An interview with Dick Diver
I recently caught up for a chat with Al McKay and Al Montfort from Melbourne’s Dick Diver about what’s up with their name, plans for their upcoming EP and why they are making such an impact in Melbourne’s music scene lately.
Dick Diver Interview
Al McKay (guitar and vocals)
Al Montfort (bass)
So what’s up with the name Dick Diver?
It’s a character from an F. Scott Fitzgerald book… is it?
Nah we just like the alliteration, all the Melbourne bands start with D. The Drones, the Devastations, Dan Kelly…
Fucking love all the D bands. There’s already a few good ones, Darling Downs, double D as well.
Through the D.
We just like the letter. We watched Sesame Street one morning and it was presented by the letter D. Nah yeah but it’s a character in a book.
Ah I’ve never read it…
Tender is the Night.
How do you describe your sound?
I usually say like we are like a wimpy band or something, we’re like Australian pop. 80s Australian pop.
Maybe a bit like The Velvet Underground but a bit more rock n’ roll.
It’s like the Velvet Underground crossed with fucking Eddie Cochran, crossed with Jerry Lee Lewis.
Any other Melbourne bands that you get compared too?
At the moment I really like The Twerps, we always get compared to them by friends.
I guess we don’t really compare ourselves to other bands that much but yeah The Twerps come up a lot.
So you pretty much just do your own thing? Al (bass) since you play in a couple other bands is there any preference when it comes to song writing?
Well I don’t write any songs for Dick Diver, I just write the songs for the other bands so I don’t really have to worry about it I can just kind of go along and do whatever.
So Al (guitar) you write the songs mostly?
Yeah I write all of the songs.
Ruert writes none! Hahaha!
Nah, Ruert and I write the songs. He sings the ones he’s written and I do mine. Sometimes we share a bit, but usually yeah.
Any lyrical themes you kind of stick too?
Not really, I dunno. We just kind of write songs about what we see. Try and get a few gags in there.
Yeah you gotta have gags. Like how did the Michael Jackson song come about because that had different lyrics first didn’t it?
Yeah it did, that one came about from this poem that I ripped off from this guy called Frank O’Hara and I was just thinking about all the media frenzy of Michael Jackson and how ridiculous it was with people feeling really close to him when they never knew him, so dumb. It’s a new song called “Michael Jackson” or “The Day Michael Jackson Died”.
You’ve got some recordings up on Myspace but do you have anything coming out for release?
We’ve got an EP that’s been recorded and mastered and mixed, it’s all in the pipeline to come out in about November. That was done with Mikey from Eddy Current Suppression Ring, he’s recorded pretty much everyone in Melbourne by now. It’s kind of ridiculous.
Yeah and he’s gotten so much better, so good.
Yeah it’s amazing, he’s done The UV Race, Al’s other band.
He did Straight Jacket, my other band, years ago which was really good.
Our Myspace has some of it but is mostly stuff we’ve done ourselves and a couple Mikey’s done.
How did recording with Mikey come about?
My old band, well we still play, Straightjacket Nation used to play a lot with Eddy Current Suppression Ring and go on tour and he recorded us about four years ago so I’ve known him through that and he recorded UV Race last year and I was stoked on it. So we asked him and also Max Kohane from Agents of Abhorrence who helped record the Dick Diver stuff as well.
So that’s coming out on Chapter Music? How did that happen?
We played a show with Guy Blackman [Chapter Music founder] at The Birmingham Hotel earlier in the year and he liked our stuff so we kind of became friends with him and now they are putting out our EP for us.
I really like a lot of the other stuff on Chapter too.
Yeah you guys are playing Chapterfest too yeah?
Yeah it should be really good and they’re just awesome dudes as well.
How have you guys used the internet to promote your band? You’ve got your own blog too right?
Yeah, haha, it’s not very active. I think it’s got like four posts on it. It started one night when Ru got really drunk and got home and started writing some shit up there for fun and then it I dunno, I think we were trying to copy The UV Race because they’ve got a really funny blog. It’s more just like for our friends and stuff.
Yeah we need to put up more photos and stuff though. Myspace stuff is just to let people know about gigs and so they can hear us.
Yeah that’s really good for getting shows and keeping in contact with people and stuff.
So have you had much contact via your myspace/blog?
Yeah locally I think that’s how the bands around Melbourne get shows together. Someone will be putting on a night and they can just email around looking for bands or asking their friends. Email places looking where they can play together, it kinda all works out which is pretty cool.
Have you been written about much in press yet?
I always look at the reviews in street press, I’m a bit vain or something like that. I always wanna know but I always like it when there is a bad review because you always remember it cause they always try and put themselves out there. Yeah I always like the bad reviews but yeah we get reviewed or whatever, have we done any other interviews?
We did a bit of a thing on Mess and Noise and a thing for a blog called The White Heart Lane. But that wasn’t much of an interview. That was more of a photo thing.
Yeah that’s a real cool thing.
Haley from Super Wild Horses and a friend of hers, it’s a cool blog.
What she did was she gave us a disposable camera and when we went on tour to Sydney we took all these photos and then we had to write captions for them and do a little interview. It was a cool idea and we got some good photos.
And some not so good photos.
One good one, yeah I was trying to get a photo of a cat smoking a cigarette but the flash wasn’t working so there’s about ten blank photos. There’s some good ones, there’s one where Al looks like a male model at Bondi.
I can’t wait to see that photo, I think I’m gonna mount that on my wall.
You’ve got a lot of shows coming up do you think that’s because of the internet or because of personal connections?
Because we’re fucking good. Hahaha, nah I reckon it’s both. There’s a lot of personal connections and also because we’ve been playing so much that people have seen us and at first most of the shows were like with people that we knew like people that Steph (drummer) knew because she was in another band called Love of Science Fiction and just people I knew from UV Race and Straight Jacket and now we just play heaps.
So you’ve both played in and play in some other bands too?
I play in another band with some friends called Mit Walt which is more like a country kind of Bob Dylan-y sort of thing.
They’re fucking sick.
Ken Dalton or something… With a friend of mine, we’re trying to get her off her arse to do her own thing for ages because she’s got like a really really great voice but that’s just kind of like a fun thing. Ru and I played in a couple of shit bands before Dick Diver which will remain nameless.
Gun Alley, hahaha.
We only did a few shows and stuff, kind of cut our teeth on something.
So you’ve been playing around for a while then?
Well Ru and I have been jamming together for ages but Dick Diver is kind of new. Not like Al who’s been touring with proper bands…
Steph has played in about a million bands at this stage.
Yeah she’s gotten around.
A bit of a band slut, haha.
Do you guys have a problem with people getting your music for free?
The way I see it is people that are into music are, if they like something, are gonna go out and buy it anyway but it’s a good way to get people into it. Otherwise the more people listen to it the more people that people are gonna go and buy it. The old chicken and egg thing.
I’ve got no problem with people posting shit up. I just want to be like the Arctic Monkeys and play at Madison Square Garden.
When I download an mp3 or something of a band I really like or a bootleg or something it just makes me want to buy it more when the actual release comes out.
Do you reckon it’s pretty good will with people around?
People just want to have that material thing in their hands.
Yeah the artwork and the whole record thing. According to Chapter, record sales went up double last year over CDs. I think there’s a lot of people liking that the romance of something to hold in your hands rather than just something you have gotten from the internet.
So your EP is coming out on vinyl then?
Yeah it will come with a 7 inch which has 3 songs on it and then there will be a CD that will have 6 songs on it as well. So there’s 6 songs all together, the three that will be on the vinyl will be on the CD as well.
I see that you are playing with Stephen Malkmus… how did that happen?
Well a guy Woody who does this radio program Wig Wam Bam I think he was doing the tour and he was looking for some supports and I think he handed over the CD to Malkmus to see if we’d be a good support…
And he said he loved it. I heard.
Yeah he said it is the fucking best band ever. Me and Steph at separate times both bugged Woody like “if there’s not a Melbourne support then can we get on it?” And by that stage he had already sent on the CD. So yeah it was just really cool. I know Al and Ru are huge fans.
Especially Ru, I hope he can speak when turns up. Yeah big fan.
How long exactly have you guys been Dick Diver?
About a year.
We would have played our first show in July.
Would be over a year now.
Any plans for a proper national tour or anything?
Maybe, we haven’t really discussed it. Maybe when the EP comes out, November/December or something.
We thought about doing a few shows around rural Victoria and then yeah we’ll see what happens from there. Al’s going away over Summer though, to Indonesia to do some work over there.
And to drink Coconuts.
Yeah we’d all love to and maybe even go to the states at some stage, I know that UV Race are playing over there so it kind of makes sense to tie it in. A lot of pipe dreams. A lot of pipe dreams.