Shakespeare created numerous complex characters, but The Tempest’s Caliban sparks debate because his nature is so indefinable. Embodying the crude elements of a monster, he simultaneously demonstrates human desires for beauty and freedom.
The richness of such ambiguity is not lost on Your Divine Tragedy, a Missoula rock band whose name itself is a nod to Shakespearian paradox.
The first song on their new album, This Island Caught Fire, is titled “Caliban” and it’s an empathetic tribute to the contradictory creature. While singer/guitarist Todd Archambeault screams the lyrics, “Disfiguration! It runs deep in his blood / calm and collected he waits / cuz every dog has his day...” bassist Jeff Heringer and lead guitarist Patrick Fouhy belt out “Cali! Ban!” across a wave of metallic guitar riffs. Lyrics aside, the instrumentation is threaded with both darkness and fragile luminescence. It’s a balance of emo and metal—a categorization Your Divine Tragedy distrusts.
“It’s hard because people like to split hairs with genres,” says Archambeault. “It’s easy to dismiss a band if you’re not really paying attention to what they’re doing.”
And what Your Divine Tragedy is doing, they’ll admit, is rock. But considering that drummer Aaron Tekulve comes from a jazz background, Fouhy from classical and that Heringer and Archambeault sang in a Glasgow school choir, it’s easy to understand their desire to preserve diversity over genre.
Beyond themes of hope and tragedy, beyond the title metaphor about the island that catches fire and forces a person to face consequences (“Unless you’re a good swimmer,” Heringer laughs), there is a comedic side to the band. In 2004 they toured in a truck furnished with a couch and barbeque. Their onstage collisions cause Heringer to keep a wary eye on Archambeault. And they enjoy a good joke.
“One of these days we’ll play some country or hip hop,” says Archambeault. And though their plan to eventually move to Seattle correlates with Caliban’s dreams of better things, they appear content.
Says Tekulve, “This is exactly what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.”
Your Divine Tragedy plays a CD release party for This Island Caught Fire at the UC Ballroom Friday, May 27, at 8 PM. Black Friday and Sunshine on Vinyl open. Tickets are $5, but admission is free if you buy the CD for $10 at the door.