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Cloe Madonna talks about Destiny Bond’s debut LP, ‘Be My Vengeance”

Denver-based hardcore punk band Destiny Bond are one day away from releasing their superb debut album, Be My Vengeance. The album sees the band continuing to build on their classic punk and hardcore sound that they introduced us to on their 2021 Demo and then on their 2022 Promo. They address the vital power that community holds, the value of being true to yourself, the importance of trans pride, and highlight the significance of self-empowerment as they rip through 10 tracks in quick succession. Be My Vengeace will be out everywhere on June 23 (tomorrow!!) via Convulse Records and Destiny Bond will be touring the US in July. Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with lead vocalist Cloe Madonna to talk about the new album, the importance of community, embracing goofiness, and so much more. Read the interview below!

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You recorded the majority of your upcoming debut album Be My Vegeance with Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden East Studio in California before 3 band members tested positive for COVID and you had to cancel that recording session. You finished recording the album with Lucas Johannes at Base Mess Studio in Denver. How would you describe the recording process?

It was chaotic but it was really gorgeous. We got to Jack Shirley’s studio in the middle of a West Coast tour that we were doing. We had 3 or 4 days in the middle of that to record and we had been planning for it and practicing. The point of the tour was to get there. The first day we were all really, really excited and it was going really fast and it was everything we had hoped for and more. Jack is an amazing engineer and is super fun to work with. Then the next morning I woke up after tons of fever dreams and stuff like that and I was like, “This is bad!” It was supposed to be my vocal day so we just finished up what instruments we could safely and got back. The first day when we recorded in Denver we recorded “Chew”, our first single. I still had vocal damage from COVID and so that was the only song that we could get that day. [laughs] It was time after time of things pushing it back and so I was finally able to finish around the beginning of August. I’m glad that it worked out that way because then we had more time to focus on just vocals while we were not in the middle of a tour and my voice wasn’t already kind of worn down. Lucas has a ton of extra instruments so it gave us a lot of extra room to experiment and that’s how the intro of “Headspin” on a ukulele happened. There’s some piano in there, some shakers, some tambourine. We just got to have more fun with it. Overall, I’m thankful. It was just a hell of a lot to get through. [laughs]

Who plays ukelele on “Headspin”?

Amos, he’s our lead guitarist. Him and Emily switch off but he’s kinda the brainchild of most of the songs and of the direction. We were practicing “Headspin” and he plays a high lead to go with the ending. When we finished the song, he was still practicing it, and when we were repeating the song he played it again. Adam did the count-in and I heard Amos and I was like, “Oh my goodness, that sounds so heavy! What if we do a light beginning and then we all come in”. The ukulele followed because we wanted the tiniest instrument do to this massive intro to just pummel you right after. That was really fun to get to make happen.

What’s the biggest difference between recording an EP and recording an LP?

A lot. I think the approaches were completely different. The 2021 Demo was like, “Ok, we’ve had this new band for a couple of months. We want to play shows. We want to get moving so let’s just get what we have out”. We recorded 8 songs in a garage in one day with our friend Nick. He just did it to tape, we didn’t focus on mixing. We didn’t focus on anything. I was still toying around with, “Do I want to do clean yells? Or do I wanna get screamy on it?” So that demo was just the beginning and feeling things out, seeing what Destiny Bond was.

Then for the 2022 Promo we had the entire album in mind because we had all of the songs that ended up on the album plus a couple extra. We wanted to demo all of those out and see what was good enough to put out. That’s how the Promo came to be. It was literally a demo session with our friend Jack in Denver.

The LP was like, “Ok well, this is it. We’ve done two releases building up to this” so it was the culmination of all that. It was definitely more intentional. A lot of things got edited and a lot of things got changed. Some songs like “Headspin” we had hung onto since the first demo session because we were like, “This is a big song for us but it’s not ready yet” and we were finally able to record that when we got to record the album. There was more intention and more actual crafting done when we got to the album after fiddling around for a couple of years.

“Blood Chokes” and “Mosiac” were on your Demo and “Losin’” and “The Glow” were on your Promo. What was re-recording these songs like?

It was really, really interesting because each of them has a different life for each member of our band. Our personal preferences will ebb and flow with what songs we connect with and what songs we don’t. With “Blood Chokes” I was like, “I like this song. It is an important song and I’m glad we did it. But I feel like I could’ve written better lyrics or been more effective or written a more powerful message”. So for me, it was kind of a push and pull but now hearing it on the album, I’m really thankful we did it. I can see where I started and see that that message has become more relevant as legislation and stuff is being passed across the country. I don’t need to say much more than, “All we do is for the trans kids. We’re on your side. You have us”. That gave that one kind of a new life.

With “Losin’” and “The Glow” it’s kinda funny because we are, not upset or mad, but kicking ourselves for releasing those earlier because honestly, we feel like those would’ve been the album singles had we not already had them out. [laughs] There’s been a lot of learning that we’ve gotten through this. Me and Amos have joked that this album is the culmination of those years at the beginning of the Destiny Bond process and sound. It really is like a time capsule whereas the songs we have written for the next thing we’re going to do, we feel like those are actually honed in and we’ve taken in all the lessons from working on the album. We know which ones we’ll hold onto for singles. So for “The Glow” and “Losin’”, they’re going to get some special treatment after the record is out because we love those songs to death. We were a little sad because we were like, “The new version of ‘The Glow’ is hot! This new version of ‘Losin’’ is hot!” It’s kinda hard to not have those leading the pack.

Be My Vengeance is taken from a line in “The Glow”. Why did you choose to name the album after that line in particular?

There were a lot of things that made it happen. We didn’t really know where we were going to go with the album and Adam was working with an artist called Karim Newble, who ended up doing the album artwork, from the UK. We were trying to get a shirt from him because we’d worked with him a lot and he was like, “I want to do another design”. He sent us a design for “Blood Chokes” because we wanted one that had to do with lyrics. He did one that just said “Blood Chokes” but it wasn’t really our vibe and so we were like, “Try any other lyric. Anything else that comes to you. Maybe look in ‘The Glow’”. He sent us the album art with “Be My Vengeance” underneath it and Adam sent it to us and was like, “This is it!” We were like, “Yeah! That’s the album!” It kind of was chosen for us but looking back I consider “The Glow” kind of our theme song currently because it’s all about taking care of each other and the community and that’s how Destiny Bond came to be. We’ve all been in scenes and we’re building things a little bit deeper than just a music scene. We’ve had real bonds form and we’ve turned it into this really gorgeous thing we’ve created together over nine years of creative interaction and musical interaction. It just ended up being perfect. I think if I had’ve tried to pick a title, I would’ve gone the wrong way but this ended up being the best way it could’ve been. I’m really happy with it. Those are probably some of my favourite lyrics I’ve written for this band.

The cover’s so cool! It catches your eye and has that, “I have to listen to this” feeling.

Karim helped us out big time with that. The colour scheme that he chose for the lettering and stuff was like, “We can have so much fun with that”. That’s like our band. We’re a very fun hardcore punk band. We don’t care if you think it’s goofy, that’s us. We are goofy. [laughs]

Embrace the goof.

Exactly! More people need to live that way. I feel like we would all be a lot happier if we were allowed to be a little bit more goofy. [laughs]

What does vengeance mean to you? How do you know when it’s achieved?

“The Glow” is literally an open dedication saying, “Hey, I have your back no matter what. There’s places in the world you and I have to fight for shit so I promise that wherever it is I’m there for you if you’re there for me”. I guess the best way to describe what it means to me is using more lyrics but it’s getting back what was lost for each other. In writing this record and even recording some of the vocals, I was being harassed by an ex. It was a really, really dark time, I think more so than I’d let on when I was recording this album. I was just so overwhelmed and I couldn’t do anything more in that situation but all my friends, all my bandmates, and all the people in my community really banded together and literally kept me safe. They were there for me and were taking the brunt of some of the harassment because it got really ugly. For me, vengeance is like, “Stand up for me”. It doesn’t have to have a benchmark, it just has to be that you know that someone is there for you after you’ve been there for them or after they see what’s happened to you. It’s the basic showing or intention that you are willing to sacrifice something of your own or you’re willing to be there for someone when it’s not convenient. Just showing up in a real way. I feel like there are so many fake parts of community and friendship all around but in hardcore and punk, that’s the one place I’ve found where people will fight for you. It’s trying to encapsulate that like, “Fight for me and I’ll fight for you. There’s not the rules here that there are elsewhere and we can make our own rules in those worlds”.

You’ve mentioned that “Headspin” is a love letter to Convulse Records, your band, Denver hardcore, and the DIY scenes in the area. What drew you to hardcore in the beginning?

My dad is a Southern Baptist pastor and I have an older brother and he got me into music. It started with NSYNC when I was a baby and then one day he came home from the Christian bookstore with a CD by a band called MxPx. I was like, “This is fast! This is crazy! They’re saying that they don’t want any responsibility. I like this”. I was always kinda rowdy and so from there I really got into that. My brother and people in our youth group showed me Five Iron Frenzy which was like a ska band from Denver – or they still are, they got back together. They actually just released a song with MxPx but that doesn’t matter. [laughs] My first concert was driving from Cheyenne, Wyoming down to Denver to see Five Iron Frenzy’s last show in 2003, and from there it just sparked this thing.

My dad’s youth group had a gym they would hang out at and the youth pastor’s son was in a punk band so they started booking punk shows in our church gym. The whole time I was like, “This is so cool!” but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do because I was a baby. And then this band from Casper, Wyoming called The-Front played that gym and they have a girl singer. Her name is Laura Iron Lungs. I know that because I had her sign my little Old Navy hoodie that had AFI and the Eagles patches that I drew myself. Wyoming punk, we had to make it up! [laughs] Meeting her and her signing my thing and listening to The-Front I was like, “I don’t know what it is but I see myself there”. So I was drawing pictures of myself in bands with my friends from an early age and kept doing that. Then I started a little horrible pop-punk band when I was fourteen playing drums. Then a year later with those same people we started a hardcore band based off Verse and Have Heart and the melodic hardcore explosion in the mid-2000s. That band turned into my first touring band three years later when I turned 18 and graduated high school and just took off.

I think those moments of meeting local artists and learning how to book my own shows and learning how to put together my own band and run a scene really helped. It moved on from doing that in high school to doing that in college in Laramie, Wyoming. That’s actually where I met Adam, our drummer, and Amos, our guitarist, and Emily, our other guitarist because they were all Wyoming people. We literally just built a scene together in Laramie and started touring and slowly made our way to Denver.

I was just hit hard by the music and wanted more of it so I delved further in. Having access and seeing that I could do it locally really helped. Then from there I never had a second where I thought about stopping. [laughs] It was also probably the only place I could be myself without it raising flags. I wasn’t out as a trans person until my late-20s mostly because I didn’t realize that I was being different. I grew up being incubated by weirdo punks and riot grrrls. I think I just kinda knew they were my people. Nobody was questioning my girl’s jeans and girl’s shoes and girl’s jackets from 6th grade on. It was just my punk style. [laughs]

Do you feel like the community has strengthened in recent years?

I think so. I can’t totally speak on how it was before because I’ve been playing in Denver since I was fifteen but I was never living here and orchestrating things as much as I am now. Since after COVID in Colorado, it seems like the enthusiasm is back. I think during the pandemic a lot of people realized what they took for granted or that they actually cared about the scene more than they thought. With our band and with the Convulse Records family and with the bands that are all connected and the local bands, there’s way more of a unified front now. There’s not as much division. I think it was easy when it was a well-established thing and it had never been shown that it could be taken away to just have beef with each other or throw fits for whatever reason. Now I think we’ve come out of that. With Destiny Bond and Convulse at least, it’s very intentional to be community-oriented and not try to one-up someone else and not let our personal issues play into stuff. I don’t know as a whole but in my group of friends and little punks, it has felt way more like a family and like an intentional effort for each other instead of just a thing to do on weekends. This is our lives fully now because it’s the best thing that we’ve ever found.

What can we do to keep the community strong within the scene?

It’s multi-faceted. I’ve always been like, “You need to involve the youth” because our average age in the band is around 29 or 30 and you’re always like, “Yeah! I want kids to come to shows and get into it!” But what Adam has really shown is, “I’m going to directly talk to these kids and tell them how to get involved”. We always talked about that in Laramie because my older brother’s band was touring a ton and they were figuring it out because you had to figure it out yourself in Wyoming. That’s how I understood it. They weren’t necessarily mentoring us, they weren’t really being like, “Hey, don’t go out on the road yet. Practice your instrument first. Hey, don’t blow all your money on a van that’s going to explode. Build something first”. Adam and us have been talking to these kids coming in and being like, “Hey, you don’t need to go on tour yet. We want you to tour but get it to where you know what you’re doing and to where you can make it worthwhile for people to want to come out and see what you have”. That’s one little step.

It also goes into working with kids that we find who are interested in doing sound at DIY spots and being like, “Hey, do you want to do these specific shows?” Incentivizing it like, “If you want to be part of something cool and you want to give an effort, here’s your chance”. I think that’s huge. I keep saying ‘children’ but some of them are 22, that’s an adult – but working directly with the younger people or the new people or the people you notice who are coming in from other scenes makes a huge impact. I think being in Wyoming helped a lot with that because for years there would be times where we would see someone on campus and be like, “There’s a kid in a Magrudergrind shirt! Who are they!?” So we would go corner that kid the next time we saw them wearing a band shirt and be like, “Do you want to be involved with this punk thing?” and it would make our universe grow. So now in big cities, we’re going to do the same thing. If we can tell that you’re interested then we’re going to give you open arms.

Another thing is just supporting venues. We book more often at DIY spots than we do at clubs because clubs can get their money however they want but we need to keep our DIY spots up because this stuff doesn’t just happen. When it’s not booming, DIY spots are all you have so you can’t forsake that whenever it gets to a point where you can fill clubs. You still gotta keep it where it started. Being open to all kinds of sounds and ideas and whatever’s coming in that’s safe is another thing. Once you start trying to prune your scene or gatekeep it from anything that’s not harmful then you’re hurting it. Let stuff grow and find itself out. I think that’s kinda our mantra, just work with people directly and let them feel their stuff out and support the institutions like the DIY spaces and collectives we have here that are supporting us.

Like you were saying, you help them and they help you. The circle continues.

That’s been a theme from booking shows in Wyoming to here. We were never making money booking shows and we were never paying ourselves as locals or really paying the locals. But whenever we would work hard and show that we could get money to touring bands then they would wanna come through more and they’d wanna help us out. It’s learning that you’re not going to make money. Don’t worry about the money, worry about supporting other people and giving them the very best you can. It just comes around so quickly and in the best ways. It feels like common sense but as punks people want to be hard-headed and tough and competitive about it. This is the one place we can have away from capitalism, we don’t need to compete. There’s no reason to.

It doesn’t help anybody. It just hurts everyone at that point.

There’s tons of genres for that. This isn’t it. [laughs]

How would you describe your songwriting process?

Pretty simple and organic. Amos will usually have songs that he’ll flesh out in a Google Drive folder and he’ll put electronic drums and stuff on them so we can have the idea of the song. Then we’ll show up at practice and he’ll play the riff and we’ll go through the song. Sometimes it’s Rio, our bassist, who has the riff. We feel it out and play stuff and push and pull on what we want if we have new ideas.

I’m in an indie band and I’ve been in crusty bands where I’m trying to write political mantras or diss tracks or really deep poetry and in this band I don’t want any of that. I just want to write what comes into my head and keep it simple. Maybe keep it a little stupid. I guess my vibe is to catch the feeling of the thing inside of your head that’s screaming at you, “You CAN do it! Or you can try to find out how to do it. You gotta do something. You gotta move, you gotta go”. That’s what I try to tap into. I try to get the lyrics as we’re writing the song and I don’t like editing a ton. There’s obviously songs that have been edited a lot because I haven’t liked it but I always want to keep it as organic and positive as possible. Be urgent, be aggressive, but that aggression doesn’t have to be mean or destructive. I want to be constructive. Amos’ songs make it easy to do that because there’s always a lighter air about it that feels compelling. You can be fast and crazy and screaming without it being hateful. A lot of people are good at writing hateful, tough lyrics. They led tough lives. I do not so I stick to the stuff that I feel like I wanna hear screamed at me.

On “Kinetic” you talk about realizing your potential and taking hold of it. What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with doing that?

It sounds so unhelpful but just try and keep trying. Adam said something one time that was like, “You gotta get really good at fucking sucking”. Just get comfortable with being bad at something. Until you do, you’re not going to get better you’re only going to get scared. I think that was a trend in my life that came from some Christian beliefs like, “If you’re not good at something immediately, give it up because it’s not for you. It’s not worth it”. You lose out on so much thinking like that. Just take time and figure out what’s important to you and try that. If it’s wrong then re-center and figure out what didn’t work and what did work or figure out if you just want something different altogether. Just keep moving. You’re only going to lose time and lose the practiced things that you’ve gained if you stop. If you try to do music and it’s really bad and you just stop then you lose everything. But if you keep going then you hold onto what was good from that.

Especially when you’re young, you really think that there’s no way that things can get that much better over time or that you can get that much better over time but you literally can. You just gotta keep doing it. That’s what “Kinetic” is about like, “Yeah, it’s gonna suck. There’s going to be horrible times but you haven’t seen the best times yet. You haven’t felt the best times. Even if you may have, why not keep trying to make it better?” There’s so much about things not being worth it if they don’t work out or if they’re not forever. I think you can have a way more gorgeous appreciation for life if you can have an appreciation for the temporary and find just as much importance in the things that happen just once in your life or the things that don’t go the way you planned them to as the things that do go the way you planned them to. I think it’s all important. It’s hard to do but it’s worth it. Most of these songs were written to myself without me knowing it. I’ll re-read the lyrics and be like, “Wow, I really needed that lesson. I was going through that when I wrote that”. If someone else connects with it that’s great but it’s already helping me so that’s all I can ask for. [laughs]

Do you find it cathartic to get on stage and spread the positivity?

Definitely! I think performance is what has always drawn me to punk and hardcore because it was a completely different side of me that I could completely unleash. Now I feel like it’s honed in and I’m using it for good instead of being the scariest person on stage. It’s really rewarding and really cathartic. I guess the catharsis doesn’t quite come until the end or maybe even once I review it. I think the big things that have come to me from this band recently have been listening back or re-reading the lyrics afterward like on a song like “Kinetic”, which we’ve had for years. I’m always finding new things that I connect to and realizing that it’s a practice in my subconscious and being like, “Wow! That’s so cool that I was out there screaming that already and not fully feeling it”. Then later I can be like, “That had even more meaning than I thought it did”. There’s a lot of layers. I can never channel that person in any other way. She doesn’t exist except on stage. It’s a very special part of me that I need to hold onto as long as possible.

You have a tour coming up in July and you’ll be joining Spine on some of the dates. What are you looking forward to the most about these shows?

Just getting to play those three Spine shows is a huge highlight for all of us. Me and Adam grew up as big Bridge Nine fans and Spine was a big band. I’m really excited because John from Weekend Nachos, who is the original drummer for Spine, is filling in for those shows and I met him on a tour years ago with an old band. I’m excited for the friendship and getting to see them destroy and getting to play Saint Vitus with them which is a bucket list venue for punk stuff. I’m really excited for us to get back to Minneapolis. It’s always felt like a kindred scene to Colorado and Denver. We have really good friends there. I think we’re playing with our friends Giallo and that’s going to be a huge show. Our second to last show is in St. Louis and it matched with MSPAINT’s routing so we get to play St. Louis with MSPAINT for the second time and the Mall will be on that too. It’ll be a really good time with friends. MSPAINT is the greatest band in the world so can’t see them enough. Those are probably my top highlights. This will be the longest tour we’ve done as a band yet so that’ll be interesting.

What are you listening to now?

The new Concealed Blade EP is my favourite hardcore thing recently. The new End It is so good. I can say every single Convulse release. We just announced an Alienator 7-inch today. As I was talking about earlier, I don’t write angry lyrics but they do and they’re sick. They’re super insane. I’m hyped on that. I’ve been going back a lot to the Distillers recently. By recently I mean the past year and a half, I can’t stop. Anything Brody Dalle I’m a big fan of.

What do you think of the Spinnerette stuff?

I like it enough. I think it’s my least favourite of her stuff. I love her solo stuff after too. I think her voice is one of the best voices ever in punk rock. There’s so many beer anthems and the equivalent of a ‘good ol’ boy’ attitude in stuff from that era and I feel like Distillers were that much more urgent and well-written and perfect. I cannot pick a song I don’t like for sure on the last two albums and most days even on the first album. [laughs]

What does the future hold for Destiny Bond?

Lots of touring. We’ve got this summer one and we’re working on some other stuff in October-November and the beginning of 2024. Hopefully, something in summer 2024 which will be really fucking cool if it comes through. More shows. We have 6 or 7 songs written and practiced for whatever we do next so we’re ready for that. I guess we should give people some time to listen to the record before we force more stuff down their throats. [laughs] That three weeks is going to be really cool. Locally we’re playing two shows with Gel in Denver and Colorado Springs in August and in October we’re playing with Scowl and Militarie Gun. I’m really excited for that.

I called “The Glow” the Destiny Bond theme song. I think it’s going to be the first-season theme song and this other song we’re sitting on is going to be the second-season theme song. I think it’s going to kick ass so I’m just excited. [laughs] Amos and I were on another interview and we both felt bad because we were like, “This album’s cool but we can’t wait to get the other songs out”. We’re so excited about those. If the album leaves you wanting more just hold on a little bit. [laughs] We have lots and lots of plans.

I’m excited! This has been the band where everything has come really easy because of how we work together and the things we’ve been through over the past decade of working together but separately, not all being in the same band. Things are clicking. I hope it keeps on going.

Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you’d like to add?

Denver on top, Convulse on top. [laughs] But not actually on top. On top with everybody else because we want everybody else on top as a community.

Date Venue City
Jul 01 7th Circle Denver, CO
Jul 05 The Great Untamed Laramie, WY
Jul 06 The Blind Spot Omaha, NE
Jul 07 Caydence Records Minneapolis, MN
Jul 08 Ask A Punk Milwaukee, WI
Jul 09 Albion House Chicago, IL
Jul 10 Atomic Bowl Indianapolis, IN
Jul 11 The Bridge Cleveland, OH
Jul 12 TBA Buffalo, NY
Jul 13 TBA Troy, NY
Jul 14 O’Brien’s Boston, MA (w/Spine)
Jul 15 Bonk’s Philadelphia, PA (w/Spine)
Jul 16 St. Vitus Brooklyn, NY (w/Spine)
Jul 17 Holy Frijoles Baltimore, ML
Jul 18 The Warehouse Richmond, VA
Jul 19 TBA Pittsburgh, PA
Jul 20 Dirty Dungarees Columbus, OH
Jul 21 Al’s Bar Lexington, KY
Jul 22 Hi Tone Downstairs Memphis, TN
Jul 23 Rock Bottom Springfield, MO
Jul 24 TBA St. Louis, MO
Jul 25 Mass Movement Tulsa, OK
Aug 11 Black Sheep Colorado Springs, CO (w/Gel)
Aug 12 The Marquis Theater Denver, CO (w/Gel)
Oct 11 Marquis Theater Denver, CO (w/Scowl, Militarie Gun, Big Laugh)

Source: punknews.org

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