Meet The Destroyers, the Navy band that has LA Fleet Week rocking

California

  • Musician 3rd Class Taylor Johns fronts the U.S. Navy’s rock...

    Musician 3rd Class Taylor Johns fronts the U.S. Navy’s rock band, The Destroyers, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Musician 3rd Class Taylor Johns fronts the U.S. Navy’s rock...

    Musician 3rd Class Taylor Johns fronts the U.S. Navy’s rock band, The Destroyers, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Musician 3rd Class Taylor Johns fronts the U.S. Navy’s rock...

    Musician 3rd Class Taylor Johns fronts the U.S. Navy’s rock band, The Destroyers, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Brandon Bailor of Glendale goes with the flow with his...

    Brandon Bailor of Glendale goes with the flow with his daughter, Madison, 6, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Army takes on Marines in the military dodgeball tournament on...

    Army takes on Marines in the military dodgeball tournament on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Attendees dance to the music during a performance by The...

    Attendees dance to the music during a performance by The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Marines give Yoser Morris of Long Beach a bit of...

    Marines give Yoser Morris of Long Beach a bit of tactical training as he rolls over in an 80-pound bomb suit on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Team Army displays their championship trophy after winning the military...

    Team Army displays their championship trophy after winning the military dodgeball tournament on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which...

    Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which gives attendees chances to interact with members of the military and see vehicle and weapons demonstrations, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at the waterfront in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • A visitor from Taiwan, left, and Lance Cpl. Ronal Gonzalezruiz...

    A visitor from Taiwan, left, and Lance Cpl. Ronal Gonzalezruiz pose for a photo inside a Marine Corps JLTV — Joint Tactical Vehicle — on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which...

    Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which gives attendees chances to interact with members of the military and see vehicle and weapons demonstrations, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at the waterfront in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which...

    Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which gives attendees chances to interact with members of the military and see vehicle and weapons demonstrations, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at the waterfront in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which...

    Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which gives attendees chances to interact with members of the military and see vehicle and weapons demonstrations, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at the waterfront in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which...

    Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which gives attendees chances to interact with members of the military and see vehicle and weapons demonstrations, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at the waterfront in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which...

    Thousands of people turn out for LA Fleet Week, which gives attendees chances to interact with members of the military and see vehicle and weapons demonstrations, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at the waterfront in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Lance Cpl. Caleb Joyce of Camp Pendleton sits atop an...

    Lance Cpl. Caleb Joyce of Camp Pendleton sits atop an amphibious combat vehicle with the USS Iowa in the background on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • A Marine helps Makynzie Williams, 9, of San Bernardino put...

    A Marine helps Makynzie Williams, 9, of San Bernardino put on a flak jacket on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Conner Williams, 13, of San Bernardino, dons a flak jacket...

    Conner Williams, 13, of San Bernardino, dons a flak jacket on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Cousins from Rancho Palos Verdes check out the inside of...

    Cousins from Rancho Palos Verdes check out the inside of an Army light tactical vehicle on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Newlyweds Kirk Hodgman and Stephanie Morrow of Santa Monica look...

    Newlyweds Kirk Hodgman and Stephanie Morrow of Santa Monica look on as PFC Peyton Dehoog demonstrates a Stinger, a low altitude air defense missile used by the Marines, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Isaiah Palomares, 12, of Montebello peers through the scope of...

    Isaiah Palomares, 12, of Montebello peers through the scope of a 25mm automatic cannon atop an armored vehicle under the watchful eye of Cpl. Colton Kinsey of the United States Marine Corps on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday,...

    The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday,...

    The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday,...

    The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday,...

    The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday,...

    The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday,...

    The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday,...

    The Destroyers, the U.S. Navy’s rock band, perform on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at LA Fleet Week in San Pedro. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contributing Photographer)

When you picture sailors in their pressed, dress-white uniforms, electric guitars and Led Zeppelin probably don’t come to mind.

But that’s because you haven’t met The Destroyers, a U.S. Navy Band Southwest contingent that can seriously rock the house — and get everyone dancing and swaying along.

When the six-member band, all in Navy dress white uniforms, took to the outdoor stage Saturday, May 27, at the second day of LA Fleet Week, parents, kids and a U.S. Marine break dancer were among those who caught the spirit. The energetic, hourlong set spanned hits from the 1970s to today’s teen favorites —  with a little bit of country and jazz thrown in.

“We wear our white uniforms and look like sailors,” said singer Taylor Johns, “but we play like a rock band.”

That they do.

With Konrad Malinowski on guitar, Drew Williams on piano, Pete Mattice on bass, Tommie Auger on drums and Jason Stark handling sound, the band has even gained the admiration, Johns said, of at least one member of the U.S. Marine Band, also playing at Fleet Week, who praised them for how they “rock out.”

The Destroyers is the “popular music group” contingent within the overall Navy Band Southwest, performing in high school auditoriums as well as formal military receptions.

The Navy Band isn’t easy to get into, Johns said, adding it took her three tries to be accepted.

Only 600 get accepted into the larger band, which includes jazz and other smaller break-out groups, including The Destroyers. Only nine singers overall are taken into the group as a whole.

Folks actually try out for the band first, then enlist in the Navy when accepted. And that’s their only job.

Most are not only talented but also hold impressive advanced education degrees and play several instruments.

In Johns’s case, she came from a Navy family and, while performing singing gigs here and there as a teen and young adult, the Navy band seemed like a perfect fit.

“I was playing the guitar and singing songs in coffee houses since I was 12 years old,” the Ohio native said.

She first tried out when she was still in high school but didn’t make it.

“It was my dream job,” she said.

So Johns kept trying.

She was 23 years old when she was accepted five years ago and said the wait provided her with needed life experience. Ideally, Johns said, she’d like to retire still playing for the Navy band in 20 years.

Their keyboard player picks all of the songs, she said, but the band won’t play a song that even one of them may not like.

The goal, she said, is to go for “thrillers, no fillers.” And songs need to be danceable.

The band is billed as a Top 40 ensemble with material focusing on the classics from the 1970s to present day.

The Destroyers will be on stage at LA Fleet Week again from 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 28. Future bookings include an appearance at the San Francisco Fleet Week in October. The band, based in San Diego, typically plays more than 50  concerts throughout the Southwest district a year, Johns said.

Rocking out for the Navy, Johns said, is still her dream job.

On a personal note, she said her favorite solo singing appearance for the Navy was singing the national anthem at the Richard Nixon Library and Museum in Yorba Linda for a Vietnam Remembrance Day that drew hundreds of veterans from that era.

“They all started singing along and I couldn’t help myself; I was just smiling all the way through it,” Johns said. “They kept thanking me for my service but I was thanking them for their service.”

For the LA Fleet Week appearances, the band is staying at the same hotel as the U.S. Marine Band, Johns said.

“We really do have so much fun,” she said.

Sunday activities

  • Public ship tours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
  • Aircraft demonstrations over the Main Channel (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Expo open alongside the Battleship Iowa, 250 S. Harbor Blvd. (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
  • Military Has Talent (10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Main Stage).
  • Galley Wars (noon to 2 p.m., fantail, Battleship Iowa).
  • Navy Band Southwest (1-2 p.m., Main Stage).
  • Sean Oliu and the Coastline Cowboys (2:30 to 4 p.m., Main Stage).
  • Lauren Monroe (5 to 6 p.m., Main Stage).

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