There’s a new spooky band on the block, and just in time for the season Orlando, Florida’s Dark Divine is set to drop its debut EP, “Halloweentown,” on Sept. 30, 2022, via InVogue Records (pre-order here). After forming in 2021, the band started making waves that same year with its first single, also titled “Halloweentown,” and became something of a TikTok sensation in 2022 with its entry in the Motionless in White Open Verse Contest racking up more than 1 million views. The band—vocalist Anthony Martinez, guitarists Jason Thomas and Robert Lynch, drummer Triston Blaize and bassist Jarret Robinson—has kept a steady stream of content flowing, with a total of five horror-themed singles and videos, and recently finished its first tour, supporting Famous Last Words. Greg Maki of Live Metal recently sat down with Anthony Martinez and Triston Blaize to talk all things Dark Divine.
LIVE METAL: Your band, Dark Divine, just wrapped up your first-ever tour. How did it go?
ANTHONY MARTINEZ: It was crazy. It definitely exceeded our expectations. It being our first shows, it was crazy to hear people know the lyrics across state lines and that kind of thing. So it definitely exceeded our expectations, for sure.
TRISTON BLAIZE: We practiced for so long for that, and then when it finally happened, it was cool to see everybody who was listening to the songs. Like Anthony was saying, every stop we played, there was people singing the songs and stuff like that. So that was just cool to see, because sometimes when you’re in a band, you have tunnel vision and you’re working hard so much that you don’t really get to see how many people are actually influenced by your music until you’re out there. So that was definitely awesome.
Why did you decide to wait until this tour to play your first show?
ANTHONY: I think it was just strategically putting our debut live thing to be just waiting for the right moment. We didn’t want to just book a show at a random bar and play around the local circuit like that. It felt really cool to wait for a big thing to happen.
TRISTON: We’ve all been in bands before, and I think we’ve all done that where we just jump on a show real quick because we want to play a show. But when we started this band, we felt like it was special, and the songs were definitely awesome, we thought. So we wanted to build that portfolio, build the fan base and really come out of the gate swinging, not like a soft opening or anything like that but just out of the gate straight up, tight as hell, tight as we can be and a good set list. We didn’t want to disappoint, and we didn’t want people to overlook us out of the gate. So we made sure that we were as ready as we could be.
And it worked out really nice where the first show that tour was a hometown show for you guys, right?
TRISTON: Yeah, that was awesome.
ANTHONY: And originally it wasn’t supposed to be. I think it got changed last minute. But I couldn’t have had it any other way. It was a beautiful first show. Beautiful turnout.
Kind of looking ahead long term as a touring act, where do you see your live show going? It seems like your music would lend itself to some theatrics. Do you have plans for that in the future?
ANTHONY: I’d say as the budget for theatrics gets bigger, we’re definitely going to do whatever we can to make a bigger visual impact. I think the songs definitely speak for themselves in terms of atmosphere. But yeah, pyro, lights, smoke, set design. I’d love to see some really cool visual elements get put on as the stages get bigger and lend themselves to availability for stuff.
TRISTON: Anthony and I, we work together. So during work, we’re constantly just like bouncing off each other like, “What if we did this? What if we add this?” So yeah, we’re definitely all for it.
ANTHONY: We’re also Halloween Horror Nights nerds, so we’re always looking at really cool set design and stuff like that. We literally went yesterday. (laughs)
We’re talking about you playing your first shows, so this is a pretty young band. You got together, I guess, last year. How did the band get together?
ANTHONY: I guess it started with Jay meeting Triston.
TRISTON: We all kind of have a whole list of mutual friends and stuff like that, being musicians in the area and things. And honestly, long, long story kind of short, I was in a band with Robbie and we weren’t really happy, and him and I had this vision, and we had this work ethic that was just not matching the project that we were in. And so, I was on Facebook one day and I was friends with Jay. He’s got so many mutual friends. I thought he was a good guitar player; I saw some videos. I post a lot of drum covers and stuff like that, and I was wearing these BlackCraft shorts in one of my covers, and he was like, “Yo, I got those same shorts. Nice.” And I was like, “Dope.” I was like, “Hey, man, you write pretty cool riffs.” And he’s like, “You’re a dope drummer.” I was like, “We should try something.” He’s like, “Sure.” And literally like a week later, we were looking for a singer and putting demos together and things like that, and everything kind of fell into place from there.
Like I said, me and Robbie were in a band before, so I recommended Robbie. The original bassist, Brian, is a really good guy. He’s a chef; he’s got a career and everything like that, so it didn’t really work out. But Jay knew him, so he was in “Halloweentown.” We found Anthony kind of on YouTube. I saw him live, and I was really impressed. And then we were looking for a singer and I wasn’t even thinking. We went on YouTube and looked for some covers, and one of his popped up and I was like, “I know that guy.” So it all fell into place really, really well.
ANTHONY: And we all happen to live semi in the same area, which is really cool, too.
TRISTON: We were looking for singers anywhere, honestly. We weren’t trying to settle for just Central Florida, but it just so happened that Anthony lives down the road. It’s like, “Oh, dope.” (laughs)
What kind of influences are you bringing in specifically for this band?
ANTHONY: We definitely are Halloween people. We definitely enjoy the spooky aspects of life. So I think any band that exudes spooky passion I would say I would consider an influence. Obviously, there’s the Motionless in White influence and the Ice Nine Kills influence. But there’s also some other theatrical bands. I would say I’m not a huge Ghost fan, but I appreciate what they do visually, and I definitely lend myself to that kind of aspect of performance. I’ve always been a big fan of theatrical bands like KISS. It’s definitely visual bands more so than spooky bands.
TRISTON: Yeah, and not only bands but pop culture, too, like spooky pop culture and things like that. We all liked it out of the gate, so it was an easy thing to gravitate toward.
How did you get into that kind of stuff, horror and spooky stuff in general?
ANTHONY: That’s kind of the beauty of it is we all just sort of grew up with it. I’m a huge ’80s slasher guy. Every Halloween, back when TV was a thing (laughs), I would always have AMC on and they’d play horror movies, and I’d just all day watch them.
TRISTON: Yeah, dude, my dad loved horror movies. When I was growing up, him and I would watch those Sci-Fi cheesy movies. Like every Saturday, that’s what we did. My dad was kind of a movie nerd, and I just fell into it, as well. And it’s funny because I was scared of scary movies when I was a kid, but I couldn’t get enough of them. (laughs) It was like constant torture. It was great.
For your music, are you pulling things from specific movies? Or is it more of a general mood and feeling you’re going for?
ANTHONY: I would say that we definitely use elements from movies, but I wouldn’t say that they’re movie-specific songs or anything like that. We like to pull elements from horror and apply them to real-world emotion, real-world stuff. So it’s definitely a blend of visual horror imagery surrounding some sort of deep, meaningful stuff.
The first single was “Halloweentown,” which I think was a perfect way to introduce what the band is all about. Is that what you were going for?
ANTHONY: It was funny. That wasn’t the first demo that was ever made. We originally were just getting together to form songs. We weren’t trying to go any specific direction. But every conversation that we would be having would be about some sort of horror movie, and we quickly realized that we were all horror-oriented people, and “Halloweentown” got made based out of that, out of that mutual appreciation for horror culture and horror movies in general.
I think once “Halloweentown” was made, it solidified what we already knew, and that was that we were going to kind of flavor all of our songs based around that. That’s why “Halloweentown” is the most cartoony, I would say, in terms of horror. It’s very on-the-nose imagery. But it was definitely a perfect way to get out of the gate and break out as a spooky-oriented band.
Were you surprised by how it took off?
TRISTON: Actually, yeah. Well, kind of. We thought it was a catchy song and everything like that, but we didn’t know people’s acceptance to it. We knew coming out the gate with a spooky song, we would have some people compare us with other bands or think it was cheesy or something like that. But like Anthony was saying, it was so natural, and that’s just what we love to do. So it just kind of fell into place like that.
ANTHONY: When we released “Halloweentown,” I thought it was a good song. I still think it’s a great song. So I knew there was going to be some positive reaction to it. What struck me was when it started to blow up on TikTok and people would use the sound and that sort of thing. That’s when I was like, “Oh, shit, OK, wait. Something is happening. This is kind of cool.” I think that’s where I was starting to get surprised, where people outside of the Orlando scene were kind of freaking out about it.
Yeah, TikTok has been big for you guys, especially the Motionless in White contest. How important has that specifically and social media in general been for your band?
ANTHONY: It’s been incredible. Obviously, we share a lot of imagery with Motionless, so we share a lot of Motionless fans. We have a lot of fans that are also Motionless fans. So when that competition dropped, it just to me seemed like a really cool way to interact with a band that I consider an influence. And people seem to agree. People enjoyed seeing my take on the Motionless thing. It’s been great. And it also introduced our band to other horror-oriented band fans. They haven’t released any winners or anything, but we’ve already kind of won in terms of engagement. It’s been super opportunistic.
Yeah, what’s it up to now?
TRISTON: 1.2 million or something.
ANTHONY: It’s currently not on the sound page for some reason. It was the number one sound on TikTok for a good while, and then all of a sudden, it just disappeared entirely off of the sound page. I don’t know what that could mean. It could just be TikTok being weird. I’m definitely hoping that we win it. That would be sick.
The newest single is “Run Away.” I saw where you said that you wrote that song in six hours and it wasn’t even going to be on the EP. How did it come together so fast?
ANTHONY: I don’t know. I think when you don’t think too hard about songs, they just form so naturally. I’ve sat on songs for days, and those songs are typically the most stressful ones to make. But when you’re sitting in a room and you have the ball already rolling, and you just keep throwing stuff and stuff keeps sticking—it was definitely a kind of a glitch in the Matrix, I think. I kept throwing ideas and they kept sticking, and Jay really liked them. He would add some stuff, and yeah, six hours passed and we had a song. It was like, “OK, well, fuck it. Let’s throw it on the EP.”
What is that song about?
ANTHONY: I wrote it about running away from mental demons, running away from past traumas, and those traumas and those demons are personified as a guy with a chainsaw.
TRISTON: Naturally. (laughs)
ANTHONY: There’s that horror imagery surrounding a deep meaning.
The debut EP, also called “Halloweentown,” is coming out Sept. 30 through InVogue Records. What has the experience been working with the label?
ANTHONY: Oh, it’s been incredible. I think that’s when we really sort of solidified our standard of quality—when we had a team that was working together to help make the quality of stuff as high quality as possible. They’ve been great. He’s so easy to work with. I can hit any one of them up with a question, and they’ll answer pretty much within five minutes. And they were the reason that we got on that first tour, because Jeremy Tollas of Famous Last Words is our product manager and he helped us out getting onto that tour. So it just all kind of fell together super nice and super naturally.
TRISTON: Everybody’s just as excited as we are for the band, and that was really cool to see that. We’ve never experienced that—someone who’s not in the band be that committed and into the idea and the band itself. It’s just so cool to have that team like that.
ANTHONY: Bob Becker is the head of this label, and he’s been around, he’s done a lot. It’s easy to put your faith in someone who clearly knows what they’re doing. So that’s really nice.
It’s the five songs you’ve released so far and then two more?
ANTHONY: Yes. There will be one more music video that will be done. And then there’s just going to be the one kind of mystery, extra song that’s going to be on the EP itself.
Looking far ahead into the future, what kind of long-term goals do you have for this band?
ANTHONY: I’d love for this band to take it as far as it can go. I definitely want to see the shows grow. I want to see the shows get bigger and not just in terms of crowd and stage but production. I want to see how far we can take this, for sure. I definitely want to be able to work with a lot of other artists, as well, in the music industry and see how that can lend itself. I just want to take this thing as far as it can go.
TRISTON: Yeah, and I think we all have that same mindset, which is what you need in order to do that. Everybody has to be on the same page. Music has been our lives pretty much our entire lives. So it’s cool that we’re all committed to it like that, but also, it’s going to be cool to see the community grow. We have fans who met each other through the band and are now good friends and stuff like that. So it’s just crazy to see. That was a surprising yet very satisfying thing to see these people connect over something that you’ve created. So that’s been amazing.
ANTHONY: That’s something I definitely want to see grow, for sure, the community aspect.
More short-term, what’s in the plans? You obviously have the EP release, but what’s the plan for the rest of the year? Are there any more shows coming up or anything like that?
TRISTON: Oh, we’re busy.
ANTHONY: We don’t have anything currently booked in terms of live shows, but I’m flying out to L.A. to record an album. So that’ll be done. We’re trying to get the full-length as done as possible. Hopefully when the EP releases, this is not confirmed or anything, but I think we might try to have some sort of EP release show. Once that gets announced, though, that would be fun.
Is there anything else you guys would like to say before we wrap up?
ANTHONY: We do still have pre-orders for our vinyl. I definitely would love to see people pre-ordering those. And just thanks to everybody who’s been listening.
TRISTON: Pre-saves live right now, and like Anthony said, we’ve got another music video coming out pretty soon. So we’ll add more content and more stuff for people very soon.