The High Divers

When The High Divers first crossed our path, I don’t think we were prepared for how hard we’d fall for them. Riverlust is easily one of the finest records you’ll be lucky enough to hear this year, and as we begin to close up 2015, we  had the chance to catch up with Luke Mitchell, the principle mind behind the group. We talked about the creation process involved with their album, a little bit about the impressive music scene around them, and the state of music today (to an extent anyway). And if you haven’t done so yet, make your world a better place by picking up their album today.

1. When I left Charlotte six years ago, it seemed like the scene was good but kind of stagnant. Now, there’s an explosion of sounds across the board in the Carolinas. What do you think set it all off?

I think people are starting to realize one of the more positive aspects of home studios, and semi-professional studios, in that you don’t need to live in a “music hub” city to make records and make a living as a musician anymore. I lived in Austin for a while and became pretty disillusioned with the way people were always climbing social ladders at every show instead of really enjoying the music of their friends. Also, I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the quality of the bands as I have been here in the Carolinas. There’s certainly a revival here, and I’m happy to be friends with some of the people at the forefront of it. People are just writing great songs right now.

2. Another thing I’ve noticed about these acts (from post-punk to hip-hop to the good ole rock ‘n’ roll) is acts aren’t shying away from a rich, clear production. Do you think that’s just confined to the region or is becoming more of a trend in the indie world?

Just like with my first answer about there being a positive side to home recording, there is a  pretty negative one as well, mostly having to do with the fact that just about anyone can make an album now. The initial excitement over that wore off quickly when people realized that a large percentage of home recordings actually sounded super shitty. I think most bands are aiming at getting great sounds, and closing that gap between professional recording studios and home recording setups.

3. There are lots of sounds and influences that enter the door of Riverlust. How do you all find the balance in deciding what influences pop up and which ones get restrained?

We just stay true to what we really enjoy as listeners. I find it hard to write an album that is completely cohesive, because I enjoy albums that go in totally different directions. Also, sometimes you really need outside ears, and that was where Wolfgang Zimmerman came in. He helped us sort through everything to more clearly find our “voice” for the album as a whole. He sees the big picture before you do sometimes. Then, there’s times you have to fight everyone’s opinions, if you really believe in your approach, and it means a lot to you. Choosing battles.

4. I was talking with Dan from Hearts & Plugs, and he said you aren’t afraid to go autobiographical in the words you write. Do you think there’s something you have difficulty writing about (or even won’t write about), or do you view your experiences as fair game?

I feel I could be better about writing more from my own experiences. I tend to write loosely based on my life, but I’d love to get down deeper. The only thing I won’t write about is food; Jimmy Buffet ruined that for everyone.

5. In the modern landscape, it seems like you all are really starting to harness the power of social media. Do you ever get nostalgic for how things used to work in the business, or are you comfortable with how things work now?

It’s a necessary evil, but I don’t enjoy it. I’d rather hang posters and hand out fliers. Facebook has all these weird algorithms that hide your page from your fans, unless you pay to have your page promoted. I’d say that our favorite mode of social media is Instagram. We have fun with that. Mary Alice and I went to South America for a month and didn’t have any phones/internet. We were living our lives without an audience, and it was great!

6. Back to the sounds coming out of the Carolinas, which acts are getting you all buzzing right now?

Susto is about to put out their second album, and it’s pretty inspiring. Amigo is writing great songs. Say Brother, out of Columbia, is great live. Steven Fiore in NC has been a favorite for a long time. Brave Baby, Art Contest, John The Revelator, Hunter Park, The Steppin Stones, Hermits Victory, Et Anderson, Becca Leigh, Rico & Miranda.. agh so many bands are doing cool shit. It’s hard to remember all of them!

7. How about releases from this year? Anything just grab you?

We’ve been loving Tedo Stone’s new record. Electric Friends from Brave Baby is in constant rotation. Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats are fantastic. What a voice that guy has.

8. And what do you expect/hope 2016 holds for you all?

I hope that 2016 is full of touring and playing some great shows. We are also going to start working on our next album during the beginning of the New Year, so we’re all looking forward to the new stuff!