2015 Artist Survey: The Dears | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2015 Artist Survey: The Dears

Murray Lightburn on Music Streaming, Mainstream Pop, the Election, Being Fired, and Star Wars

Feb 17, 2016 Artist Surveys 2015 Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar’s 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from Murray Lightburn of The Dears. The Canadian band released their latest album, Times Infinity Volume One, in 2015 via Dangerbird. A shorter version of this interview ran in the Best of 2015 print issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is the full unedited version of the interview.

Top 10 Albums of 2015

After Googling “albums of 2015” and viewing the list on Wikipedia (on which The Dears is NOT included) I can honestly say that aside from listening to chunks of Godspeed, I have not heard a single note from 2015. Not sure if that’s something of which to be proud or ashamed.

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Fortunately, no real low points. Every day has highs and lows but they are pretty minimal. Like “Ugh, why is Apollo whining?” or “When will Neptune stop talking?” or “I’m hungry.” to “Yes! I built the shit out of that shed!” or “That pizza crust turned out amazing,” et cetera. That said, finally dropping Times Infinity Volume One was exciting.

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

Personally, I hope to embrace my mid-40s and continue on my creative journey even more meaningfully than ever before. As for the band, simply surviving would suffice.

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

Frankly, it’s hard to tell what is going on other than the fact that the streaming services seem very comfortable and are doing pretty well for themselves while the majority of artists (at least the ones I know) are left to wonder “What’s in it for us?” On an immediate level, indeed, it appears there’s not much compensation. The way I see streaming is as an alternative for mainstream radiowhich is an (albeit dying) institution that has never embraced my band in any way, despite us always wanting to “play ball” with them. So if this is the back door that gatekeepers cannot control where our music and the likes of us gets through to actual music fans who would otherwise never get to hear The Dears, then, well, you can do the math.

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

I don’t know why it hasn’t happened sooner. It makes sense, though: the music industry has been working towards to this sort of “blockbuster” TGIF event album release for quite sometime (T-Swift, Adele, etc). Mondays/Tuesdays don’t seem like the kind of day where you want to drop stuff like that. Those album events are like Star Wars and for those types of albums that every single media outlet (even pajama bloggers) is on top of, it is probably helping sales. Someone undoubtedly did the research and it is probably working very well for that 1% of releases. For the rest, it really doesn’t matter at all when their record drops.

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

Good gawd. It’s horrifying, isn’t it? Moreover, having to read how these rich white kids “love hip-hop” and about the “death of rock ‘n’ roll” is nauseating. We are now being inundated with “indie” bands no one has ever heard, getting on stage in designer outfits, pressing buttons and having light showsa direct result of going to too many big-budget, 300-dollars-a-ticket music festivals. Have you been to a rock club lately? I reckon not. A true rock band or performer is born and raised in the rock club and that institution is being destroyed at the moment. It really boils down to a class thing. Indie rock was always for rich kids, so it’s a natural evolution to move on to this kind of model. (Ugh; I can’t stand the sound of myself right now.)

What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?

As an outside observer of U.S. politics for years, it’s kind of like watching sports playoffs and this election coming up has really got me baffled. There is no way Trump actually wants to be President of the United States of America and it almost seems like a joke gone way too far. Yet, aside from him, they have nobody else. So I’ll be watching how that unfolds. On the Democrats’ side, I cannot imagine Clinton not getting the nod. Yet there is Bernie Sanders with all his hipster appeal and his “realness.” Again, baffling and no real way of knowing what’s gonna happen. My guess is that an embarrassing scandal of some sort will level the whole thing. That’s what usually happens, right?

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift’s 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist’s album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

The Dears have always had a pretty strict “no covers” policy. Why? Because it’s lame. These days, it’s just some kind of “forced associative branding” (pre-negotiated or not) to get clicks, which is fucking pathetic. So for that reason, it will never happen.

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?

I worked at a Pier One one year (in the stock room, of course) and once fell asleep during a staff meeting while the regional manager was talking. I showed up to work the next morning and was told, “You’re fired.”

What’s your earliest music-related childhood memory?

Singing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” in front of a church full of people.

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?

To be greeted by a Haitian marching band that has been instructed to not stop playing as long as we are in the room.

What’s the most disastrous date you’ve ever been on?

Not appropriate for this magazine.

Which Star Wars character are you most like?

Who do you think??? Lando, baby!

Following the terrorist attack at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris do you think that security at music venues should be improved and do you now worry about something similar happening at one of your shows?

In your memory, ever, how often have you heard of such an incident? It was such an unfortunate thing that happened and it does make one who travels in that world think about stuff that can happen. But if we let it dictate anythinganything at allmoving forward, then indeed: these scumbags win. And while I would never ever suggest that these kinds of acts are at all excusable, I maintain that they are preventable and it starts at home. For fuck’s sake, hug your children. Moreover: don’t just be kind to others, be determined in being kind, no matter what. Don’t let a potential conflict escalate.



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February 18th 2016

The Dears my favorite indie rock band and iam following those all music albums regularly.