Singer-songwriter Jeff Berman doesn’t care about music genre. When inspiration hits, he creates his songs in whatever shape and sound that flows from his mind.
But his attitude and beliefs are 100% punk and he has plenty to say about the state of the world today. Berman records under the moniker Divided Heaven, and like the name implies, there’s plenty of conflict and searching in his lyrics.
Berman released his latest single, the Americana punk number “The Poisoned Our Fathers,” October 27th via Smartpunk Records, and followed that up with a music video drop on October 28th.
Renowned singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless also features on the powerful song. Per the press release, “The track is a scathing message that takes aim at our own friends and family members who not only continue to support failing political leaders, but also vote against the safety and best interests of the women in their lives.”
Berman kindly took part in our ongoing Protest Interview series, which was completed before the US Presidential Election. Even though Joe Biden won the election, we will continue to publish this series, since there are still so many injustices and problems in the world that need addressing and fixing.
Hello! Please introduce yourself/yourselves and give a description of your sound/musical vision.
My name is Jeff Berman. I’m a singer-songwriter and despite hating that description: I write songs that span the spectrum from punk to indie to alt-country to pop… and then I sing ‘em. I’ve been touring and releasing music under the moniker Divided Heaven for ten years.
Imagine putting on Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil and following it with Carole King’s Tapestry… You’d end up at a junction of poetic lyrics with a fiery delivery and urgency that — odd as it may seem — spells out the Divided Heaven sound.
What is/are the main personal, national, and/or international issue(s) concerning you the most these days?
My concerns these days are too numerous to detail anymore. Doing so would break my computer and your server (sigh). With my songwriting, I try to express the inner turmoil I have about any issue, whether it be culture wars, relationships, mental illness, the plight and suffering of people all over the world… and turn my perspective into a song. Often, my perspective doesn’t clarify and the song is an expression of the turmoil itself.
At this point in time, amidst the release of our newest single, “They Poisoned Our Fathers,” the focus is on American authoritarianism, the sickness of our politics, the sickness of religion and the poison of Trump.
What song, video, or lyrics quote of yours best represents your current viewpoint on this/these important topic(s)?
The most emblematic Divided Heaven lyric for 2020 is from ‘They Poisoned Our Fathers’ with the line “Have I failed you / like the way that you failed me?”
The conservative right’s stance is predicated on me not being able to exist, on my Jewish friends and family not being able to exist freely, on our black brother and sisters not being able to live without fear of the police, on our immigrant community not being able to thrive and share in our cultural fabric.
Have we all — collectively and individually — failed you so badly that you continue to support such vile politicians and abhorrent policies?
I’m a proud punk rocker and my entire existence in that subculture is predicated on helping people, connecting people, and lifting people, especially those less fortunate, less-abled, and those in need.
We need helpers, not bullies.
What’s your favorite song, video, or lyrics quote by another act or artist that best exemplifies, or at least partly relates to, your current viewpoint?
Anti-Flag are a longtime personal favorite of mine. Every record teaches me something, engages me and encourages me to do more good, to be better and to be more compassionate.
In the brutal age of Trump, sometimes you just need to throw fire on the bully pulpit and Anti Flag did just that with their song “Christian Nationalists” which succinctly reminds these spineless politicians that we see through their faux compassion and we see them for the sexist, racist, intolerant bullies they truly are. “We all know who you are / We all know who you are.”
What other forms of protest, besides through your music, are you involved with to get your message across?
I participate in and encourage peaceful protests. I have a podcast (The Berman Hour) where social and cultural issues are addressed and discussed. And, I kindly encourage those in my life to never stop learning, to always be kinder.
It’s easy to judge and criticize others, especially in these unsettling times of overt intolerance, ignorance, and insults, but the fact remains that we need to work together to ensure that positive change occurs. Name an action to take, or a campaign/charity that would be worthwhile to contribute to, for your cause.
I encourage people to support:
and the food banks in their towns.
What gives you hope for the future?
I’m inspired by young people who proudly showcase a deeper level of tolerance and respect — at a younger age — than we or our parents ever did.
Where can we purchase/stream your music and find out more about you?