Nottingham’s alt-country quartet Divorce, signed by independent music pioneers Hand in Hive, closed the final show of their debut tour last Friday with a sold-out show at Bodega, Nottingham. With only three singles released (“Services”, “Pretty” and “Checking Out”), this is quite the achievement for any band still in its infancy.
If you’ve ever experienced a sold-out show at Bodega, you’d know it gets deliciously sweaty. Once you’re in, there's no hope of getting out unless you squeeze yourself through the loud and proud Notts crowd leaving a trail of “sorrys” behind you. No issue for me however, I was staying put as this was the first time I’d seen Divorce play live.
Divorce are somewhat of a superband, they contain members from post-punk masters Do Nothing, Megatrain and Son Is Big. As the band stepped onto the stage with a tentative swagger, I felt a joint realisation amongst the crowd that Divorce were not there to mess around. They had sold out Bodega and were there to let us know why.
With palpable confidence, Divorce kicked off their set with their debut single, “Services”. Tigers' vocals soar high over dirty riffs and gargling drums. “Services” begins almost joyously as they take us on a journey of emotions ending in something heightened and deranged. An apt opening to prepare the crowd for the rest of the show.
The band’s offerings are drenched in satire and twisted storytelling among spine-chilling harmonies. As a band, they are watertight. It is as though they are breathing in unison. You can hear the influence of grunge and post-punk with a folk, Americana twist. It almost shouldn’t work but most definitely does.
Divorce continued through their set with much of the same vigour, seismic harmonies and scuzzy riffs. A phenomenal debut to the Bodega stage.
I was lucky enough to chat with Divorce before the show:
You have a fun and refreshing alt-country/grudge/ Americana concoction of a sound. How did you land on that? Do you have any specific influences/ idols within similar genres?
Felix: I think it was something we all came to fairly naturally. I mean it's like a pretty good Venn-diagram of who we are as people musically. So, it's the folk route to the song writing itself. 80s pop and then some darker punkier, noisier hardcore stuff. Also, we all grew up in the early 2000s, so “Teenage Dirtbag”.
Tiger: “Teenage Dirtbag” genuinely was referenced more than any other – even genre.
After a few moments talking about “Teenage Dirtbag”, the band landed on some of their other influences, including Mitski, Tom Waits, Big Thief, LCD Sound System and The Felice Brothers.
I’ve spotted that your debut EP Get Mean is landing on Band Camp on the 2nd of December. Is Get Mean a new single title?
Felix: It's not actually, it's taken from a lyric in one of the songs.
Tiger: Get mean is about hardship and difficult times but it should also be taken quite humorously. Humour is woven into [the EP].
Kasper: Three of the songs on Get Mean have already been released.
Felix: Yeah and getting the whole EP out rounds off the year nicely.
We all know that records take forever from writing, production and finally releasing to the world. What are you guys working up to after the EP?
Kasper: The vinyl comes out for Get Mean early next year. And we’re going to be recording a bunch, got a few dates booked in and yeah, just cracking on.
Your songs alone are fab but I love how much effort you put into the music videos. You can tell that you love the whole process, from writing, performing and bringing your music to life. Is the theatre aspect important to you?
Kasper: That’s Tiger and Felix’s input massively.
Felix: We do enjoy it. It's funny. The two of us met by acting together when we were teenagers. We've always said one day we want to write a musical.
We've been lucky to have a lot of friends who work in film and especially Clump Collective, who we've worked with on the videos for Services and Checking out. They're friends of ours, down in Bristol. We have a kind of relationship with them, whereby we can go here's a song - do something funny, and then, and then they do something really funny and brilliant.
Adam: We all really get each other as well, which really works.
Felix: Tiger had a really strong vision for “Checking Out”.
Tiger: The first video we did with them was “Services”, it was very much them, their idea. And this one [Checking Out], we definitely took more of a handle on it. We didn't really know what people would think of it as it felt very thrown together. But actually, I think our character really comes out.
Kasper: Working with Clump really works because the four of us are pretty daft and they’re pretty daft.
You’ve all experienced playing up and down the country both in Divorce and your other projects. How has the tour been and what was it like going to Rotterdam?
Felix: It was so much fun, Rotterdam is a beautiful city, we wanna live there.
Left Of The Dial treated us so fucking well. It's really mind-blowing to go to Europe and play a show because the gear is so good. The funding there is brilliant, it’s clear that their government really supports the arts. That's really refreshing because there isn't enough of that in the UK at all.
Tiger: We are set on getting back to Europe as soon as we can.
How does it feel to be doing a hometown headline show at the iconic Bodega?
Felix: Yeah, we’re very excited, it’ll be the biggest crowd definitely.
Kasper: Well, we’ll see if anyone actually comes. They’ve bought tickets but if they actually come remains to be seen.
The hometown show is always fun, and Bodega is such a home.
And finally, who are your top artists right now? Who are you listening to?
Felix: One of the great things about Left Of The Dial was that there were loads of UK bands there, like Humour and Dead Letter, Keg, and the Cucamaras boys.
Tiger: Who are we listening to now?
Kasper: Sorry - Their new record is amazing
Tiger: I’ve been listening to The Blue Nile a lot, I think they’ll be a Divorce influence in the future.
Felix: I’m in my Prince zone as well. I listened to Purple Rain three times yesterday.
It’s safe to say that those who bought tickets to the show did turn up and Divorce and everyone involved had a stellar night. CLICK HERE to pre-order their EP Get Mean and watch out for all things Divorce in the coming months.
Divorce are Tiger Cohen-Towell (vocals, bass), Felix Mackenzie-Barrow (vocals, electric guitar), Adam Peter Smith (electric guitar) and Kasper Sandstrøm (drums).