Much has been made about the lineage of Divine Fits, and for good reason. Made up of A-listers from Spoon, Handsome Furs, and Wolf Parade, among others, the group is an indie rock fan’s dream come true. One such enthusiast is Daniel Boeckner, who coincidentally sings and plays guitar in the band alongside Spoon songwriter Britt Daniel. You see, despite the relative newness of Divine Fits, Boeckner’s been hooked on his band buddy’s tunes since the mid ’90s.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of his music,” Boeckner admits in a phone call with the Straight shortly after checking in to an L.A. hotel “I actually bought the first 7-inch that Spoon put out while I was in high school—before they signed to Matador, even. I followed his career. it was amazing to watch that band grow.”
As for Divine Fits, which also includes New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown and keyboardist Alex Fischel, the announcement of the act back in the spring of 2012 took people by surprise. For one thing, Boeckner’s electro-pop-spiked Handsome Furs project with wife Alexei Perry had only officially called it quits as a band a few days earlier. (Proving that some things aren’t meant to be together, the couple would also split around the same time.)
“We just didn’t talk to anybody about it,” the songwriter offers earnestly of keeping the project’s debut LP, A Thing Called Divine Fits, under wraps during the incubation period.
Boeckner explains he first met Daniel at a Handsome Furs show in 2007, but it took a few years before the latter suggested they partner up as songwriters. Boeckner took him up on the offer in 2011, and after sending tracks back and forth over email, he flew out from Montreal to Daniel’s Los Angeles home to lay the groundwork for the LP.
“Divine Fits is really a product of the players,” Boeckner says. “It’s Britt and his really sharp approach to songwriting and space, Sam’s drumming, Alex’s keyboard-playing, and whatever I bring to it.”
While Daniel coolly sings gems like the raspberry-ripple-sweet rocker “Like Ice Cream” or the effortlessly funky “Flaggin’ a Ride”, Boeckner’s vocal contributions are significantly more downcast. While Handsome Furs’ Sound Kapital zoned in on enlightened, socially conscious lyrics inspired by then-recent visits to Latin America, China, and Eastern Europe, he pulled his words on A Thing Called Divine Fits from a darker place.
“It would have been weird to have a bunch of political songs. It didn’t feel right,” he adds. “And when the universe granted me an epic breakup, I just wrote a lot of relationship songs. A lot of heartache songs on that record.”
His hurt is palpable on raw-nerve new-wave stomps “Baby Get Worse” and “For Your Heart”. The album opener “My Love Is Real”, driven by a steady synth-bass bounce, has him detailing bonds lost, the vocalist quivering out in the chorus “My love is real until it stops.”
“Chained to Love”, a track from the group’s just-released two-song single, likewise has Boeckner feeling low, but the songwriter hints that a recent move to San Jose could soon have him switching his focus to the tech-savvy Silicon Valley.
“I’ve got to say the beaches around there are really, really nice too,” Boeckner notes of his current homebase while laughing. “So on the one hand you have the bizarre übermensch mentality of guys who are coders for Google, or work at X Labs or something, and you can immerse yourself in that weird world. Or, you could go to Santa Cruz and just chill out on the beach and watch sea lions, you know.”