Why Destrends are a band you need to see live

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Why Destrends are a band you need to see live


The provocateur and bandleader has an electrifying presence live, constantly pushing his band’s hooky melodies into wilder and wilder territory – and yes, every now and then, things start to buckle a little under that pressure.

“The second show we ever played [was] the last upstairs show at the Rochester in Fitzroy,” Savage says. “A girl was standing too close to a candle and her hair went up in flames. It stunk the room out pretty well. Another lad broke his nose.”

It’s not just the audience who descend into chaos now and then: Destrends also leap into the proverbial fire, with the string of shows they played as part of the ‘immersive horror experience’ known as The Horror Movie Campout proving particularly insane. After all, when you’re playing gigs while punters get chased around by actors in pig masks wielding chainsaws, things are bound to get wild. “The organisers actually saw a video from a previous gig where I jumped out of a coffin at the start of our set,” Savage says, explaining how the band got involved in that celebration of the things that go bump in the night.

“Seemed like the perfect fit. We were only meant to be playing the Brisbane leg of the festival to begin with. Somehow that progressed into me dancing my way around the country dressed as Frank N’ Furter. We’re definitely fans of some classic horror. Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of gore?”

Given the bravery it takes to prance about the place belting out tunes while dressed in a garter and massive, heavy wig, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that Savage has never really had to deal with onstage nerves. “I spent my high school years playing in bands so it feels like something I have always done,” he says. We were lucky growing up in the country ’cause we had plenty of opportunities to play around town in a supportive environment. It was also handy getting into the pub underage as the entertainment.”

Nonetheless, a lot of the band’s onstage antics rely on audience participation – even if it’s only a matter of the crowd getting a bit lively, as opposed to inciting a full on riot. They don’t need burnt hair every show, but they do certainly need people to be headbanging away. “I think as a band we feed off the energy of the crowd a lot of the time,” Savage says. “In that way I am aware of the audience. If the crowd are really responsive to our show I think we become more enthusiastic in our performance.”

In terms of the band’s future plans, they have an EP release floating out somewhere on the horizon – the excellently-monikered Lousy Lover is due out “sometime in early 2017.” Savage is understandably excited, ready for the project to be unleashed upon the world, particularly because the work has been almost two years in the making. “[Lousy Lover] is a blend of songs we have been playing from the start as well as some more recent ones. We’ve been gigging with most of the tracks for a while now so they have been pretty well road-tested.”

Not that the band will be sitting idle until the EP’s release, of course. They’ll still be gigging, playing standout show after standout show, using a gig that they played last year as a watermark to shoot for. “We played a gig for [Destrends guitarist] Billy’s dad, Robbie ‘Rocket’ Watts at the Tote last year. The show marked ten years since he passed away so it was a very special one for us,” Savage says.

“It was amazing to see how respected he is within the Melbourne music scene through his work with the Cosmic Psychos, amongst many other bands. We also got to share the stage with one of his first bands I Spit on Your Gravy, who were playing for the first time in over a decade. It was a great way to pay tribute to him.”

By Joseph Earp