After their triumphant appearance at Leeds’ Brudenell Social Club, God Is In The TV Zine caught up with Murray Lightburn of The Dears to talk Times Infinity, Montreal and the death of all the romance:
GIITTV: Congratulations on the excellent new album, please could you explain a little about how you decided on the ‘Volume One / Volume Two’ approach, and what can fans expect from Volume Two?
Murray Lightburn: It is new territory for us. We approached the project that could have been a double album in one go but it was more realistic to complete them as separate albums, closely related. It’s also a mild play on celebrating being around for a 2 decades now. There is a strong theme of nostalgia throughout.
Volume Two is very mellow, strange and dark; the arrangements take a few more chances. Lyrically there is more resolve, more plain, less abstract.
Is there a story behind the new track ‘Here’s To The Death Of All The Romance’ and the No Cities Left track ’22: The Death Of All The Romance’?
It was funny for us to refer to “the death of all the romance” once again but in a different way. The statement now has a few grey hairs and love handles. It doesn’t wear an ascot anymore or reads Baudelaire in the bathtub sipping sherry. It has kids, a mortgage, and a family car now. But the feeling is still there, still beating. And most importantly it still has …urgency. It’s kind of like ‘Frank the Tank’.
What do you feel are the standout tracks on the new album, or your personal favourites?
I have especially strong feelings for ‘To Hold And Have’, ‘Someday All This Will Be Yours’, and ‘Onward And Downward’. On stage, I look forward to ‘Here’s To The Death…’ and ‘Face Of Horrors’.
A certain dark humour can be detected in some of your lyrics – do you agree with that statement and if so, do you think that it is recognsed?
Absolutely. But while it’s a bit dark I would (hope) it’s more dry – so dry that our jokes mostly go past a lot of people in part because of the frame we’ve selected. I think a common misconception about The Dears is that everything we deliver is to be taken at face value, that we are every thing we say in our songs and that everything in all the songs is autobiographical. In reality, we are much more observational than that. There is a bit of us in there but we are more detached narrators telling a story that hopefully relates to people. We’re still working on that approach.
The Dears are well known for their intense live shows; on which song(s) from your career do you feel that this has best translated onto record?
The stage is a completely different animal from the studio as well as albums from live shows. We generally approach them very differently so that is a difficult question to answer. I think when we separate the process between what happens in the studio and what happens on the stage, the chances for better translation between the two are greater.
Have you always kept your base in Montreal, and are there advantages / disadvantages of that compared to being in say, New York or London?
For whatever reason, we’ve stayed here. We rarely even record outside Montreal. It’s an easy place to get things done without blowing your budget. I’ve been here all my life. Its like a messy desk and I know where everything is.
Are there any new Canadian artists that you are excited about at the moment?
I met the girl from Weaves recently – Jasmyn. She sent me some new stuff she was working on and boy, it was great. I was relieved to know that kids are alright! (laughs). Not as new, the latest Plants and Animals is really really good.
If you met a total stranger and were allowed to pick three Dears songs to best illustrate the essence of the band, what would they be?
Never Destroy Us, Lights Off, Onward and Downward? I’d just listen to Lost In The Plot over and over…..
The Dears sometimes toured in support of other bands earlier on, have there been any artists that you have particularly enjoyed touring with? (Or not, if you feel able to say!)
Jeez, we have toured with so many many bands. And a lot of them don’t exist anymore. We toured with Keane once and every single person involved was extremely nice, helpful and respectful. Not an asshole in the entire operation and there was a lot of people. That’s impressive. On the flip side, we toured with this one sort of popular American band where the singer purposely and willfully ignore my attempts to greet him. Like blanked me out completely. Near the end of the tour – after this BS, day-in, day-out – he came up to our van to talk to us as we were leaving after a gig. The van was running. I had enough of him so I just abruptly closed the door in his face as he was in mid-sentence. “Drive! Drive!” I called to the front. I looked back to see him giving us the finger as we drove away. Man, that was fucking funny.
What would you say are the greatest album and single ever made?
(Sly and the Family Stone‘s) There’s A Riot Going On. Any Sly and The Family Stone single will do.
Finally, The Dears make a welcome return to the UK for shows this month – what can fans expect from these dates? Any shows that you are particularly looking forward to?
There will be sweat. Lots of it. Looking forward to all of it. Also trying out a sampler I built. That will be fun….