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According to Kit Peltzel, drummer for Denver's Dive, the friendships he shares with his bandmates are integral to the group's existence. "It's amazing, the power that exists within this band among all of us," he explains. Vocalist/guitarist Myshel Prasad promptly adds: "It's a love affair," her tongue not nearly as far in cheek as one might expect.
Clearly, Dive cannot be dismissed as just another alternative-rock band, if for no other reason than that its members speak as fluently about astrology, tai chi and where to go for a good plate of hummus as they do about flange pedals and power chords. Prasad confesses that the players want to bring "an element of ritual" to rock and roll, pointing with pride to the attention paid to lighting and other details designed to create the perfect mood during live appearances.
But Dive's most important attribute is its music. Thanks to its dreamy melodies and driving grooves, the quartet--Peltzel, Prasad, bassist Greg Fowkes and guitarist Bill Kunkel--is quickly becoming a tough act to follow.
While everyone from Smashing Pumpkins and Stevie Nicks to hardcore punkers and classical musicians from India provide inspiration for Dive songs, Fowkes insists that the foursome's style "really comes from the heart. It doesn't come from listening to My Bloody Valentine." A major contributor to the group's songwriting efforts, Prasad adds that she strives to write evocative pieces that also work on a linear, rational level. "It's just about sound and emotion," she says.
The sound was considerably louder four months ago, when local guitar luminary Todd Ayers was still in the band. A former Sic 'em Fifi stalwart who's presently a sometime sideman for heavy-hitting jazzbos like trumpeter Ron Miles, Ayers envisioned Dive, formed in spring 1994, as a vehicle for his earsplitting ax work. "His concept of music we totally adopted," Kunkel reveals, while Prasad points out, "He got us all our equipment." But Ayers, about whom the other Divers speak with much fondness and respect, left his creation several months later when it became apparent that he and his cohorts were heading in different artistic directions.
At first, rebuilding the ensemble without Ayers seemed quite daunting to those he'd left behind. Today, however, all parties agree that the move was the right one. "The sound's gotten simpler," Kunkel suggests, "but in getting simpler, it's gotten stronger."
It's also gotten quieter, although the difference may not be apparent to everyone. Ayers prefers to play at an exceedingly loud level, so his exit instantly cut Dive's performing volume in half--a change that has allowed Prasad's pipes to be heard more clearly above the still-considerable din. She's also made the shift from being a sometime strummer to a full-time fret mistress with apparent ease. The pacing of the average Dive set occasionally sags while the guitarists strive to create the ideal mix of ambient atmospherics and deafening decibels. But such matters can easily be forgiven when the group finally pounds out its near-anthemic choruses.
"We're so loud we can't even hear ourselves," Peltzel says about the post-Ayers combo. "But it's something brilliant, I know that."
Listeners will be able to judge this claim from the comfort of their homes once Dive finishes work on a split seven-inch EP that also features St. Andre. The project, which carries the working title Honest, should hit the streets by June, with Dive's musical contributions expected to appear on a longer-playing release as soon as schedules and funds permit. Touring is also on Dive's wish list, as is actually earning a living from music; the players work in various service-sector jobs right now. And, hokey as it may seem, they vow to fulfill such material aspirations with spiritual foundations intact.
Maintaining their high standards hasn't been easy. Although three-quarters of Dive currently live together communally in an Auraria-area rental house, Prasad says that for the sake of their musical partnership, "we agreed at the very beginning that none of us would have sex. I'm not so sure about Greg and Bill," she quips, "but the rest of us have stayed pure."
Mostly pure, that is. "First we have our circle of love," Prasad divulges, referring to the incense-laden rites that members perform in preparation for each gig. "Then," Peltzel adds, "we try to play our balls off.