The Dives may have only been around for a short period of time, but they’ve already had the experience of a lifetime; they supported rock legends KISS on their most recent UK tour and were playing in front of tens of thousands of fans, not to mention already getting their own UK headline show whilst on the same tour!
Evan Stanley (Guitar/Lead Vocals), Mike Lefton (Guitar/Lead Vocals), Sergio Ortega (Bass/Vocals) and Jimmy Meier (Drums/Vocals) were the four ingredients needing to be added together to create “The Dives” from scratch; throw in some time with WHY! Recordings and you end up with a nice little four track EP called “Everybody’s Talkin'” sitting out on the shelves waiting for you to pick it up and give it a listen.
OVERDRIVE was fortunate enough to get to speak both Evan Stanley and Sergio Ortega about how the band got together, the recent trip to the UK and most importantly; the recently released EP “Everybody’s Talkin'”
Stanley reflects on his decision to move to NYC to attend NYU/Tisch’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music:
“I moved out here for school and I really wanted to study; I just kept running into all these problems and not really liking any of the songs I was playing so I thought “I guess I better start writing.” That sort of forced me to start singing.” Stanley followed up with how “I wasn’t ready to start a band right away; I asked my friend Rob if he knew anyone and he said that I had to meet Mike; we just hit it off. Basically, within five to ten minutes of jamming together, we decided we had to start a band. Good things happened when we played together the first time, it was a little bit loose but man it just worked! There was that spark of something that none of us had really felt before; that chemistry if you will, so we thought we just had to keep going.”
Being that eager to get out there and make a name for themselves on the live music scene, The Dives had ended up booking a show before they had a bass player even secured in their line up. It most definitely was a risky move at the time, but it worked out well; it resulted in Ortega (who is already well known for his talents; after all Ortega has toured the world with Broadway phenomenon Ramin Karimloo, both as a guitarist AND as a musical director coming aboard and saving the day!
“We were ridiculously thankful! We were actually worried; I remember talking to Mike after the first show and saying “What are we going to do?” because we didn’t think Sergio was really interested in joining the band at that time.” Stanley informed OVERDRIVE before also saying how “we had been playing with a lot of guys who were ridiculously talented and we were wondering what would have happened if we had to find another guy?”
Ortega chimed in about the experience:
“For me personally, it didn’t take long at all to get comfortable and relaxed. From when I was rehearsing with these guys, I kinda knew that (I’d be joining) as soon as we started it. It did take them a minute for them to ask me to join (laughs)”
Stanley: “Man; we were worried that you were going to say no!”
A lot of players get that feeling very often; there’s just something you have to do for yourself. When you realise that you’re onto something good, you just really want to cling onto it.”
The Dives recently came back from a UK tour, where they received massive exposure to live audiences; playing in front of tens of thousands of fans isn’t exactly a small crowd after all! How much fun was that for the band?
Stanley stated that “there’s nothing we love more than playing live. For us to get up and play in front of ten, fifteen, twenty thousand people; that’s just exhilarating, to say the least! We’ve never seen or experienced anything like it! Once we have a taste for that, there’s no going back! We’re ruined (laughs)”
Ortega added how “we want to be on the road after ALL of the time; after an experience like that, you have to ask yourself “Okay now, am I happy to have had that?”. We have to work, let’s do this! The bigger the better, and do whatever we have to do to get ourselves back on the road.”
The Dives also had the opportunity to play their own UK headlining show; playing at “Water Rats” on Monday May 29th.
Stanley elaborated joyfully “that was fantastic! As incredible as it was playing for twenty thousand people, we put on the same show. Whether it be a tiny little club in a basement in New York or playing the O2 Arena; we really pride ourselves on stepping up and delivering the same pace, whether it be for ten people or one hundred people or ten thousand! Getting to play our own headline show was really cool because those people were really there to see us! It may have only been hundreds of people, but that was hundreds of people that were there to see the guys and that’s a really great feeling!” Ortega then chimed in with “Especially in a country that’s not our own! I mean; we’re in London where most of our favourite bands EVER have graced these stages. To be headlining your own gig, you know; that’s just pretty amazing and very surreal.”
Stanley let OVERDRIVE into a small moment of self questioning though:
“There was a feeling that “What if; what if no one shows up?” Hours before the show I remember speaking to the band, we had somewhere alone and just that thought crossed our minds. We really hadn’t a moment up to then to even think it, it was non-stop play, play, play! We’re all set up and we’re all ready to go and we had that moment of reality where “What a second; what if nobody shows up? We’ve never played here before…”. Then we walked out and what do you know; there were people. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see one hundred people to one hundred and fifty people.”
Stanley also let OVERDRIVE into the thought process that goes through his head, which is clearly wise beyond his years:
Like I said; if we had only played to ten people, we would have played the same way and had those ten people leave going “Gee; why wasn’t there more people?”. You know, you don’t want to punish the people who do show up for the people who didn’t! We really want to put on an even better show if there only are ten people; we want people to leave going “Wow that was amazing and one day, I’m gonna tell my friends how I saw them with ten other people!”
Even though The Dives have only debuted with a four track EP, going out on tour and playing live shows means that they have more than just those four songs to their name; just how many did The Dives have to choose from and why did they decide to only release four tracks?
“We had a lot to choose from! We’re always working on getting together as a band, as well as turning out something that’s better than the last, so there was plenty to choose from. When we play the live set, there’s plenty of stuff there so that’s where we started. After that, we scrapped songs and pulled songs until we wittled it down to four; there was easily twenty in the running!” says Stanley about the selection process, before also adding that “for this first effort, it was about “what’s going to get across the full vision of the band with as few tracks as possible?” I think, it wasn’t that these tracks are above anything else as an idea; it’s just that these are the ones that really captured who we are. If you listen to these four tracks from top to bottom, you’re going to go “That’s what these guys are all about”; there’s going to be no question in your mind who we are and what we’re about! That was the intent, to capture the live shows and the essence and the heart of the band with just a couple of tracks; hopefully we did that.”
Ortega also casually added that “We have so much fun together; it’s really high energy with us. We worked really hard to slay that on the EP, even though it’s only four songs. We wanted to make sure that we played something that we know we can deliver live! We can pride ourselves on that and work to make that happen, it really means a lot to us.”
Of course those who know their music will recognize the last name “Stanley”; yes, Evan is indeed the son of the legendary Paul Stanley (Vocalist and Rhythm Guitarist for the iconic KISS). However, Stanley has been more than quick to come out and quote that “You won’t hear anything that sounds like KISS at The Dives show!”. What’s it like being a musician trying to make his way when you’ve got such a famous father?
Stanley explained how “It’s definitely an interesting position to be in; by all means, we’re afforded opportunities that we know wouldn’t be available to a lot of bands. But I think the other aspect that other people forget to look at is that there are a lot of expectations of what we should be. We’re really trying to move in our own ways and do our own thing. Some people have this idea that doors are going to miraculously open and we’re gonna be top of the charts because of the last name and that’s just not true! The door opens but we’ve still got to walk through it; it can still be slammed in your face pretty easily if you don’t have the goods to back up the hype.”
Stanley also made it clear that The Dives want to make it big their own way:
“We don’t intend on riding coat-tails or riding hype; we really want to work and do this our own way. We want nothing more than the chance to work and show that what we did was our own! I think also something that people have to remember is that the public decides; you can’t really persuade the public, they like what they like!”
Ortega also chimed in with his two cents:
“You are kinda under a microscope,” as Evan said, “it’s up to us to also deliver and say this is who we are and this is what we’ve got!”