Destroy Boys was started by Violet Mayugba and Alexia Roditis when they were 15 years old—inspired by the California punk rock scene, the duo decided to start a band. The group quickly began to gain notoriety, gaining a fan in Billie Joe Armstrong, the frontman of Green Day. Recently signing with Hopeless Records, the group just announced the October release of their upcoming third record: Open Mouth, Open Heart. Read on for our interview with Destroy Boys singer Alexia Roditis, where we talk songwriting, the group’s story, and their latest singles.
What drew you to music and songwriting, initially? What made you want to pursue this?
Alexia Roditis: I think initially, I just really loved singing. I think it’s that simple. I would sing songs and I really enjoyed it. My parents would, here and there, be like ‘oh yeah, you sound really good,’ when I was like 10. But then, at a certain point, I would hear myself and I was like ‘I think I sound good.’ So I started recording on voice memos, and I would record it, listen back—that’s how I heard you improve your voice. I wanted to know if what I was hearing was real or not. At a certain point, I was like, ‘oh yeah, this does sound good.’ It came pretty easily. I just loved singing to Queen and Lady Gaga and Black Sabbath. I think sort of having some natural ability drew me to it, and also it was really fun for me to do. And I always thought singers were so cool.
And then Vi—my guitarist—really pushed me to start performing in front of people, because I was really nervous. She was like the nail in the coffin, for me.
How did the band come together and form into a group?
Roditis: Me and Vi met in high school, we were both like 15. Vi had been into music for a while and I had started going to shows around the same time I met Vi. And I was like ‘hell yeah, punk music, I love that shit.’ And Vi was like ‘dude, me too.’ So we decided to start a band. Initially, I was gonna play drums and she was gonna sing and play guitar. I did not know how to play drums but I really wanted to. One day, I had all these voice memos I had been recording—I had written a song on guitar and showed it to Vi on the voice memos and she was like ‘you’re gonna be our singer. You’re it.’ So that’s how that started.
We were an acoustic duo for a long time. And then we added our drummer, and then we kicked him out because of some shit. And then we met our current drummer through email, and we really liked him and that was in 2018. We’ve been a happy little crazy family ever since.
What does your songwriting or creative process look like? How do you go about writing a song?
Roditis: My songwriting process varies. But it’s very lyrics-focused. I’ve realized in the past couple days that a lot of people start with a melody first—when I write a song, I think about a theme first. I have a theme generally, or a feeling I’m trying to convey. If I’m gonna write a song, there’s usually a reason why I want to write the song. So I generally start with a theme or a general feeling that I want to convey through what I’m playing.
When I’m starting to write a song, I want to build it around an idea. Oftentimes, I’ll pick two to four chords on the guitar and then I start singing over it. If I didn’t already think of lyrics, I’ll jam with myself and literally hit play on the voice recordings and hide it so I don’t see it, and then start singing whatever’s coming to mind, playing with the different melodies. I’ll do that for a half-hour and then listen to it. Just kind of do a long process of listening to a song, writing lyrics, editing lyrics, picking my favorite melodies of it. Almost like writing an essay: write, write, write until you have a draft. And from the draft, you take it apart and find the good stuff.
And then, I’ll take it to the band. I’ll be like ‘I have this idea, let’s work on it.’ I’ll just play it over and over again and everyone writes around it. Usually, it starts with one of us has an idea; we draft something and then we go through and edit it.
And it evolves over time, too.
Starting from that point of being an acoustic duo to where you are now, with this full band punk rock sound, has the way you’ve thought about songwriting shifted or evolved at all as you’ve grown into a different sound?
Roditis: Yeah, so our first album was all Vi’s guitar and lyrics, for the most part. There’s only a handful of songs where I wrote the lyrics. Our first album, a lot of those songs started as acoustic songs. For a while, Vi would give me some lyrics and I was like ‘these are sick,’ and I would sing them. As it’s gone on, I feel like the first album is mostly Vi’s stuff; our second album is like half and half with lyrics, and then the newest album is very different.
I think before, we used to write stuff more together. Since then, I kind of write something, Vi writes something, we bring it to the band. We’ve gone more independent. I’ll write a full song, bring it to the band, and it turns into something completely different, which is tight.
Destroy Boys has gained a decent amount of notoriety—you recently signed to a record label and you have a significant audience on social media and Spotify—what’s it like to have already gained such an audience for your music?
Roditis: It’s tight. It feels really cool to have an audience. It’s really nice. It makes me really happy. To interact with people and have it be appreciated, I think, I really like that appreciation and validation and attention, I can’t lie. It’s really cool to have an audience so that now when we put something out, it gets attention immediately. That’s really exciting and encouraging, whereas before, it wouldn’t get as much traction. It was a little harder, I think. It’s just really nice to have people be excited about something as soon as we drop it. It’s really fun; it makes me really happy. And I’m very, very appreciative of it as well, because I know it’s such a privilege to have people that care.
The single “Muzzle” was released in 2021—was the intention when writing that song always to have it be incredibly short, or did that come as an evolution during the process?
Roditis: So Vi actually wrote “Muzzle,” but I think I can speak on it. She wanted it to be pretty punchy. She did want it to be intense. That’s how the song has always been. We thought about making it longer, but then we were like ‘why? It’s good how it is.’ Vi was like ‘I really want this to be a fast, straightforward punk song.’ It was always meant to be as intense and short as it is. It’s fun to do that.
The single “Drink” was released more recently—can you break down the song a bit; how the music came together and what it means to you?
Roditis: Vi started this one, and so Vi had the initial riff and she wanted to scrap it, but then she played it for Narsai [Malik, drummer] and I, and Narsai was like ‘nah, dude. That riff is sick, we have to keep it.’ So we sort of learned the parts and then I added a little twinkly guitar in the beginning, different things in the rhythm guitar. The song is very choppy—Arctic Monkeys style. We just jammed it so I could write lyrics and guitar. I started writing the lyrics and melody and singing.
Vi had some chorus lyrics written, and I took them and modified them. I’ll do this with songs—Vi will have a verse or something, and I’ll take that idea and write a song around it. Sometimes I don’t know what to write about. I like writing from Vi’s perspective, interestingly enough. So that’s how that came through.
What it means to me—one side of my family has a history of alcoholism, and that’s something that’s plagued my mind for a long time. It’s something I think about often. No shade to my family or anything, it’s an addiction, it’s a fucking disease, it’s hard to do something about it. But I really hadn’t heard too many songs about drinking that were not positive. It’s something that a lot of people go through that I wanted to speak to. I really wanted to convey the push and pull of having addictive tendencies; the lyrics are like ‘she loves and’ and ‘she loathes me.’ Having that inner monologue of addiction was something that I wanted to speak to. Just a little comfort song for when you’re in the dumps about alcoholism.
It’s been a few years since your last record—are these new singles going to be part of a new record?
Roditis: The oldest song on the album we’ve played live. And we haven’t played live in a year-and-a-half, or whatever. Even now, we have this record finished; I already have an entire album of ideas ready to write new shit. We’ve been working on this for a minute. This shit has been in the works for a while. It’s really exciting. It feels so different from our other stuff but still doesn’t, at the same time. It’s very exciting.
Did you end up taking a much longer time working on the music with this record than your previous ones?
Roditis: Yeah, this was by far the longest time that we’ve ever had to spend on a record. Even just the studio time—our first record we recorded in 12 hours. The second record we had two days for instrumentals and two days for vocals. And this album, we spent an entire month in Philadelphia with our producer. Before that, right before the pandemic hit, we had written a couple of songs—we had so much time to write everything. Everything came together in the last month. A lot of it came together in February of 2021, with our producer. Definitely the longest amount of time that we’ve had to work on songs. A lot of time to reflect. It’s made a really big difference in the dynamics.
Compared to the time spent on the other records, now having this longer experience, do you prefer taking more time with a record?
Roditis: Absolutely. Because then, and especially with working with a producer like Will Yip, we don’t have to have all the songs completely figured out at the time. When you have a month and someone who has different ideas and a different perspective, you have a lot more room to try out new stuff. Having a month is so much better. It takes the pressure off. It gives you more space. It’s more flexible and fun. It’s really intense but it’s really fun.
Can you explain the backstory behind your relationship with Billie Joe Armstrong?
Roditis: It was definitely very validating to have someone of such high caliber see our band and be like ‘yeah, they’re cool.’ I actually didn’t listen to Green Day really until after that happened. I loved “When I Come Around” but I didn’t start listening to them until that happened. I don’t know why. But we played shows with our friends in Sacramento, and we played a show with one of his kids. He caught wind of us and asked for a shirt, and we literally had sold out of our shirts that night. They were like, ‘okay, you can drop it off at the guitar shop the next time you’re in the area.’ We go to drop it off at the guitar store and the gate is closed. We go up to it anyways and he’s sitting inside with someone. We were like ‘oh no, what should we do?’ He comes up and opens the door and he’s like ‘hey, what’s up, I’m just doing this Rolling Stone interview right now.’ And we give him the shirt and we go and do our own thing. Somehow, we find the interviewer again, and his name’s Brian Hiatt, and he’s like ‘what’s your email; maybe I’ll include you guys in this.’ A week before the interview happens, he sends us an email—so that’s kind of how that happened. It was crazy. Literally so crazy. It’s very validating as a young musician to be seen by someone who is so established and writes amazing music. It was really cool to be seen by him.
Destroy Boys is headed back on tour in August—after such an extended break, how excited are you guys to get back on tour?
Roditis: I’m really excited. We’re not gonna tour the new record yet—we’re doing that hopefully later. But we’ll be performing the new songs we have released. I’m really excited to tour again. I’m worried that I’m not gonna know how to do it. It’s gonna be interesting getting back into the performance. Getting back into just how to do it. It’s not exactly like riding a bike. If you used to run every day and you could run four miles and then you stop for a year, you’re not gonna be able to just run four miles really easily, probably. But I’m really excited. It’s gonna be really fun. I’m excited to see people, to play our songs, to get back into performing and to see what happens. And I just love driving around the country, too. It’s gonna be fun. I’m really looking forward to it.
You can listen to Destroy Boys here.