DIVIDES: Bringing Alaskan Metal to Portland
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Like any family, DIVIDES has had their fair share of ups and downs. Luckily for metal fans, the band has managed to stay together through all of their trials and tribulations, and produce some incredible music. Progressive Man had an entertaining interview with the band, learning more about their move from Alaska to Portland and how they developed their sound. Read on for a funny and eye-opening look at DIVIDES.
Hey guys and girl! Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. It’s not often we get to speak with bands from Alaska, so it’ll be interesting to learn more about the music scene up there. First off though, tell us a little about how the band came together and first started making music.
Bryan: The band started with me having a desire to be in a band that was more than a hobby like my previous band had been. A mutual friend introduced me to CJ ( who had a similar desire) and we discussed our musical aspirations. We met for coffee, realized we had similar goals of taking over the world….the rest is history. We stole Corey from a different band, and found Joe on the street.
Joe: (laughs) True story!
CJ: Paul is actually from Portland. We met him after moving, and he’s definitely helped propel us in the music scene here. He’s really talented, and one of the coolest musicians I’ve ever met. No offense, guys!
Like we mentioned before, you guys call Alaska your home base, but are currently located in Portland, Oregon. What’s the music scene in Portland like compared to Alaska? Does metal have a sizable following in the areas?
Bryan: The musical scene in Portland is more “indie-electronic” than in Alaska. Alaska’s predominantly metal and bluegrass. We’re definitely going to stand out here but it’s gonna take some work. There’s a huge music scene here, as in every city, but there’s a really broad variety of genres.
Corey: It’s funny to actually be one of the heavier bands here.
Joe: Yeah, as opposed to… “Sure, I guess they can fit with [insert obnoxious heavy metal band here].”
Paul: Well, Vancouver actually has a huge metal scene, but it’s like a totally different world over there.
CJ: There was kind of resurgence in the alternative rock scene in Alaska right before we left, and it’s always been super close knit. It’s really like a family up there, and we’re super grateful to have so much support back home. I’m really excited to make some friends in other bands down here as well.
So where did the band name Divides come from? It actually seems to fit the band pretty well. Sonically you can hear the divides between the various genres influencing you, and geographically the band members are kind of from all over the U.S.
Joe: (mimes pulling something out of his anus)
CJ: (laughs) We definitely didn’t think into it that much. It took us forever to come up with a band name. We almost decided on “Eyes of Archers” which could have been cool… but then we decided to follow the generic djent-one-word name trend and I randomly thought of DIVIDES while I was getting coffee one day. It was the only one that all of us agreed on and that’s kind of been a running joke since… that no decision is ever unanimous. Someone’s always gotta hate it! But, I definitely like your analysis better, so let’s stick with that!
We’re sure you get it all the time, likely because you’re both fronted by female vocalists, but your sound is fairly reminiscent of the band Flyleaf who had some mainstream success with “I’m So Sick.” Was your specific sound something that you actively worked towards or is it just the natural blend of all your influences?
Joe: I think it’s definitely a natural blend of both. We definitely wanted to play heavier music – we all were in much lighter bands before – but we also value creative freedom really highly. Even on our heaviest songs, Bryan has some pop-rock lead in there somewhere underneath a scream. We have discussed not letting a specific goal or sound define us. We wanna just let the genuine inspiration shine through regardless of our own expectations.
You recently released your debut EP, Departures. How long was that in the making for? Did the band run into any difficulties during the making of the album or was it all smooth sailing?
CJ: Not gonna lie, we all cracked up reading this question. Death By December was the first song we ever wrote, so technically this album has been in the making since we formed. As far as difficulties…
The process can’t ever be easy for any band. What we thought would take two weeks took a month and a half. Mike Houston – our producer – really believed in us and wouldn’t accept anything but our best performance. That, combined with our inability to agree on anything and the fact that we pushed back the recording process until right before we moved… Yeah, it was a difficult endeavor. But I think we can definitely agree that we’re all really proud of the final product.
Corey: I actually quit during the process! My train of thought was that I was gonna move back down to Kenai and start some kind of career… doing what I thought was the “mature thing”. But I played four more shows with the rest of the band, and during that time, I started to come around. And after the last show, I changed my mind.
Joe: That night, after we played, we drove up this mountain and all climbed up on top of my car, just sort of a last show celebration thing. He told us that he would regret it for the rest of his life if he didn’t move with us. That was powerful.
We’d love to hear some more about your featured single, “Here’s to Burning Bridges.” What was the writing process like for that? C.J., do you take on the lyric writing by yourself or is it a group effort?
Joe: Well, it started kind of like all of our songs do. The music comes first for us. Bryan usually has a concept for like 8 songs in his head at once, so he’ll pick one and develop some main parts. After it has an overall feel, CJ or I will come in with some lyrics that we’ve written that fit the emotion and then we collectively write the rest.
Bryan: That song actually started out like seven years ago, that whole intro I’ve had forever, and never did anything with, cause it didn’t fit with my last band. So I thought up a “doodly doo” (or hook) and came up with the rest.
CJ: We didn’t finish the lyrics until right before I went in to record the vocals. “Leave your demons behind” used to be “Get the f—out of my life,” which is a quote from a conversation that I actually had with someone. I was super attached to that lyric, even though both Joe and Bryan were totally against it…but I’m really stubborn and wouldn’t change my mind until the last possible second. We didn’t even think about it, I was literally walking into the vocal booth and turned around to Joe, and said, “Hey, I’m gonna change that lyric you hate.” And somehow, everyone actually liked it on the first try.
I usually have a few songs written out at any given time, and once we’re writing, we’ll mash them together and change bits and pieces to make them flow with what we’ve written musically. Usually, I know what I want to say, just not exactly how I want to say it, so everything needs to be open for revision. I write most of the songs, but Joe has some pretty good lyrics hidden away. He’s just shy about them. But every time he’s asked to write for a song, he’s killed it. It’s nice to step back from that aspect of writing every now and then and just focus on my melodies.
Now that you’ve released your EP, what do you have lined up for 2014? Are you planning on releasing more music or will you be concentrating on live shows and promoting the Departures?
Bryan: We’re really concentrating on playing shows in the Northwest and getting our name out there. Also, we’re writing our next album. Since moving we’ve really written some good stuff. And a lot of our old songs are still being revised, so once we’re ready to release a new album, we’ll definitely have some good material.
Joe: Personally, I think that one of our new songs is the best thing we’ve ever written. It has dynamic, it has catchy parts, the lyrics just as poetry are great.
Bryan: It switches time signatures three times, it has different parts. I don’t know, it’s just cool.
CJ: I’m really excited for people to hear it recorded. We’ve played it live a few times and gotten a really good response.
Joe: The more we write, the more stoked we all are on our music. I think as long as we can say that, we should keep doing this.
You seem like a really tight-knit band, which is crucial to making progress in the music scene. Does the band spend a lot of time together outside of practice and music making? What do you guys like to do?
Corey: Well, four of us live together. We spend more time together outside of practice than we do at rehearsal. A majority of the band has been living together for over a year, so you could definitely say we’re close. We like to watch sloth videos on YouTube and kids movies while lying on our living room floor. We have band “family” dinners, go to shows together, go out for sushi. Nothing too exciting. Mostly Netflix and the occasional adventure in the new city. We’ve really been focused on developing our music since moving… this is what we want to do with our lives, so other than that, we’re pretty boring.
Here’s one of our favorite questions to ask bands. During the entire time the band has been together, what’s one of your favorite memories? Is there anything that just happens to stand out?
CJ: That time Joe got punched in the face like right before our set.
Joe: No! For me, vomiting blood onstage was not my highlight of this entire experience.
Bryan: For me it would be the house show we played last weekend in Vancouver. It was super last minute, a new place, a new state, and we got to play for some kids who were really stoked on our music.
Corey: Mine would be our last show in Alaska. The energy, the crowd support, the emotion. It was insane.
Joe: I cried my eyes out after that show. Being able to physically see all the support we had. Knowing that we were leaving – that was terrifying, but we got to see that all of these people supported that decision.
Corey: That specific show was the one that changed my mind about moving.
CJ: We’ve been really lucky to have played to such amazing people back home. Even just in our home state, we had a lot of moments where we knew we were really connecting with people and it was just the best feeling. It really affirms our choice to give up everything to pursue this, knowing that our music is really resonating with people.
It’s been a pleasure talking to you! Where can our readers go to find your music and hear more from you?
Our website is always a good home base! You can get to our social media from there as well. We’re also on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, all the trendy sites. Thanks for talking to us!
Photo Credit to Z3 Photgraphy & Sidney Derouchie