Hpx Night Three: By Divine Right | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Hpx Night Three: By Divine Right

An interview with Jose Contreras

His birth certificate may say Jose Contreras is 40-years-old, but it doesn't know rock gods never age.

His birth certificate may say Jose Contreras is 40-years-old, but it doesnt know rock gods never age.
  • His birth certificate may say Jose Contreras is 40-years-old, but it doesn't know rock gods never age.

Tell me about your new album. What are the plans for that?

It’s coming out in a couple weeks on Hand Drawn Dracula, which is such a cool label. It’s just so wonderful how it worked out because we’re all friends too. The team running it, you know, Brian [Borcherdt] and James [Mejia] they really have a vision. And I’ve known Brian for years. He played in my band for a long time, and I’ve played on his records and produced his last record. It’s just so not bullshit. I started my band twenty years ago, and I feel for the first time there’s nothing compromised about it. I don’t mean that I’m not compromising or compromised before, it just feels like there’s no cracks and it feels unpretentious. Exactly what it is. I made a record the way I wanted to, and it’s being put out from people I really love and respect. And they’re arts-based, they’re not thinking that I’m fucking going to make them a million dollars, which is retarded because that’s not what I’m built for.

Well that approach seems to be working well critically for them.

When I finished my record I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I pressed like 250 copies with artwork and everything and literally mailed it to everyone I knew. I didn’t call them. I didn’t bug them. I just wanted to know what would happen. And when James said I’d love to put this record out I said perfect—-I didn’t want anything more than that.

You mentioned a few things you’ve been up to, but it’s been five years since the last album what have you been doing in the meantime?

This record was supposed to come out in the fall of 05. I had at that point a US record deal with a label that folded, Spin Art. I had my manager and agent in the states, because the last record did shit in Canada but it did great in the states. So in 04/05 I toured my ass off in the states, Australia and over seas. And then I bought a house. Then I renovated it for six months. I told my wife it would be three weeks. Then right at the end of the reno she got pregnant. Then I had promised her that I’d produce her record. So I did her record first, which took six months. I produced Meligrove Band and Bikes records. Then started my record, before moving onto more records like Brian’s. Then I kind of went a little bit batty and just abandoned my record, and picked it up six months later, kept half of it and finished it.

What brought you back?

I loved the songs. I wanted to finish fast. I was just partying too hard. it wasn’t like we were fucking up. I don’t know why it took so long. But when I came back to it I really loved it, and I finished all the songs we recorded, scrapped half of them and re-recorded the rest.

All the songs tonight sounded extremely fresh.

I feel like they are. The joke is when I was 20—-if I didn’t make a record every six months I would lose a record every six months. And some of it was alright. Now I have songs that are three years old and feel really new. And my life has changed in oh so many ways.

Are you more nurturing now because of your son?

I don’t know. I definitely care more about what I’m doing, a bit more responsible. I mean it more. You know what’s coo? Teaching my new band members my songs and going back in my catalog and realizing I actually like my new songs better. My new album is the best sounding By Divine Right record I’ve done.

It has to be annoying playing these shows and having people shout out songs you couldn’t possibly play live.

Oh, that’s just nice of them. It’s weird and it’s nice. I appreciate it very much. And I told these guys ‘it’s going to happen’. And it just seems very improbable when we’re rehearsing in my basement in the country. If I talk about the outside world it just sounds like I’m an idiot, but just wait.

You mentioned you did some renos on your house. What was the one thing you had to have to make it feel like home?

My wife and my son.

It can’t be easy being on the road now.

You know, I’m having a nice time. I’m wondering if it’s a little boring? Because I’ve done it a lot. And ultimately I love writing music and love recording music. I write a lot of music. There’s no way I could release it all or even record it all. What I put out is just a little piece of what I do. But once I play, I fucking love touring. Right now I guess my home is where my family is, but also where my music is. So I feel home here too, because of my music.

After 20 years, what is it that keeps you going?

Yeah it’s weird. I don’t know I’m just still coming up with stuff I like. I’ve thought about that a million times. I just went to this art gallery [the AGO] and you look at an artists work, where he [Giuseppe Penone] carves a piece of wood and then does it a 150 fucking times and each one looks the same as the next. Well that’s art. That’s an artist that just has this urge to do this for no reason although it might seem pointless. I do a lot of visual art as well, and usually when I find something I like I never repeat it. But I’m not a full time artist. So like I’ve written a lot of rock and roll songs. Why do I keep making stupid fucking rock records? A lot of them have the same chords and lyrical themes. It just comes out and I can’t wait to record it. I’m already excited about making a new record.

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