The Canadian indie rock band, By Divine Right, has been home to a heap of musicians since the front man, José Miguel Contreras, formed it in 1989 with three high school friends. He spoke with us about the upcoming album "Organised Accidents" and what makes the spirit of the band continue to live on.
You have a new album coming out. Tell us a bit about that.
The new BDR album is called "Organized Accidents", it embodies a philosophy of composition that I have been exploring with BDR. Taking spontaneous recordings, channeled writing and turning them into songs. Even the most tightly written pop song on the album may emerge from complete chaos. I think this album makes good on the promise of a BDR record which is experimental and melodic. Without being premeditated in any way, the overlying theme lyrically is isolation. Isolation due to heart break, drugs and booze, betrayal, poverty, etc. All of those things that isolate people. For me trying to work through that; the sense of loneliness and trying to live without being a total alcoholic and drug dependent lifestyle. Trying to be a good friend, a good husband and dad. I am married to an incredible babe, the mother of my kids. I'm trying to live up to all my blessings.
What else does 2012 have in store for By Divine Right?
After the album's mastered, and the art work, etc. is all completed we'll start playing more shows and hopefully the album will come out in Oct/Nov. I have a lot of songs started that didn't get finished for this record, so we'll be continuing recording! I have a cool idea where this is going next.
Will you be coming back to Australia any time soon?
I would be so excited to go back to Australia! We are an underground band. The fact that I've toured there twice is incredible to me and I feel very lucky. I loved it there. Third time's the charm!
How do your Australian tours/crowds compare with those in North America?
The Aussies love to rock. I've had killer shows there. People were super enthusiastic. Following from show to show - dream come true type stuff. It feels that BDR has a very charmed aura around it considering our lack of commercial success, but everywhere we've played there are beautiful folks. We don't really attract assholes
You’ve been around for a few years now and had a mix of different members. How does the dynamic of the band change?
BDR is a work in progress. I always have felt that the future is where it’s at. I collaborate intensely and in an open way. I don't like to hold people too tight, nor do I like being held too tightly. The loose association lets me be free artistically, and has kept BDR consistent. I feel like BDR is a spirit which belongs to itself. A successful line up invokes that spirit. People have always complimented my new band members for how it still sounds like BDR. How cool it is that they're doing it? That’s been going on for 20 years! I've never auditioned a single person, they just seek me out and I figure if they want to do it, they must be the right person.
I read that for the Toronto 2005/6 Winter you were accepting invitations for fans to host you and the family and in exchange you would dedicate an album to them. Did you have any takers?
That was a semi-joke, but a sincere one. No strangers reached out, yet! The winters are a bit much up here. I'm ready to relocate. I know my wife feels that way. She belongs on a beach, summer dresses and bikinis suit her.
Does the offer still stand?
I would do it in a second. I love it down there. It’s very similar to Canada, except warmer, more mangoes, and with beautiful beaches. A similar young culture, multicultural landscape and a lot of healthy spiritually minded folks.
You’ve mentioned that you’re part of spreading a love consciousness. Has this always been the band’s goal?
I had no goals when I started my band! I really just wanted to hear my songs back, to harmonize, play guitar, smoke a joint and listen to my 4 track songs.
I never planned on playing shows, record contracts, nothing. Maybe, at most, recording a few albums, having a nice guitar, meeting a beautiful lady. The spiritual dimension of what it became is something that just happened, it just became more and more apparent. As I had my own enlightenment, I realized that certain people reached out to me. No matter what I thought about my music, it had an uplifting effect. It’s weird, even when I feel like I'm a whiny bitch, people will still review BDR and say its sunshine-y happy. I can be singing songs about negative shit, people say it cheers them up? So this sort of hopeful, optimistic vibe is just part of what BDR is I do think that the consciousness of humanity is evolving. That is unstoppable. The more I tap into that universal love energy that’s out there, the more I serve, the more BDR is part of that transformation
If so, has your attitude changed over the years? Have you become any more disillusioned (or the opposite)?
No matter how cynical I become, how lost and foggy, I am always guided back to the fact that there is real spiritual work we do. I am an agent of the enlightenment of our world. I know this sounds crazy, I don't walk around handing out my card, but no matter how dark and fucked up I am, I always remember my mission and I see the love and potential in everybody and in everything
What other bands have been on your playlist lately?
I am fully out of touch with the outside world as much as possible. I kind of live outside my time, which is a blessing and also maybe a bit of a drawback too.
The list of music I've listened to a lot this month:
Talk Talk - the last 2 albums, 20 years later still one of my biggest inspiration.
Kraftwerk - I can't get enough of this German robot boogie.
The Beatles (mono) - I don't give a fuck how nerdy I am, I'm still high as a kite on The Beatles.
Alain Gorageur's soundtrack for "Fantastic Planet" is incredible, love this thing!!(cool flick too)
Rolling Stones, UK albums, bootleg concerts etc...
I could go on. I listen to tons of records at home the biggies are the Ventures, because you can't go wrong with surf music in the morning. There's also Francois Hardy, George Jones, Bo Hansson, George Brassens, Chopin's Nocturnes.
You know what’s a killer album? David Crosby's first solo record "If I Could Only Remember My Name". As for new records? I really like "Watch the Throne", that Kanye West/Jay Z album. I also really liked the Tame Impala record, "Innerspeaker" and the new AIR album, voyage to the moon.
It would take me 2 hours to list everything, but if I was driving somewhere in the last couple of months, I have probably listened to Exile on Mainstreet, and Poss Miyazaki's, "Hawaiian Exotics" is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.