NEW TO ME:
I don’t think I’m alone when I say: I LOVE Spoon. So it should come as no surprise that when I saw news of a new project from Spoon’s frontman, Britt Daniel, I was elated. The name of this project, if you haven’t yet heard, is Divine Fits. Aside from Daniel, the band is comprised of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs frontman Dan Boeckner and New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown. Together with Alex Fischel on keyboards, they have formed what is sometimes regrettably referred to in the music business as a “Supergroup”.
Because I don’t love the word ‘Supergroup’ (I think most people would agree that the term is unfavorable and sets a band up a very short tenure) for the remainder of this piece I will refer to them by name or by the term: ‘Superbandcombo’. That way read into it however you like: as ‘Super-band-combo’ or ‘Superb-and-combo’. Win Win! You’re welcome, Divine Fits.
What I really wanted to know was how this fit was made. This Divine Fit, if you will. Here’s what I found: Dan Boeckner has been a huge fan of Spoon’s music since he was in high school. Push your fast forward button on Dan Boeckner and to his own set of very successful bands and guess what?! Britt Daniel liked those bands so much he showed up at one of Boeckner’s shows, introduced himself and they became friends. I like knowing that I live in a world where things like this are totally possible.
Fast forward again: Daniel and Boeckner are pretty tight friends and have developed a very strong respect for each musically. Over the years they have toured together, shared the stage for a few shows and now both of Boeckner’s bands have come to a close. Daniel (who’s maybe a little antsy in his own musical masterminding with Spoon) wants to try something new and suggest they start a band. Boeckner agrees and according to him in an interview with Pitchfork: “I’m not fucking around when I start a band”. That sealed the deal for me. So let’s hear some music!
A Thing Called Divine Fits, which was released August 28th on Spoon’s label Merge Records, brings out something fresh and edgy, with some 80’s dance familiarity sprinkled in there. You know, for nostalgia. And delight. Here are my 5 favorite tracks:
1.”Would That Not Be Nice”: This song has more jagged edges than you normally would find on a Spoon album, but definitely has a signature Britt Daniel sound.
2.”What Gets You Alone”: Makes me feel a little punk rocky, I kinda wanna trash a little.
3.”Shivers”: Boys Next Door (Nick Cave) cover. Somehow offers a little enlightenment to a very dark song.
4.”Flaggin a Ride”: Pop rock drum beats that remind you of Spoon, but with that 80s electro sound drizzled in. Very new wave sounding… someone get me to a dancefloor.
5.”My Love is Real”: It’s a sticky chorus, but not the frustrating kind like gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe. More like a little loop running in your brain that keeps your head bopping long after the music has stopped.
Britt Daniel: vocals, guitar. Lead singer of Spoon.
Dan Boeckner: vocals, guitar. Lead singer of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs.
Sam Brown: drummer. Drummer of New Bomb Turks and as the live drummer for producer/DJ RJD2‘s touring band.
Alex Fischel: keyboards. Keyboardist in the band Papa
Daniel and Boeckner met in 2007 at a place called Lolas in Portland where Daniel came to see one of Boeckner’s Handsome Furs shows. The two hit it off, became friends and apparently both enjoyed margaritas together when they were in the same cities.
The Handsome Furs opened for Spoon at Terminal Five in NYC in 2008 and in 2010, Boeckner joined Spoon on stage at Radio City Music Hall. In February of 2011 when Boeckner mentioned to Daniel that Handsome Furs was calling it quits, they decided to form a band and by October they were at Daniel’s home in LA working on tracks.
SOUNDS AND SOUNDS LIKE:
A Thing Called Divine Fits is an album that has both Daniel and Boeckner equally sharing time as lead vocalists. I like hearing that in a band every now and again but in this case it feels less like a band meld and more of an obvious back and forth reverence for the talents of each. What makes it fun is the obvious tinkering, stretching and experimentation that took place in the studio- with trademarks elements from each member’s past appearing in almost all of the songs (the intro to “The Salton Sea” has a heavy nod to Spoons’s “The Ghost Of You Lingers”). The catch though, in this ‘Superbandcombo’,with everyone dashing in their own personal flavor, you kind of start to pick sides. Or at least I did. And I picked Britt’s.
The album was produced by Nick Launay who has produced albums for (just to name a few) Talking Heads, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Arcade Fire. Launay has built a career working with artists who like to explore the outer limits. I think this says a lot about where Divine Fits wanted to go with this record and bodes well for more cohesive experimentation down the road.
The official first Divine Fits show was publicized and scheduled to be at Austin’s Beerland on 8/1/12, however they played a secret show the night before at the Continental Club. The name they used for the bill was ‘Hot Skull’. Here’s a copy of the set list from that show (via Ultra8201):
The band practiced and recorded the album @ LA Rehearsal and Recording in the Little Armenia section of east Hollywwod. The band has admitted to consuming large quantities of ‘real Russian Vodka’ and ‘real Russian Ice Cream”. (Inspiration for Track 10’s title “Like Ice Cream”?)
Dan Boeckner also devoted himself to another project penning the music for the upcoming film ‘Adult World’, which is set to star John Cusack and Emma Roberts. Boeckner is friends with the director, Scott Cofey. For the project Boeckner wrote some original songs, did some covers and re-recorded a Handsome Furs song. ’Adult World’ is a black comedy about an aspiring poet who ends up working at an adult book store. It’s tentatively due out this year.
Each Divine Fits member included quirky little personal notes to his respective hometown on their website. This to me really added even more of a sense that these guys couldn’t be happier to be back where they first started, quite literally. Here’s an lil tidbit of that hometown love:
Columbus, OH // Ace of Cups // 08.06
We are in need of some serious release and couldn’t be more jazzed to play in front of living sweating human beings. I’m especially excited to share this experience with people who have been nothing but amazing to me for many years. I can’t think of a better joint than Ace of Cups to kick this off. See you there August 6th. Connections are opening. Don’t miss them. You can DVR the olympics.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Divine Fits’ debut effort is a pretty superb-and-combo super band combo. Just don’t call them a Super-Group. Please.