before that “California Punk Rock” changed your life. Can you describe what the punk rock scene in California is like and what about it growing up inspired? 

Alexia: The California scene is pretty interesting. I can only really speak on Sacramento and the Bay. Growing up in the Sacramento music scene, people were really excited and supportive of the band. It was really cute. Every show was like a little party with friends. I felt so inspired by the awesome people I saw, not only performing but also putting on the shows, promoting, and other integral parts of making the music scene work. SF is really cool and supportive in the same way. I feel like people in NorCal are really down to make music together and build scenes.

What’s the story behind your band’s name?

Alexia: Vi was mad at a guy so she wrote “destroy boys” on her chalk wall, and then called me to tell me that was our band name. I was like, “Tight, hell yeah.” No questions. It’s evolved over time for me. Sometimes, it means exactly what you think it means. Destroy Boys. Fuck yeah. I’m DONE with it all!! But also, to me, it more so represents destroying patriarchy, and the ideas of men and masculinity that everyone has conditioned in them. Toxic masculinity affects literally everybody, including the people who embody it the most. It sucks. It keeps people from dressing how they want to dress, it keeps me from walking down the street without paranoia, and it drives people to be violent towards their loved ones and others. It fucking sucks. Everyone would be so much happier without the confines of patriarchy, and yes, including if not especially men!! Destroy boys, destroy the idea of boys, destroy what a boy “should” be.

I know that “Muzzle” was written following a relationship that didn’t work out. Where did its sonic influence come from?

Violet: My biggest influence is punk motherfucking rock! I was feeling Distillers and Turnstile this particular day.

The lyrics, “You don’t know me / You don’t see me,” are lines I think a lot of people can relate to. What did you mean when you wrote these couple of lines?

Violet: There are always more things you can learn about a person as opposed to the opinions and judgments you form about them on your own. The lady who cut you off in traffic is probably having a horrible day. The person you thought was glaring at you was probably just anxious and staring into space. If you have a desire to learn more and have empathy for others, you will be surprised at how much of the world opens up around you. Have love!

Because of the lack of women and the lack of diversity in punk music, was it hard to find influences or idols that looked like you or inspired you in this genre, or was your love for punk so strong that that might not have mattered and it was just about the music?

Alexia: It was hard to find “legendary” kind of influences, pretty much all of the big punk bands were dudes (except Bikini Kill, fucking love them), and I had to do some digging to find punk bands with women in them. The local scene however proved to be much more diverse. I found several bands locally that had POC and women in them (RAD, Crudestuds, Dog Party, Las Pulgas to name a few). In Sac, I knew a good amount of women and nonbinary people in the scene, which was lovely, and most people seemed to be aware of the patriarchy in punk. I remember posting on Facebook asking for some recommendations for female fronted bands, and getting so many replies from people in the scene. It’s wasn’t that hard to find inspiration, it just took some digging which I was more than happy to do, and continue to do. Also, I don’t think a musician’s position in the world will not matter to me. It matters a lot to me the people who sing the songs I love. It’s hard for me to relate to meaningless lyrics, and usually POC and women sing about stuff I can relate to. The dude bands I like (like Nirvana), are very self reflective and in my opinion in touch with their feminine side. I appreciate bands with depth and I have better luck finding that in people feminine of center.

Destroy Boys – Photography by Ash Gellman

While it may be a surprising to some, it’s not surprising for women or people of color to experience abuse and harassment in music, in concert culture, or even just in seeking opportunity and how the rules made by men in the music industry have affected us. When it feels like your career is dominated by roadblocks controlled by male executives or things like that, what pushes you to keep going?

Violet: Knowing myself and our own power as a band has been instrumental to feel confident about myself in a male-dominated industry. Reading fan’s stories and messages about how we positively influenced them as young women or non binary people reminds me that no matter how out of control I feel, we are doing our best.

Alexia: Honestly, it lights a fire under my ass. I start getting mad about all the problems in the music industry and it fuels me to keep going and change it for the better. To be honest, I don’t dwell on it, because it’s not something I will be able to avoid. However, I’ve been learning a lot from important groups doing accessibility and social work within the music industry. Talking with folks about the changes they want to see and the strides they have made is really inspiring, and empowers me to keep going and do my part in this journey. And of course, hearing from people about how our music has helped them process or feel better about their trauma is so empowering. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that our music makes people feel heard. I am truly so honored that people listen to our music. Thank you all so much.

What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned from touring with acts like Mannequinn Pussy or Lagwagon?

Violet: These are two incredible live bands, and great people. Having the opportunity to go out with such seasoned bands provides so many valuable and precious lessons, one of the most important ones being how to put on a great show. These bands have amazing stage presence, great setlist flow, and individualistic style – all things we try to embody.

I know the past year has been difficult without touring, but you’ve said you’ve wanted to keep in touch with your fans outside of social media. Is there anything you can share about that or plans you might have to stay connected in the future?

Alexia: One thing is that we’re putting out a live performance/interview/behind the scenes of recording “Muzzle.” Woohoo! That was a blast to film and we’re so excited to kind of play a show for people! We’ve been tossing around many ideas for staying connected. Maybe a zine, a blog… Who knows really. We’re pretty active on Instagram and love reading the dms people send us!!

What advice do you have for aspiring artists who want to be musicians in the punk-rock scene?

Alexia: Don’t tolerate bullshit from people. If someone is being creepy, tell someone you trust. You don’t have to tolerate that. Along these same lines, don’t do anything you don’t feel right doing. Capitalism is constantly trying our values and making us break them, because of a scarcity mindset. As in “if I don’t play this show, I will never get to play another show again”. It’s not true. There is no single show or tour that will make or break you. It is about consistent work.

It seems like the music industry and every music scene and is full of predatory people. Everyone participates in this culture in one way or another. I went into the music industry expecting that I might have to talk to people I don’t like, play shows with people I don’t want to play with, do things I don’t want to do, but that’s fucked up and fake. You have a choice. You always have a choice. Please please please try not to fall into the same traps I did. And more importantly to the predators: stop setting those fucking traps and get help.

Let go of your fears of messing up or embarrassing yourself. You are probably going to suck when you’re playing your first shows, but that’s totally ok! Performances are hardly ever perfect (I personally have never played a “perfect” show, and I don’t even know what that would look like). You will get the hang of it. Keep at it, it’s really fun and fulfilling.

Lastly, Surround yourself with people you admire. Talk to them. Don’t be a stranger. Watch the opening bands. And be kind!!!

The Destroy Boys are performing at an EXCLUSIVE LIVESTREAM event this Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 7:00pm PST. Get your tickets to see the band in action here.

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Photography by Ash Gellman