Music Interview: DIVINING ROD

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We were fortunate enough to catch up with DIVINING ROD following the release of their must-hear single ‘Mason County Line’. Read the full interview now!

Hi Divining Rod; when did the band first form?

Heya! This is Miyuki. Divining Rod started as a psych-folk acoustic solo side project after my old band, The Rogers Sisters, split. I had just moved out of Brooklyn north of the city after seven years of non-stop touring and recording.

I needed a break. It was an on-again/off-again sort of thing until I met up with Patrick Harmon, after which it became a country rock band. Then we recruited our neighbourhood friends, Matt Svigals and John Malone, to flesh out the band.

Who influenced your latest brilliant release, ‘Mason County Line’?

The song pretty much came to me in the afternoon. I was listening to a lot of honky tonk and outlaw country on the radio. I heard a lot of greats, including Dwight Yoakam and Joe Ely, so maybe that sunk into the grey matter. I sort of imagined ‘Mason County Line’ playing on the jukebox of a line-dancing bar somewhere in Texas.

‘Mason County Line’ is a brilliant alt-country release; what draws you to the genre?

Being from Hawaii, you would be surprised by how popular country music is. Willy Nelson and Johnny Cash were pretty big influences. I also greatly love bluegrass like Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers. I’m a big fan of the song form and wordplay. Country music can be straightforward and playful at the same time.

You’re based in Irvington; what’s the music scene like there post covid?

We made a video for ‘Mason County Line, ‘ which features footage from a yearly Halloween porch band music festival in Irvington. This annual homegrown, village-wide music crawl has attracted hundreds and hundreds of visitors and has been produced and performed by friends, neighbours and volunteers in Irvington for the past eight years.

Members of Divining Rod play in the Double Dutch All-Star Band and have performed as Talking Heads, David Bowie, Devo, B-52s and more. We even played as Wet Leg. Halloween is a seriously fun affair in this small, quaint village (which swells ten times its size on Halloween night). It’s quite a sight to behold.

What motivates you to make music?

I’ve always loved playing and writing music since I was a kid. The whole process fills me with a sense of wonder at the world around us. It’s a joyful, frustrating, liberating, heartbreaking and just plain fun thing to do in this short time that we’re on this Earth.

If you could open for any artist/band, who would it be?

It would have been amazing and/or terrifying to open for Prince.

What is your biggest mistake in the music industry so far?

Too many to list here.

What are your other passions aside from music?

I really got into long-distance running during the pandemic. I just finished my first marathon about a month ago.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

The music industry is a grind, especially of late. There’s a high demand to keep creating content that seems unsustainable at times. Not that I’m complaining, but I just wish creators could get a fair share of the take and be able to make a decent living.

What sets you apart from other bands?

I sing and play guitar and drums at the same time. My drummer John and I both play kits that I built from old suitcases that I found at flea markets and yard sales. Mason County Line recorded about 95% live in one room with the most minor overdubs. My guitarist, Patrick, says that there was ‘no studio trickery to speak of – just a really good performance captured on excellent gear’.

What is the best music advice you have ever been given?

Less is more. Especially when it comes to playing and music gear; also, learn to take a compliment with poise and respect.

What new music are you listening to at the moment?

I’m a big fan of The Smile, Turnstile, Lizzo, Dehd, SG Goodman, Hiss Golden Messenger, Kendrick Lamar, Miranda Lambert, Andy Shauf and Charley Crockett. Son Little, OSEES, Otoboke Beaver, Courtney Marie Andrews, Gabe Lee, Zach Bryan, Little Simz, Ginger Root, among many others.

What musical plans do you have for the next two years?

We have 2 EPs already recorded and will be releasing them in the spring and the summer. We’ll be playing a bunch of shows, and we’ll make more videos. Hopefully, one featuring line dancing. We’ll also be returning to our fall residency on New York’s legendary Circle Line.

We play four sets of our songs (& a few covers of songs we love) every weekend for about two months. It was a blast, and it helped us get into shape before going into the studio. It’s like being on tour, but we get to sleep in our own beds at home. That’s how we were able to record 13 songs in about a day and a half.

FVMusicBlog December 2022

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