Your Divine Tragedy
Getting to know Seattle’s YOUR DIVINE TRAGEDY
A Q&A with lead vocalist/Rhythm Guitarist Todd
Let’s start out with the basics, for music fans who are being introduced to you and your music for the first time right now, what would you like them to know?
The most important thing is that we try to provoke a positive change in the world around us. We do this by musically showing the dark side of life and how to rise above it, as well as the actions we all need to take to make this neighborhood/town/country/world a better place. That being said, we try to write music that is dynamic sonically and meaningful emotionally. The offshoot is that we are all pretty goofy fellas on and off stage, and while that may not come out in our music so much, our live performances are full of the ironic goofiness that is YDT.
You’ve prided yourself on not really being stuck in the category of “rock” and breaking out into many other genres, can you give us the breakdown of how you personally describe your sound?
If Billy Idol, nachos, Rush, The Used, PBR, and Avenged Sevenfold all hopped in the sack together, Your Divine Tragedy would be the bastard child. We have influences (aside from the aforementioned) including Neil Young and Diamond, Dream Theater, Finch, Alice in Chains, 30 Seconds to Mars, and a large amount of local bands and friends. We call ourselves a hard rock band. We are heavy, but not only heavy; we have soft songs and soft areas; it’s hard to emphasize one without the other. It really goes on a song by song basis for us. Whatever comes out is what we sound like.
Everyone in the band comes from different backgrounds musically, can you tell us how it all “fits” to become “Your Divine Tragedy”?
Three of us were involved with music at the collegiate level (for a time), so there is a lot of music theory behind the scenes. Patrick, for instance, goes nuts over theory and loves writing music in a compositional manner. As for myself, although I know a bit of theory, I write mostly by feel and sound. I am more of a minimalist, and Patrick is the exact opposite, and that shows both in the rehearsal space and in the music we listen to. This actually is why it works out really well. We keep each other in check. Jeff and ATK are the glue that pulls us together because our styles, without a tight rhythm section, will often sound like they clash. At the end of the day, we all know what kind of songs we like to write and we work together so well because of our differences.
I started singing in school (like we all had to) and in church. I always liked the traditional Latin chants and more somber hymns. I started playing piano and keyboard, which helped my vocals, and eventually learned the guitar. I was also in choirs all through school including college.
ATK started with drums at an early age and in his first band class. From then he was immersed in music and percussion instruments playing in school bands, percussion ensembles and bands of his own until I found the rest of us.
Jeff got his start in music growing up in his dad’s music store. He’d just grab a guitar off the shelf and jam on it. He remembers getting yelled at for breaking a drum head back then. He stuck with the guitars after that.
Patrick started playing around with percussion when he was three. His mother was a concert percussionist in a local symphony and he’d hit pots and pans with her drum sticks. When he was four he started taking formal percussion lessons. Turns out his step mom ended up being a music teacher so he learned a lot ABOUT music from her at a young age as well.
What do you think is the biggest thing that’s missing from today’s music?
Meaning and the desire to be different. That is not to say that all the music out there doesn’t mean anything, just that the majority of music inside pop culture tends to tip -toe around things that really affect people. Instead they talk about getting drunk in the club, or money, or birthday sex. What? Come on! Other than meaning, I think being different seems to come as a challenge to a lot of musicians. Whether it’s steering clear of odd time signatures or trying to dress in whatever is fashionable, that stuff just seems silly. Why not expand, experiment, be ridiculous and different? At least that’s how we feel. By the way, ATK needs more shirts with Mickey Mouse on them, so if you know anyone….other than Walt….
You and Jeff have been playing together since you were in high school, how did you find the rest of the band and how did things fall into place?
First there was Patrick. Our band actually played with Pat’s band a year or so prior in a small town in eastern Montana. We all ended up at the same college together and that was that. We had to persuade him to quite his other band using a hammer, some tooth picks, and a fifth of Absolut Vodka, but he eventually caved. He was the one who knew some kid in the music department who hit stuff pretty good, and might have been interested in hitting stuff in a band. He came over for a practice, learned our songs, and just never left. We four have been together since then.
Your live performance has been described as “not your typical show” can you give us a little insight into what that means?
Come see a show and you’ll have some insight. But I’ll give you some clues: karate kid, fire, gorillas, spinning woodstuffs, head butting, hyjinx. That’s all you get.
As a band that’s based out of Seattle, WA what can you tell us about the music scene there? We’re all familiar with the scene that existed there in the nineties, is it still thriving?
Unfortunately the scene you are familiar with has long since burned out. The reason, from what I hear, that there was a scene at all back then is because there was band community. Bands helping each other out (something we strongly believe in) and backing each other. Now it’s too cutthroat. Bands are only looking out for themselves trying to “make it”, that they forget that we are supposed to be a community, and that can only make us stronger. Oh, and speaking of band community: Temperedcast, Wren Drive, Future Fossils, Lucid, City in the Sea, Urban Collapse.
You have several songs up on your MySpace page for music fans to check out, do you have a cd or a demo available for fans to purchase?
We do have a six song EP entitled “Awaken the Rise and Fall”. It’s available on our MySpace page, iTunes, Amazon, Napster, and Audiolife. There may also be a full length coming in the near future.
Which one of your songs do you feel really defines your band best?
In terms of how we sound it’s difficult to tell because, as I mentioned before, our sound goes on a song by song basis. However, in terms of what we are about as a band it’s probably a song called One More Hero. Side one, track one on the EP. It talks about not being afraid to stand up for the things in which you believe. You, yes you, can make a difference in the world, all it takes is a little initiative.
What’s this about the “YDT Gorillas” – do they really exist and how can we catch a glimpse?
Oh you wanna know about the YDT gorillas do ya? Well I’d love to tell you, but the truth is that we aren’t really 100% sure. What we do know is that there are two YDT “fans” that are gorillas. We’d ask them their names if they could, but we’ve unofficially been named Kevin and Arnold. They usually wear shirts with YDT painted on them. They sometimes show up to our shows, cause a ruckus, and sometimes even jump on stage. It’s weird, but fun! I got one to play the cowbell once. Crazy animals.
Describe each member of the band in three words or less…
Pat – karate fingers
ATK – twirly McPrettyface
Jeff – diabetic doom
Todd – The Goods
Where would you like to see the band in five years from now?
Making a living playing music. Don’t need fame or fortune or glory. Being able to sustain a living doing the thing we love is all we can ask for. Those other things would be sweet too though. What?
Your MySpace page says you’re currently on tour, can you tell us where people can check you out live?
Primarily the west coast right now. But in the next few months we should be dipping into the south and Midwest regions, which we’ve never been to, so that should be exciting. Our MySpace page is the best place to check up on the band. There are all sorts of things including music (live and recorded), videos, merch sales and the usual “MySpace-pimp-yourself-out” tools.
For more info on Your Divine Tragedy visit them on MySpace