Divers, “Tracks”

Sjimon Gompers

Portland Divers; photographed by Nateesh Podolske.

Whenever a new band of notoriety emerges from the Pacific Northwest, first is the chorus of word-of-mouth whispers, i.e. support from the local scene, second is a few one-off single releases, and third they become codified into the indie canon of their specific, regional locale. Heralding from the Portland, Oregon—meet Divers, band of brothers Harrison and Seth Rapp on guitar, bassist James Deegan, and drummer Colby Hulsey that deal more in the methods of melodic scuzz than scuba gear. Putting the finishing polish on their first proper full-length, Hello Hello, available February 17 from Party Damage & Rumbletowne Records; Divers premiere the instantaneous burst of energy that is “Tracks” to rock you right off the rails of the straight and narrow.

Not wasting any time, “Tracks” begins with Divers jumping musically head-first off the board into the blue unknown in the pool of life. The cross-sections and crossroads are illustrated and sung with a fevered pitch by Harrison who interrupts the routine marches and static paths for new exciting directions, and ecstatic events reinforced by Seth’s guitar and Colby and Jame’s rhythm stronghold. The magnetic field physics and sciences of monotony are broken by Divers’ train engine that flies off the proverbial “Tracks”, and operates on inspirations and influences greater than coal, steam, and conventional fuels. Divers operate on attitudes that signal a burning commitment to their own autonomy, and an emotive realness that abounds among the indie spirited denizens of Oregon, and Washington, respectively. Join us following the debut for our conversation with singer and guitarist, Harrison Rapp about the new single, and the art of making an album like an action movie.

One of the many things I love about the song “Tracks” from Hello Hello is that it is executed with so much conviction, and a straight from the gullet sense of urgency, and sense of now. What were some of the “get off the tracks” moments and inspirations that contributed to the track’s creation?

Thank you! Maybe one of the most insidious tracks that I can get stuck on is the day to day grind. Just kind of getting through the day without any real sense of the moment. That kind of grind isn’t necessarily memorable. That’s the whole trouble! So maybe the song is a wake up call, like you said, to have a sense of urgency, a sense of now. A kind of reminder. It’s definitely one of our favorite songs to play.

What behind the scenes views can you all gleam from recording Hello Hello?

We recorded at Toadhouse Studios here in Portland, with Adam Pike and Mike Moore. Adam has done recordings for Red Fang, and he’s also their live sound guy, so he’s very good at working under pressure and working fast. He communicates very clearly and he’s an incredible trouble shooter. Those are not the qualities we ourselves brought to the studio. We goofed off and experimented and were also very critical, very picky. Sometimes too picky, I think. We would just work ourselves into a hole. Adam would be there to pull us out of it. We probably drove him nuts, but he never showed it!

And then there was Mike Moore, who in the end probably clocked the most hours working on the record with us. The final mixing session we did together was 24 hours straight! It was insane! Mike was up for anything. We could just totally nerd out. He always seemed to understand what we were going after, and he would spend an inhuman amount of effort getting it just right. These two guys together really had all the bases covered. It was a lot of fun.

What is the song-design method that Divers employ as part of the creative method?

One idea was that we wanted the album to feel kind like an action movie. We wanted explosions and chase scenes and suspense. It seemed like the only way to do that was to allow for a constant shifting in the dynamics. And so even though we were going for explosions, we also ended up with a lot of quiet. And that linked up with the lyrics, which are concerned with the idea of constant change, constant movement.

We do a lot of jamming at practice, a lot of improvising. I think some people would be horrified to hear the ridiculous musical tangents we get into! Of course, the flip side is that we were fanatical about the structure of these songs. We pulled them apart and put them back together again a million different ways. And the entire time we were taking them out and playing them live. Playing unfinished songs live, some of them very, very unfinished. When you do that, it becomes immediately obvious what works and what doesn’t work. So I’m just grateful that people kept coming to see us! Everyone who stuck with us became a collaborator. This is probably true for almost every band actually, but at some point I think we underlined it in our process.

Post-release plans to celebrate Hello Hello?

It’s easy to imagine us putting down a few shots of tequila. I also think that our US tour in March and April will be a celebration for us. We are really looking forward to it.

Other great lesser known, rising PDX talents you all want to give a shout out to?

I don’t really know to what degree these bands would be considered known or lesser known, but some great Portland bands are The Woolen Men, The Estranged, Lovers, Defect Defect, Bi-Marks, Pass, and Landlines. I’m forgetting some that really should be mentioned. There are so many good bands in Portland! I recently saw Is/Is and I thought they were great.

What has currently been on repeated playing over at the Divers’ camp?

Joyce Manor’s latest record. The band Radiator Hospital. Janelle Monae’s The Electric Lady has been popular here for quite awhile now. “Just be Simple” by Songs: Ohia. Fela Kuti. Ryan Adams released that Husker Du sounding 7″ called 1984. Goat’s album, Commune. Blondie. 77 by Nude Beach. Bry Webb. Fleetwood Mac. A friend just turned me onto the song “Stand and Stare” by Royal Headache. I’m pretty sure I’m going to listen to it about a million times this week.

Divers’ album Hello Hello will be available February 17 from Party Damage Records & Rumbletowne Records.

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