Volume 92, Issue 61

Friday, January 15, 1999

intruder alert


The Concrete Beat

Finding themselves in The Grand scheme of things

Waking to a devine comedy about life

Have no fear, Ben is here

Canadian rockers fly By Divine Right

Rabbits stray from home

Celebrity Sightings


Canadian rockers fly By Divine Right

©Gazette File Photo

MY HAIR IS MESSY BUT MY LIPS ARE SUPPLE. By Divine Right graces The Embassy today before they hit the road with The Tragically Hip this Winter.

By Aaron Wherry

Gazette Staff

In a music world filled with pre-pubescent boy bands and rappers talking about the hard knock life of fame and fortune, it's comforting to see some bands are keeping it real.

"Rock and roll is like passion. Rock and roll is chaos too. And our latest album is a rock and roll record. It's trying to get right down to what it's all about, nothing extra," explains By Divine Right lead singer, Jose Contreras.

"There's no attempt at being clever or being hip. It's the closest thing I've ever gotten to just being. It's actually totally clueless on one level as far as what's trendy. It's lost, but it's real.

"For me rock and roll has almost been like folk music by definition. It's the folk music of my generation. It's the music we grew up with," Contreras says of his roots.

With their latest album Bless This Mess, Contreras used this personal feeling about music to create an album different from the band's previous efforts.

"It's really emotional music. I specifically concentrated on totally being one with the emotional integrity of the song. I wouldn't have done that a few years ago," Contreras explains. "It's the type of thing kids beat you up for at recess, like kissing a girl. On this one I kissed the girl."

With Bless This Mess, Contreras seems to have escaped any serious beatings and planted a big wet one on the seductress which is musical success. He's found a whole new way of doing things in his hopes of slipping her a little tongue.

"It sort of happened over the last few years," Contreras says. "We had an attitude change in the band. Everything was about looking in. At one point, I started feeling weird about doing certain things. Like, why am I saying these things over and over again to people. I don't want to be that person for the rest of my life. So I started changing my lyrics and all of a sudden my life started to change."

For BDR, change has definitely been good. Despite their unhip-ness they were lucky enough recently to grab the coveted and prestigious opening slot for The Tragically Hip on their upcoming North American tour.

But the band is not allowing things to get stale. All this good luck and new insight has allowed BDR to expand their horizons to the wonderful world of the rock opera.

"Certain songs on the latest album come from a musical I had a dream about years ago," Contreras explains. "We have a few songs from that musical, but we have yet to write it. It's called 'Long Hair' and it's a kind of high school, garage, surf movie."

With no imminent plans to head to Broadway, the band can instead focus on songwriting – something which could have been made very difficult with the constantly changing lineup of band members which BDR have experienced over their existence.

"On one level, since it's just been me and [Mark] Goldstein, our drummer, at the beginning of a project, it helps us keep our focus," Contreras says. "And if someone's disgruntled or doesn't want to be there, then they're not. Where in other bands you have disgruntled members and that just kills everyone's energy."

All these positive vibes have pushed BDR to share the happy thoughts. They've moved away from the negative vibes of some of today's music and have instead focused on hope and human emotion.

"It's like, how many serial killer movies do you need to see. It's fuckin' bullshit and the world doesn't need that anymore," Contreras says. "People want to be held and they like to be warm. They like to be talked to closely and whispered in their ear, not screamed at."

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