Puig Destroyer talks about new album, formation and baseball

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Puig Destroyer is (from left to right): Riley Breckenridge, Jon Howell, Ian Miller and Mike Minnick.

Do you like major league baseball?  Does the name Yasiel Puig ring a bell?

Do you like grindcore?  Does the name Pig Destroyer ring a bell?

Well now, there is a group of baseball loving musicians that puts the unlikely duo together.

Puig Destroyer is a four-piece band featuring: Thrice drummer Riley Breckenridge, Curl Up and Die vocalist Mike Minnick, guitarist Jon Howell and bassist Ian Miller, both from Kowloon Walled City.

Breckenridge and Miller are the founders of the baseball podcast Productive Outs.  During one of the podcasts, the hosts were talking about Los Angeles Dodger rising star Yasiel Puig when he was called up from the minor league last year.

“We were talking about him on the podcast and because we were fans of heavy music, we’re fans of the band Pig Destroyer, and just kind of off the top, during one of our podcasts, I was like, ‘Oh man, somebody should start a baseball metal band called Puig Destroyer,’” said Breckenridge.  “After we finished recording that podcast Ian emailed me and was like, ‘Dude, we should totally do that.’”

Breckenridge sent drum tracks later that evening to Miller which would later be part of the band’s first song, “One Man, Five Tools.”

It was initially a joke that turned into something much more.

Breckenridge recruited Minnick since he has been friends with him when Thrice and Curl Up and Die toured together many years ago.  Miller asked fellow band member Howell to play bass for the new project.

The reasoning behind choosing star-studded Puig as being the name for the band was a no-brainer.

“Puig got off to this crazy hot start,” said Breckenridge.  “He was kind of a media darling at the time and our EP coming out couldn’t have happened at a better time.

For whatever reason, it kind of got sucked up into part of the Puig media blitz that was happening at the time…We were getting way more press than we ever thought.  We thought 50 people would hear it and a lot more people ended up hearing than that.”

Even though the Dodgers organization has not recognized the band, Puig himself heard the band while visiting the MLB Fancave, and even gave his input on hearing one of the band’s songs.

The band released two independent EP’s last year, “Puig Destroyer” and “Wait for Spring” for free through Bandcamp.  They recently announced signing with No Sleep Records and will release a full-length, self-titled album this Tuesday, September 30 to coincide with the first day of the MLB playoffs.

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Self-titled album released on Tuesday.

“It would have been very easy for us to put out it ourselves,” said Breckenridge. “You could do cool vinyls.  You could do cool packages with the backing of a label that you couldn’t pull off by yourself.

They kind of understand what we’re doing like a fun side-project that is going to put out a record whenever we feel like making a record.”

One of the songs on the new album, “TrumBomb,” is inspired by Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Mark Trumbo, who also has a personal relationship with Breckenridge.  Breckenridge reached out to Trumbo through social media and attended a batting practice as Trumbo’s guest when he played for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

“He could answer questions I had about baseball and he could pick my brain because he’s a huge music fan and he plays drums and he plays guitar,” said Breckenridge.  “The same way I could ask him questions about baseball he could ask me questions about touring and playing instruments and stuff like that.

We kind of built a friendship on the similar interests.  I talk to him almost every day now.  We share a practice space in Orange County.  We jam when he’s home.  He’s become a really, really good friend.”

The band’s first EP was six songs and the second was eight but neither eclipsed 10 minutes for the entirety of the EP.  The full-length will be much longer.

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The band’s second self-released EP.

“In doing the full-length we’re doing 20 songs,” said Breckenridge.  “I think we demoed like 40 songs and kind of picked the 20 favorite.  It’s a little bit more dynamic.  There’s some slower stuff.  There’s some absurdly fast stuff.  It’s just more diverse.”

The band records their demos different from other bands.

“As far as writing music, for the first couple of EP’s it was kind of a blend of me just writing a drum part and sending it to Ian and having him put bass on top of it,” said Breckenridge.

“For this full-length we flipped that a little bit where Ian was just sending me bass ideas and then I would write off of his bass ideas.  Once we have drum and bass demos, we’ll give that to John and then John does his magic off the top of it.”

The final piece of the puzzle is Minnick adding vocals to all of the instruments.

Minnick said that he and Breckenridge always joked about doing a goofy music project together, but this scenario was never on their minds.

“I would never guess that I had written 34 songs about baseball at this point,” said Minnick.  “It’s a really cool way to like think about creating music.  Some of the best things I’ve ever made musically are in this project.  Ian said that, ‘This is the best bad idea that I’ve ever been apart of.’”

Fans may be disappointed to hear that the band will probably never play live.

“We didn’t build it to play live,” said Minnick.  “After the first EP we did, I was just so excited.  I was so thankful for these guys to have me in the band.  I was like, ‘Can we do just one show?’  And then, I forgot who it was, but they were like, ‘How are we going to play one show?  We only have six minutes of material.’…It’s just not built to do that, even though we have enough songs.”

Even though the band has concocted many songs, all four members have never been in the same room at the same time.  Miller and Howell reside in Northern California, Breckenridge in Southern California and Minnick in Chicago.

“I’ve never met Ian, the bass player, but I [have] met John once because he was in Chicago,” said Minnick.  “But it was super cool because we made music together but never met in person.  Now I consider Ian a good friend.  We e-mail and talk constantly just because of the band.  I know when I meet him it’s going to be super exciting.”

The power of the internet has helped the quartet connect with each other and fans across the globe.

“This would not be possible 10 years ago,” said Minnick.  “That’s one of the cool things about the product too [is] that it’s so fun and I’ve met other baseball fans through it.  I’ve made good friends.”

Being a San Francisco Giants fan, Minnick sticks with his team in talking about his favorite baseball players.

“All-time, since I was a kid is Willie Mays,” said Minnick.  “Currently, it’s either Madison Bumgarner like for a pitcher.  It’s Andrew McCutchen because he’s amazing.  The way he plays is great.  If I go with [a San Francisco] Giants hitter I go with Hunter Pence because he’s so weird and so great at everything he does.”

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The band’s debut self-titled EP.

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