Divine Fits is here to stay.
Though the band brings together Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs and Wolf Parade, Spoon frontman Britt Daniel and New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown, Divine Fits is no side project, no one-off supergroup.
"It was always started as a band, not, 'Let's get together in the studio and knock off a couple of songs for fun.' If that was the case, we wouldn't go on the road and invest so much in it," Boeckner says. "I've come to the conclusion recently that it's going to kick in, in general, by the time we make our second record."
The roots of Divine Fits go back to 2007, when Boeckner and Daniel met at a Handsome Furs show in Portland, Ore. They struck up an easy friendship based on mutual respect.
"About a year and a half ago, we were talking about starting a band. He asked me if I wanted to, and I said yes," Boeckner says. "You meet people playing music, and a lot of time, they say, 'We should play music together,' and they don't necessarily mean it. When he first brought it up, he's a straight shooter, so I knew he wasn't just fucking around. I was in the middle of touring the last Handsome Furs record, and once that was done, we started writing songs together. I moved out to his house in L.A."
Divine Fits started as sort of an upstairs/downstairs project, with Boeckner working out of a spare room in one part of the house, while Daniel did the same in another. But it wasn't long before they started working alongside one another.
"It was completely collaborative from the start," Boeckner says. "Depending on the song, there's a lot of different ways we'd approach the songs."
Boeckner says his songwriting process tends to naturally shift a bit depending on the people he's playing with, but that his creative fit with Daniel brought a welcome level of focus.
"In Wolf Parade, a lot of the songs I wrote and sang, I wrote entirely myself, and then a lot of them were collaborative, too. With Handsome Furs, the writing process again was totally different. It was sonically focused; each album had its own really focused aesthetic. I would take a specific sonic palette for each record," he says. "For this record (A Thing Called Divine Fits), it was anything-goes.
"We didn't have any preconceived aesthetic for the band at all. We just wanted to make the best rock band we could," he says. "Whatever we did, whatever we wrote on the record, it was collaborative, more than anything else I've ever done."
Boeckner and Daniel brought Brown in on drums (and later keyboardist Alex Fischel) and began working full-time on an album, during what was a bit of a hiatus for Spoon, and a planned one for Handsome Furs.
"This band started before I had any idea Handsome Furs was going to shut down," Boeckner says. "After we finished touring Sound Kapital, I figured there'd be at least a year before we sat down and started writing new material."
So, unexpectedly, Divine Fits became Boeckner's sole focus for the time being. And with A Thing Called Divine Fits gathering plenty of attention even before its Aug. 28 release (and a steady couple of months of touring), there's little room for anything else now.
"The recording was all over the place, so we spent months working on just how we'd play the songs live. (Alex) brings keyboard-wizard powers to the arrangements, and we figure it out from there," he says.
"For me, I don't really do recording projects. I get them, and I enjoy listening to them occasionally, but if I'm writing something, I end up putting so much of myself into the songwriting process—and it's so labor-intensive for me—I don't feel like just recording it and releasing it. That's just dry-humping. That's not sealing the deal.
"You have to actually get out in front of people and play these songs to living, breathing humans. I like making records, but the best thing is definitely playing the live show. You can't buy it. You can buy a ticket, but it's this fleeting, transient moment in time, and if you weren't there, you weren't there. It's not downloadable; it's not something you can scan through on a computer; you can't skip through it. You go to the show, and you go to the show. That's a real-life experience, and it's irreplaceable."
Boeckner says starting a new band after seeing a good deal of success in other projects has its advantages—as well as its disadvantages.
"The advantages are that you kind of know how to be on tour and not go crazy. From what hotels to avoid to what the best coffee shop near the venue is, you should know all that stuff. That's easy; it's a no-brainer. You have existing projects, so hopefully, you have a built-in audience. People are going to want to check you out based on previous bands.
"The disadvantage is that no matter what band you've been in before, a new band is a new band, and you have to do the same shit every other band does. We have to lug our gear; we have to play smaller venues than we're used to playing. But it's exciting; you have to work for it. It's not like being in an existing band that's cruising on its fourth album. I like that."
Even since the debut album that came from that burst of fresh inspiration, Boeckner has been writing material for a Divine Fits follow-up.
"Divine Fits is going to make another record. Spoon is going to make another record. I want to start anther band as well. But I don't really see myself putting out a Dan Boeckner record. I like having a band. When I picture solo records, I picture some douchebag on a stool with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica. That sounds awful to me. Maybe when I'm 60, but right now, I want a band."