The Best Parts Win: Ready the Destroyer, March 27 at the River Music Experience and April 3 at Mixtapes Print
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 25 March 2009 09:59

Ready the Destroyer

The first thing to notice about the music of Chicago's Ready the Destroyer is that singer Neill Miller's guitar has a lot to say. Some guitarists are technically proficient, but the really good ones are able to give their instruments a voice. Miller's sings.

The unsigned Chicago trio -- which will be playing at the River Music Experience's performance hall on Friday and Mixtapes on April 3 -- plays punk-ish music with a strong sense of melody on both guitar and bass, not unlike the Alkaline Trio and Interpol, and clearly influenced by Hüsker Dü. It's a lean, rigorous, muscular sound in which the guitar, bass, and voice are all fighting to be the lead instrument - a busy din but without discord.

"We try to write very accessible music, but we keep it pretty complex," Miller said in an interview this week. "We generally try to have as much going on as possible in the song, but keeping it very listenable to your average music fan."

Bassist Aaron Cleal calls the style "smart punk," but Miller said that "I tend to think of us as being on the catchier side of punk ... almost melodic punk."

The eight-track Through This Night is an impressive full-length debut, but the punk is more felt than heard in the band's carefully crafted yet propulsive tracks. Although Miller's not much of a singer, and his lyrics are so vague they seem like placeholders, his delivery is serviceably expressive.

But the instrumental interplay is where the band distinguishes itself, and it's hard to imagine any words or singing that could exude the joy and hope of the bright lead guitar on "Lifeline," which in tone and phrasing does its own little dance on the shoulders of the bass and drums. The downside of such gorgeously rendered highlights is that the verses sometimes feel a little barren; it's hard to wait for the clarity that Miller and Cleal bring to their playing.

Miller said the band communicates openly and honestly, and that candor makes the songs better. "We tend to edit ourselves as a band very efficiently," he said. "I think that helps in the end to come out with the best melodies. The best parts of the song are going to win."

For a band that went into the studio just a few months after solidifying its current lineup, Through This Night is surprisingly fully formed. But the band continues to grow, Miller said.

Ready the Destroyer will be celebrating the release of a split CD with Moline's The Birthplace of President Ronald Reagan Is on Fire at Mixtapes next week, and while the recording quality doesn't match the polish of Through This Night, its rougher edges match the increased aggressiveness of the tunes.

"There's a pretty obvious evolution ... ," Miller said. "We're pushing ourselves a bit more. I think we're even more listenable now, and even more complicated."

Ready the Destroyer will perform at the River Music Experience's Performance Hall (131 West Second Street in Davenport) on Friday, March 27, with Jake Dilley & The Colour Pharmacy and the Quad Cities' The Post Mortems. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m., and admission is $5.

Ready the Destroyer will perform at Mixtapes (830 15th Avenue in East Moline) on Friday, April 3. The show also includes The Birthplace of President Ronald Reagan Is on Fire, Caw! Caw!, and Mija. The show starts at 7 p.m., and admission is $5.

For more information on Ready the Destroyer, visit or

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