Melbourne, Australia’s Dick Diver just released their third record Melbourne, Florida. It’s their first release in the US and they’re embarking on a US tour in support of it. In our conversation with singer/guitarist Rupert Edwards, he takes us from Napoleon to Venga Boys. Don’t miss the band’s upcoming show at Middle East Upstairs on Monday.
Your band name actually comes from the main character of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel "Tender is the Night". Have you also drawn inspiration from literature in any of your songwriting?
Yeah I regularly rip things off from writers I like! One writer who I’ve stolen from wrote somewhere that no one ever notices anyway. Going into a book store is like Xanax for me and record stores make me nervous.
Since the band has multiple songwriters, how does that process work? Do you tend to each bring in songs that are fully formed or is the composition process more collaborative where one of you might bring in a verse and someone else writes the chorus?
The songs are usually fully formed by the time they’re brought to the band. But if it ever felt like four solo projects to me then I guess we wouldn’t see the point of being in a band together. What I’m trying to say is: we enjoy each other’s cooking.
Can you describe the process of composing Percentage Points? What was the initial impetus and how did it develop from there?
Al McKay wrote that song. I can’t say much about the impetus for it, but when it was a demo it sounded like Lorde! We played a music festival in Australia where this bunker that was our ‘dressing room’ was later reserved for Lorde who was playing much later in the day, for obvious reasons. Anyway, I remember when Al was recording his vocals for the song and I was very impressed.
A recent review described your music as "working class" rock. Is that a fair assertion? And if it is what exactly does that even mean?
In the movie ‘I Hired A Contract Killer’, the two main characters discuss leaving their home country forever. ‘Do you want to leave your home?’ the man asks. The woman replies: ‘The working class has no fatherland.’ To answer your question, I don’t know what it means and I can’t say it’s a fair assertion.
You’re very much associated with the Melbourne, Australia music scene and the title of your new record is "Melbourne, Florida". In referencing the Florida version of Melbourne, it seems you have an interest in the idea of place and what it means. What role has the personality of Melbourne played in shaping your sound? And by this I mean the city itself, not the local music scene.
I think coming from Australia forces you to think about place in a certain way. We have been up the arses of more powerful countries for ages. The Queen of England is the Queen of Australia. Whichever war the USA wants to go to, we follow out of a vague idea that it’s in our strategic interests. Sycophantic Anglo-Saxons reign like they (or: we) have been there for thousands of years. Who knows if any of this or all of this has anything to do with our sound. You shouldn’t be too much of a connoisseur of yourself.
In terms of the Melbourne music scene, any local bands that you recommend our readers check out?
There are more than I can possibly think of but here’s a start: The Stevens, Totally Mild, Summer Flake, Milk Teddy, Terry, Lower Plenty, Boomgates, The Twerps.
A few bonus questions… You’ve mentioned ambivalence about Dick Diver as a band name in other interviews since many people don’t know the reference. Since Dick is usually short for Richard, ever thought about evolving the name to Richard Diver?
I’ve thought about it, but, y’know, Napoleon didn’t withdraw from Waterloo.
The character Dick Diver is a psychoanalyst. If he were to analyze your band, who would represent the id, the ego, and the super-ego? There’s four of you so that might involve some tough math.
Ego: Al McKay. Id: Steph Hughes. Super-ego: Al Montfort. Freud: me, ha-ha.
We’re not confirming or denying anything, but if we had access to a time machine that would allow you to go back in time to any one year in the last hundred years or so, what year would you choose and what musical artists would you make sure to see live while you were there?
1999. I’d like to get on the Venga Bus with The Venga Boys.
Lastly, in your next life, what will each of you be reincarnated as?
Steph will become Rod Stewart; Al Montfort will be reborn as Angela Merkel; Al McKay will be a futuristic Peter Andre and I guess I’ll be Gerg Bush Jnr.