JS Aurelius, highly experimental guitarist of Destruction Unit has brought a rageful and introspective creativity to the psychedelic hardcore punk outfit, Destruction Unit. Since the addition of himself and Nick Nappa to the Destruction Unit, unit, the band has blossomed into their highly unique sound like a parasitic plant. I was able to find out more about the Destruction Unit creative process and what motivates Aurelius in our next installment of Small Talk.
Danny Baraz: In September, you played your record release party for Negative Feedback Resistor at the Teragram in Los Angeles. The Critical Resistance organization was present to help spread the word about their movement which seeks to dismantle the “prison industrial complex”. It made me very happy to see a contemporary band taking part in political activism. Rock bands have always pushed the political conversation forward to new generations of fans/kids. Why do you think that such a few amount of up and coming and established bands are interested in getting political and why is it important to you and Destruction Unit?
JS Aurelius: I think being political is unappealing because politics as a whole are so unappealing. It’s all so far beyond broken that even talking about the problems is redundant, and it’s hard not to be jaded. that being said, part of me still feels guilty any time I’m not working towards a better world. Whether that means helping facilitate access to resources and information, speaking up when I see injustices, things of that nature. Especially because I’m in a fortunate position of (minor) visibility. Having music on television, being featured in Rolling Stone or The New York Times, i don’t care about those kind of things. I am, however, proud of the organizations and labels and bands and people we’ve worked with in this fight against the disgusting corrupt greed pigs. The people I’ve learned so much from. All that other stuff just means access to a bigger staging area and better resources, which I try to share with my friends and allies. Fuck politics, this is about people and doing what we can to make things better for everyone.
Danny Baraz: Since you and Nick have solidified the D Unit lineup, the band has a very distinct and identifiable sound. How were yourself and Nick initially recruited for D Unit? Who usually writes the main riffs for the songs?
JS Aurelius: Well before Nick and I joined destruction unit, we were both jamming together in other bands, playing shows together, setting up gigs, putting out music and art and stuff. We also both new Ryan from playing shows together and him coming to the gigs we set up. One day we were all tripping at a gig and one of the touring bands ended up not showing up. We had the backline all set up so we all just decided to jam in their place. A lot of that set made up the majority of the Sonoran LP. This was back with Justin playing drums. I wasn’t in the band when they recorded that record and toured on it as I was still in school, although I did shoot the photo for the cover. The cover was shot out in the Kofa Mountain Desert, miles and miles from any sign of civilization. There aren’t even walking/driving trails. We actually recorded a full album out there jamming with a generator, but haven’t put that out. Maybe someday. After touring on that record I finished school, and we wrote Void. We toured on that, then Justin got in legal trouble that prevented him from being able to tour. That’s when Andrew joined. He plays harder, faster and louder than any drummer out there. And he’s cut from the same cloth which is even more important than the skill or experience he’s got. He and Rusty actually knows what their doing, unlike the rest of us. We wrote Deep Trip with him, and since then we’ve just been jamming with lots of different friends. One of my best friends and the most intelligent philosopher/(al)chemist out there, Limner Locin, is on the Live in SF LP. He’s also toured with us a bunch. The first live show he ever played with us was the first time he ever even jammed with us. And it was at the Fonda Theater in LA for 1,000+ people. He thought we were playing basement gigs. Our good friend Frederikke is on the Live in Haarlem tape, she played synth and electronics in Destruction Unit for an entire European tour. Another really close friend Jonas is on some upcoming releases. He played in the band for an entire European/North American tour as well. One of the recordings features him and Rodger Stella of Macronympha fame jamming with us in Toronto. It’s pretty mental. We love fun throwing different friends into the mix and seeing how that changes everything completely.
Danny Baraz: Do you have to take a lot of hallucinogens to make such a hardcore band fit in the psychedelic rock genre? Has D Unit ever written or composed a song on LSD or any other psychedelic drugs?
JS Aurelius: It’s funny to be asked if we’ve ever written or composed a song on psychedelics. It’d be easier (and a shorter list) to figure out which songs or shows we wrote or played while sober… This band isn’t really about the riffs, as much as it’s about the energy, and it’s easier to ride the energy when your mind is opened up a bit… I don’t think we’re a rock band or a hardcore band.
Danny Baraz: What is your worst experience from tour?
JS Aurelius: This is a hard question to answer. I was probably the most worried when we got pulled over and searched by dogs driving from Austin to Houston. We had something like two pounds of mushrooms and a couple ounces of weed we had just picked up, plus an assortment of other illegal things. We were all sure that we were going to jail; and probably for a long time. I knew that out of state plates in Texas and the quantity we were sitting on meant a likely trafficking charge. They searched the van for over an hour, while interrogating us on the side of the road. They found a grinder with weed residue and scolded us about that, but SOMEHOW, did not find the mushrooms. Andrew was in the middle row and had stuffed them down in the back of the seat cushion, but didn’t realize they all just fell through to the floor of the back row. When I got back in the van after the search it was the first thing I saw on the ground. I still have no explanation.
Another bad trip was getting strip searched at the border in Sweden. They found our band name online and the venues we were playing (and probably similar interviews to this one), and immediately took us to holding cells and strip searched everyone. They claimed to have found cocaine inside the van, but wouldn’t show it to us and let us go.
Danny Baraz: Who is the craziest band you have ever been on tour with?
JS Aurelius: Another hard question to answer, but the craziest band we’ve toured with would probably have to be Varg… Good for your soul, bad for your health.