Dividable Grand creating a buzz
The members of the Knysna-based band Dividable Grand haven't hit their twenties yet, but they're about to start hitting the charts. David Vermeulen, lead singer of the group, answers some questions about the band's first, self-titled album.
David Vermeulen, Lindi van Blerk and Gabriel Buchalter. Photo: Justine Edwards
Hi David, how are things?
Hey Henry! If I'm honest, right now I'm starving. Cornflakes never fill you up enough. But things with the band are great, as always!
I'll start with the question I'm most curious about ... While I was listening to your debut album, your vocal style consistently reminded me of Daniel Johns's style on the later Silverchair albums like Young Modern and his work with The Dissociatives. Am I wrong in assuming this influence? What other artists do you consider to be influences for your style and writing?
I've actually never heard of Daniel Johns. That's probably rather sad, but I've just never come across him. I grew up with the Beatles and Led Zeppelin – I wouldn't say they've influenced me, but definitely inspired me to become what I am and what I want to be. As for my style, well, I try to write what I would like to listen to. I suppose that and the fact that I can't change my voice means that it comes out in my style.
Tell me about the birth of the band: How did the trio of you, Gabriel Buchalter and Lindi van Blerk form and how did the decision to commit to this project come about?
I've known Gabe since I was 5 (we went to the same school). We had similar interests and so eventually we started gigging. I always wanted to be a solo musician, but didn't want to face the tough small-town crowds alone, so it was nice to have some company. Eventually we got so used to jamming with each other that we just became a full-time duo. Lindi and I had also been jamming on the side with a different trio, and at some point we all jammed together and it was perfect. That was that! As soon as we realised our songwriting and style pleased a lot of people we started playing more and more shows, recorded our album The Buzz, and before we knew it we were committed and full-time DG members!
The rock scene in South Africa has become pretty competitive of late ... Did you set out to create a sound that differentiates you from other groups in the same genre? How would you describe Dividable Grand’s "sound"?
It has, but so has everything else. Music has never been a competition for us, and shouldn't be for anyone. Our sound is our sound, and we don't try to be better or different, because it wouldn't be "us". It's hard to put us into a set genre – we kind of morph between alternative, rock and pop, and a couple more random genres that most people probably haven't heard of. I would say we're different because we aren't trying to be – if you're having fun, don't try to change that.
There are a few tracks on the album that strike me as obvious singles – particularly “Puzzling me” and “Keep it real”. Ironically (or maybe not?), those two tracks, especially “Puzzling me”, with the ukelele sound, are the two tracks that sound least like the general vibe of the album to me. Did you aim to achieve something different with those tracks? Which are your own favourite tracks on the album (if you really, really had to choose)?
“Puzzling me” just needed the uke – it's got the cute beach vibe. Both “Puzzling me” and “Keep it real” are very personal songs – “Puzzling” from Gabe’s side and “KIR” from mine. I think that might be why they're both different from the rest of the tracks, but it certainly wasn't intentional. “KIR” is my favourite track, simply cos it means a lot to me, and Lindi and Gabe really did a great job capturing the vibe I wanted. I asked Lindi what her favourite track was and she did a typical "Uh, I dunno, hehe." But I think she secretly digs “Whistling in Company”!
What do you guys keep yourself busy with when you're not gigging or recording? Are there “day jobs” to speak of?
We most certainly do not have jobs! How dare you! Jobs aren't for musicians. We're on tour right now and half the time we're lying in the sun or watching 3D movies, occasionally exercising (emphasis on occasionally), and eating. Endless eating. Oh, and we always fit in a jam here and there, depending on where we are and how lazy we're feeling. Except Lindi – she's the professional one. She does homeschooling. I'm her invigilator. Lol.
What does the near future hold for Dividable Grand – any tours to look forward to? Do you have a "five-year plan" or maybe a "five-month plan"?
We're on tour right now in the Joburg area – lots of fun. We'll be on tour again in December and most of next year too – all to support The Buzz, which drops on the 15th of this month. Whether five years or five months, we'll be playing music. Always.