RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN BAND DIVINING ROD
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I was surrounded by music early on while growing up in Hawaii. My uncles, aunts, and cousins played at every family get-together. I heard lots of traditional Hawaiian music, as well as country and reggae. My brother turned me onto other genres: rock, metal, and fusion. I became obsessed with making my own music in middle school, recording songs on 4 track recorders in my bedroom.
Introduce us to you all to the members and your musical history.
I’m Miyuki Furtado. I sing, and play guitar and drums (at the same time) on a homemade contraption that I constructed out of an old suitcase I found at a flea market. Patrick Harmon plays guitar and sings. Matt Svigals plays bass and John Malone plays drums (also partly consisting of a suitcase that I hacked).
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
I think I’m doing ok. I needed some downtime after constant touring and releasing records on TooPure with my previous band, The Rogers Sisters. I had to start over, releasing music independently. Then Covid hit and the whole world came to a stop. Coming out of that pause has been challenging to everyone in creative fields and I suppose I’m no different. I guess we’re taking things a lot slower and making music more for ourselves than for industry. Making connections more on a grassroots level. Sort of like when I first started out, so it’s come full circle haha.
How have your songwriting skills developed over time?
I started Divining Rod as a solo acoustic psych-drone-folk project after my previous band broke up. When I met Patrick, Divining Rod morphed into a folk/country/rock hybrid. Then I convinced my friends, John and Matt, to join up and focused more fully on our country’s leanings. I started listening to heaps of records and outlaw country radio stations over the pandemic and that fueled my writing. I’m greatly interested in turns of phrases, and telling stories, though I appreciate brevity. I admire writers like Ray Davies of the Kinks who can give a lot of detail using the fewest words. On a side note, I feel like I’m finally started coming into my own as a singer and guitar player.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Keep our collective eyes peeled and look out for one another.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
I’m still learning new things regarding my time in the social media landscape. It’s at once, fascinating and frustrating. However, I’m an old dog that likes to learn new tricks so I’m busy making more content. Especially videos. During the pandemic, our band started a cover series. We would record tracks and video separately and then edit them together. We covered John Prine, Teenage Fanclub, Big Star and Guided By Voices. That seems to have won us some new fans.
What’s your thought on Spotify monopoly on the music industry?
There have always been capitalist bean counters holding the keys to gates. Spotify is no different than the major record companies and distributors of old. That being said, it’s pretty cool having instantaneous access to so much interesting music. I just wish creators could get a fair share of the take and be able to make a decent living.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
I have many subscriptions to many theories because I’m inherently low-level paranoid. As a practice, however, I try to get my news from legitimate sources.
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
I bought a metric ton of crap that I don’t need during the pandemic.
What was the worst experience on stage?
People requesting terrible covers while we’re playing mid-song. Someone drunkenly insisted we play ‘God Bless America’ because it was America’s anthem. We refused. We also pointed out that ‘Star-Spangled Banner is the US anthem.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.
John is a skilled architect and has a not-so-secret love of yacht rock. Matt lived on my home island of Kauai for a spell and has made his own kimchee. Patrick has too many zany stories from his time in NYC to list here (you should ask him sometime) and he’s a solid karaoke belter. I just ran my first marathon and loved it.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
Just seeing our live setup makes us stand out. We often worry about sound engineers but they are usually fans when we’re done.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
We have a new single called ‘Mason County Line’ coming out on December 15. It’s a song about love, short-term memory loss, bickering, and making up.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
I wrote a lot of songs during the pandemic. Some came easily and others were more labor-intensive. Mason County Line pretty much came to me right away. I imagined it being played at a line-dancing rodeo bar.
What was the recording process like?
We had just finished a weeks-long residency on New York’s legendary Circle Line Cruises playing our songs (& some out-there covers) for hours on end. That got us into fighting shape and sharpened us up as a live band. So much so that we went to my friend’s studio (Virtue and Vice Studios in Brooklyn NY), set up in one room, and recorded 12 songs pretty much live over the course of a day and a half. We did very few overdubs (acoustic guitar and the odd vocal doubling). What you’re hearing on the recording is what you’ll hear live.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
Listening more and yapping less.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Check out the video for ‘Mason County Line. John is a founding member of a yearly Halloween porch band music festival in Irvington, NY. This annual homegrown, village-wide music crawl has attracted hundreds of visitors and is produced and performed by friends, neighbors and volunteers in Irvington for the past 8 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 in this small, quaint village (which swells 10 times it’s size Halloween night). It’s quite a sight to behold.
Also, the cover art features a photo by Jason Velez using real double exposed film. He has kindly let us use his photos for our upcoming releases in 2023.