“I fucking loved Reuben and I think Very Fast Very Dangerous is one of the great lost albums. Somebody needs to say, ‘that is one of the best rock albums of the past fifteen years’.” – Nigel Powell
Dive Dive are a band that are hard to categorize. Often compared to Reuben, the Oxford four-piece have been kicking it since 2001. In that time they’ve managed to release three albums and help launch the solo career of a certain Mr. Turner. Seeing as three quarters of the band would be heading out on Turner’s UK tour anyway, it only makes sense for Xtra Mile’s latest recruits to reintroduce themselves. We chatted to Jamie and Nigel for a while in Sheffield about the trials of touring and how they might deal with being thought of as ‘Frank’s band with a different singer’.
Anthony Barlow: How’s it going guys?
Jamie Stewart: Good
Nigel Powell: Very Good
AB: You seemed a little stressed when we saw you before Nigel, are you alright?
NP: I’m not stressed, no. It’s just that I’ve got a cold and I was just going out to the bus for something…
AB: When you got jumped by a bunch of people.
JS: [to Nigel] Someone stole your crumpets
NP: Yep, somebody stole my crumpet. I was getting the Marmite from the bus to put on my crumpet in the venue and someone took my crumpet. How about that?
Ian Critchley: Who’d do such a thing? That’s just sick.
JS: So low.
NP: That’s the kind of tour we’re on, guys. I don’t know what to tell you.
IC: How’s the tour going?
JS: We’re with a bunch of ruthless, merciless…
NP: It’s fine. I mean, it kinda felt to me like last night in Preston was the first proper night of the tour, because Aberdeen was fucked. We couldn’t get there. Trying to get to Glasgow for, what was, the proper first night of the tour was so stressful. A lot of our crew were in Newcastle so the bus picked us up in the South of the country and tried to get them from Newcastle. We couldn’t get to Newcastle, because Newcastle was covered in snow and the whole thing was just like “oh no, this isn’t going to happen!” So Glasgow, I think, for both Dive Dive and for Frank, things were a little bit tense, because everyone involved with the whole show was just going “oh my god, oh my god”. Last night was good.
JS: Everything dropped into place. In Glasgow, it was all so last minute and it came across as last minute. It was almost like watching a really long sound check, I’m sure. It was fine but, in terms of how much fun people had on stage last night compared to the night before, yeah. We’re rearing to go now.
AB: I thought it was a little weird actually for the tour to go North and then back down South again. Nigel, you’ve experienced one of Frank’s mad tours before…
NP: Yeah, that’s down to the people who book the shows. They try to make it sensible. This is actually a lot better than some tours I’ve been on. When you’re in a van and it’s kinda like Aberdeen, Southampton, Glasgow and you go “you really don’t know what’s going on, do you?” *laughs*. It’s fine, it’s good to be busy with this kind of thing. I’m actually, even though I’m playing in the support band and the main band, I’m slightly less busy on this tour than I was on the last Frank tour, because I was doing the lights as well.
AB: Jamie, you’re kind of the ‘tour rookie’ compared to the rest of the band, as it were…
NP: Yeah, yeah, yeah
IC: How’s it been?
JS: I try to preempt a lot of the bullshit that I was expecting from the rest of the band and Frank and stuff like that, so all of this condescending crap that they give me like “oh no, you don’t sleep in that bunk” or “you don’t ever poo in the toilet” I try to get it out of their systems by asking loads of really dumb questions over a series of days leading up to the tour, so they got really pissed off with me and now it’s ok. I think I’ve slipped into it quite well. I understand that the crew that we have on the bus are fairly superhuman and to not try and keep pace with their drinking or anything like that, because then there will be no more signing from me. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s luxurious. You talked about the routing being all over the place, I don’t give a toss. I go to sleep and I wake up in the next town. It could be badly routed and I’d never know. Yeah, it’s great.
AB: Dive Dive has recently just been signed by Xtra Mile and you’re two previous albums are being re-released. Is this something you guys wanted to do or just a requirement from the label?
NP: No, it certainly wasn’t a requirement. They were mainly interested in the new album, but our first two albums were released on two different record companies, who have both since gone belly up. I don’t know if one fact is to do with the other… *laughs*. It meant that, ultimately, they actually weren’t available anywhere, but we had the rights to them so we asked Xtra Mile to put them up on iTunes.
IC: The new album is being released digitally on the 6th [of December], but isn’t coming out, physically, until January. Why’s that?
NP: Partially because the industry, despite the fact that it’s kinda dying on it’s feet, there’s still some things in the industry which hold true. One of which is, Shops, between October and December, are full of compilations, Christmas carol albums, all of the big hitters – Take That – will release their album running up to Christmas, so people will buy it for people as a Christmas present. As soon as you get into the new year, that kind of all disappears immediately, so there’s more room for a smaller band to try and get actual CDs on the shelves.
AB: Could you not have just released a Christmas carol album?
NP: We could, but I fear…
JS: I like it!
AB: A Dive Dive Christmas?
JS: Totally. Oh, imagine it.
NP: Picture us with walnuts by the fire.
JS: I’d definitely go traditional with it. I mean, we have friends in bands that have done Christmas singles and they’re always a little bit comedy or punk versions of ‘White Christmas’ and stuff like that. Ed Harcourt, who’s playing tonight, has got a fantastic Christmas song called ‘Satan Came Down The Chimney’. It’s a great Christmas song. No, I like the traditional idea of doing it as well as possible, with sleigh bells and stuff like that.
NP: Yeah, absolutely.
AB: I can’t wait *laughs*. Are you guys expecting any kind of backlash after signing with Xtra Mile? People saying stuff like “oh they’ve only been signed there because they’re Frank’s band”
JS: I couldn’t give a fuck in all honesty.
NP: Possibly, but in order to have a backlash against a band they need to, at least, be reasonably successful.
IC: So you’re hoping for a backlash then? *laughs*
NP: *laughs* I think we’re pretty safe for the moment. It just makes sense to be with Xtra Mile, because a lot of people are gonna be interested because of the connection with Frank. Although he’s gone on to massive success, we actually pre-date Frank. We met him when we were supporting Reuben, before he left Million Dead. We got him his agent and kinda helped him out and stuff. From our side, it kinda feels like a parallel development, except someone’s gone a little further ahead *laughs*.
JS: And the label judge it on it’s own merits as well. They kinda listen to the album and go “can we work with this?”. Obviously, the answer’s yes and Matt’s got a band as well. I don’t see him releasing an album *laughs*.
IC: *laughs* What do you guys think of the song title ‘Swim Like A Shark, Not Like A Rock’? I thought of it last night, and thought I’d just put it out there. You can have that. That’s my gift to you, Merry Christmas!
JS: Swim like a shark, not like a rock? I like it. It makes me think of that Futurama monologue, There’s two kinds of people in this world, the sharks and the sheep *laughs*
IC: Yeah, I know the one. So do you think you’ll name one of your songs that?
NP: If I could step in and say we can’t promise.
IC: Ok *laughs*. Musically, you seem quite similar to Reuben. Sort of like a more accessible take on what they were doing?
NP: Yeah, maybe. The melodic thing, I think our Jamie and Reuben’s Jamie have a similar grasp of…
JS: When we first started playing with Reuben and hanging out with them, we were very similar. Very, sort of, punk pop kind of bands. And then Jamie – Jamie number one – went a bit more hardcore with it and a bit filthier. I said to him, it was a little more metal and grungier and he said “you think it’s stupid or something?!” *laughs*. He got really arsey with me. But we went for a slightly more jagged kind of, poppy, side of things.
NP: I don’t see us as mainstream, strangely enough. Take us and Reuben at the time they were doing Too Fast Too Dangerous and we’re both about there [in the middle of a line demonstrated by Nigel’s arms] and we’ve kinda gone that way [left]. I feel that we’re equally away from the mainstream on different sides. We’re kind of more stop start and jagged.
JS: Did you see the video for ‘Liar’?
AB & IC: Yeah, yeah.
JS: That’s how he dresses! I said “is he just wearing that for the video?”, but no he just wants to look like that.
IC: We’ve got a bit of a joke question for you now. Do you think Reuben failed as a band finacially, because Jamie Lenman bought too many shit, expensive suits and too much tache wax?
NP & JS: *laughs*
IC: Sorry, that’s a terrible question *laughs*
NP: What a loaded question. I fucking loved Reuben and I think Very Fast Very Dangerous is one of the great lost albums. Somebody needs to say, “that is one of the best rock albums of the past fifteen years”.
Frank Turner: I have a question for you. Why don’t you play ‘Good Show’ anymore? *laughs*
NP & JS: *laughs*
IC: Will you play ‘Good Show’? *laughs*
NP: We can, if we can remember it. We’ve played that song two and a half thousand times. Every time we come to rehearsal we’re like “we can’t remember it” and then something just goes ‘click’ and we’re playing it again. Anyway, thank you very much.
AB: No, thank you guys. Cheers!