Divide: Glasgow rockers talk ‘approachable rock’ and the importance of supporting new bands

Glasgow rockers Divide are an exciting work in progress. The band’s fusion of heavy riffs and delicious melodies has honed an approachable rock sound that offers something for everyone due to being, in their words, “nothing too out there.”

As guitarist Connor MacLeod, formerly of fellow Glasgow legends Yashin, put it when we caught up with the band at their headline show in London last month: “It’s pop songs with grimy riffs in them.” Which sounds pretty damn good doesn’t it?

A united Divide

Initially launching as DIV/DES back in 2014, the launch of latest EP Embers in November marked a significant step in the ongoing evolution of their sound. Now formed of vocalist Nicole Mason, David Lennon and Connor on guitars, drummer Scott Johnston and latest recruit Stephen Ladds on bass, the band is still shaping its identity after a series of band member changes.

As relatively new addition Connor explains: “It’s about defining our sound first. We’ve had a few line-up changes so we need a bit of time to mould the process together. We’re playing a new song tonight that doesn’t sound like any of our (previous) songs and it’s a bit of a new direction, so we’ll define that sound first and see where it takes us.”

The latest EP saw Divide work with much-acclaimed producer Romesh Dodangoda (Funeral From A Friend, Bring Me The Horizon, Kids In Glass Houses). The band tell us Romesh made a major difference, especially to their harmonies and, as Nicole explains: “He really helped me with my vocals to get the best out of my voice, so he was great to work with.”

The epitome of this fusion of styles is the EP’s title track, and final track, Embers. It opens up with rocky low-tuned guitars, then dives into deliciously catchy verses in which the vocal melodies are imitated by the guitars and flow into singalong melodic choruses, then ends on the big chunky guitar riffs. Give it a listen below:

Future of Divide

Divide’s new music could well see their sound evolve further due to Stephen’s influence – of whom Scott tells us: “Other people go on nights out, he sits at home writing.” But they combine an intriguing mix of styles, from Connor and Stephen’s heavier roots through to Nicole’s very different influences of blues and jazz, Billie Holliday and Stevie Nix. It all makes for quite the intriguing boiling pot.

The same notion applies to their lyric writing, as Nicole explains: “Our latest single (Last Words) was based on the movie Lovely Bones, so quite dark stuff but I like it. I just try and mix it up, do something new and a bit edgy. I like to keep challenging myself.” Check out Last Words in the video below:

But the key for Divide is to keep things real and being able to relate to their fans, and vice versa. As Nicole tells us: “We’re just a genuine band. Everything I write about is from my own experience or someone I know’s experience. It just so happens there have been a few bad experiences and I would like to think that people can listen to that and relate to it. And then they can listen to it and say ‘that’s actually cheered me up.’

“We had a girl come along tonight who said ‘I bloody love that song Sink This City, it really makes my day when I’ve had a bad day.’ If we can make people feel better just through a song then I feel I’ve done my job.”

Money in music

As a self-funded band, much of our discussion with Divide is built around the difficulties musicians face in the modern age of readily available digital music. Scott tells us they used Pledge to drum up financial support for Embers, but it didn’t even cover recording let alone the additional costs involved in recording the EP.

As Connor explains: “You find people being like ‘Oh you’re in a band you must be minted’ and it’s like, noooo. Everyone’s got full-time jobs, just like every other big band out there.”

Part of the issue is how much it takes to not only build a reputation as a band, then be able to maintain it by providing nutrition to content-hungry audiences – but also be able to cut through the noise. For example, Connor alludes to a point that I personally know all too well, that you can’t even put a Facebook post out without having to pay for it.

And Stephen summarises all this perfectly as he states: “People who don’t play in a band don’t realise there’s more to just standing there on stage playing, there’s so much more you have to do.”

The joy of gigging

But the big reward for Divide comes in playing their music live. As Nicole explains: “When you play a show you’re like ‘Fuck, this is why we’re doing it.’ We could have had an argument about money pre-show, but then we’re up on stage and it’s all worth it. It’s an amazing feeling having someone know and sing along to all the words you wrote. We want to keep gigging, writing some music, but gigging is so important to us.”

And the real bonus is when people appreciate their music and are willing to show their support. Nicole, who tells us her ultimate dream is to play in Japan, said: “People don’t realise even buying a badge or a beanie makes all the difference. We’re in it for the love of it. Buy merch, merch and more merch.”

And, as Scott sums up perfectly: “Obviously we take it seriously, but generally we just like to have fun. We put a lot into it ourselves and we are self-funded, plus we are all working so it’s really good for us to see people buying merch or CDs or whatever.”

Divide have just finished up a UK-wide tour and now plan to be writing new material through the year, so keep your eyes peeled for new music.

Embers is out now and available on iTunes and Spotify. You can follow Divide on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and you can buy their merch here.

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