Divorce on their newly announced EP, 'Heady Metal'

Neu Divorce: “crowd response goes a lot deeper than applause at the end of a song”

The burgeoning Midlands band on their newly-announced EP, ‘Heady Metal’.

This time last year, Nottingham four-piece Divorce were gearing up to release their debut EP, ‘Get Mean’. Fast forward 12 months, and its follow up - the brilliantly titled ‘Heady Metal’ - is due too, arriving on 17th November via EMI/Gravity. Parallel circumstances, but there’s no doubt that things for the quartet have stepped up a gear in 2023: they’ve been signed; they’ve played shows and festivals all over the country; and, unsurprisingly, their music has evolved accordingly.

Made up of Felix Mackenzie-Barrow, Tiger Cohen-Towell, Adam Peter Smith, and Kasper Sandstrøm (of fellow Notts natives Do Nothing), Divorce are renowned for intricate harmonies, folk-tinged guitars, and live shows imbued with humour and heart. With ‘Heady Metal’, they’re stepping away from the character studies of their debut and instead leaning into the sometime emotional turbulence wrought from their rapid rise.

To mark the announcement of ‘Heady Metal’ and the release of synth-imbued latest track ‘Scratch Your Metal’, we catch up with joint songwriters Felix Mackenzie-Barrow and Tiger Cohen-Towell to learn more about the story so far.

Your debut EP 'Get Mean' came out last year, and its follow up 'Heady Metal' is due to arrive in November. How do you feel you've developed as a band between the two releases?

Tiger: I think this EP feels far more intentional as a body of work, and although with an EP there’s less pressure to do anything except put your best songs forward, they definitely feel like they illustrate the last year for us personally and professionally. Things have moved pretty fast since the last release; we’ve had to wise up to a lot of things fast and sort of get our ducks in a row. At times it’s felt rushed but I think that’s been exhilarating in a way; this is the fastest we’ve ever turned around songs, it’s nice to not have to sit on them for too long.

You're from Nottingham - how would you describe the regional scene around there? Who are some other local artists we should check out?

Felix: It’s a lovely close-knit scene, and for a small city there’s always tons going on. Catmilk and Victory Lap are really exciting us at the moment and you should get to know!

Felix and Tiger, you're both former actors - do you have particular onstage personas, or anyone you try to channel when performing?

Tiger: Not massively. I think we both like to perform the songs with some emotional intensity, and you do have to channel that pretty hard if you aren’t in the mood, so I guess that’s acting? But all performers do that, it’s not exclusive to actors. We’ve acted in music videos, but so have Kasper and Adam and they don’t have any acting background.

Felix: I think the theatre background has just led to us feeling quite comfortable connecting with crowds. Letting the audience in without losing one’s focus can be a tricky balance, but the crowd response goes a lot deeper than applause at the end of a song and we’ve had shows where I’ve felt that communication genuinely holding up the performance. You’re asking them to come and experience it with you, and for me that feels very similar to the theatre I did when I was young.

'Heady Metal' explores concepts of identity, vulnerability, and intense periods of personal change. What prompted the shift in focus from the character studies of your earlier work?

Tiger: Getting older, and also being a bit more relaxed about lyrical subject matter in general. Before, I felt like we were very much writing for Divorce, and trying to figure out what we wanted to say as a band, and although that was fun I think on this EP we wanted to pour more of our personal experiences into it. I think with the way that the band has been sculpting our lives lately, that shift was inevitable.

You're going on a tour of the UK this November. What can fans expect from a Divorce live show?

Felix: I hope people leave our shows feeling uplifted and like they’ve been part of something genuinely live, in that it’s never quite the same each time. We don’t like to plan things too heavily, because we get a lot more joy from the spontaneity of it. Apart from all the stunts we make Adam do. They have to be planned meticulously because they could cause serious harm to him or the rest of us.

'Heady Metal' is out on 17th November via Gravity / EMI Records.

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