Interview with Destructo Disk + “WISH I WAS A RIOT GRRRL” REVIEW

Molly, Danny, and Gideon

We jumped on Zoom with Gideon, Molly, and Danny, the trio that make up skate-punk outfit Destructo Disk. In this interview, we discuss the history of their band, the inspiration behind “Wish I Was A Riot Grrrl” and how feedback from the song led the band to grow and learn about the movement, and their upcoming releases, including two EPs and what they consider the first-ever “real” Destructo Disk album.

What’s your go-to gas station order?

Gideon: Gas.

Danny: Depends on which gas station. I’ll get the appetizers from Sheet’s, because you can’t really mess up an appetizer, but for Wawa, the sandwiches are out of this world.

Gideon: I’ll talk about things you can get at any gas station. I used to get pretzel M&Ms, but one day I was eating them and my tooth started chipping away. I got it fixed, but I haven’t had them since. I also like those honey mustard and onion pretzels, those things are sick. But lately I’ve been eating Cliff bars, and also those bars that have three egg whites and dates. Those things are sick. When I do a long drive, I try to get snacks that are healthier or something. I get like trail mix.

Molly: Anytime I go to the gas station I look for this candy bar called a Whatchamacallit, it’s the greatest candy bar on earth in my humble opinion. If you ever find one, you gotta try it, it’s awesome.

Gideon, Molly, and Danny

So, your band name comes from the kids’ show Dragon Ball Z. Do you feel like this show, or other kids’ shows, influence you in other ways as an artist today? What about other non-musical influences?

Gideon: All three of us, separately and together, have a lot of different influences that we pull from. The band name came from Dragon Ball Z. I didn’t grow up watching the show, but I played every video game. It was part of my life, but in this weird way.

Guy: I grew up watching Cartoon Network, like the late night hours where they would show Dragon Ball and stuff like that.

Gideon: I got manga in the mail, I read manga.

Molly: I grew up with the TV shows, I was a superfan. The reason I actually sought out joining Destructo Disk, because those guys were already a band before I was in it, was because there was a band named Destructo Disk and I thought that was really cool.

Gideon: The cool thing about the band Destructo Disk is that we’re all really stoked that we got it, we thought of the name first and then we made the band so that way no one could take our idea. A lot of our things have been that way, like album names and song names. It’s like a thing we unintentionally do. I don’t know what came first, but I was in another band called Shock Collar and Baxter, it had a couple names.

But Danny and I had a side project, we were talking about getting into punk rock and wanted like a two-piece thing. At some point I bought a broken drum set and we had this plan, I was playing Dragon Ball Z by myself and he did a Destructo Disk and out loud I was like “That would be a sick name for a skate punk band,” and I paused it and I called you immediately. I was like, “Danny! Dude! Destructo Disk, that’s the name, we gotta do that!”. And we both just wrote up some songs and it quickly became a thing.

Danny: We had to change the name to not get sued.

Gideon: We caned the C to a K. And also, it’s like not even the original name for the move, it’s the Americanized name.

Danny: It’s the English dub name for the move.

Gideon: Aside from the band name, like influences and inspiration that we pull from…

Danny: For me anyway, it’s not really anything outside of music that influences my portion of the writing.

Gideon: I am the opposite, I pull influence from just about anything. Music is a very, very strong influence. Video games are another art form that actually do influence me a lot, because I was an ADHD kid, so that was a big part of it. I played the Dragon Ball Z games. Molly’s the film buff, Molly’s the one that watches movies. I’m the one with the 500 record collection. Danny’s the one that works in the factory.

Danny: Piece of shit.

Gideon: You’re fine. You’re the drummer. He’s our rock. We have inspiration from all kinds of things. I think bands that the three of us together pull influence from that we all love, like Turnstile is a big one, Dead Milkmen, Weezer…admittedly.

Danny: They’re not bad.

Gideon: Weezer is sick. The blue album’s sick. They’re sick. Even stuff like Minutemen, I like them more than Danny and Molly do, but we all find influence—

Molly: Hey, I like Minutemen. I love Minutemen.

Gideon: And they like you. You talk! I talk a lot.

Molly: You pretty much said it all, we all have significant bands as influences, but Gideon and I listen to a lot of the same music and have a lot of the same influences, but I think out of the three of us Danny is the most different.

Gideon: He likes Coheed and Cambria.

Danny: That’s my favorite band. I’ve also been on a Taylor Swift binge for the last four months.

[Laughter]

Molly: Shut up!

Gideon: Danny’s our pop boy.

Danny: I like all kinds of shit.

Gideon: He’s gotten a lot better, he used to hate all kinds of things.

Danny: I did only like Deathcore for a very long period of time.

Gideon: You like pirate metal.

Molly: It’s important to expand your taste, you gotta get out there.

Gideon: I’d say we all have, even Destructo Disk when it started out it was like, “Yeah, we’re gonna do a punk rock thing!”. Because that was our kind of, freedom, because my other band was more restrictive, there were four of us, it was hard to work with. But Danny and I, there were just two of us, it was really easy to work with. And we wanted to make punk music, which is easy and fast and fun. And nowadays, it’s not so much about punk rock sound.

Danny: It’s about doing what we think sounds good.

Gideon: Do what we like, what we’re having fun with. So even we have grown and evolved, like our vision.

Gideon, Danny, Molly

Your bio describes you as being “a punk rock band from a place in Virginia that doesn’t have a lot of punk rock bands.” Being from the Midwest, we’re very familiar with this sentiment. What do you feel are the pros and cons of being somewhere without a lot of punk rock bands? 

Danny: Fantastic question.

Gideon: That’s a great question, I love this question. I think that creativity through limitation is an awesome thing. The Breeders, they’re from small-ass town in Ohio and Kim Deal is like my favorite songwriter. There’s other bands too, but when a band… you kind of have to make your own and work with what you’ve got, and there’s something special about that. And then if you really want to work towards your goal, things will happen. Because eventually other bands in town started appearing. Like there were more teenagers and younger people going to shows and stuff.

Weronika: Like the catalyst for something.

Gideon: I think we’ve been ironically called that before.

Danny: I’ve heard a few people say we kind of helped introduce the punk music scene into Winchester.

Gideon: That’s not true, though.

Molly: There were some bands before us.

Gideon: We can’t claim that we did anything, but it did feel like, there was a gap in age. The punk bands before us were like, seven to ten years older. They’re all in their thirties, which is fine. We love opening for them, they’re like, local heroes. They know us, which is sick. I used to hear about them in high school. But at some point, people our age started playing bands in town and going to more shows. It’s still really small, and we’re kind of out of Winchester now. We really did kind of experience creating this thing, not just with us but with other people in the community, like with business owners and other artists. It really kind of became a thing, naturally, which was nice.

There’s an evident thread of 90s references in your songs, many of them popping up in your most highly streamed tracks. From the “Daria” theme song, to riot grrrls, to Weezer’s “Pinkerton”, how does this era of music culture inspire the band today?

Gideon: Molly, do you want to take this one? You’re the biggest 90s kid here.

Molly: I’m the only one who was more than a toddler in the 90s. Well, I was born in ’95, so I caught like, the tail end.

Gideon: That’s so 90s.

Molly: I guess we do have a lot of 90s vibe-influenced.

Gideon: It’s not intentional.

Molly: It really just comes, like, a lot of it honestly is you, Gideon. You kind of have the 90s guy vibe, you bring that in.

Gideon: Kurt Cobain.

Molly: A lot of that 90s culture resonates with us, you know, the whole riot grrrl thing. We started our own zine and stuff like that, really DIY stuff. It’s really the DIY stuff that resonates with us, I think.

Gideon: I think the late 90s specifically, it was when we were all born, nostalgic to us, there’s always that. A lot of it is unintentional, but also that kind of music, that time period, doors were opening, and so many people were able to do new things and get their voices out there. Even the late 80s, with the hardcore scene, so much was happening. So much fun pop culture too, I guess.

We’re not people who are like, 90s kids, but for the last few months I’ve been binging Space Ghost Coast to Coast, so who am I to…I’m a victim of getting really into things, and then really being into them for a month or two, like when we did the Daria cover I was starting to watch the show and I loved the theme song. We were making a little EP, and I was like “Danny, why don’t we cover the Daria theme song?”. Like, to fill up space on the EP. I looked around and no one had really done it, surprisingly. So we did it really quickly, and it ended up being this happy accident. 97, baby!

What inspired “Wish I was A Riot Grrrl”? If you could collaborate with any riot grrrl band, what band would it be? 

Danny: That’s definitely you two, I don’t really listen to that kind of stuff.

Gideon: I personally… Babes in Toyland wasn’t a riot grrrl band, so that doesn’t count. But if it did count, that would be my answer. Bikini Kill is the easy one, but I think my answer would be Slant 6. Were they riot grrrl? They were DC.

Molly: I consider them riot grrrl.

Gideon: Riot grrrl is such like, a label, that it’s hard for me to be like, “That was riot grrrl and that wasn’t” because like, I don’t know. But Slant 6 to me always hit as a riot grrrl band I really love their Soda Pop-Rip Off album, I think it’s a fucking killer record. Or Heavens to Betsy.

Molly: Heavens to Betsy is a really good one. They’re riot grrrl. I think they were at the beginning of the riot grrrl movement.

Gideon: Is Unwound a riot grrrl band? They’re not. But they kind of lowkey kicked it off. They don’t count, but if they counted, that would be my answer, but my answer is Slant 6.

Molly: You were the one who wrote “Wish I Was A Riot Grrrl,” so I should hand that off to you.

Gideon: I wrote it when I was nineteen, and I also, like Daria I was going through a phase where I was getting into this kind of music and finding a lot of positivity in it. The riot grrrl movement, today, some people see it as a positive thing, some people see it as a negative thing, but I was only taking this positivity from it. I just had this idea for a song called “Wish I Was A Riot Grrrl,” because I thought that was a neat concept, because I’m not a riot grrrl. It was just an appreciation song, or a song about daydreaming what it would be like to be a riot grrrl.

Danny and I wrote this surf thing, this instrumental without a bassline song, in our garage or whatever, and we really liked it. I remember being like, “That should be Wish I Was A Riot Grrrl!” because at the time it was our most complex song, and I went home and I remember I sat and played the riff over and over, I wrote the lyrics with the riff so I’d be able to sing and play it at the same time. I think it had a good flow, it was fun to write. I was really proud of the lyrics at the time, and I still am, but I now realize that a lot of them are maybe like, tongue in cheek or maybe should be with quotes. And people can’t really tell that, so some people think it’s like, a jab at the riot grrrl movement, and it wasn’t supposed to be like that. And some people think the riot grrrl movement is very negative, and people shouldn’t be promoting it.

But I, at the time of writing it, didn’t even know that was a perspective. So it’s kind of gotten a little more complex as time has passed and more people listen to it. But it was nothing but a positive appreciation song when I was writing it, I was getting very, very inspired by riot grrrl bands and all kinds of new punk rock I was getting into. It’s still something that we’re all learning about, and I need to read more about riot grrrl and feminism and topics like that, always learning, always working on it.

I try to be careful when I talk about it, but the last show we played we got such positive reactions from that song. People were cheering building up to it. It was kind of a turning point. I feel like when we wrote that song, and especially when we recorded it, it was like a sick song. It was really cool. That was the big one on the EP. I’m still really proud of it, I’m proud of all of us.

And the bassline, a lot of people on the internet really like that bassline but it was just written last minute in the studio. It was written without a bassline. So it kind of… we have a lot of happy accidents and luck and stuff.

That song, I’ve learned a lot post-that song, which is cool. A lot of people find a lot of positivity in that song. I also saw Bikini Kill live, and they were so kind and considerate, and I remember they said, “We don’t need to say girls up front anymore, everyone’s welcome at a Bikini Kill show.” And I just thought that was an updated context, for the riot grrrl vibe. Very inclusive and nice and welcoming. I remember being there, it was a really good experience. That song to me was representative of that.

You guys started running Sockhead Records in 2019, funding the whole label yourselves. How has running a DIY record label been both challenging and rewarding in addition to releasing music?

Molly: It hasn’t been easy, for sure. We’ve learned a lot. It’s definitely very fulfilling. I mean, Gideon really does the bulk of the label work.

Gideon: I can’t take credit for that currently, because we’re on a little hiatus. And for the past few months, both of you have been getting very involved. For awhile I had a lot of the workload, but as time has gone on it’s been more of a team thing.

Molly: It’s been hard. The label funds itself, like we can get more merch by selling merch, et cetera. But we can’t pay ourselves. So we have to work full time jobs and pay rent and stuff, so it’s difficult going to work all day and coming home and going to do more work. But work for the label is much more gratifying, and it’s something that we built.

Gideon: It feels so… it’s work that feels like it matters, because we got ourselves here. It’s not like I’m at my dead end job, or my dead end community college American history class. I’m coming home and people are into these albums we’re promoting and putting out, and building a little community of our own. Sockhead Records, our song “Sockhead” is basically about the value and power in friendship and community and shit like that. That’s the idea behind the label, it’s a DIY thing. It was us and the help of our friends, kinda just using our leverage and power or whatever to help other small artists get their work out there.

Quarantine especially, we were cranking shit out. New music left and right, and we were bringing back old local bands that never really saw the light of day, or maybe didn’t have room in the spotlight, like Ronald Raygun, my old band Baxter, Dead Television, maybe someone else. We were just doing that thing where we were releasing new albums and putting out new stuff, but lately it’s been a lot more dormant. It has been for a few months with releases.

We’ve got some artists on the label with big projects coming up, us included. We had a final sale around Fourth of July or a little after, and had a brief hiatus for our merch store, which we’re still on, because we had a big office move to Richmond. We’re on this cusp of change, and taking it more seriously, and we’re an LLC now, and we want it to be our career and our business. Getting back up from this hiatus is gonna be a little tricky, building that foundation in a new city, but we’ll have so much more room to work. Being in Richmond is gonna be tricky getting back up, but there’s so much more to do there, so many more people to meet, networking…

Molly: It’s really the next step I think.

Gideon: We’re in a transitional period right now, just trying to mail out people’s orders. But it’s very fulfilling.

Earlier this month you hinted at going in to record a new album. What can you tell us about this forthcoming record and what’s been the recording process like so far?

Gideon: We can talk about it.

Molly: I think we should.

Gideon: So, it is technically our first full-length studio album. Punk Rock’s for Kids Who Can’t Skate is a compilation that was made up of most of our music at the time. That to me, and to us, is a compilation album.

Danny: A filler.

Gideon: It’s kind of our first album. It’s the zero album. But we’re finally making an album, in one studio with one guy, and we’re bringing back old songs that we’ve always wanted to make ideal versions of. We’ve written a lot of new stuff, and songs we’ve had for years and never finished. It’s this great Destructo Disk record. It’s THE Destructo Disk record. I’m so excited to finish it. I already think it’s blowing Punk Rock’s for Kids Who Can’t Skate out of the water, personally. The goal is that we make the album so good that people have to take us seriously. I think it’s already sounding like that, it’s sounding really fucking awesome.

Molly: I’m really proud of how it sounds so far, I’m really excited to have everyone hear it. We’re really close. We just have a bit left to do. We don’t have any official release date or anything, though.

Gideon: We’re maybe eighty percent done.

Molly: It’s getting close, and I’m really stoked.

Gideon: We should be careful about saying when it’s gonna come out, because it’s not done yet.

Molly: I don’t wanna guess anything. We’ve been working on this album for awhile, we started going into the studio over a year ago. It was like 2019, I’m pretty sure. October.

Gideon: Late 2019 is when we officially started working on the album. It’s been a project.

Molly: It’s been hard, because the guy we’re recording with, he’s based out of Richmond. Shoutout to Will Beasley. We’ve had to drive back and forth, and again, with having jobs, it was just hard to get time off work and get in and get out. We’d get in with the intention like, “Okay, we can get done this many songs today,” and then we would get stuck on something.

Gideon: But then that one something will sound awesome at the end.

Molly: Exactly. That’s why it’s good to get stuck on stuff.

Gideon: We’re taking our time. We want it to sound good, so we’re doing our very best.

Besides recording your upcoming record, what are some of your upcoming plans? Where do you see yourself next year? 

Gideon: Yes. Before the album, we have two smaller releases coming out. One of them is gonna be a B-Side EP called Recycle Island and the Trash Boys EP. Because that was a fake name we used at a secret show once, and we loved it. It’s like getting away with a self-titled. Also we have a split EP with Swerves coming out. Swerves is a band on our label that we love, some Philly indie rockers, Modern Baseball lovers, you know how it is. Philadelphia Eagles fans. We still got a B-side EP and a split coming out, and the name of our full-length album is going to be called Bad Gravity. That’s official, that name is final. Bad Gravity.

CHECK OUT DESTRUCTO DISK:

Bandcamp | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Spotify

“WISH I WAS A RIOT GRRRL” REVIEW

I first heard “Wish I Was A Riot Grrrl” when my Spotify algorithm mixed it in with my own personal beloved bands such as Destroy Boys, Leathermouth, Dazey and the Scouts, Bratmobile, and Meth Wax. I was immediately hooked by the fast riffs and dark bass building towards the raging, snarling vocals.

But I couldn’t quite figure the song out. Knowing nothing about the band, I couldn’t decide if it was a benevolent appreciation anthem or something more sinister and angry– specifically a vengeful rant that was so clever, on-the-nose, funny, and catchy it had gotten picked up by the algorithm of left-leaning alt girls everywhere, like a certain misogynistic shock-skate-punk song about Ramona Flowers by a self-proclaimed incel.

After all, what are you supposed to think about an angry male voice growling countless fight-or-flight inducing buzzwords like, “race and gender,” “feminism,” “abuse,” “oppressed,” “feminazi,” “politics,” “dyed hair,” “I’m a motherfucking queen, so who needs a king?,” “acting like a bitch,” “female empowerment,” “quit making up excuses,” “men with guitars don’t know shit,” and describing riot grrrls as “fueled by hard drugs” and “squealing” when they can’t hit high notes and “screaming in your face until your ears get tender.”

Either way, the song was incredibly effective at getting your attention, and did exactly what punk music is supposed to do– amp you up and make you pissed. I couldn’t stop listening to it on loop on my drive to and from the dentist. When I finally got home and was able to investigate the origins of the band, my doubts about the song were quickly assuaged by the fact that the lineup was not all-male, and other anthems, such as “Cops / Dogs,” which declares, “All dogs go to heaven, and all cops go to hell, because man’s best friend won’t put a bullet in your head, and a cop fuckin’ will” pointed towards decidedly leftist politics. I decided to ask them for an interview.

Over Zoom, the band addressed such doubts about the intentions of the song without even being asked anything beyond the inspiration of “Wish I Was A Riot Grrrl.” “I now realize that a lot of them are maybe like, tongue in cheek or maybe should be with quotes,” frontman and vocalist Gideon Kupka told me over Zoom. “And people can’t really tell that, so some people think it’s like, a jab at the riot grrrl movement, and it wasn’t supposed to be like that.” The song sounds even better knowing the excellent intentions behind the song and how self-aware, attentive to feedback, open to other perspectives, and committed to learning the band is.

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