“It’s a good introduction to us,” says frontman and founding member Brent Loveday. “There’s not a lot of studio wizardry. ... We go from the first record to the last record, and there are three unreleased songs on there.”
The live recordings, from a 2016 show in Berlin, were nearly lost when the tracks went missing online and in physical form during the pandemic.
“I couldn’t find it anywhere,” Loveday says. “I’m like ‘Shit, it’s gone.’ It was in our Dropbox, and our old bassist erased it by mistake, because he doesn’t know how to use Dropbox. It’s not his fault, but I’m like ‘Fuck it. It’s over, man. No one is ever going to hear it.'”
Fortunately, he says, he was able to dig up a hard copy beneath “1,500 other fucking CDs." A friend convinced him not to have too much post-production work done on the tracks, successfully making the argument that the unpolished recordings better represented the band. Loveday listened, had the tracks mastered, and recorded a pair of bonus songs. Aside from that, the album is made up of songs that Reno Divorce played for some drunken Germans in a Berlin club five years ago.
“I wanted it to be an authentic document of that night,” he says.
The sound quality on the songs is good. While live records can be a dubious proposition at best, that show went well. The band was on point, and the crowd vibed the set. The band had no intention of documenting the gig, Loveday recalls, but the person running sound that night offered to record it for about $300. The group took him up on the offer.
The album art finds inspiration in ’70s pulp novel covers, with a tableau of men with firearms, beautiful women screaming or carrying guns, vicious dogs, explosions and more.
“We always say the joke of that tour was that we were outsiders, because we were Americans,” Loveday says. “It was the middle of the Trump era, and everyone in Europe hated Americans. Outsiders! Escape From Berlin just sounded cool, and it just sounded like an action movie, so that’s where we went with it.”
Loveday says the band was fortunate during the pandemic, when live music was mostly nonexistent, because the group was able to perform livestream concerts for what he considers a supportive fan base in Denver and abroad. He’s also been playing live gigs with his side project, Brent Loveday and the Dirty Dollars, as of late.
Reno Divorce recently released a video for the song “Hopeless and Dopeless” that includes Loveday’s barber, Brandon Stolz, as a down-on-his-luck junkie destined to take his final, life-ending fix. (The song will also appear on a Punk Rock Saves Lives compilation currently on pre-order.)
“I hit him up three days before,” Loveday relates. “I said, ‘Dude, we need a dope fiend for this video. Can you look like a dope fiend?’ He comes, and he acts so good in this thing. Most of the time you get your buddies to act in videos, and they aren’t actors, right? I don't know if he did some Brando Method shit, but it’s riveting.”
He says “Hopeless and Dopeless” started off as an acoustic Brent Loveday and the Dirty Dollars song, and the sad, desperate subject matter comes through more in the original version. The Reno Divorce “cover,” if you will, has a more upbeat sound, which is a bit incongruous for a song in which the protagonist dies at the end.
“When you strip it down, it’s like soul candy,” Loveday says of the original version. “It’s depressing. People have to get depressed sometimes so they know they’re happy and can tell the difference.”
Reno Divorce has played private events and a handful of live shows over the past year. Those gigs have been socially distanced in light of the COVID pandemic, but the band is taking the stage at Denver’s HQ for its first proper punk-rock show — a jostling sea of humanity — in quite some time. The best part of being in a band, Loveday says, is playing in front of people. Without that, the whole affair loses its appeal.
“I still think people might have forgotten how to get wild,” he says. “It will come back to it.”
“Just get them drunk,” Loveday says. “Just get them as hammered as you can. A lot of drink specials. Then, you know, muscle memory takes over after that.”
Reno Divorce shares the stage with Luke Schmaltz and the Ryan Glen Band on July 7 at 8 p.m. at HQ, 60 South Broadway. Tickets start at $10 and are available at holdmyticket.com. The band’s live record, Outsider! Escape from Berlin is available digitally on Bandcamp. Physical copies will become available in August on Wolverine Records. Brent Loveday and the Dirty Dollars will play a benefit at Herman’s Hideway, 1578 South Broadway, on July 11, to help “Hopeless and Dopeless” director Kyle Lamar buy a new camera after his was stolen shortly after making the video. Tickets are $10 and available at Eventbrite.