Feature: Divine Fits

From the August 2, 2012 edition

Five years ago, Columbus rising stars turned major-label horror story The Sun traveled to Austin to record their swan song with Spoon producer Mike McCarthy. At the time, the payoff was purely artistic; “Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun” was a pop-rock triumph that ended up released for free online to instant obscurity. But the connection with McCarthy eventually paid off big time for Sun drummer Sam Brown.

Last summer when Spoon frontman Britt Daniel was looking for a drummer to round out his new project with Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner, McCarthy insisted Daniel call Brown. Soon Brown was on a plane to Austin to collaborate with one of his favorite songwriters. By autumn, the trio decamped to Daniel and Boeckner’s adopted home of Los Angeles to work on a record. A new supergroup called Divine Fits was born.

“We’ve never played a show, which is pretty strange,” Brown said. “I’ve never been in a band that’s done it like this. But it’s been cool. We’ve definitely spent enough time playing music together.”

In fact, Divine Fits completed an entire debut album before ever performing in public. “A Thing Called Divine Fits,” due out Aug. 28 on Merge Records, runs the gamut from synth-driven brooding (“My Love Is Real”) to the spunky, art-damaged garage rock that became Spoon’s calling card (“Would That Not Be Nice”).

“It’s not a side project,” Brown said. “It’s not just like a Britt Daniel solo record that we’re going out and supporting for one run. We’ve all decided to start a band together, and it really does feel like a band. Everyone’s opinion is valued.”

Besides The Sun, Brown played in several other Columbus bands that grazed the national consciousness. He did time with Gaunt, a punk band that worked with Warner Brothers and respected indie label Thrill Jockey in the ’90s. He continues to batter the kit for the iconic New Bomb Turks whenever they reconvene. He drummed for RJD2 on tour.

His sterling resume extends to lesser-known Columbus projects like Anna Ranger, Total Foxx and his own songwriting vehicle, You’re So Bossy. But Divine Fits presents an entirely different experience.

“This is the first time I’ve been involved with a project with people that I had no former relationship with,” Brown said. “Everyone that I’ve ever played with has pretty much been from Columbus. All the bands that I’ve played with have pretty much been local bands.”

This one is instantly international. After a late-summer residency in Los Angeles and several one-offs, including San Francisco’s Treasure Island Festival, they’ll tour extensively starting in October.

But first, they’re playing inaugural shows at small venues in each member’s hometown. Monday, a band that could easily fill the LC Pavilion will have Columbus crammed into Ace of Cups.

“We just wanted to play some fun little shows, you know?” Brown said. “We haven’t played in front of people. It will be nice to just play for our friends and just have fun with it.”

Photo by Pamela Littky