Interview // The Destroyers at Threshold Festival 2014

Threshold has seen some excellent names headline over the years but 2014 brings a band known for their unique music and performance ethos. That is, Birmingham’s monster 14 piece band The Destroyers, who will rock the stage on the opening night of the festival. #srcz spoke to the bands Jamie Fekete to find out just what we can expect of them…

One / Hi Jamie! So The Destroyers are going to be tearing up the stage at Threshold very soon. What can we expect?

Well we’re really happy to play at Threshold as we’ve heard great things about the venues and crowds. What can you expect from us? A massive juggernaut of sound filled with screaming fiddles, haunting duduk solos, and blazing horns… plus the usual mayhem of hurdy-gurdies, vortex cannons, throat singing and violin juggling. We have some new tracks showcasing incompetent Northern wizards in The Wizard of Warrington; a disturbing glimpse into the dystopian Milk the Cat, where humans are forced to drink cat’s milk from their feline overlords; an obese pied-piper who gorges himself on our Sorrows, Tears and Woes, and the amazing Vortex Cannon! (This actually exists, we have one! You’ll have to see the show to see it in action)

Two / Your album Hole in the Universe has a neat connection to the retro-futuristic themes at this year’s festival. Tell us a bit about the album…

HITU was the second album with Paul Murphy who supplied the lyrical and chordal skeleton of the songs around which the band grew the musical flesh and muscle that became typical of our sound. Paul’s great lyrics dealt with a wide assortment of themes: Where Has the Money Gone? tackled the Ponzi investment scandal of Bernard Madoff and the aftermath of the banking collapse; Hole in the Universe was about galactic voids ‘filled’ with nothingness; On the Moon about the 1950s adventure comic Dan Dare, whose brilliantly imagined cartoon world of outer space warring with the Mekon is definitely retro-futuristic and spookily fits the festival perfectly!

Three / Threshold has seen some large bands over the past four years. How many are in The Destroyers and how did you all come together to make such glorious music?

There are 14 of us presently in The Destroyers, there have been over 50 members/deps of the life of the band. The people who started it grew out of some members of the Birmingham Conservatoire and underground Balsall Heath basement sessions and we just kind of accrued and gathered musicians on the Birmingham scene along the way!

Four / There will be at least one giant robot at the festival this year. Who is your favourite robot and why?

Favorite robot? Got to be Marvin the Paranoid Android for his positive and upbeat take on life…

Now the world has gone to bed!
Darkness won't engulf my head!
I can see by infra-red!
How I hate the night!

Now I lay me down to sleep!
Try to count electric sheep!
Sweet dream wishes you can keep!
How I hate the night!

Five / The band’s sound is very distinctive. What factors have helped form that sound?

Leighton, one of the violinists and main music writer for the band puts our sound like this…The band’s sound began with learning traditional tunes from Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria, and shamelessly but inexpertly trying to copy from bands such as Taraf De Haidouks and Fanfare Ciocarlia.  But our sound and influences soon widened as we started to compose new material and incorporate tunes and musical influences from other parts of the world.  There are a great abundance of us in this band and as individuals we all have our fingers in many different kinds of music; we conjure a burgeoning panoply of multifarious congruence and juxtaposition, hyperbole and candor, poignance and glee!

During this process of fermentation our style and nature became less easily or adequately classifiable and we became increasingly confident in its own intrinsic nature and potential.  Our diverse palette still held gypsy folk music and klezmer right at its centre, and we held onto and developed the initial seed of anarchic jubilation and preposterous rambunctiousness that I think I mentioned earlier.  One of the great things about it is the way it makes people smile – you should see the sight from onstage when we get to the bit of Sirba which modulates to the major and a thousand people all reflect the energy back to us on their beaming faces and in their movement!

Six /  We’ve heard you described by one source as “The sort of rogues who would take you out for a night, fill you full of mead, strip you to your underwear and then tie you to a lamp-post”. Is this true and is it likely to happen at some point during the festival?!

Haha probably. Just bring the gaffer tape and whiskey and I’m sure we can sort something out!

Seven / With such a packed line up at the festival, are there any bands you’re looking forward to see?

There really are too many to pick from but ‘She Drew the Gun’ sound great!

Eight / Finally, how would you describe The Destroyers in just five words?

Burgeoning panoply of multifarious congruence’ sounds sensible.


Interview and words by Sebastian Gahan. Photo courtesy of the band.