"Everyone deserves to feel love and have dignity" - An interview with Alt-Rock quartet Divorce!
What do you get if you blend the musical styles of artists like Mitski, Shakey Graves, and Big Thief with a few added dollops of youthful angst and a nice heavy bass/synth combo? The answer is Divorce, one of the latest bright sparks to come out of Nottingham made up of Felix Mackenzie-Barrow, Tiger Cohen-Towell, Adam Peter Smith, and Kasper Sandstorm. While the band’s sound is rooted in Indie-Punk-rock-style songwriting, it owns the alternative genre by being unafraid to play around with a variety of different genres with ease. Take their two single releases as examples. Their first single, 'Services' has more of an alt-country feel, whereas their latest release, 'Pretty' has a much grungier sound. We caught up with them to see what cogs are at play in their exciting new sonic machine.
What was the thinking behind the band name Divorce?
"In some ways we often feel married to the band and the music we make, and it made us laugh to think of starting a project like we’re trying to rescue something. We formed at the tail end of the pandemic and felt divorced from the lives we had before that all happened; Also two of us had divorced parents, so that name always carries a kind of dark humour for us".
How would you describe your sound to any newcomers?
"Maybe if ABBA and Wilco had a love child".
With the shared vocal dynamic, do you have a similar dynamic when it comes to songwriting?
"Usually Tiger and I (Felix) write the songs together or separately and flesh out the parts with Adam and Kasper. We’ve written together for such a long time that we often find ourselves thinking along the same lines anyway, I often have Tiger’s voice in my head like a mental editor when it comes to the lyrics I choose to write, and I think she finds the same thing happens in her individual process too".
Can you tell us what prompted the lyrical content in the new single Pretty? And is the title related to any commentary about the male/female gaze?
"I did a bit of an accidental deep-dive into a Facebook post by a regional police force naming and shaming a petty-burglar, with a mugshot that people had commented on making jokes about his appearance. It reminded me of the way people used to gather to watch people be put in ‘the stocks’ in medieval times. There was someone in his life who loved him and found him beautiful. I think everyone deserves to feel love and have dignity".
Are the two vocals singing about the same “he” from the same perspective? Or is there some kind of blend between different viewpoints?
"I guess that’s hard to define, I would never want to write a song that feels too confined or linear. There are definitely two protagonists that are coping with an awful situation, and in some moments the perspectives blur or combine".
When you listen to 'Pretty' the first time, it’s hard not to nod along to the beat. Then the chorus hits, and suddenly you’re shaking your head, wanting to scream/sing along. The music has a subtle yet captivating feel, but it's the lyrics that will make you want to dance and cry simultaneously. The narrative seems to be between two people who have loved each other long enough to understand that sometimes you can hate the one you love most. This song is for you if you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship.
Do you expect this single to go on a lot of cheeky playlists to or from significant others?
"We always love being put on playlists, it’s very heartening to see people are putting us in the mix with so many of the artists we’ve loved for years, hopefully we can provide a little bit of romance where necessary, if our shouting doesn’t make them run a mile".
What are you proudest of about the song? Do you have a favorite lyric from it?
"Recording 'Pretty' felt like a really cathartic experience, and the elements all came together very smoothly, so hearing them combine still feels special and reminds us of how fun it was to put the pieces together. My (Felix) favourite lyric is one of Tiger’s - “It grows spiky like a porcupine”, don’t know why, just like the image, a truly majestic prickly beast, the porcupine, not Tiger".
How did the song influence the music video? What kind of themes did you want to get across?
"We wanted the video to feel like theatre, so filmed it in a black box studio with lots of elaborate lighting set-ups and a big team of brilliant creatives, led by Michael Jobling, to make us look like some sort of dystopian acting troupe who’ve had a camera thrust in their faces".
What can we expect to see from you in the rest of 2022?
"We’re going on tour! October will be packed with headline dates and we’re going further afield this time, so we’re very excited".
Who are some of your favourite new artists right now?
"We are very lucky to know lots of musicians releasing brilliant new stuff right now. Some of them include Blood Wizard, Clara Mann, Catmilk, Jemima Coulter, Tapir, Keg, to name a few".