Over the course of one year, Dan Boeckner saw both of his acclaimed Canadian indie-rock outfits - Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs - break up.
For the first time in nearly a decade, the prolific Boeckner was a man without a band. Some people might have been tempted to take some downtime to mull their next career move. But not the 34-year-old Boeckner, who formed the trio Divine Fits with Spoon frontman Britt Daniel before the world even knew that Handsome Furs had split.
"I don't really take breaks," said the Lake Cowichan-raised rocker in a recent telephone interview from his new home in Los Angeles.
"I never consider that because I don't like to stop working. Any time I get tired or burnt out on the road ... I always think back to my telemarketing job in Montreal. I had this awful telemarketing job and ... I think back to that and I think back to working a night shift at a bar and being a short-order cook.
"Then I don't feel so tired. Well, at least I'm not in front of a dishwasher every night, covered in half-eaten hamburgers, smelling like bleach, waiting to get home to write songs."
Divine Fits came together gradually over the course of 2011, growing from the mutual respect between Boeckner and Daniel.
First they swapped songs back and forth on the Internet, and by the end of the year, Boeckner was living on the top floor of Daniel's Los Angeles home, thus allowing the newly minted band the opportunity to spend nearly all of their free time worrying over the tunes that now form their debut, A Thing Called Divine Fits.
Somehow, the album seems a perfectly balanced blend of its dual songwriters, blending the flab-free rock economy Daniel is known for with Boeckner's penchant for spontaneous, dangerous pop.
While Boeckner is glad the record reflects their musical signatures more or less equally, he says that wasn't the goal.
"We never talked about what the band was going to sound like - we didn't sit down and have an esthetics meeting," he said with a laugh. "We just started writing tunes. And I think I have a specific thing that I do and he has a specific thing that he does, and we just kind of blended those things together."
Boeckner's respect for Daniel runs deep. He's long admired the way the Texan slowly built Spoon's formidable audience without ever pandering for radio play.
And he calls Daniel a "relentless editor," a fact not lost on fans of Spoon's laser-focused guitar pop.
A Thing Called Divine Fits is similarly concise, so taut and tightly wound it hardly sounds like the collaborative work of two very different songwriters. Fans of either artist should find themselves in happily familiar territory, a land of synth pulses, guitar stabs, pinpoint drum grooves and - yes - hand claps.
"They're not going to be disappointed," Boeckner said of his and Daniel's respective followers.
"It's not like a high-concept band. It's not like Britt and I got together to do an all-acoustic Americana record ... or like an experimental electronic record.
"Britt sounds like Britt, I sound like me, and we're both playing in a rock-band format."
That should soothe any fans still smarting over the 2011 breakup of Wolf Parade - which had long been rumoured given the Montreal new wave group's collective mass of other projects - or the far more shocking dissolution of the Handsome Furs.
The fracture of that synth-pop duo caught fans off-guard in part because the band only consisted of Boeckner and his wife, Alexei Perry. Boeckner politely declines to discuss the reasons for the split, although he doesn't rule out the idea that the Juno-nominated group could someday reunite.
"I don't know - we made three records, [and] with Sound Kapital, that was the record I wanted to make with that band," he said. "If that band ever got back together again, it would have to be something different. It would have to be different to make it good."
For now, he's focused on Divine Fits. And while Daniel will remain active with Spoon, Boeckner bristles at the idea that this is a side project for anyone involved.
"I don't do side projects," he says, noting that the band has already discussed making another album once they're finished touring.
"I went through this with the Handsome Furs. If I'm going to put X amount of months of my life into hermetically sealing myself into a room and writing songs, I'm putting those songs out for other people - it's not like an art piece. That's not the kind of music I make. It's not something just to be mulled over at home."
But that isn't to say he's focusing exclusively on Divine Fits.
He's spent the past months working on a soundtrack for a film project, and in addition to his songwriting with the Fits, he's found himself penning "a lot more '80s synth and sequencerbased tracks."
For those who know Boeckner, the next sentences out of his mouth shouldn't come as a surprise.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with them," he said. "I'll probably end up starting another band."
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