I just read my bandmate’s latest eponymous* instalment of the BENVIE MEMO. In it, he draws comparison between certain moments of The Dears’ No Cities Left to the forthcoming Degeneration Street. He, Benvie, links through to this track from NCL, which I just now finished listening to (you should too, at least before reading on):
Listening to this track was enlightening (revisiting our catalogue is always a stirring reminder of my own history) in that I could recall how our first albums were (and in a way, remain) pretty far out there. I was invogourated by the idea that Degeneration Street is a total return to this: with a twisted message of love, it stomps on the hopes and dreams of the now-commodified vision of indie rock, the vulgar portrait of Dorian Gray today’s music “scenesters” refuse to look at. Yeah, you know who you are.
But I see the change coming. I see the worn-down edges of society. You are ready for something new, for something real, for that thing that reminds you who you are and why you continue.**
* I can use big words too.
** Fuck, I love Morrissey.
Feels like weeks since I’ve been here. I keep meaning to write something, then I get distracted by something else that has to be done. We’re in the final stages of production of The Dears album, and I’m pretty much completely psyched about it. Also, I’ve been working on my science fiction novel which is coming along nicely but is a real drain on the wordsmith portions of my brain. Thus, explaining my absence here.
Saturday night, just before bedtime, my daughter pulled out three of her stuffed bears and asked me to make two of them some clothes so they could be more like the third, red-shirted Winnie the Pooh. I’ve made low-rent bag-shirts out of felt for her bears before, so I told her we could do it in the morning and sent her off to bed. First thing Sunday morning I was requested to make good on my word and produce aforementioned bear clothes. Really? I negotiate to have coffee and breakfast first and decide to go for it: I busted out the sewing machine. I did not go for it that far, since I didn’t bother trying to change the colour of the bobbin thread. Gauche, I know.
I was instructed to make two shirts: one blue and one yellow. I found scraps of fabric I’d used for other projects and started in, first making a blue shirt for the panda bear (accented with a bowtie made from gingham Mokuba ribbon). After making the yellow vest for the second “Snowy” bear, was feeling a little confident and added a skirt with ruched front. That’s right. From scratch, patternless, using mismatched threads and crappy scissors.
May I present to you, four hours later, Snowy and The General in their Sunday best:
In a recent interview on XFM, Morrissey spoke of his new album, saying: “Journalists won’t like it but real people will” And you know I feel the same way…not about his album but about The Dears’ album. I suppose Morrissey has ample reason to have a fatalistic attitude toward the media, though I always assume that an extremely dark sense of humour is layered over everything he says in public. But what do I know? I’m just assuming.
We (The Dears) have been pretty busy planning our release, that we hope at least some journalists will like. We hope everyone would like it, journalist or not, but we understand that there are many haters out there so it’s out of our control. I guess after you’ve released over a dozen records (like Morrissey) you just give up trying to please everyone. I definitely feel a little more hardened with each release. Album number four is comparatively early on in our career, so the optimism and hope are still there. I just can’t help it.
We moved into a proper rehearsal space this week. We’d been jamming in our basement, two or three people at a time and finally when we had a rehearsal with five people it became brutally apparent that we needed a space. The wheels are in motion. We’re coming back.
On Tuesday, Murray and I embarked on an Ontarian adventure. We drove down to play the record for some people. This album is precious to us, and we would be totally devastated if our past year’s work was misused or stolen from us. So we never sent out any CDs to anyone, and in fact the only way anyone who didn’t play on the record can hear it is to come to one of our impromptu board room meetings for a listening session. We came to Toronto to play it for friends and also some industry types: at least, the ones who were open to the idea of a listening session. We would gather people together, put the CD on the stereo, then leave the room. After 58 minutes we’d come back, reclaim the CD and that’s it. That’s how we’re rolling: no burns, no iTunes imports, no files somewhere on a server. No ripping, burning, leaking or stealing allowed until we’re ready. Because we know it’s going to happen eventually — we’d just like to be involved when it goes down. Call us crazy, but these songs are the keystone, our main conduit keeping us connected with our fans, and we want to enjoy that communication, not live in fear of it.
So we’ve got a lot of convincing to do: our works’ cut out for us. Murray and I are kind of on a reconnaissance mission: collecting information, seeing who’s into our outsider ways, observing people’s reactions, their favourite tracks and single selections, what they did and didn’t expect. It’s been interesting, and the common thread (for me) is how good it sounds no matter where we play it. It carries itself with a creative consistency across several platforms: headphones, car stereos, amazing stereos, crappy stereos, computer speakers and other small systems. Even after hearing it dozens of times in its finished state, I still hear things I’ve not heard before.
Now we’re simmering, letting all the ideas come to us as sort of a natural reaction to how the music is being perceived. The music industry has forced our hand, compelled us to let go of old world methods and marketing templates for organic ways and the opening of an unconventional, artistic discourse. We want to put something out there for you to hear soon, too. Stay tuned for the news of listening sessions, because we might get crazy and invite you to the next one.
Hey. So I just posted a clip of Murray and Rob listening back to the first print they did of “Disclaimer,” a song that is shaping up to be the opening track on the album. Murray had to re-do the vocals at the last minute, actually the night before this video was taken. The original take that he did weeks before wasn’t sitting well. I thought it was too aggressive, but this new take is like Mellow Dude singing. I like it a lot and people are gonna be all: “HUNH?” when they hear it.
Check it oot: thedears.org/pagefour.
I also realised that this is the first music preview of any kind for the new album, so this is some pretty hot, inside scoop stuff here.