New Blood: Divides
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Scotland has impeccable track record when it comes to producing decent bands. Biffy Clyro, Primal Scream and Mogwai immediately spring to mind, but there’s also plenty of promising new acts bubbling under the surface. One of these is Glasgow-based five-piece Divides, who make stirring, abrasive rock over which vocalist Tasha Cowie's voice soars.
Describing their music, Tasha describes them as ‘a heavy, alternative, female-fronted rock band’, using a phrase that lots of other bands with female members actively reject. But she’s pragmatic about the fact that rock music is still a way off the time that bands with women in them can be referred to without the female-fronted prefix, saying that she takes comparisons to the likes of Paramore as a compliment.
‘If I look and sing like Hayley Williams when I’m older, I’ll be happy!’ she says, but she also acknowledges the darker side of generalisations. ‘I think it can be destructive if people decide they don’t want to listen to us because we might sound like Paramore, but it depends how you look at it,’ she says.
‘We try to avoid comparing ourselves to others, but because of Tasha’s singing, that is what we get,’ explains guitarist Colin Horn.
Far from being downhearted by the comments, Divides are optimistic and ready to take the band to the next level. They formed two years ago, and recorded their debut EP, Anywhere and Nowhere, back in March, with Colin at the helm.
‘He does demos, because he has a good production set up in his room at home. He records the guitar and electric drums,’ explains Tasha. Colin adds that the other members, guitarist David Lennon, bassist Andy Cook and drummer David Maxwell then ‘chip in their own bits’, and that, surprisingly, recording the EP was the first time any of them heard Tasha sing away from a live setting.
‘When you’re in a practice room, it’s so loud you don’t hear what the music actually sounds like,’ says Tasha. ‘I was sitting in the vocal booth and the guys were like: “We’ve never actually heard her sing before!”’
It’s fair to say that Divides have amassed more experience on the live circuit in their fledging career than they have in the studio. They’re very much a product of Glasgow's alternative scene – that we have to thank for the likes of Simple Minds, Twin Atlantic and the aforementioned Mogwai – and Colin credits the supportive vibe of the scene for the recognition they've got so far.
‘You get the odd band here making it a competition, but usually we find the bands we’ve played alongside are supportive,’ he says. ‘You get along and you vibe off each other. There’s so many bands and genres in Glasgow but I think we’re in one of those genres where the bands are quite tight knit.’
They also branched out of the city a few months ago after releasing their debut EP, which they supported with a couple of dates in the UK. While they were well received in Sheffield, the experience made them realise the importance of planning the logistics of a tour so far away from Glasgow.
‘We were meant to play in Swansea but had a tragic case of getting stuck in traffic for 6 hours,’ Colin explains. “We weren’t able to make it. We left here at 4am but didn’t get to our hotel until 10 at night!’
It's something they're determined won't happen again. They've got big plans for a two-week tour of England next year, right after they release their debut album. Colin says they've started writing for it already, and that they aim to release it early next year. Both Tasha and Colin agree that completing the album is one of their biggest goals for the coming twelve months, with completing a proper, well-organised tour being the top priority.
‘For me [I want to achieve] the touring,’ says Tasha. ‘I want to gain new fans. When you’re on social media you’ve got all your followers but it’s not really correct; when you go out of town all those people aren’t going to show up. So when you get out and connect with other fans, that’s when you can see what your real following is like.’
Drummer Dave will no doubt have a hand in helping plan the tour. Colin explains that, as well as his role in Divides, he’s an active promoter on the Glasgow music scene and takes on a managerial role within the band. As an unsigned band, it’s all DIY; Colin works as a web developer by day and is responsible for the band’s website. Tasha, meanwhile, juggles her Divides commitments with working gruelling 45-hour weeks in a Wetherspoons kitchen.
‘It is hard working full time and trying to fit it around the band,’ she says. ‘But if you’re in it for the long haul you’ll make it work.’
For now, Divides are concentrating on writing their album, which will, if all goes well, be the record that gets them the recognition they deserve outside of Glasgow. As Tasha points out, they’re ‘still growing’, but they know where they want to go, and they’ve got the drive and ability to be Scotland’s next exciting rock export.
For more information on Divides, visit their official website.