Canadian rockers The Dears have been on a six year hiatus, but that will all come to an end next month, as they release their new album Times Infinity, which will be followed by a second release some time this year.
Ahead of the release, RUSHONROCK’s co-editor Adam Keys caught up with Murray Lightburn to talk recording, touring and finding the right balance between marriage and bandmates.
RUSHONROCK – Thanks for joining us at RUSHONROCK. Welcome back to the world of album releases and touring! It’s been six years – why now and what can fans expect?
Murray Lightburn – Music – Art – is a funny thing. It takes as long as it takes. Throw personal lives in the mix and you get six years….
RUSHONROCK – You recently released ‘I Used To Pray For The Heavens To Fall’. Can you tell us a bit about the song and the recurring lyric of ‘whose side are you on?’
ML – Possibly, it’s about choices and commitments…the song takes place in a world where one must commit to something, completely. Everyone has a set of ideals and when you’re in love with someone you can only hope those ideals are lined up together. Sometimes you have to make compromises to your ideals to just be with someone too…
RUSHONROCK – The track’s video by Richardson – a beetle building a rocket… Slightly off the beaten track, but a wonderfully animated piece of work that captures the dramatic, anthemic nature of the track. Can you tell us a little about the thought process behind this?
ML – You’d have to ask him. Sinbad Richardson is a supremely talented human. I don’t fully understand where he’s coming from because I couldn’t hold a candle to it..
RUSHONROCK – Part one of Times Infinity will be released in February, with the second part released later in 2017. What was the thinking behind the double release?
MB – Part of it was mirror our decades of being a band. The other part was simply having more than enough songs that weren’t repeated motifs. When you hear Vol 2, you’ll see what we mean. Additionally there might be more volumes of this collection in the future.
RUSHONROCK – What can you tell us about the album? What can fans expect to hear from this in comparison to your previous body of work?
ML – Well it’s very chill. There are rock moments but it’s The Dears in a measured, mature way. It’s very composed and detailed, less messy than our previous work. It’s also quite romantic, which is really part of our roots. And it’s apocalyptic as well, also part of our DNA.
RUSHONROCK – You were quoting as saying that making these two records was like solving a puzzle – can you tell us about the puzzle?
ML – Well making all the songs work together as a whole collection and then as two parts, it’s quite an undertaking. So many components. Each song has a function within and that’s something that we recognised at the start. It’s like making all the IKEA bits before assembling them; this is a top piece, these are the legs, screws, etc.
RUSHONROCK – You recorded the album in Toronto’s Revolution Recording and Montreal’s Thee Mighty Hotel2Tango – how was the recording process and was it a challenge adapting to different studios?
ML – The studio is a tool. Something you’re using a Makita and sometimes you’re using Black & Decker. The Hotel2Tango, I suppose, is my “home” studio, in that I do all my important work there. I’ve known and worked with Howard for over 20 yrs and Efrim is literally my next door neighbour. So no challenge there…. Revolution was more challenging in that we had to relocate completely to Toronto. It was really really expensive. So that was stressful. The studio was very nice and the staff are just great. But it’s a fancy studio. We are a much scrappier band than, say, Rush.
RUSHONROCK – The studio is an intense environment for any band; what is it like working with your wife? Does it make it tough when you go home, or are you able to keep work for the studio and switch off at home?
ML – Oh we definitely switch off and it’s really easy to do that. Because we have the children, they take up a lot of real estate. Our daily routine revolves more around that stuff than the band stuff. We’ve been together since 1998 so our time on the band is hyper focused and efficient. I’m so privileged to be working with the one I love. I enjoy it so much and feel like the luckiest guy on earth. She is the most amazing and strongest woman I will ever have the honour of knowing, never mind sharing a life.
RUSHONROCK – 2016 has been an eventful year with Brexit, Trump and endless celebrity deaths, has this inspired your writing process in any way, or have you stayed well clear of this in Canada?
ML – I think in an abstract way the state of the world is the thing that inspires us for sure. Because it helps to remind us of what is important to us. I mean whose side are you on anyway? I think the answer is in our songs. And that’s why we steer clear of politics as a band. Even if someone out there disagreed with how we feel about stuff, the door will always be open for them to check out our music. And maybe they’ll find something in our music that is of use to them in a soulful, spiritual way. If we made a big noise about anything political that people didn’t agree with, that door would potentially be closed forever. Don’t wanna make any sudden movements and scare anyone away. That’s dumb.
RUSHONROCK – Finally, it’s been a long break for you, are you excited to be back and is this going to be the start of more albums and tours from The Dears?
ML – We are tour in Europe right now. I’m 46 this year, several greys in now. I thought I was gonna hate being out here. But I’m loving every millisecond of it. It’s so wonderful.