The Destroyers are one of the most enthralling live acts around, fusing Balkan jazz, brass, klezmer folk and deep grooves in their own, absurd manner. Soon to release a new EP, entitled ‘Vortex’, the ever-energetic ensemble come to Band on the Wall on 28th May. The new video for ‘Vortex Cannon’ perfectly surmises their eccentricity and excellent playing ability.
We spoke to trumpet player Aaron Diaz ahead of their show, about the new recording, their fierce live performance and writing for a large group.
The band’s line up has changed over the past year, and prompted some new recording and a slight change to your profiles. Has the change in personnel changed your sound at all, or prompted you to explore new ground in the studio or live?
Being a multi-legged, many-headed, double figures ensemble there have been line-up changes over the last 10 years from our inception to our current squad. We’re really pleased this year to have welcomed drummer Tim Bowes and bassist Nick Jurd into our ranks and the band sound has explored some exciting new places in developing and recording our new tunes.
In a large ensemble, where does songwriting begin? Who is likely to present an idea, and how is that idea built-upon to form a full composition?
With 13 people getting stuck into The Destroyers’ music songs can develop really quickly when we’re writing and rehearsing together. Most often the main bulk of a tune or arrangement is brought in by some one, and the band all bring their individual influences to their parts. Playing in front of receptive audiences help us hone tunes to there maximum potential too, their reaction to our tunes is a really important part of how they are arranged and presented in our show.
Our Clarinet player Gaz, who penned the Wizard of Warrington, brought in a gargantuan symphonic tune like nothing we heard before and after a few great shows, we knew whereabouts in the song that the maximum OOMPH had to happen!
As a band you enjoy everything from Balkan folk to Frank Zappa, but a thread of your interest seems to be acts with arrangement ability, who can construct a big ensemble sound. Is that something you think is vitally important in music?
A big ensemble sound, with a lot of detail in individual parts is defiantly something we prioritise in our show. There’s a lot of activity in the music, both instrumentally and visually and there is always something eye catching to watch when the Destroyers are performing!
All this aside however, the big arrangements are mostly so we can justify having 13 grown children lollopping around on stage at the same time. If there were only there parts being played then some genius in the band could sack the rest of us and csh the winnings!
Tell us about the Vortex EP, and what to expect from the four tracks.
The idea for the EP was to capture the live energy of our set, as if the listener could be in the audience themselves. We also tunes in our sets that weren’t available our our previous albums so rather than hide away for a winter to craft and tweak an entire album, we’re releasing a series of shorter records to get our live material out and available to fans when it’s still fresh outta the kitchen! There’s instrumental mayhem such as Kalinka that takes the legendary Russian folk classic as a starting point for a medley of Klezmer folk favourites, the mighty Wizard of Warrington– a symphonic fairy tale like no other; full of magic, mega-trombones and the M6! iSpy is a 21st Century moral fable on the dangers of government internet surveillance, shot through with upbeat carnivalesque madness. The title track Vortex Cannon celebrates and venerates the awesome live spectacle that is the cannon itself, a device build by our resident professor and fiddler Leighton Hargreaves
As a band that pushes traditional music to further reaches, could you envisage yourselves playing less folk oriented festivals? What would be the ideal festival bill for The Destroyers if you were able to assemble one?
We have certainly taken our brand of Turbo-Folk to many different places over the years; busking street festivals, muddy ceilidh tents, hip urban speak-easies. Some folk have even managed to smuggle us into legitimate music venues such as Band on the Wall and Birmingham’s old Victorian Town Hall, although they may not have appreciated Gaz trying his hand on the HUGE pipe-organ for our closing finale.
The ideal festival for Destroyers would feature Taraf de Haidouks vs. Faith No More in a street music battle, on the Giant Redwood Tree-Top Stage©, Saturday evening closer. Book now for early bird tickets!
The Destroyers are a collection of rogues and misfits surfing a tidal wave of horns, fiddles and guitars! Rapidly exploding from the ‘Balkan Brass’ genre they emerge as an anarchic orchestra of blazing passion and breathtaking originality.
So enter the big top and be immersed in the winding world of the hurdy-gurdy, the sonorous land of the tuba and the exotic realm of the duduk. Be ready to be engulfed by a wall of mesmerizing virtuosity and a whirlwind of frenzied dancing!
“Out of the inane cavalcade of Balkan Gypsy sound-alikes comes a blow-your-mind original… Minimum pretence and maximum style: Out Of Babel is a sophisticated tour de force.” Songlines