INTERVIEW: Evan Stanley & Sergio Ortega – The Dives

The Dives

 

The Dives are a New York City based rock n’ roll band that takes influences from the classics like the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Zeppelin with modern pop punk like Greenday but forged within their own sound and brand of catchy hooks and melodies. The band is comprised of guitarist and lead singer Mike Lefton, bassist and singer Sergio Ortega, drummer and singer Jimmy Meier and lead singer Evan Stanley who happens to be the son of legendary Kiss frontman Paul Stanley. However make no mistake, this ain’t Kiss and during our chat with Evan about his influences, it was easy to see that music was a big part of his life growing up which almost seems inevitable in some ways given the family history. Our chat with Evan as well as bass player Sergio Ortego jumps into their musical influences and the end result in their latest EP ‘Everybody’s Talkin’.

 

Andrew: I guess you guys are pretty excited with your new release, how has the feedback that you have been getting so far?

Evan: We’re really lucky so far, it’s been really good. It really seems to be connecting with people which is the most that you can hope for. You put you’re all into it and try to put out the very best version of you possible and we work really hard to do that, we were all very proud of the end result but you never know how people are going to react until they start reacting! Luckily it’s been quite positive so far.

Andrew: That’s good to hear! It’s interesting how you guys got together, can you tell us a little bit about how this whole collaboration started when you guys started the band together?

Evan: Yeah so about a year and a half ago I was really dying to start a band and had a bunch of songs together that I wanted to play out but you can’t really go out there and play rock n’ roll with one dude so I asked this cat Bob that I knew if he knew anybody and Bob knows the scene here, has been here forever and knows everyone. He’s done sound for everyone, played bass with people, producers, he’s worked with a ton of great musicians and kind of just knows what’s going on and he was raving about this guy Mike (Lefton, guitars) for about a week or so, just wouldn’t shut up about him.

Sergio: [laughs].

Evan: So finally I called Mike because there must be something to him because if he [Bob] won’t stop, there must be something to him. So I called Mike and Mike comes to my apartment and we plug in and we jam a little bit and then started singing some songs together and that’s when the moment just came where it was like, ‘Yeah this is it, we have to start a band. There’s something here that neither of us has felt before, we gotta grab it and run with it’. So I brought in Sergio (Ortega, bass) who Bob introduced me to a couple of years before and Mike brought in Jimmy (Meier, drums) and we were off. We were really lucky, there was never any question as to who we were going to be. We all were on the same page from the moment we started playing, we always knew exactly where we were going and how we were going to get there. It’s just a matter of how can we get as good as we can be and let’s get together and put in the work and that’s really what it was all about. We kinda came full circle and Bob produced this EP with us and is still very involved with our live sound so it’s a very organic thing which kind of has grown over the last year or so.

Andrew: You mentioned that you wanted to go out and start a band so was this your first band or had you been in bands before?

Evan: We’ve all been in a bunch of bands before and personally I’ve been in quite a few and played guitar for a lot of people but I wasn’t really writing or singing for a long time, I was just playing guitar for different bands. But it got to a point where I realized I was playing a lot of music that I wasn’t really enjoying and it’s kind of a downer to not have fun doing the one thing you love so I really set out to try and figure out how to write songs and with that, how to sing just because it’s kind of hard to write if you’re not going to sing. That happened around the time I got to college so there was a bit of an incubation period in that I knew where I wanted to go but certainly wasn’t good enough yet so I didn’t want to start a band but by my senior of school I was just itching to get out there and dying to start something. So as soon as I met these guys it was just real raw, everybody was very much on the same page and everyone is continuously pushing each other to get better and to really work to the greater good. There’s never any ego involved, it’s just what can we do for the band and how can we make the band as good as possible. Everybody’s voice is heard and at the end of the day we always go with what sounds best, there’s no being precious, it’s just working hard to be the best.

Sergio: Yeah and at the end of the day when we were trying to find people to play with, it’s hard enough to find one person that you like. When you get a group of 4 guys together and something happens, we definitely felt something with what was happening. It felt so easy and seamless and kind of a no-brainer so it’s been pretty awesome so far.

Andrew: Yeah I guess one thing I pick up from bands when they say when they first get together is chemistry is one of, if not the most important thing when you are first starting out and writing songs together. So that must of been something you knew right at the beginning then.

Sergio: For sure. With chemistry it’s so important with multiple people, we felt it immediately.

Andrew: I was listening to some of your songs earlier and I am hearing quite a few different influences. Where do you draw your influences from and what were you looking to go towards when you first started writing these songs?

Evan: We all listen to a ton of different stuff which I think is what brings something fresh to what we do. We always go back to the innovators and the ones that stand the test of time, the Beatles, Tom Petty, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones. Those guys who really kind of wrote the book and 40 to 50 years later that happily holds up so for us it always comes back to the song. We are a rock n’ roll band by all means but we know to pay attention to the songs, we get up there and try and play something that’s concise and catchy and really gets the point across in a way that connects and also hopefully be unforgettable.

Andrew: And I guess that ties in with the title of the EP as well with ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ which is a title that’s quite catchy along with your music. What was the meaning behind the title and where is it coming from?

Evan: It was one of those interesting things, there is a song on the EP called ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ which is one of the few songs that has nothing to do with girls. At the time I was living in the East Village and East Village in New York is a really fun place and a very weird place and I wrote a song about that and it ended up being the title of the song. It’s not actually the single off the EP, we thought ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ would be an apt title for the EP. We’re in an interesting position where everybody’s talking about it, we’re all talking about it and have a clear voice and idea of what we want to do and there are a lot of people who have ideas as well on what we should be and what we should do. So there are a lot of voices involved so we thought it was an accurate description of that EP. We heard a lot from a ton of different people in making it and we really had to listen to ourselves to find what resonated with us and go with that . I can’t discount the fact that honestly and hopefully we all like to think that the EP will have everybody talking at some point as well! So there’s that element to it and I think there’s a couple of different things in there.

 

The Dives - Everybody's Talkin'

 

 

Andrew: You spoke about the Beatles and The Who and all that and I hear a lot of that classic rock and pop punk but individually with you guys, who were the kind of musicians that helped shaped your style and musical ability?

Evan: That’s an interesting question. I can’t really speak for Mikey and Jimmy, I have a pretty good grasp of where they come from but I don’t want to put words in their mouth. I know for myself there’s so many but the guys that really always resonated with me in a way that I always come back to no matter what would be Paul Mccartney, Graham Nash, Steve Marriott, Pete Townsend, Tom Petty and Billie Joe Armstrong from Greenday actually. Greenday was one of those bands I started listening to when I was really young and it came up when everyone my age was all about American Idiot which was the album of my…not teens as I think I was 11 when it came out, but right about the time when you start forming your own taste that’s separate from your parents. That was a really important album for me at that point in my life and I haven’t really gone back to it that much but thinking about it now, that actually played a really big role in my musical development because it was around the time I started playing guitar at 10 or 11. So that definitely had a big impact even it’s not the album I listen to all the time now, that was a huge part of my life when I was laying the ground work for what I personally do, but there’s so much great stuff out there.

Sergio: I always gravitated towards…even if there was a bass player, they tend to be more multi- instrumentalists so guys like Mccartney, John Paul Jones, people like that who played multiple instruments. I think it has an affect, all of us play different instruments but I always gravitated specifically towards string instruments. It kind of gives you a different thought process when you’re approaching songs and what fits the song and tune the bass sonically a bit different. So that’s where multi-instrumentalists, even if their prime instrument in their respective bands were bass, those were the people I gravitated towards.

Andrew: You guys are obviously taking these songs out on the road, are you touring at the moment?

Evan: Yeah we just got back from a quick run in the UK and we got a bunch of local dates in New York and New Jersey for the next month and then in August we have a national tour which will take us from here up to Canada for a show and then down to the South and then cross over the the west coast so we should hit everywhere in America. So it will be very nice and we’re excited for that.

Andrew: I would imagine being on the road must be fun because that’s really why you become a band, you want to play in front of crowds. That must be a huge adrenaline rush for you guys.

Evan: Oh there’s nothing like it!

Sergio: It’s kind of what we dreamed of doing. Like me I always wanted to be on the road.

Evan: Same, travelling around with your best friends and then playing live music that us guys all love, that’s it, there’s nothing better than that.

Andrew: I would imagine so! I guess it might be too early to say but are you guys thinking about or wanting to come down to Australia to do some shows as well?

Evan: Absolutely!

Sergio: Fuck yeah!

Evan: [laughs] We’re trying to get down there, the idea is to play as many places as we possibly can. Selfishly I’ve wanted to get to Australia forever just for a vacation, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews so to be able to get down there and play music and from what I’ve heard has a pretty cool scene down there. So to get down there and be part of that would be really cool.

Sergio: Yeah and judging by the feedback with the interviews we’ve had like this one, you all seem like nice people. It just builds our excitement of the prospect of going to Australia.

Andrew: Yeah I would imagine you guys would do pretty well down here because there is a lot of bands who do, not necessarily exactly, but along those lines of what you do and people dig that stuff. Anything guitar oriented generally goes down pretty well down here so I think if you came here it would be a pretty massive tour.

Evan: That would be awesome, we’re hoping to get there very soon then. That would be killer!

Andrew: Well congratulations on the new EP and on all your success far. It’s been great chatting to you guys and maybe sometime in the future we can catch up and see you down here.

Evan: Absolutely! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, we really appreciate it

Sergio: Thanks for your time, it’s been a pleasure.

 

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