GEN F: Destruction Unit

Photographer Clément Pascal
August 22, 2013

“We don’t usually plan on breaking things when we play. We just get so into it.”

From the magazine: ISSUE 87, June/July 2013

Not every psychedelic experience is supposed to be positive. Listening to Phoenix, AZ five-piece Destruction Unit’s new album, Deep Trip, feels like a particularly rough descent into the depths of heatstroke-addled madness. “It’s like, LSD in the desert,” says frontman Ryan Rousseau of the album title. “When you take psychedelic drugs, people have religious experiences and all that. That’s how I felt when we recorded it.” In conversation with Rousseau, there’s a not-quite-ownership of the band’s environment as an influence on their music, a tossed-off acknowledgement that of course the place you’re from has an effect on your art, but that fact isn’t as unique as we all might want it to be. “We’d go to shows in the desert, have a generator, fires, everything would get wild,” says Rousseau of growing up in Arizona. “I guess [it was] the same as most places. [We did it out of] boredom. Getting away from…just doing your own thing, you know?”

It’s hard not to think of sweating through your shirt at a party when listening to Destruction Unit. Songs like “Final Flight” shimmer with stomping aggression, and even as the guitars swirl and ascend there’s a brittleness, a harsh, thin, dry clarity that runs all the way to a track’s edges. The closest thing to a break comes four tracks in, with “God Trip,” a song that strips away the creaking guitar solos, dips out of the disorienting hash coma for a second and turns into a full-on, spit-sand-in-your-face moment of bile and fury. “We always try to take it to the top, or as far as we can, and see what happens with it,” Rousseau says. “Sometimes we’ll play a show and it’ll be complete chaos and shit breaks, and sometimes everything flows together really well and we make it through without breaking anything. We don’t usually plan on breaking things when we play. We just get so into it, I guess. Lose our minds.” The intensity makes sense: Rousseau and a revolving lineup of characters have been refining and tightening Destruction Unit’s sound for over 10 years, using the Arizona landscape as their backdrop. What else were they supposed to do?

The liner notes for Deep Trip position the record itself as a drug, with the notes as a guide for taking it. In Destruction Unit’s world, a 35-minute album is actually a dense, revelation-filled experience that could potentially reshape your reality. Their music can’t really be divorced from the desert sprawl of Phoenix, but your experience with the music is your own. When they’re not recreating psychedelic moments in the desert, Destruction Unit guitarist Jes Aurelius co-runs Ascetic House with his friend Alexander Jarson. It’s sort of a collective, but not really. They release zines and cassettes, throw shows and try to ensure that the records they’re associated with can be shipped to prison convicts looking to escape—or face—the reality of jail through heavy jams. The “upcoming” page of Ascetic House’s website has a slogan at the top that reads:


Take it how you want, but it feels like a validation of the youthful frustration that radiates out past Ascetic House, past Destruction Unit, through the Arizona desert and to the entire world. Flipping the snotty entitlement of even feeling bored into a pandemic. Deep Trip is a heavy listen, but it feels like an antidote, too. Do something with it.

. . .

Tour Dates:
08/23 San Diego, CA @ VOID
08/24 Los Angeles, CA @ Complex
08/25 Bakersfield, CA @ Munoz Gym
08/26 San Francisco, CA @ The Hemlock
08/28 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
08/29 Seattle, WA @ Barboza
08/30 Olympia, WA @ Dumpster Values
08/31 Vancouver, BC @ Sun Fest $
09/01 Boise, ID @ The Crux
09/03 Denver, CO @ 7th Street Arts Collective
09/04 Omaha, NE @ Middle House
09/05 Chicago, IL @ TBA
09/07 Detroit, MI @ Trinosophes %
09/08 Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel
09/09 Montreal, QC @ Il Motore
09/11 New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge +
09/12 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie +
09/14 Washington DC @ Rock N Roll Hotel +
09/15 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery +
09/17 Charlotte, NC @ The Milestone +&
09/18 Athens, GA @ Caledonia +
09/19 Atlanta, GA @ 529 +#
09/22 Houston, TX @ Mangos +
09/24 Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios+
09/25 Memphis, TN @ Gonerfest 10

10/09 Berlin, Germany @ West Germany
10/11 Stockholm, Sweden @ Southside
10/12 Goteborg, Sweden @ Koloni
10/14 Copenhagen, Denmark @ Stengade
10/15 Hamburg, Germany @ Hafenklang
10/16 Hannover, Germany @ Sturmglocke
10/17 Uthrect, Holland @ DB's
10/18 Harlem, Holland @ Patronaat
10/19 Antwerp, Belgium @ Kavka
10/20 Kortrijk, Belgium @ The Pit's
10/21 Liege, Belgium @ Carlo Levi
10/22 Paris, France @ Point FMR
10/23 London, UK @ Old Blue Last
10/24 Newcastle, UK @ The Tyne Bar
10/25 Sheffield, UK @ The Washington
10/26 Brighton, UK @ Prince Albert
10/27 France @ TBA
10/28 Bordeaux @ TBA
10/29 Barcelona, Spain @ Lupita del Raval
10/30 Madrid, Spain @ Wurlitzer Ballroom
10/31 Libson, Portugal @ ZDB
11/01 Guimaraes, Portugal @ CAAA
11/02 Bermeo, Spain @ Beleza Malandra Ateneo Kulturala
11/03 Vitoria, Spain @ Ibu Host
11/04 Tolouse, France @ Les Saint Des Seins
11/05 Lyon, France @ TBA
11/06 Torino, Italy @ United Club
11/07 Roma, Italy @ Dal Verme
11/08 Milano, Italy @ Cox 18
11/09 Luzern, Switzerland @ Sudpol
11/10 Verona, Italy @ White Rabbit
11/11 Lubiana, Slovenia @ TBA
11/12 Wien, Austria @ Arena
11/13 Konstanz, Germany @ Horst
11/14 Karlsruhe, Germany @ Alte Hackerei
11/15 Leipzig, Germany @ Ut Connewiz
11/16 Berlin, Germany @ Auster Club

$ w/ Nu Sensae
% w/ Human Eye
+ w/ Ukiah Drag
& w/ Pharmakon
# w/ Pop 1280

GEN F: Destruction Unit