18 October, 2012
Destruction Unit/Digital Leather tour
Destruction Unit tour:
10/19- Omaha, NE @ Oleaver's w/ Digital Leather, and Solid Goldberg
10/20- Lafayette, IN @ Foam City w/ Digital Leather, Ancient Slang
10/21- Chicago, IL @ Burlington Bar w/ Digital Leather, the Runnies
10/22- Madison, WI @ Mickey's Tavern w/ Digital Leather, The Hussy, The New Villains
10/23- Milwaukee. WI@Cactus Club w/ the Blind Shake, Digital Leather
10/24- Cleveland, OH @ Now That's Class! w/ Modern Convenience(TN)
10/25- Rochester, NY
10/26- Brooklyn, NY@ 538 Johnson #201 w/ Leather, Shoxxx, Warthog, Deformity
10/27- Northampton, MA
10/28- Brooklyn, NY @ Don Pedro's w/ the Men, the Guts, Pampers
10/29- Philly, PA@ King Fu Necktie w/ Salvation, SGNLS, Residules
10/30- Charlotte, NC@ Yauhaus
10/31- Athens, GA@ Caledonia lounge
11/1- Memphis, TN@ the Buccaneer w/ the Manatees
11/2- NOLA@ Circle Bar w/ Cheap Time
11/3- Austin, TX @ Red 7(outside) with King Tuff, The Intelligence, Spray Paint
You could consider Destruction Unit's Ryan Rousseau and Digital Leather's Shawn Foree modern punk living-legends, part of a trio that also included their more famous (and dearly departed friend) Jay Reatard, blasting through the South/Southwest/Midwest with their own brands of firey punk in the late-90s/2000s, drawing on any number of other genres, be it synth-punk/kraut/desert rock/etc. Ryan cut his teeth as a teen playing in Yuma Territorial Prison Guards before moving up to Phoenix, which has been his home base for a number of years. Eventually he crossed paths with Jay in the early Reatards years, and a job as a Fed Ex driver allowed him the opportunity to travel out to Memphis and spend time writing and recording with Jay. Eventually Ryan started the (initially) synth-punk project, Destruction Unit, with Jay and Lost Sounds Alicja Trout on board from time to time. Restless by nature, Ryan also eventually started Earthmen and Strangers and Tokyo Electron, each sparked by different fires coming from the same house of Rousseau.
(To be fair, more of the proper lineage looks like this (thanks to Lenguas Largas's Mark Beef for the info): Ryan cut his teeth in the Reatards and the Wongs, spending time in Yuma and Memphis as a teenager. He then moved to Pheonix and Yuma Territorial Prison guards was one of many bands that happened after that. Shawn was from Yuma and moved out to Tucson and was in bands like the Screenz and Dickless Torso that both Ryan and Isaac were involved in, which eventually lead to Digital Leather, whose first record was on the Phoenix label King Of the Monsters.)
In the middle of all this, Shawn started writing tunes under the moniker Digital Leather, guitar-and-drum-machine punk ditties, which eventually made their way to Jay, who decided to take Shawn under his wing and show him the ropes of recording. Jay was also starting his label Shattered Records and released DL's first records, eventually acting as their manager and landing them a deal with Fat Possum, who would release the Warm Brother LP in 2009. (Read Pitchfork's review here.)
In summer of 2008, my good friend Jon and I decided to partner up to compile a tribute to Paul Collins, Peter Case and Jack of the Nerves/the Beat/Plimsouls/etc. We were able to reach Jay early on in the process, and he was interested in contributing a cover of the Nerves' "Gimme Some Time." His touring schedule over the next year or so was becoming busier than ever, though, with huge releases on Matador and the like helping to crown him as punk's new king. We'd ruled him out eventually, figuring he'd forgotten about the project or had lost interest, but in the fall of 2009, he dropped us a line out of the blue to tell us that he was still interested, and that he had another bout of touring to take care before moving. A few more months went by, and during the first week of January 2010, he dropped us another line to tell us that he was in the process of moving and setting up his new home studio, but that he would tackle that song first thing when everything was ready to go.
And then on January 13th, it was declared that Jay had died in the night at the age of 29, sending the entire music community reeling, the most immediate of which were his closest friends, Ryan and Shawn. Jon and I reached out to Jay's manager to see if, by chance, he'd recorded his cover, and after scouring his new home-studio, we were told that Jay was in the process of setting up to record it, but hadn't actually put it to tape. In the months after, Shawn retreated to Berlin for a while to try and clear his head, sporadically recording there and wherever else he happened to be. One of the songs in all of this was "Sea of Hate", which eventually ended up on the Infinite Sun 12" that Volar released last year (a record that virtually fell in my lap, as Fat Possum had turned it down, and both Ryan and Isaac from Lenguas Largas, whose Ese Culito 12" (buy it here) I was in the process of releasing sent Shawn my way to see about releasing some stuff). (As a note, both Isaac and Ryan have spent time touring as members of Digital Leather; Ryan and Shawn still frequently record each other's bands; and Shawn did his own stint touring as a member of Destruction Unit.) Shawn told me early on that Jay visited him in a dream after his death and wrote the song with him, and he woke up immediately and cut a basic version to tape.
In the last two years, Digital Leather has seen the release of the aforementioned Infinite Sun 12" (buy it here), as well as the Modern Problems LP on FDH Records (buy it here) (who also released Destruction Unit's Eclipse LP--buy it here), and the Sponge cassette via our friends at Crash Symbols (who just released the cassette version of Window Twins' Wish LP that'll be out on Volar on vinyl very soon--preorder limited colored vinyl here). Ryan resurrected Destruction Unit and recorded the Eclipse LP for FDH in 2010, and it was around this time that I saw him play here in town at the Tower Bar, the band still functioning as a heavy synth/kraut project. They blew me away that night, and immediately I asked him if I could put out a 7". Over the course of the next months, it grew into a 12" EP, and then a proper LP, and soon enough, in April 2011, I had the amazing Sonoran vinyl back from the plant. (Buy limited colored vinyl here.)
Now, for the first time in years (maybe ever?) Destruction Unit and Digital Leather are touring together, with DL hopping on board for a few days during a long DU tour of the Midwest/Northeast/South in support of Ryan's new self-released solo record and their new LP, Void, available soon on Jolly Dream Records. Dates below, as well as a full stream of Lenguas Largas's Ese Culito 12", who just came back from their first real tour, some of which was with Ryan's other current project, Dez Vibez, blowing away a crowd at Gonerfest while they were out (a tour that went much better than their tour in summer 2011, which saw guitar player and Tucson mainstay Mark Beef land in the hospital). Also, read a just-published interview with Shawn Foree via Hear Nebraska regarding the tour and his newest releases.