If you have something to say, SAY IT LOUD! Bristol girl-group IDestroy have plenty to say on their debut album We Are Girls, which is set for release on 12th February, and they are not afraid to shout it from the rooftops!
When I say ‘girl-group’, forget any ideas of stereotypical pouting, sweet harmonies and irritatingly bland choreographed dance routines. These girls are an angry 3-piece punk outfit and, more than many of the first generation of punk bands of 40 years ago, they can play. Bloody well!
Turn up the volume and We Are Girls will blow away the cobwebs with all the energy that IDestroy put into their live shows, something that guitarist and vocalist Bec Jevons says they wanted to capture for their first album.
“I was pretty angry, really… it’s just not acceptable.”
“Capturing the energy was one of the things we wanted to get right for this album. When we play live it is very energetic, we’re always running around, accidentally bumping into each other. A lot of people said the first EP didn’t have as much energy as our live show and that kind of always bothered me, so I wanted to make sure that the first album absolutely captures what we do live.”
Some of the early punk bands were notoriously poor musicians, but not IDestroy. Bec, Nicola Wilton-Baker (bass, backing vocals), and Jenn Hills (drums) are a real power trio, in the classic sense, fusing NYC proto punk, 90s riot grrrl, and the sloganeering of The Clash and The Sex Pistols with an injection of fresh contemporary energy.
All this is the medium that drives along the sharp commentary in the album’s ten spiky songs, from the ‘hands-off’ warning of Petting Zoo to the title track’s ire at the obstacles faced by female musicians.
“I wanted the songs to address issues that are important to us,” says Bec, “the experiences we’ve had as an all-female band, like turning up to play gigs and being asked for our tickets or being given shorter soundchecks than boys on a bill. It’s vital to me that the songs have meaning, not least because it makes them more fun to perform.”
In the best punk tradition, the songs are typically short and punchy. Even with much to say, all but three of the songs are less than three minutes long. IDestroy waste no time mincing their words, then.
“Definitely,” Bec laughs,”straight to the point! That’s the thing we wanted to do with this album, to say something and there are some things that have been on my mind for a while. We want to get them out there to the world in the most energetic way but I didn’t want it to alienate. Fun as it is, it was important to have some strong messages. We’re really excited for everyone to hear the album.”
The album was announced in December with the release of the first single Petting Zoo, Bec’s response to the sort of harassment that no one should have to suffer in this day and age. The reaction to the track has been really encouraging from the public, of both genders, and has earned them valuable airplay.
“I was pretty angry, really, because I was groped in a club,” Bec explains, “It’s not the first time it’s happened and I’m not the only person it’s happened to. I kind of just retaliated and wrote an angry song about it. I just hope to spread the message to people that it’s not acceptable. Obviously, at the moment, we have a Covid lockdown so no one is going to clubs and it’s not happening now but when clubs open up again, and we are gigging and touring again, it’s just a message I want to get across, that it’s just not acceptable.
“It’s a horrible thing for someone to experience and I’ve experienced it first hand. There is a serious message behind a fun song and for the music video, we are in the forest in onesies, dressed up as tigers and stuff,” she laughs. “We want to spread some happiness as well but if we can have a serious message alongside that, then that’s brilliant.”
Since forming IDestroy in 2015, the trio, who met as students on the Bristol campus of The British and Irish Modern Music (BIMM) Institute, have played more than 300 gigs across the UK, Europe and Asia, selling out shows in South Korea and multiple tours in Germany. Along the way they have gained a sizeable and loyal following. Two acclaimed EPs came along the way – 2016’s Vanity Loves Me and Pure Joy of Life two years later – but We Are Girls marks a significant step up. For the first time on record, they bristle with as much energy as for their live shows.
The album was recorded at Bristol’s West Street Studios, co-owned by drummer Jenn and her husband, Jay, who masters for Sony. “We gave my husband our song G.O.D. and also a Dream Wife track for reference,” says Jenn. “It was a test to see what he came up with – and he passed! When the three of us met up to listen, it was so exciting. We knew straight away that this was the sound we’d been searching for. Thankfully, he agreed to do the whole album.”
“That was awesome!” Bec adds. “We’re all good friends with Jay and it was great just to be able to take our time and go there whenever we needed to. Obviously lockdown stopped our plans for a few months but it was really beneficial for us to work with someone that we’re close to and has a really good understanding of the sound that we wanted.
G.O.D. is the album’s snarling opener, about a falling out Bec had with a friend, which sets the fast-paced template for an album that lasts little over half an hour, but packs in everything from tales of touring and bouts of depression to sexism, Bec’s hypochondria and telling themselves off for dressing a mess. While the subject matter bounces back and forth from serious to silly, the energy never drops.
IDestroy was formed impromptu at a party, when a drunken Bec played Jenn some of the songs she’d been writing since the age of 16. Nic joined when the band’s original bassist quit and, from the outset, their focus was on playing live.
“It was always on the cards that we would put out an album but It’s taken us so long because we just love to work so much and we love playing live,” Bec explains. “We had, accidentally, gone off touring Europe and everywhere and I had forgotten to concentrate on writing more songs. In the end I had to force myself to take time out from touring and write some more songs.”
With a rare four weeks free from touring, in 2019, Bec sat down to write a debut album and realised how much she had to say.
“We Are Girls was the first song I wrote, which is partly why it’s the album title,” she says. “It distils all the preconceptions and patronising attitudes we’ve endured as a female band: being told to smile, being called cranky, people’s surprise when they discover we can really play.”
The only ‘old’ song is live favourite Lemons, which has been re-recorded. Just a handful of new songs had been aired at gigs before the pandemic brought a halt to IDestroy’s live gigs, including the glam-rock stomp Sick Friend, about Bec’s hypochondria.
Cheap Monday is part ode to the now defunct clothing brand, part dig at Bec’s own sloppy dressing. SWIM captures the chaos of lives in turmoil, The Young and Wasted explores squandered opportunities and Death Party celebrates living life to the full, with a group of mates on mass backing vocals.
“I did question including a song about throwing a death party in the midst of a pandemic,” says Bec. “but it’s about living life to the max, grabbing every moment as it comes. The ending of the song was taken verbatim from the Darwin Awards, which are true stories about the strange ways people have died, doing stupid stuff like running up and down escalators. It sounds morbid, but it’s a silly celebration of life.”
As in the best rock ‘n’ roll tradition, IDestroy have done their groundwork, out in the hours and gained a sizeable following ahead of the release of the debut album. Hopefully, that will turn into sales and also tickets once the pandemic is over and bands can begin live shows again.
“Yeah, that’s the plan,” Bec asserts. “So far it’s gone really well and we have orders already which is really great. If we can get out and tour at some point, that would be brilliant as we miss it so much. That’s why we formed the band, we love playing, being so close to people and getting that direct feedback. We love the crowd interaction. It’s hard just to sit around.”
IDestroy We Are Girls album tracklisting:
02 Petting Zoo
03 We Are Girls
05 Death Party
06 Cheap Monday
07 Sick Friend
09 The Young And Wasted
10 Lets Play With Knives
We Are Girls is released on 12 February via CD Baby. For more information please visit http://idestroyband.co.uk/