“What do you do after your band has toured the world several times over? Break up and head back home.” That’s just what Hawaiian born, Brooklynite Miyuki Furtado did after a show in Oslo, Norway when he exited The Rogers Sisters (Too Pure/Beggars Group), the much touted NY trio in which he sang, played bass and wrote many of their winning songs. The band had weathered a grueling decade of recording and nearly non-stop touring around the globe. “We were completely exhausted. After our last show in Oslo, we went our separate ways.’
He returned home just in time for the birth of his daughter then promptly moved out of his beloved Brooklyn neighborhood with his family for greener (and less crowded) pastures. “My wife and I bought a small, beat up house north of the city and settled down.” Between repairing the house and raising his child he began work on his current project: the folk, country and soul tinged psych-rock band, Divining Rod.
“I started writing songs on acoustic guitar during my daughter’s naps. I learned to create in short, quiet bursts.” Becoming obsessed with British Folk icons, Bert Jansch, Pentangle, Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention as well as American country rock bands like Stephen Still’s super group, Manassas and The Flying Burrito Brothers resulted in a more acoustic based self-released EP. Touring the record was postponed while Furtado played drums and toured with gospel soul psych band, Midnight Masses (Team Love/Superball).
Over time, Miyuki amassed more songs and desired to play them out. The only problem was that he felt disconnected after being away from the ever changing music scene in downtown New York. He began playing along the Hudson River’s small string of villages for the sheer joy of playing. Often at unconventional spaces. “I resolved to play any time, any where and as often as I could.” Playing 3 to 4 hour long sets in living rooms, art galleries, front porches, flatbed trucks, boat piers, farmer’s markets, churches and other non-rock club venues led Furtado to rapidly expand his song list. “Playing for hours at a time to a wide variety of people forces you to become more engaging, versatile and, well, musical.”
The Country music of Bakersville and Texas Outlaw Country icons like Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Joe Ely and Willie Nelson, rapidly became more of an influence. “Believe it or not, Country and Bluegrass are surprisingly close to Hawaiian music that I grew up with. The song structures and instrumentation are similar - give or take a ukulele.”
This newfound momentum came to an unexpected halt when Miyuki’s father became suddenly ill. He flew out to his parent’s home to care for him for several months until he passed. Miyuki and his family were heartbroken.
Eventually, despite this devastating loss, new songs slowly began to develop as well as a new outlook on life. “While nursing my dad, I realized that the big moments in life are not necessarily the most important. Rather, it’s the small, intimate memories like the warmth of the sun on your face on a late summer’s day or the smoky taste of coffee in the morning or the way someone you love runs their fingers through your hair. Fragments of moments; smells, colors, and the way it makes you feel. That's the essence of living. ”
Armed with a renewed sense of creative urgency Miyuki returned to the studio to begin recording along with his new bandmate, guitarist and vocalist Patrick Harmon of Brooklyn psych-pop band, A Party Faithful. Harmon’s textured guitar sonics began to add more depth to songs like the country/tropicalia inflected ‘Love Come Tumbling’ and the atmospheric drone of ‘Mountains Out Of Men’. “Patrick’s inspired by bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Cure which brings an interesting counter point to what my influences are.” muses Furtado.
The duo began work with Grammy-nominated producer/mixer/engineer, Brian Forbes, at his brand new studio, Alternate Dimension Studio. “I loved working with Brian. He’s got a great room and knows how to capture interesting moments. Brian is musically well versed and extremely creative in tracking and arranging. We worked very well together even at our furiously fast pace. We finished tracking 12 songs in a handful of days.”
The result is DIVINING ROD’s sprawling new full length, RETURN TO CRYSTAL COVE. Featuring the driving, metronomic ‘Hemlock Blues’ and the hypnotic, Crazy Horse-esque ‘Let The Moon Unfold’ and ‘Master Servant Blues’. Miyuki also included the stirring ‘Darling Down The Row’. A song written for his father and completed while he sat bedside during his final week. “I had a hard time finishing the lyrics but as I sat next to my dad night after night, the words finally came.”
The record is rounded out by songs culled from the catch-all filter in Miyuki Furtado’s mind. Everything from the challenges of being a new father (The Silver Ship) to wildly vivid dreams of Greek mythology (Helen Of Troy). All wrapped in his trademark bluesy, soulful drawl. Furtado and Harmon flesh out their normally spare sound on this lush recording with multi-instrumentalist Miyuki handling guitar, bass, drums and percussion parts and Patrick providing tastefully melodic guitar work.
As a preview for the record, a double A-side vinyl single, Hemlock Blues / Love Come Tumbling, will be released on July 28 via Kilipaki Records.
What’s next for the band? “We’ll hit the road and, with any luck, we’ll circle the globe. Then head back home. With the band intact this time!”