Destroy It Up is a music project fronted by Joe Simek, a songwriter and yoga teacher based near Philadelphia in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. With its latest release, Destroy It Up has married two of Simek’s loves: rock ’n’ roll and yoga philosophy. The result is Sutra, a full-length concept record. Its music is firmly rooted in the indie rock of Destroy It Up’s first two EPs, but lyrically, its inspired by an ancient yogic text, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.
Yogic and spiritual references could always be found in Destroy It Up’s music, but when it came time to write the band’s newest effort, Simek was immersed in two yoga trainings (one with Rolf Gates, the author of the seminal yoga book, Meditations From The Mat, and the other with Brandt Passalacqua of Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy), and he had been studying the Yoga Sutra for both. The ideas and concepts had a profound effect on Simek, and before long he was writing songs specifically about those concepts, as viewed through the lens of his own life.
The fear of death, attachment, the nature of consciousness — essential concepts of any yogic text, also make for excellent fodder for rock songs. Simek has penned 12 songs, each with a corresponding sutra, each title containing sanskrit. However, this is not an album of sanskrit mantra and kirtan. While the lyrical concepts come from the yogic and buddhist lineage that culminates in the Yoga Sutra, the music and melody follow a different lineage: that of Bob Dylan, Jeff Tweedy, Conor Oberst and the like.
To help explain the yoga teachings that inspired the songs, Simek has started a companion podcast to the album called Rock ’N’ Roll Sutra. For each episode, he will explain the teachings of each sutra, play early demos of the songs, and deconstruct his lyrics. It will be resource for those who want to dive deeper into the ideas behind the album.
Sutra features the same musicians and recording process as early Destroy It Up releases. Simek has again partnered with drummer John O’Reilly Jr, owner of Boom Crash Drum Tracks recording studio in Warminster, PA, and hired gun for such such national acts as El VY (featuring Matt Berninger of The National) and Jim Adkins (singer of Jimmy Eat World).
The album also features guitar Kurt Johnson, who along with Simek, played in a band called The Dying Time back when the two attended Arizona State University the late ’90s. When Johnson moved to Brooklyn in 2013, he was close enough to Simek to play in Destroy It Up’s first live shows and has been an integral part of the project ever since.
The band’s line-up is rounded out by bassist Brad Baker, another of Simek’s former bandmates. Now brothers-in-law, Simek and Baker played in and around Philadelphia in the late 2000s in a project called The Administration/The Borough.