Call & Response: The Dears

Call & Response: The Dears

Well-known Montreal romantics The Dears released their fourth studio album yesterday called Missiles. The record sounds like classic Dears, only more stripped down. The lyrics also sound more personal, which might make sense if you're familiar with the changes that have happened to the band over the last couple years. Lead singer/guitarist/producer Murray Lightburn and wife/keyboardist/vocalist Natalia Yanchak had a baby and parted ways with every other member of the band.

Perhaps the most high profile indie rock family in Canada, Murray and Natalia have made this new album and have formed a new seven-member band to tour the world with. They played two well-received shows at the Music Gallery a couple weeks ago.

Although my Q&A didn't come back from them in time to post ahead of those shows, I'm happy to say their label did get them back to me this week. Murray seems like a very serious, intense person. It makes for a good interview though. It was one of the most interesting for me to read. It's the first time an artist has used a fan letter to answer one of my questions.

blogTO: Why are you called The Dears?

Murray Lightburn: Because to be dear is a somewhat attainable and hopefully noble
aspiration. It is the quest.

I've heard you frequently described as a "loose collective" rather than a "band". In light of your recent line-up changes, would you agree with that?

The Dears are neither. It is something that transcends "band" and is much more meaningful than "loose collective". It is an institution that will survive decades, centuries, millenia.

What were your goals when you first started performing together and have those goals changed over the years?

If there is any goal at all it is only to be true and to continue on the quest for utterly brutal truth. If that goal ever changes, The Dears will be finished.

What's it like being a "rock 'n roll family"? Being married to someone in your own band, juggling parental, marital and band duties?

It's the only way. This is a family business. And yet so many are welcome to be a part of it.

I heard your new album started as a solo record before it blossomed into a full-fledged Dears record. Why did you originally set out to write a solo record and at what point did you realize it was meant for the Dears?

I am here for only one purpose. To be a part of The Dears. I will do that until I am dead. And perhaps even beyond that. It is painfully, painfully inevitable.

You recorded a children's choir for a song on the record. What was the inspiration for that? What was it like working with children for one of your records?

The children were directed by Alison Carpenter. The innocence of their voices was paramount to the delivery of the piece.

Why is this new record called Missiles?

It seemed fitting of the situation and representative of what is happening.

You've established yourselves with consistent releases and lots of touring and numerous indie record deals. Would you have preferred a meteoric rise with a major or are you satisfied with your organic growth?

Recently we received a note:

A Love Letter to The Dears

Band - I must admit that got my hands on a leaked copy of the new album, Missles. Please don't arrest me. As a long time fan, how could I not bite at the temptation? Much like Murray says, the first listen surprised me and let me down a bit. The sound I was used to hearing in my anthem "You and I Are a Gang of Losers" was gone/changed/missing. I nearly gave up but within a few listens I found everything I wasn't looking for the first time. This album is beautiful, gorgeous and epic. I literally can't shake "Money Babies" from my conscious. I wake up in the middle of the night to check on my daughter and the song is still in my head, haunting me.

It seems every time I check in on the Dears, they are nearly depleted or near death. I am fortunate enough to find this album in my hands today with a proper release date in a few weeks. I will be first in line to buy my hard copy and push it on my friends. This album means a lot to me, even more to you I imagine. As an artist, I know the blood, sweat and tears that goes into every grain of work you produce. I hope it is paying off. I want to thank you for the work you continue to put out and congratulate you on a job well done.

Have you ever lived in Toronto? What do you like best and least about our city?

Natalia was born and raised in Toronto before she was finally seduced by Montreal. I have never lived in Toronto. We have some great friends there. That is all.

Where do you like to eat/drink/hang out while you're in Toronto?

We'll eat/drink/hang out almost anywhere in Toronto.

What scares you more: the outcome of the Canadian election or the outcome of the US election?


(Video for new single "Money Babies")

Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with artists either from Toronto or those who recently played here and released new albums yesterday. Photo by "Liam".

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