Star Scene: Evan Stanley & Mike Lefton ~ The DIVES

The scenes of Evan Stanley and Mike Lefton are one and the same: their band, The DIVES.

Stanley states: “I think we all eat, breathe, sleep The DIVES.” Lefton agrees and expands: “I do agree. Having said that I do also enjoy Netflix once in a while but when I’m not watching Netflix, I’m thinking about The Dives, whether it’s a new song or going over old songs, or just hanging out with them because they’re my best buds.”

The ease and flow of conversation between the two members makes it easy to understand how The DIVES connect so well on their recordings and  on stage – even though they are essentially a new band. Both Stanley and Lefton are guitarists and lead singers in the band. The other half of the band consists of bassist and singer Sergio Ortega and drummer and singer Jimmy Meier.  All four members have equal status in the band; essentially they are at all at the front of the band, creating a unity and tightness not seen in many of the younger acts – or older ones – where personalities and egos clamber to outdo one another.

All four developed a passionate interest in music as children, and all four have been mastering their instruments from an early age. The fact that Evan Stanley is the son of KISS’ Paul Stanley is a bonus, though not distracting as the musical styling is very different. The DIVES managing to produce a unique raw power pop that they clearly call their own.

Growing up with Paul Stanley, founding member of KISS, as his father was not something Stanley thought about. “Normal”, he laughs. “it’s the only thing I’ve known so I don’t really have a point of reference for anything else. I was very lucky in that he was always home and I had a pretty normal childhood all things considered. I went to school, I came back and that was kind of it. I definitely spent more time on the road than a lot of kids but I had a blast. It was always fun. It’s a little different when we’re so in the middle of it all, so for me everything was just kind of normal.”

Stanley’s influences were “the classics”. He expands: “The Beatles, The Who, the Kinks; those were the guys who laid all the groundwork. They were ridiculously talented musicians playing timeless songs.”

Lefton’s influences were similar. He states: “Definitely the Beatles and The Who, then later I got into bands like Cream and Beach Boys and bands that have great songs and great vocals I’ve always been drawn to. Definitely musicianship has always been important but growing up, and again I think Evan will agree with me, great song writing has always been the most important thing.” [pullquote]The DIVES as a band, as friends, portray a rock n roll future that pays homage to the past. “Egos are left at the door” and “jamming” is where “the excitement really comes into play”.[/pullquote]

“Yeah,” Stanley agrees, “I think that at the end of the day I would take a band with a great song over a band with great players if you had to choose one because the songs are what really get you into it.”

Of their own music, Stanley states: “We’re a rock n roll band. What you see is what you get. We’re just trying to play what we love and do the best we can. You know we pay a lot of attention to parts that serve the songs best and get up on stage and just have a great time.”

“We all listened to a ton of stuff and that kind of creeps into creating something that’s uniquely your own. If you only listen to one band, you’re going to end up sounding like a pretty second-rate version of that band. So, we all brought something to the table, and you get a little Britpop, a little bit of New York, a little bit of punk and a lot of rock n roll.”

For The DIVES, the importance of songwriting establishes credibility and connection. Stanley wrote all the lyrics on Somebody’s Talkin’ EP and states: “I just kind of writing about what I know. I think something a lot of people overextend themselves and be profound and write about the state of the world. For me, that’s not really within the scope of things that I know well enough to write about. I write about the little things I do know. I write about girls and girls in the East Village and my friends. I just try and write about what is relatable to me. I think that’s the best thing you can do, is be honest and people connect with honesty.” Even ‘Oh Mandy’ is about someone real. “Mandy is a friend of mine, from some time I spent down in Nashville. Everyone thinks I just made up the name because it rhymes: ‘Man… Man… Mandy’ but that’s her name. And I actually saw her recently back in LA. And I have to tell you I’m really quite happy I wrote that song because the delayed gratitude was pretty sweet.”

The shortness of the Everybody’s Talkin’ EP is not due to lack of material, but a conscious choice of selection. “We got tons and tons of material. I would rather be short and sweet. The thing I like least is going to a show and seeing someone I might really dig but by the time they get through 12 songs … I don’t know you well enough. I really want someone to get up there and absolutely kill six and me going ‘Geez, I wish they had played more’. So, we attacked it by saying let’s catch exactly who we are in 12 minutes. We are all pretty proud of how it turned out. We chose those four songs because I think each of them adds up to a larger identity and they each showcase a certain element of who we are quite well and if you take the time to listen to those four, front to back, then you’ll know exactly what The DIVES are all about.”

The EP song choices still had their challenges. Lefton states: “All songs were challenging in their own way. I would probably say the most challenging one probably because it’s been around the shortest amount of time was Make it like the Movies. Whereas the other songs, we had a lot of opportunities to play them live, and rehearse them for long periods of time so we could get them right. Make it like the Movies was just simply the newest song in our repertoire. We had really only played it once or twice. So we really didn’t have the experience yet with that song, so we have to kind of craft that one as we went in to the studio to make sure it was sounding exactly the way we wanted it to. It ended up coming out much better than we even thought it would going in.”

Stanley agrees: “Yeah I think it’s a different experience to go in and track a song that you haven’t had a lot of time to live with live because what we’re really trying to do is capture our sound live on record so we as you spend more time with Movies really adapting it to that. We’re all really happy with how it turned out.”

Stanley continues with his own challenges, in terms of writing: “Everybody’s talkin’ was definitely tough. I took about four months to write that just because it was one of those songs where you sit down and you have to get it out and you write the song in five or ten minutes and then you know something is  there but it can’t quite come out the way that it needs to in the moment. So that was one of those things that I started in May and then finished up in September. I kind of put it down in between but that was a real frustrating one for me just because I couldn’t seem to get it right for so long. So, it was finally nice to put that down.”

The DIVES as a band, as friends, portray a rock n roll future that pays homage to the past. “Egos are left at the door” and “jamming” is where “the excitement really comes into play”. It’s not about making songs that will be receive airplay and sell records. Sure that’s a bonus. However, the catalyst is playing songs with mates and making songs they want to hear. Fortunately, the EP, Everybody’s Talkin’ by The DIVES, is something music lovers will want to hear also.

Be sure to connect with The DIVES:

 Everybody’s Talkin’ iTunes:


The Dives on Facebook:

The Dives on Twitter: @thedivesmusic

The Dives on Instagram: @thedivesmusic
The Dives on Soundcloud:
Let’s hope an Australian tour is forthcoming!

About Mary Boukouvalas 1612 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.