INTERVIEW: Luke Mitchell of Charleston, SC Americana rockers The High Divers

Photo by Joelle Rosen

Beloved Charleston, SC band The High Divers are gearing up to release their latest EP Ride With You on June 7th, and have a full U.S. Tour planned to support the release. Lead singer / guitarist Luke Mitchell spoke with VENTS ahead of the release…

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

We’ve been busy! We’re all getting ready for a headlining tour of the U.S. that starts in the beginning of June! We’re going to be gone for a few months, so just getting prepped for that.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Could Not Be Loved”?

“Could Not Be Loved” is a song inspired by loneliness, bullying, and coming to the realization that you are who you are…and that’s ok!

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

I would say this song stems from me being jumped by kids in my neighborhood when I was 12 or 13. After that incident, I just retreated into music, and wasn’t as social for the rest of my formative years. I don’t think I was subjected to any more bullying than a normal kid at the time, but I felt it deeply and was hard on myself because of it. Just like most kids, you try to become a chameleon that doesn’t attract attention. Anything that makes you different, makes you a target.

Any plans to release a video?

Not for this particular song, but you never know!

The single comes off your new EP Ride With You – what’s the story behind the title?

“Ride With You” is the Single off of our new EP, and felt like a nice title to go along with the collection of songs. I still digest most music while we’re driving, so it’s important to me that our albums are good travel companions; thus the title, “Ride With You”.

How was the recording and writing process?

I started the writing process for this album by visiting old demos and sending them to Sadler. For a while I started getting nervous because I wasn’t getting any “Damn, that’s a great song” responses from Sadler, so Mary Alice and I kind of started over and just wrote as many new songs as we could.

I started reading a book called “The War of Art” that was incredibly helpful to me. I highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling with “writers block”. The book essentially got me to sit down and work on songs every day no matter what. Then, before we knew it, we were choosing between 15-20 songs for a 6 song EP. That’s a good place to be.

What was it like working with Sadler Vaden, and how did that relationship develop?

Working with Sadler has been a major creative boost for us all. His energy and love for music is a driving force that is much needed in the studio environment. His technical prowess on guitar is pretty mesmerizing as well, he is truly gifted. Sadler did a very good job of getting us to focus on songs that really meant something to us. He could tell when something was close to the vest, and that it was genuine and heartfelt. There aren’t many tracks on these songs, so what you hear is the band just playing how we normally play. There was a conscious effort for this EP to be more simplistic and to the point. I think we achieved that in a very natural way.

I actually met Sadler a long time ago when I was living in Charleston, after moving from Boston. We talked in a courtyard about Tom Petty and Mike Campbell’s guitar playing. My re-introduction to Sadler happened after he produced my sister, Hannah’s album in Nashville. Then, he approached Mary Alice about playing keys for a show in Charleston of half of his songs and half Tom Petty songs. I came along and we all had a blast together. The next night he came to see us at a block party show we were playing, and he stood up front the entire show. That night, he pulled Mary Alice and I aside and just said “I want to produce your band!”.

What role does Hilton Head (or Charleston) play in your music?

Growing up on an Island and living in the “Lowcountry” for as long as we have has definitely left it’s mark on us. There’s so much to write about, and so much beautiful imagery surrounding us at all times, that it can’t help but crop up in songs. Certain songs of ours take me back to the summers when we first moved to Charleston, and good memories of growing up in Hilton Head. This area of the country has a certain magic to it that I’ve taken for granted, but when I’m writing songs, will sneak back up on me. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by how lucky I was to grow up around here.

What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?

I was able to get to some memories that weren’t so pleasant for me, and found some peace writing about them. These songs deal with Suicide, PTSD, Bullying, Abusive relationships, what it’s like to be in a touring band, and escaping your hometown.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but I’m proud of these songs, and I’m glad Sadler guided us to deal with some of these issues through our songs.

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

I get most of my good lyrics from listening to conversations. People will say a phrase that just sticks with me, and it will need up in a song eventually. Also, touring gives you a great amount of fuel to write from, if you’re paying attention.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! We’ll be out on the road for our “Ride With You” tour starting June 5th in Seaside, Florida. We’ll be hitting a lot of new cities we’ve never been to on this tour too. Exciting times!

What else is happening next in The High Diver’s world?

We may be releasing another music video soon! And we’ll be bringing our buddy, Carson, out on the road as our second guitarist. You don’t know how long I’ve wanted two guitarists in our band!

Watch here

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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