Debris mines melodic post-metal from the wreckage

The Columbus duo will celebrate the release of new EP ‘Foursome’ in concert at Spacebar on Saturday, April 13.
DebrisSarah Andreas

The lyrics on Foursome, the new EP from the heavy-hitting Columbus duo Debris, tend to arrive in fragments befitting the band's name, singer/guitarist David Lawler painting bleakly impressionistic scenes that suggest devastation, subjugation and ever-expanding catastrophe.

“It’s usually just nebulous frustrations with the ways that people will bend over backwards to come up with these bizarre rationalizations for some kind of political choice or life choice,” said Lawler, joined by drummer Evan Carr for an early April interview. “It’s my way of satirizing this weird, human compulsion. Maybe it comes out of anger and frustration, like, ‘Why would you do that? That doesn’t make any rational sense.’ And I spend too much time doom scrolling the news, so there’s no lack of inspiration.”

Most recently, the unfolding genocide in Gaza led the musician to begin writing, Lawler describing himself as horrified by “the United States’ weird obsession with supporting Israel at every turn unquestioned.”

Debris first emerged a couple of years back from the wreckage of four-piece doom rock band Slow Violence, starting as a trio when that group’s singer, Nick Reetz, moved to Chicago. After releasing the EP PoM, from 2022, bass guitarist Rick Renta departed, forcing Lawler and Carr to reinvent Debris as a two-piece. In going through this process, which the musicians said required them to extend themselves in ways they otherwise might not have, the two shed most of the residual Slow Violence skin, emerging on the other side as something sharper, sleeker and more ominous.

“I’ve always been sort of a sloppy musician, and this forced me to really get the timing down and to make sure everything that Evan and I are doing is a little more well-structured,” said Lawler, who will team with Carr for a release show at Spacebar on Saturday, April 13, joined by openers Nyctalopia, Wax Teeth and Confusions. “Before, I would give full liberty, like, ‘You guys just do whatever you want.’ … But as a two-piece, if Evan does something cool, and he plays a weird little accent or something, then I’ll try to change what I’m playing to match. It’s a more complex writing process that I think has made me a better musician.”

The two described the creative process as an ongoing conversation every bit as reliant on listening as making noise. Regardless, the pair consistently conjures an unholy racket, layering “T&P” with rusted buzzsaw riffs and attacking the propulsive, stabbing “Sick Sad Broken Television” with a ferocity that leaves a trail of devastation in their wake. There are also subtle moments of beauty that arrive amid the chaos. Witness the brief reprieve that falls near the middle of “Bears Are Scary,” where the noise briefly gives way to a melodic guitar line in a passage that plays like the eye of a hurricane passing overhead.

“We wanted something that was off kilter but still approachable,” said Lawler, who initially bonded with Carr over the likes of Slint, drawn in by the way the Louisville band deployed “bizarre chord progressions but still kept things kind of pretty.”

The two are also fans of prog-rock bands such as the Contortionist, though Lawler joked that he isn’t skilled enough as a guitarist to reach those heights. This gives Debris a sound that walks the line between a more technical approach and a comparatively instinctual, primal style of rock that is fueled at least in part by the social and political toxicity that have continued to shape this era.

“The music we make … is certainly influenced by the times we’re in,” Lawler said. “But I think there’s enough disconnect in the writing process that I could have just as much fun in a jazz band or an ambient rock thing. But at least right now, this is the style I enjoy most. And, I don’t know, maybe that is influenced by the state of things now. But it’s hard for me to see that from the forest.”

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