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INTERVIEW: Divining Rod

Hi Miyuki, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey! Things are pretty good here at the moment. Summer’s in full swing and the days are getting long and humid.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Hemlock Blues”?

Hemlock Blues is about an agoraphobic shut in who observes the world through a peephole in the front door. Instead of seeing a sunny day with people strolling by this person sees nothing but disease, danger and other potential disaster around every corner. I think it’s easy to become the person in this song more than ever these days. Especially with news sites constantly sensationalizing every single thing happening in this world in an attempt to keep viewers coming back for more.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

The inspiration for this song is a particular person I know. I can also be a fairly paranoid person as some of my friends will tell you. Watching 24 hour news channels has certainly contributed to this.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes! A video for ‘Love Come Tumbling (the other song on the single) will be out any moment! We’ll announce it as soon as it’s ready. My friend, filmmaker Micheal Hanna of Protean Films, shot it sporadically on locations along the Hudson River north of NYC. It was done guerilla style and totally low tech. It features my bandmate, Patrick Harmon, as well as the other members of the live band, bassist Eric Kaye and drummer John Malone. I love how it looks and hope you will too.

The single comes off your new album Return to Crystal Cove – what’s the story behind the title?

Crystal Cove was something I dreamed up symbolizing a safe place from the outside world. It’s also a reference to the 1978 Disney movie, ‘Return To Witch Mountain’ which, if you haven’t seen it, is an uncharacteristically dark and weird Disney movie involving Alien teens on the run. Strangely enough, Crystal Cove turned out to be a real place in Laguna Beach, California that I’ve actually been to. I must’ve forgotten that I was there.

How was the recording and writing process?

Writing for the full length began after I had moved north of NYC. I started playing every imaginable space I could: art galleries, living room shows, front porch jams, the back of pickup trucks. You name it and I would play it. Over the course of the year I had 12 songs written. I’m a drummer as well as a bassist so I mapped out a way to play nearly every instrument. My bandmate, Patrick, provided a great deal of melodic guitar parts as well as some lovely backing vocals. The recording was done over the winter here and there. Anytime we could go in, we would. It was usually done in long, 12/15 hour stretches.

What was it like to work with Brian Forbes and how did that relationship develop?

I loved working with Brian. He’s got a great room at Alternative Dimension Studios and knows how to capture interesting moments. Brian is musically well versed and extremely creative in tracking and arranging. We worked very well together even at our furiously fast pace. We finished tracking

12 songs in a handful of days. He was recommended to me by Patrick. His band, A Party Faithful, recorded with him. A truly great fantastic experience.

How much did he influence the album?

I had a very distinct idea of how I wanted the record to sound but Brian helped with some arrangements and the overall lushness of sound. He’s a fantastic mixer and talented producer with a keen intellect and love of furious political debate.

After a long time in the pop punk scene, what made you want to seek for a whole new direction?

I did a ton of touring when I was in the Rogers Sisters. We were constantly collecting records and songs wherever we went. Jennifer Rogers turned me onto a lot of 60’s British Folk like Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Bert Jansch. I’ve loved country and country rock like the Flying Burrito Brothers and CSNY for a long, long while. I suppose the biggest change in my sound began with the arrival of my daughter. When she was an infant, I would write and record during her her naps. That definitely resulted in a quieter sound overall. It also changed my approach to writing for the better.

Was this something you always wanted to give it a shot?

I was sort of just writing songs and playing for the sake of being creative and the love of perfroming.

I hadn’t thought of properly releasing a record until recently. More specifically after my father passed last year. I suddenly felt the march of time much more acutely.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

One song on ‘Return To Crystal Cove’ (Darling Down The Row) was written for my father. I finished the lyrics while tending to him during his final few weeks. I still feel him every time I play it. The other song inspirations are all over the map: Religious fanatics, Greek mythology, parenthood and, most notably, love. Love in all it’s forms. From selfless love to heartbreak. ‘Love Come Tumbling’ is a song I wrote by accident. I was fooling around with loops and ended up with a mis-timed guitar phrase. I really liked the way it sounded: a sort of Franken-song with parts from a country gallop sewn together with melodies I heard when I lived in West Africa. The lyrics are parts of a dream I had one night. I scribbled sentences down in the morning before I forgot them. At first, I thought most of it didn’t make a lick of sense. I even had a hard time reading my terrible handwriting.

Any plans to hit the road?

Totally. We hope to get going late fall onward. We would really love to get to the UK and Europe soon.

What else is happening next in Divining Rod’s world?

I’m actually working on the next record! Hoping to begin recording after some touring!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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