When supergroups are formed, people generally expect a whole lot of arrogance and confidence, slack songwriting and music and a band that’s in it just for the fun of it. However when a certain Divine Fits was formed, the one motif they had was to be a band and deliver nothing but the best. Heralding indie royalty with Britt Daniel of Spoon, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs, Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks and Alex Fischel of PAPA, we caught up with none other than Dan Boeckner himself as he gave us an insight into the band’s ideal fan, festivals, even his favorite Singapore food and more!
Popspoken: Thank you for doing this interview with us Dan! Let’s start things off with your band name! Being a supergroup as you are, how important do you think your band name is?
Dan: I think it’s as important as any band name out there. It’s just like buying a suit that you can never take out. It’s like somebody telling you, “Hey you get to buy some clothes, but you can never take them off, you gotta wear these clothes for as long as you’re you.” So I think it’s as important as any band name, a lot of times you’d get used to it, just like a new haircut.
Could you briefly describe how the name Divine Fits came about?
We just thought those words sounded good together, we had a list of 20 band names and that was the winner so that was the one picked after a vote! It’s kind of an ambiguous saying; with ‘fits’, it could be like epileptic fits or fits being something that fits together and ‘divine’ being a super rock and roll word and I liked it. I really like how there is somewhat chemistry between the two words. We just thought it’d be cool.
You jumped ship from your own band, Handsome Furs and Wolf Parade, to collaborate with three other band members to form Divine Fits; how would you describe this band’s music?
I think it’s a mix of rock’n’roll and electronic music together. It’s like punk rock electronics; a real mixture of the core of rock music and electronic stuff, very much like an old and new versatility. And I like that it’s steady and theres a lot of different kinds of feels. Just like in ‘The Salton Sea’, you just lose yourself in the music.
What are some of the band’s inspirations?
I think AC/DC definitely, Kraftwerk, the German electronic band. For me personally I admire The Clash and their songwriting. So I think those are the three big ones.
Have you always wanted to be a musician when you were young?
Yeah, I have. When I was really young, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was obsessed with space. That was till I discovered Metallica and my life changed. Metallica was the first band that I really got into and it made me think maybe yeah I did want to be a musician after all. And then I discovered cooler music after. I was in political science in university for a long time but I’ve always known that playing music was something that I was meant to be doing, that’s what my heart feels good doing.
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d probably be doing?
I would probably be in political science, doing something where I could travel; maybe a diplomatic post or something like that. Maybe I’d be a spy. For an intelligence agency. Just so I can travel.
Speaking of travelling, have you guys been touring together as a band? Or will it be Divine Fits’ first tour come Laneway 2013?
We’ve done a lot of touring lately; we went all over America and some places in Canada. Also, we’ve just been to Buenos Aires in South America but so far this band hasn’t travelled out of America so this would be really exciting for us. I’ve been to Singapore a few times before, I’ve played at Baybeats Festival in 2010 with Handsome Furs and I absolutely loved it. I stayed there for a two weeks, just spent time hanging out and I loved it. I love it there. I am excited to come back and show the rest of the band around Singapore!
So I guess you’d be playing tour guide for them?
Hahah! Yeah man, im gonna be their tour guide, gonna take them out for some food!
What is it about Singapore that you love the most and would want to recommend to them?
Maybe it sounds crazy but I like the food there in Singapore. I think it’s one of my favorite places in the world to go for food because you have the influences of the Malaysian culture then you have the influences of the Indian culture then you have the Chinese culture and it just makes for an awesome diversity. I just like going to the local hawker market, you sit down and order all these delicious food. So I’d probably take them out for laksa and hainanese chicken rice, maybe some rojak. Those are my favourites!
So you’ve mentioned that you personally favour the variety from different influences and the diversity. Would you say the same about Divine Fits? The different influences of the different band members coming together from different bands. How do you think it has worked for you so far?
I think it’s been good because we like a lot of the same music and I’ve always liked a lot of the new things I’ve been introduced to by the other guys. I think all of them have very good taste in music. Britt played me a lot of music I’ve never heard before and I was just excited to hear them. When I first moved to Los Angeles to start a band with him, I lived at his house and he’s got this big record collection. A lot of times I’d just spend my afternoon at his record collection and it was just like going to university, its like going to rock school you know? You just discover so much new music you’ve never heard before and it’s all, good.
What sets Divine Fits apart from other supergroups?
I think we started this band to start a band not just to have a break from our other projects but it was a real band that had our own band identity and tours. Yeah it’s fun but It’s not only fun for us. It’s not just a bunch of guys goofing around but rather we really wanted to develop our own sound and play together in a way that we didn’t get the chance to in our own previous bands.
Do you think its harder for a band to recruit new members and start from scratch or rather pick current band members in their own bands?
Yeah I think it’s harder because with current band members, you get along with them their audience and fans. But if you’re starting out new, you start from scratch. I did that with my first band, nobody knew who we were we had to work really hard to even get someone to come to our shows. We had to work work work in Divine Fits but luckily all of us came from quite a success in our previous bands. I think it’s easier when someone knows your name and who you are.
I think many people would remember you for your Baybeats stint here with Handsome Furs and they’d come back to catch you this time with Divine Fits!
I hope people would remember that show! I remember I had a really good time at that show! I met an Indonesian band from Jakarta, called The Brandals and it was just so cool meeting these people and they told me how life was like there back home and stuff like that. I also met some kids from Singapore and hung out with them. I don’t know, I just remembered that it was such a good night for me. Made me feel really lucky to be playing music. I was on the other side of the world, hanging out with musicians from Singapore and Indonesia and I’m from Canada. I just couldn’t believe it.
What kind of shows do you expect to play being a supergroup?
We play a lot of festivals but I always liked playing smaller gigs because you could really interact and bond with the audience. You could just like reach out and touch them. I really like both honestly. I love playing on big stages with all the sound systems and stuff but I also like playing in small pubs so you have to really know how to entertain people both ways.
Do you think your Baybeats experience was a mixture of both? It was a festival, not that big but it still meant a lot to those fans and it was very close to home to them.
Yeah I think it was a mixture of small and big and I also liked the fact that the stage was right on the harbor, so youre playing outdoors. Its just such a cool venue. Im going to take the guys to Esplanade to show it to them because I think it’s just an amazing structure.
If you were given a chance, would you come back to Baybeats maybe to just play on your own, if the band isn’t available?
YEAH MAN! TOTALLY! If they asked Divine Fits to play Baybeats, I would say yes immediately. I really love that festival and I think it’s great.
What would be your ideal fan?
Somebody who is not afraid to dance. I like it when people dance at the show. So far our fans get into the shows and get quiet at first but they get into it and go crazy in the end.
What would you like to do as a band if the world ended tonight? And what’s the one thing you would want to accomplish?
I would like to play a show, in my hometown where I grew up, have a really really good show and some drinks. I’d want to get my dad on stage and sing a song with us; a Rolling Stone song. In the end after it all, I’d get drunk.
One phrase to describe Divine Fits?
True Rock and Roll.
Thank you So much for your time Dan! Really looking forward to catching you guys live! Have a nice day!
Thank you man, see you at the festival! Thanks for the interview, have a good one yourself! Bye!
Here’s Dan’s personal recommendation; Would That Not Be Nice. Cheers!