The Divys are coming to an Xbox near you.
The pop-rock/New Wave group’s song "Get Up! Give Up! Move On!" is one of five worldwide submissions selected to debut in this fall’s version of "Dance Dance Revolution," the hugely popular music video game series by Konami. First introduced in Japan in 1998, the game currently boasts more than 1,000 tunes, with plenty of genres to choose from — including electronic, jazz and hip-hop. The Japanese entertainment giant has yet to announce the official release date.
It’s not the first time The Divys — consisting of residents Cliff Hritz, 29, and William Schrul, 38 — have stepped into the international limelight, either. Earlier this year, guitarist Hritz and lead singer Schrul took home a John Lennon Songwriting Contest Award for their electronic hit "Freddie, Are You Single?" But this time, the reward is even sweeter, as the latest achievement means exposure to an overseas and national audience.
"It’s giving me the chills right now," Hritz, a resident of the 700 block of South 17th Street, said. "To finally get this kind of recognition is exciting and overwhelming."
Schrul, who alternates between cross-country flights as a domestic attendant with United Airlines and music practice inside his apartment on 15th and Lombard streets, echoed the sentiment: "It’ll get our music out there to people we would otherwise have no other way of reaching."
Hritz and Schrul entered the contest via Broadjam.com, the Web’s hub for independent music, and which The Divys subscribe to as a venue for showcasing their talent. While musicians may submit songs from a variety of genres, Konami looks for "strong" and "catchy melodies" and compositions with "a high level of accessibility," according to Broadjam.com. Submissions began Jan. 15 with the results announced in mid-April.
"You send it, you wait, you forget about it. Then you get an e-mail and it’s like, ‘Boom!’ It’s a lot of waiting," Hritz, who last worked at a Center City law firm, but has devoted the last six months to songwriting, said.
In arcade versions, players watch a scrolling screen that indicates a pattern of foot movements to be mimicked on touch-sensitive pads. A misstep means a loss of points, while perfect execution advances the dancer to quicker, more complicated steps. If playing on video game consoles such as Nintendo, PlayStation or Xbox, the fingers do the dancing. The game is a test of coordination and, for the true fanatic — of which there are many — memorization.
"This was the first song we wrote for our second album, ‘Sophomore,’" Hritz said of the winning tune.
The Divys have released two albums to date, with "This is What You Get" the first. "Get Up! Give Up! Move On!" explores unrequited love, but its Devo-inspired, New Wave roots make it catchy and upbeat enough for serious players of all ages. (There have been numerous reports of people losing weight from this one-heck-of-a-workout music video game, too.)
As part of their win, The Divys will receive $1,000 — a prize slated to arrive any day now.
"People might say, ‘You’re only going to get $1,000 and you’re going to be on Xboxes and on arcades?’" Hritz said. "The cash is nice, but the real value of this is the publicity. Philadelphia is well-known for its R&B; and hip-hop musicians, but when’s the last time you heard of a great rock band come from South Philly?"
Since last catching up with The Divys in early January, much has changed. The band has had a chance to improve its sound quality significantly, an accomplishment they attribute to their new musical equipment, purchased with the $5,500 won in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. The Divys bought a new guitar effects rack, drum machine and electronic drum pad.
"That made my guitar sound 1,000 times more expensive than it really is," Hritz said of the rack. "It’s enabled our songs to be of a better quality."
The boost means more live shows, a goal the band hopes to accomplish with the addition of newest member Jerry Del Rosso, who gave up his Atlantic City Borgata Casino accountant job to be a fulltime waiter at Center City’s Mixto Restaurant while serving as The Divys’ drummer. Del Rosso, who was not part of the "DDR" project, joined the band in July.
"Music took over," the 24-year-old from the 800 block of Fitzwater Street said. He responded to the band’s posting on Craiglist and, after several weeks of e-mails and one audition, he was in.
Hritz said about 10 others were interested, but Del Rosso stood out because of his enthusiasm and ability to maintain good timing on a live set. Those skills will certainly come in handy, as the band is rehearsing for its fall performance in the Big Apple, a date that has yet to be determined.
"A lot of times, you meet bands that don’t really have motivation. They don’t want to jam. These guys are really into making music," Del Rosso, who also plays violin, piano and guitar, said.
Del Rosso’s entry coincides with yet another feat: The band just signed with Wine Bros. Management, a music production company that’s agreed to help The Divys score a record deal by creating a video and press kit. The Divys connected with the L.A.-based company after submitting their work via Taxi.com, an online music library that forwards entries to agents.
"In the back of my mind, I’ve always been hoping for and wanting a record deal," Schrul said. "When you see someone else really believe in you and take on your project, it’s a good feeling. It makes it more believable."