Divine Fits don’t like to be thought of as a supergroup. They don’t appreciate the novelty of the term and are adamant that as a band they are an ongoing concern and will not be treading the path of also-rans who have dabbled in part-time side projects. Beat speak with Britt Daniel, the mastermind behind Divine Fits, about their acclaimed debut. When Britt Daniel was taking some time out from indie rock success story Spoon, he approached Dan Boeckner [Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs] to see if he was keen to start a band.
Boekner moved from Montreal and stayed in Daniel’s house in Los Angeles as they wrote and recorded an album over a four-to-five-month period. It was a different approach to how they had both worked in their previous projects.
“It was a little bit faster than a Spoon record,” says Daniel of the process for A Thing Called Divine Fits. “Definitely the writing went a lot faster and then the recording went a little bit faster too. I had never worked with a producer that I didn’t know before and that was the case with Nick Launay [Grinderman, Arcade Fire]. The biggest difference in this band is that I am not writing all the songs and I am not singing all of the songs so there is different roles to play and I really dig that.”
From the very beginning, Divine Fits was a very collaborative effort. There are some songs that were written together and some that started out as jams with everybody playing and Daniel would put vocals on top of them. There were also a couple that Daniel or Boeckner had written on their own and would take to the other members of the band for tweaking. This is a totally different process to the one that Daniel has been used to in Spoon where he is the sole songwriter.
“I will take it any way I can get it, because songs are hard to come by," he says. "People often tell me that I am prolific, but I don’t think that I’m that prolific. I am prolific in that I have been doing it a long time, but I don’t think that I am all that fast, unless I get lucky. Sometimes I get lucky. Some people are happy with writing shit, but I never have been.”
As well as the ten original tunes on A Thing Called Divine Fits, the trio do a version of Boys Next Door tunes Shivers that thankfully wipes away the tragic memory of The Screaming Jets butchering the tune in the '90s. Daniel says that the song came to his attention when a good friend from Sydney played it to him for the first time on his last visit in Australia.
“I didn’t even know about Boys Next Door, I thought that Nick Cave’s first band was The Birthday Party. I just totally missed it. I had never heard the band and never heard the song before and it just blew me away. The lyrics especially and the fact that it was written by a 16-year-old was kind of hard to believe. It sat there in the back of my mind for a while and when we started this band I thought that we could give it a shot.”
The third member of Divine Fits, Sam Brown, has played drums with New Bomb Turks and was known to Daniel as he was recording some demos last year. When the time came for Daniel to meet with Boeckner, he brought Brown along and the band was formed. The only thing left to do was to come up with a name for this brand new trio.
“We basically had a bunch of band names and we were trying to decide which one it should be and it was a hard call as it is something that you have to live with for a while," Daniel recalls. "I had this idea that I would make a bunch of phoney record covers and put all of the potential band names on each cover and that is the one that we liked the best. We were having so much trouble figuring it out I thought that it might help to be able to picture it on a record cover."
BY CHRIS HAVERCROFT
DIVINE FITS will play alongside Chet Faker, Bat For Lashes and more at Footscray Community Arts Centre on Sunday February 3 for Laneway Festival. A Thing Called Divine Fits is out now via EMI.