An Interview with Puig Destroyer, America's Best Baseball-Themed Grindcore Band
Plus, listen to "Batflip," a new song from the virtual band featuring ex-members of Thrice, here just in time for the MLB postseason.
Ever wondered what would happen if members of Thrice, Kowloon Walled City, and Curl Up And Die decided to start a baseball-themed, virtual grindcore band? Well, we have the answer to that incredibly specific fantasy and it comes in the form of a cleat to the face called Puig Destroyer. After releasing two hastily written and recorded EPs, the band will be dropping their self-titled full-length debut via No Sleep Records on September 30. (You can pre-order the album which is dropping "just in time for the 2014 MLB postseason" for seven dollars now via the label's site.)
We caught up with Thrice alumni and Puig Destroyer drummer Riley Breckenridge to find out how a stupid joke quickly morphed into a (soft of) viable musical project complete with an album of 20 blistering blasts of grindcore goodness. Hell, even if you haven't been interested in sports since you struck out at t-ball (not that we know from personal experience), we're guessing you'll be able to relate to the sentiment of songs like "No One Cares About Your Fantasy Team." Some things are just universal.
Puig Destroyer is named after a person, correct?
Yasiel Puig, yeah, he's a Cuban defector who is an outfielder for the Dodgers.
When I first saw your band's name written out I thought it was just "Pig Destroyer" misspelled. How did you settle on the name?
The bass player in Puig Destroyer, Ian Miller, plays in a band called Kowloon Walled City. He and I have been running a baseball and music-centric blog, Twitter feed and podcast [Productive Outs] for the last three years or so. Last season, Yasiel Puig made his major league debut for the Dodgers and got off to this crazy hot start: everyone was talking about him and he was a great player on the field but one of the drawbacks was that he was a completely batshit crazy, out of control, just super aggressive player and it kind of rubbed some people the wrong way.
Anyway, on a podcast last season when he got called up to the majors, Ian and I were talking and because we're both fans of Pig Destroyer I was like, "Someone should start a baseball-themed metal band called 'Puig Destroyer.'" After we finished recording, Ian mentioned, kind of joking, "Hey, we should do that." Later that night, I sent him programmed drums for what ended up being our first song; eight or nine days later we had our first EP up on Bandcamp; and two weeks after that Yasiel Puig actually heard one of the songs at the MLB Fan Cave in New York.
Wait, can you give that timeline again?
It went form a joke on a podcast to an EP to the actual player's ears in a little over two weeks, I think. Which is ridiculous.
Do you know what Yasiel Puig thought of the band?
I'm 100 percent positive it's not the kind of music he chooses to listen to ever but there's actually a little Vine of him in the Fan Cave hearing it and saying, "that's very good." I think he was just being kind because I'm sure he's not much of a metal fan.
You probably have a lot of fans like me who know nothing about sports. Do you feel like this is something people can get into even if they don't care about baseball?
I think so. If you like heavy, fast, stupid music, there's probably something there for you—and if you happen to be a baseball fan, I think it just makes it a little bit better because the songs are all about baseball. Like you were saying, many fans of Thrice aren't into sports and that's kind of why Ian and I started that baseball blog and podcast; we're both musicians and we would tweet or share Facebook stuff that was about sports and people would be like, "I don't follow you to hear your takes on sports, I want to hear band or music-related stuff." So we thought he would just filter these people out and put all of our sports-centric ideas into this podcast and from the podcast comes the band… and it's not really a band, it's just a project. The four of us have never been in the same room at the same time and we do everything virtually. It was just something that was born of a joke and we have fun doing it and we'll do it until it stops being fun.
Speaking of which, Thrice were such a serious band in so many ways. Is it nice to do something a little more light-hearted?
Absolutely. I've never had more fun making music then I have with this project because it's just stupid and fun. If we were making these songs for ourselves we'd be stoked,but somehow people appreciated what we were doing and started listening to it and talking about it and word kind of spread and now we're here. There's just no pressure at all, it's just goofy as hell and absurd.
Do you think Puig Destroyer will ever perform live?
It's not something that we discussed. We're all spread out: two members are up in San Francisco, one is in Chicago and I'm in Orange County and like I said, we've never all been in the same place at the same time. This is just meant to be a project that we can do from home whenever we felt like we had time so no shows are in the works. Plus there's some stuff on this record that I can't even play to be honest: lots of stuff, absurdly fast, but that was kind of the goal. It was like, "Let's make these as dumb and crazy as possible."
Are you still playing with your brother Eddie [Breckenridge, Thrice bassist]?
Yeah, I'm actually supposed to get together with him today. I kind of got sidetracked by real life stuff like working nine to five jobs which we were both doing for a while and since stopped. So we're gonna try to dive back into the music thing and see if we can put something together.
Getting back to Puig Destroyer, sports and hardcore historically aren't' a totally foreign union. I remember the guys in Saddaharu used to have a Phillies-themed band called Dykstra.
Mike said one of the songs on this record is inspired by Ten Yard Fight or something. Additionally, there's a punk rock band called the Isotopes and I think all of their songs are about baseball. Then there's a band called the Baseball Project too, which i think is some guys from R.E.M. it was definitely a rarity when i was on tour with Thrice to find another baseball fan because sports and music don't intersect that often. I feel like comic books are more the "band guy" hobby, so it's cool when you find someone whose more into sports or specifically baseball.
It seems like with Puig Destroyer, it's kind of a joke but it's also on a legit label with real songs. Has it been cool to see what started out as a silly idea become something people can listen to and enjoy?
Definitely. The first EP went from idea to execution in eight days. With the second EP, we took a little more time but wrote and created those songs with the same mentality: Don't over think it, we're writing dumb, fast metal songs. But because we decided we were going to do a full length and then we ended up hooking up with No Sleep we wanted to take a little more time [with Puig Destroyer] so the writing process was a little bit more drawn out for this album and there was a little more back and forth with files. The full-length is way more diverse than the first two EPs, which are five or six one-minute-long songs.
Do you have plans to do any many grind bands based on any of your other interests like grilling?
Like a BBQ-themed grindcore band? [Laughs.]
No, I don't think so. I think one stupid band is enough.
Jonah Bayer is thinking of starting a grindcore-themed baseball team. Follow him on Twitter - @mynameisjonah