It's surprisingly endearing to hear Canadian indie rock mainstay Dan Boeckner describe the first time he showed his new bandmate, Spoon's Britt Daniel, lyrics to a song.
"You're basically a grown-ass man showing another grown-ass man a poem you wrote," Boeckner says over the phone from a hotel in L.A. "It was a little nerve wracking. It was actually pretty nerve wracking."
He might be a musician who embodies rock 'n' roll in its classic, leather jacket, dangling cigarette sense, but Boeckner was a longtime fan of his new collaborator, and those were the tracks that would introduce their band, Divine Fits, to the music world. Although he had experience sharing frontman duties with prolific oddball Spencer Krug in their beloved Vancouver band, Wolf Parade, (defunct since 2011) he says that project operated in such a loose, ramshackle way that it gave its members plenty of autonomy.
"Working with Britt was a completely different thing than working with Wolf Parade," he says. "(Wolf Parade) were less collaborative as time went on — not with song structures, but with our parts and lyrical content. In Wolf Parade you didn't show anybody your lyrics until it was time to get up and sing them to record.... With Britt, it's really been more I want to see his lyrics and he wants to see my lyrics. We edit things and work on each other's lyrics if we need to."
From an outside perspective, Boeckner's life was a whirlwind last year. In May, he and wife Alexei Perry announced they were disbanding their synth-rock duo, Handsome Furs, which put out three excellent releases (see their swan song, Sound Kapital, especially) over six years. Mystery swirled around the break-up with the pair only saying that the band was "no more" and that they were "extremely grateful to all the fans all over the world who have showered us with love and support."
Over a year later, Boeckner, who has since moved from Montreal to San Jose, is more frank. "We got divorced," he says. "It was pretty unpleasant. In retrospect, it was probably the best thing for everybody. I'm sad that band isn't around anymore. At the same time, I'm happy we never made a shitty record."
At least one other good thing came out of the project: Daniel's praise. While Boeckner had been a Spoon fan since high school — that Austin, TX group formed back in 1993 — it wasn't until Daniel approached him at a Handsome Furs' show in Portland to tell him he "had one of the best rock 'n' roll voices around" that they began to talk about forming a band. (They played together once before when Spoon invited Boeckner to sing a Wolf Parade track at a show at Manhattan's famous Radio City Music Hall.)