Meet The Band: Divided


The Belgian post metal group Divided are in this week’s Meet The Band spotlight. They just released their debut full-length album Light Will Shine. Vocalist/drummer Pepijn Vandaele introduces us to his band.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Divided.
Pepijn Vandaele: It began when I met Jelle (guitars) when we we’re thirteen years old. We met through a mutual friend of our parents. We both wanted to form a band and decided to jam together to see if there was a connection, and there was. Staf (bass) joined us in 2016, when our bassist quit. We played as a three piece for a while, until Torre (guitars) joined us in 2018. We threw away all of our old material and we’ve been playing with this lineup ever since.

In 2019 we released a first single, titled “Neverending.” That was also the year in which we won Sound Track (a national music competition in Belgium). Then Covid happened. After the pandemic we wrote and recorded our debut EP Riser. We worked with Tim De Gieter (Amenra, Doodseskader) at Much Luv Studio who recorded and mixed the EP. Riser was released in 2022 through the Dunk!records label. In support of Riser, we played a lot of club shows in Belgium (supporting bands like Brutus, Stake, Wiegedood, Psychonaut) and in October 2022 we toured throughout Europe with American post-rock band Shy,Low.

2023 was a seemingly quiet year for us. We played a handful of cool shows, but behind the scenes we were working nonstop. We were constantly in our rehearsal space, shaping the songs for Light Will Shine. In September 2023 we went to Jetson Studio (Kortrijk, BE) with producer Gilles Demolder (Wiegedood, Siem Reap, Oathbreaker) to record Light Will Shine, our first full length album. The record was mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley (Who also mastered Riser). The album was release March 29th, again on Dunk!records.

Describe the songwriting process for Light Will Shine.
It wasn’t always easy, that’s for sure. Our writing process always takes a while to get up to speed, it takes some time to get into that zone. What helps us to get things rolling is, going away from our usual rehearsal space for a few days. I don’t know why, but it feels easier to start creating something when you’re out of your usual environment. We always write together, and I think that is really an essential part of our writing process. We all have really different tastes in music, so naturally we all want to add different flavors to the music. Everyone has a different role to play when writing. Jelle is the riff master, he comes up with most of the riffs, or at least the skeletons of the riffs. Torre is always searching for a way to add something strange to the logic of Jelle’s riffs. Most of the time, when you hear something that sounds odd, Torre’s playing it. Staf on the other hand is just an all-round gear nerd. When we’re searching for a certain sound, Staf always knows exactly how to find it. And I have a good sense of feeling how a song should be structured, where bits and pieces need to go. And I write the lyrics. There’s no way we could write a Divided song, away from each other.

We wrote all throughout 2023, especially during summertime. We had booked Jetson studio for 10 days in September, so July and August were really busy months for us, trying to finish the songs. Gilles helped us a lot too. He added a lot of his ideas to what we brought into the studio. Sometimes it felt as if we we’re so close to the material, that we couldn’t see where songs needed extra details or changes. That’s where Gilles stepped in to help us. We didn’t always agree with each other, but we all feel like that the songs that you can hear on the album, are the best versions of those songs possible.

Did you write more songs than ended up on the album?
We had a song or two that we ended up throwing away, they didn’t really fit with the feeling of the other songs anymore. We we’re trying to go for something different than the vibe of those songs. I did use lyrics I wrote for one of those tracks for “The Warped Loop.”

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
The 10 days we spent recording Light Will Shine were really intense. We did some really long days, we experimented a lot, and Gilles really pushed us to give it our all. There are of course, many memories that I won’t ever forget. But the memory of living together with my bandmates, my best friends, for two weeks, will remain with me forever. We were pretty much in the same room nonstop for two weeks. We recorded together and lived together. We didn’t see our families, our girlfriends, we only saw Gilles and Michael (the owner of Jetson studio) and only talked with each other.

For that short but exhausting period, everything in our life revolved around creating Light Will Shine, and we loved that. We we’re so tired every night, but it was such a rewarding feeling to sit together at night talking about what we recorded that day and what we would record the next day. I think that that’s something that we plan to do again in the future, live together while recording.

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?
Writing an album isn’t easy. There are always challenges to face. For me, the biggest challenge was coming to terms with some of the final changes that we made to the songs. I have a hard time letting go of what we wrote when I’m already used to hearing and playing a song. I also like to prepare thoroughly for recordings, and can really be pissed at myself when I’m not playing at my best. So when some changes were made in the studio, I needed to change certain fills or drum parts on the spot and I didn’t like that feeling at first. But my bandmates and especially Gilles convinced me that the changes were for the better. And when hearing the tracks for the first time, it immediately clicked with me. These are the best songs that we could’ve written.

How would you characterize its style/sound?
We wanted to make a record that sounded natural, nothing too processed or digital. That’s why we really wanted to work with Gilles. Hearing him talk about his views on recording, only made us more excited. And honestly, we’re also bored with how a lot of recently released heavy music sounds. Everything sounds really good, but very predictable and generic. We recorded together, the four of us playing in one room, and dubbed the guitar parts later. So it wasn’t a process of recording separately, only having a click track as a guide. We also think that it sounds very dark, it definitely has a certain vibe. But at the same time, it sounds very beautiful and sometimes even fragile. We’re very proud with how it turned out.

What inspired the album title?
We didn’t want a cliché heavy music title. The music may be heavy, and the lyrical topics might be dark, but a heavy or dark sounding title would be too on the nose and lame. Light Will Shine fits the album perfectly. It’s a statement, one that can be interpreted in many ways. Do we mean it in a sincere way, or is it cynical, is it hopeful or desperate? You can decide that for yourself.

What lyrical topics do you cover?
Every song features around my struggles with anxiety. I’ve been afraid all my life and felt that now was a good time to try and write honestly about my problems. But I don’t like it when people focus too much on the lyrics, no one in the band does. That’s also why there won’t be a lyric sheet coming with the record. I wrote the words for myself. If people like the lyrics, all the better. But it’s the combination of the words with the music that matters, not the one or the other.

How did you come to sign with Dunk?
We mailed the recordings of the Riser EP and asked if they would be interested to put it out on the label. Luckily for us, they were. They’ve always been supportive of us and of our music.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
To be honest, we don’t know what to expect. We hope that we get a wider reach with a full-length album, that more people will get in touch with our music. We hope to play cool shows and festivals, and we will definitely do our best to do another run of shows in the EU. But it’s really hard to get all of that at once, we’re still a small, semi-independent band. We shall see what the album will bring us. We know it has potential, but we also realize that it’s for a niche audience. Whatever happens, we’re immensely proud of Light Will Shine.

What has been your most memorable Divided live show?
There have been many, too many to mention. But the release show of Riser was a really special one. It was our first headline show in a big venue. Not just any venue, but at Wilde Westen (Kortrijk, BE), probably our favorite venue in the world. We saw a lot of our childhood heroes play there. It’s in our hometown and it has a very special connection to us. We still go to shows there often. And we’re happy to release Light Will Shine there as well.

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
The next months we’re going to play some shows in Belgium, France and The Netherlands. We’ve got a few shows lined up for the next half of 2024 already and I’m sure there will be more shows added soon.

How did you get started in music?
I always had a strong connection with music. From a very young age, I could start crying when hearing certain songs, because the music touched me. Music has been the most important thing in my life for as long as I can remember. My parents are also really big fans of music and also have an eclectic taste in music. A lot of my childhood memories are linked with certain albums that I found in my parents’ vinyl and CD collection and things that they introduced to me, of course. Bands like The Clash, Sisters Of Mercy, The Pogues, Sonic Youth, etc. I’ve got a lot of strong memories about the music of those bands, and all of those bands play a role in shaping my musical identity as it is today.

At the age of eight, my parents gave me the chance to pick up an instrument to learn. I remember picking up a saxophone and not being able to get a sound out of it, and at the same time I noticed a drum kit in the room. I was immediately attracted to it; its loudness, its size, the feeling of the sticks in my hands, the fact that you needed a LOT of energy to play it hard and loud for a long time. Not too long after that, my dad took me to my first club show ever. I saw a band called Drums Are For Parades (a Belgian noise rock/stone rrock/sludge band) and I distinctly remember watching the drummer play from the balcony of the venue. His energy, stage presence, heavy-hitting, sweat splashing everywhere, that’s where I decided that I was going to be a musician.

What was the first album you bought?
The first CD I ever bought was High Voltage by AC/DC when I was six. It was the first band that I really loved, the band that opened up the door leading to a world of rock music.
The first LP I bought was No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith by Motörhead. I have a thing for live records, and I think that is because of this record. I bought it at a record fair when I was fifteen, and I loved how it captured the onstage energy. (Fun fact: this was also the first LP that Torre bought.)

How’s the metal scene in Belgium these days?
Metal is alive in Belgium, especially post-metal. There is definitely space for metal bands to grow and thrive here. But I don’t know if there’s a scene like there was some time ago. There are more than a few up and coming heavier bands in our small country, but mostly they exist and grow on their own. When up and coming bands play shows together it’s most likely that that’s because of a booking agent and not because the two bands wanted to play together. It would be cool to see more bands collaborating like that. And I don’t want to say that there’s no scene at all. There are enough bands out there, that like other bands, that want to play shows together, etc.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Going out for a drink with friends, practicing two stepping, watching Shrek, working full time to be able to continue playing music, drinking coffee while contemplating Twin Peaks.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Chat Pile, Swans (not really heavy, but really really loud), Deafheaven, Ragana, Agriculture, a LOT of hardcore (Gulch, Spy, Scowl, End It, Ceremony) (not for Jelle, he doesn’t like hardcore, but he likes mumble rap, strange man), Crouch, Barno Koevoet & The Duimschpijkers, Siem Reap.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Check out Light Will Shine if you’d like to. Check out other Belgian bands as well, there’s a lot of good music to discover. We love you!

(interview published March 30, 2024)

Listen To Divided – “The Warped Loop”


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