Near the start of the year, The Divorcees made a dent in the country scene with the authentic outlaw gravel of their new LP, Drop of Blood. Considering their determined collective work ethic, there would never have been a better name for their latest than this. They’re as familiar as your favorite local bar band, but as seasoned and well-met as the likes of Waylon Jennings; a confident in-between the affably contemporary and old-school grit. They don’t shy away from the harsh and real, lyrically or musically, and make for an accessible, fun, and foreboding listen throughout.
Celebrating their recent release, For Folk’s Sake is happy to work with Divorcees lead guitarist and vocalist, Alex Madsen, on reflecting on the road traveled so far as part of our ongoing ‘FFS 5’ interview series.
Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?
My name is Alex Madsen. I’m 49 in May and a founding member of The Divorcees. I got started in music at the age of 12 performing for my church.
A few defining moments for me were watching Merle Haggard perform on Austin City Limits when I was a teenager and just being struck by his voice, his guitar playing, his songs and his swagger.
Another defining moment for me would be when I got my Hipshot b-bender system for my telecaster in 2007. It absolutely changed how I play guitar and has become a recognizable part of the Divorcees sound.
As an artist, how do you define success?
For me, I define success by the quality of the experiences you have. Not the money, nor the fame. It’s about the creativity you share with your bandmates and peers. It’s about the adventures you embark on and the friends you make along the way.
What do you find your greatest struggle to be when it comes to the music business?
I think the greatest struggle is the tremendous difficulty the creative class encounters with protecting and profiting from their content. With the advent of streaming services paying micropennies per spin, our royalty revenues have nearly disappeared. It has to change.
Of course, it needs to be said that the lack of venues due to the pandemic weighs heavy on all of us.
However, the lack of royalties and a very poor streaming model has significant long-term impact on our industry. We deserve better.
What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist and as a band? What do you hope to achieve?
I believe a realistic goal for artists like me and groups like The Divorcees is to become more autonomous in regards to recording and producing themselves. The pandemic has given us this opportunity.
In fact, I predict the post-Covid era will see an influx of musicians and singer/songwriters with markedly improved homes studios as well as audio-engineering skills. This is something I’ve challenged myself to do and so have my bandmates.
Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?
I feel that I speak both for myself and Jason Haywood (who also writes lyrics for the band) that we are literary people. We are both avid readers and writers. Both Haywood and I are very influenced by the books we read.
As a band, we are all definitely creatively sparked by being New Brunswickers. We live in a very unique province that provides us with a lot of inspiration!
Words by: Jonathan Frahm