Just as Divine Horsemen, the punk band formed by Flesh Eaters’ Chris Desjardins (Chris D.) with Julie Christensen, recorded their final song together, “Handful of Sand,” the group disbanded, the pair’s marriage dissolved, and one of their favorite songs entered some musical ether.
Reconnecting nearly 33 years after the release of the band’s 1988 EP A Handful of Sand, the band have reunited and re-recorded their fateful track, and a collection of new songs on upcoming album Hot Rise of an Ice Cream Phoenix (Red Records), out Aug. 20.
Co-produced by Desjardins and Craig Parker Adams, who also engineered I Used to Be Pretty by the reformed Flesh Eaters in 2019, Hot Rise of an Ice Cream Phoenix finds a distilled Divine Horsemen, settling their unfinished business.
Initially written as an exploration on the recovery from substance abuse, “Handful of Sand” still seethes around addiction, capturing the angst of broken pieces, and restored as an anthem of persistence. To capture all its many facets, The band compiled vintage Horsemen clips, merged with varied black and white stock and remote footage of the band, filmed during the pandemic and edited by Christensen.
Though, Divine Horsemen parted ways, the D and Christensen— who has released several solo albums, including Weeds Like Us in 2012, and worked with Leonard Cohen as a backing vocalist from the late ’80s into the 1990s— reunited when Christensen offered vocals on several tracks of I Used to Be Pretty, which eventually led to the reunion of the Horsemen and the release of Divine Horsemen ‘Live’ 1985-1987 in 2020 and singles “Mystery Writers” and “Mind Fever Soul Fire.”
“Julie had asked me about six or seven years ago about doing Divine Horsemen again,” says Desjardins. “I told her I wasn’t quite ready yet, though I did want to do it eventually.”
As the Flesh Eaters, who originally disbanded in 1984, reunited for shows in 2015 it also sparked a new beginning for Divine Horsemen, who initially reformed with the idea of playing older material. Eventually, D introduced some songs in the works, and Divine Horsemen came together, along with guitarist Peter Andrus, who had appeared on A Handful of Sand and the band’s 1987 album Snake Handler, along with bassist Bobby Permanent, who was brought in to replace Robyn Jameson, who had worked with Desjardins 1982 and 2004 and sadly died in 2018 following a street assault. Divine Horsemen’s lineup filled out with X drummer DJ Bonebrake and keyboardist, and Snake Handler vet Doug Lacy.
On “Handful of Sand” and throughout Phoenix, Divine Horsemen unravel more abstract narratives of people, places, and obscure things.
“The songs—and even the album art chronicle the romantic duress and sexual tensions of a rogue’s gallery of fictional characters,” says D. “Sometimes they coincidentally mirror the emotional upheavals of real life friends and family in the 2st Century. As the album title suggests, the flames of love and desire, compassion and resentment burn hot and cold, only to ultimately melt away with the impermanence of all things.”