"We never set out to be that band that plays three hours of just [covers]. We wanted to have our own sound. I think we’re on that track."
And today's interview is with a youthful band out of Huntington, West Virginia, with a great folky, funky, rocky sound. This... is The Dividends.
The Dividends’ newest release is Shakesy. You can follow their music shenanigans on social media. Hear more #WVmusic on A Change of Tune, airing Saturday nights at 10 on West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Connect with A Change of Tune on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And for more #WVmusic chats, make sure to go to wvpublic.org/wvmusic and subscribe to our RSS / podcast feeds.
On their start in music:
Heath Holley (trumpet/vocals): All throughout middle school and high school, I was in the band program. So that’s how I learned how to play trumpet. Vocally, I always sang, but I didn’t break out into the public until senior year of high school. The summer after that, I think I met Alan. Me and Hannah had done stuff before that.
Hannah Spurlock (vocals): I did musical theater since I was eight-years-old. I started playing keys when I was a freshman in high school. And then I started playing music with Alan when I was a junior in high school… at a bonfire, actually [laughing].
Alan Brown (guitar/vocals): I started playing guitar during junior year of high school around 2007. I was in a band called Unlock, and it was hilariously bad. I sang at the time, which was a huge step for me. But then I started picking up guitar, and that’s been my specialty from here on out. I think the three of us used to play acoustically when it was just Hannah and me and Heath. From there, it expanded to the full [Dividends] band idea.
On forming The Dividends:
Brown: I played at the time in a band called A Fish Named Reggie. And I can’t even remember whose it was, but there was a graduation party bonfire…
Heath: It was my graduation party [laughing]!
Brown: Oh right! At the time, I was playing in that band. And I sat down at the bonfire next to Hannah, and she asked, “Hey, do you know any Amy Winehouse songs?” So I start playing “Valerie,” I hear her sing and think, “Holy crap, who is this? I’ve never heard her before, and she’s phenomenal. Where have you been?” We started talking about doing open mics just to get out and play a little bit, and then she said, “Well, Heath plays trumpet!” And I said, “Wow, holy cow.” It kind of just fell in our lap. We started seeing these pieces come together, so it was silly to not utilize them.
On being inspired by #WVmusic acts:
Holley: When I start thinking about local bands that utilize horns, the first band that comes to mind is Qiet. As far as songwriting goes, I’ve been on a big Ona kick whenever we start writing songs, so I always reference them for ideas and things.
On the growing youthfulness of the #WVmusic scene:
Brown: There’s just so many bands we keep meeting just by playing out in Huntington and Charleston and stuff. And they’re all good! You see bands and think, “Where the heck have you been?” You kind of hate yourself for not seeing them sooner than that.
Holley: We’ve only been together for about a year, and just in that year, we’ve seen new bands pop up that are making names for themselves. And that’s really cool.
Brown: Cumberland is a good example of that. There’s a band called Cumberland that used to play as an acoustic act just like us with just two guys. Three months later, they have a full-length album out with a full band that’s really good. The scene in Huntington is a breeding ground for all this talent that is just there. It’s crazy.
On Huntington’s flourishing music scene:
Brown: It’s not only in music, there are so many things growing in terms of business. The town itself is flourishing. There are more venues to play and all kinds of different places that allow musicians to come out and show their stuff. If those places weren’t there, it would be all the same people trying to get into the same place. You can go anywhere and see music in Huntington.
Holley: I started going to Huntington Music & Arts Festival when I was in middle school. That’s kind of how I started thinking, “I might want to do this someday.” Just seeing people you can take examples from these people from your town who already have followings and names for themselves, and being able to take after that. As long as there’s something to go for, there’s always room for new people to come in.
Spurlock: It’s the music community. That’s the reason to keep going. Everyone is so nice and fun.
Brown: It’s pretty much a big family in Huntington. Everyone inspires each other and pushes each other in a friendly competition.
Music featured in this #WVmusic chat:
The Dividends- “25”
The Dividends- “Shades of Blue”
The Dividends- “Ain’t Been Missin’ You”
Support for 30 Days of #WVmusic is provided by Kin Ship Goods, proud supporter of DIY music and the arts. Locally shipped worldwide at kinshipgoods.com.