A Thing That Just Fits
By Arrissia Owen
Britt Daniel, Dan Boeckner and Sam Brown form one super trio
There’s not much of a chance you’re going to hear Sam Brown take the mic on a Divine Fits song anytime soon. The drummer, for what’s been touted as a bit of a super group, already has two pretty strong front men in Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner, the former of celebrated indie band Spoon and the latter of much-hyped Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs.
“Those slots have all been taken,” Brown says with a wry laugh about his newest project, which recently released A Thing Called the Divine Fits on Merge Records. “There’s no hope for me being in the spotlight.”
But that’s not to say he doesn’t have a pretty sweet gig. Brown, who also does time pounding the kit for punk band New Bomb Turks, landed in the power trio that plays Pappy & Harriet’s Nov. 3 after a call from producer Mike McCarthy.
Brown, a power drummer known to back up Pappy & Harriet’s regular Tim Easton, was also serendipitously in Chris Burney’s pop-rock band The Sun, an act that shared a producer with Spoon.
As fate would have it, after Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs broke up, buddies Boeckner and Daniel decided to combine their woozy vocals and boozy baselines. When Daniel mentioned to McCarthy he needed a drummer, the producer knew just the guy.
“He threw my name Britt’s way,” Brown says nonchalantly. The drummer known for his consistency and professionalism flew to Austin to spend a weekend playing songs with Daniel. Next thing he knew he was on his way to Los Angeles to work with Boeckner, as well. “Right away it was really fun,” Brown says, especially since he had been a fan of both Daniel and Boeckner’s bands for years.
One of the first songs the band worked on was a cover of “Shivers,” originally by Nick Cave’s early band Boys Next Door. The morose, lovesick ditty caught Daniel’s attention during a trip to Australia because of its powerful lyrics and room for interpretation.
“The cover they did was very slow and gothy,” Brown says. “It didn’t have such a strong personality that you can’t cover it. This one is kind of a loose, blank slate of a song. You can definitely do something with it and not have people up in arms because you’ve defiled a classic.”
There is a bit of a Nick Cave trail with this new project. Boeckner has been quoted as saying the band chose their producer, Nick Launey, in part because of his work with Grinderman, Cave’s most recent band. “Shivers” has been a crowd favorite, so far, but that’s not to say the band’s played many shows.
Because all three band members are either in or just ended their relationships with other bands (Read: Spoon is only on hiatus, so calm down), Divine Fits was kept a bit under wraps. They did not play many shows until after A Thing Called Divine Fits was released, which makes for an unusual coming out party with expectations nearly as big as the crowds.
“An interesting thing happened after we started playing shows,” Brown says. “We became a different band.” And that made them a new band that already had a record out. As they play the songs and explore their parts more, sometimes they go in a different direction, Brown says.
“People’s personalities are sticking out more,” he says. “Everybody’s personality is on the record, but something about getting out on the road—you become more of a band.”
Admittedly, it’s strange hitting the road with a new band that already has a built in fan base. “I don’t think it’s been unwarranted,” Brown says. “It’s newsworthy that Britt has a new band. That initial push is settling down though. Now it’s just a matter of whether we connect with people.” They’re hoping for a perfect fit.
The Divine Fits with Cold Cave at Pappy & Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown, (760) 365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com. Sat, Nov. 3. 9pm. $25. All ages.