"Sometimes, touring destroys people," Natalia Yanchak said. "They'll have a life revelation all of a sudden: Being in a band isn't for everybody."
The Dears keyboardist should know: She and founder Murray Lightburn are the only remaining members of the band's pre-2000 lineup.
But being a relentless touring machine is the life for the Dears, who have been on the road more or less nonstop since March of last year. Having taken their swirling orchestral pop all over the globe — including North America, Europe, Australia and a recent appearance at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas — the Montreal sextet is coming back to North America for yet another go in support of the farsightedly titled 2004 LP, No Cities Left. Starting May 24 in Los Angeles, the group will tour across the United States on a 15-date trek that will wrap in Baltimore on June 16.
Touring has taken its toll on the prior lineups of the band, which was formed by Lightman 10 years ago. "Maybe some people left because they didn't like the 'direction' things were going in," Lightburn said, slightly scornfully. "But that usually translates as: 'Why I aren't a rock star yet? Where's the money? Where's the hookers and blow?' "
Still, the band had its own rock-star moment last year when it opened for Morrissey, a crucial and acknowledged influence on Lightman. "It was great playing with Morrissey — and at the same time terrifying," he laughed. "We actually had a bit of a 'moment' before the gig actually started. We just kind of froze." (They may have a similar moment when they open for '80s icons New Order in London on June 24.)
The band is gearing up to record the follow-up to No Cities Left, which was the Dears' first U.S. release and helped transform the group from a Canadian success to an international one (see "CMJ Music Marathon Recap: 10 Bands Who Live Up To The Hype"). All of the songs for the new LP have been written and the group is scheduled to hit the studio in September.
Murray said the Dears plan to experiment with textures and keep their music epic, but they also want to connect with as many people as possible — and if his ambitions border on pretentious, so be it.
"The immediate goal is to bring millions of people together — people with smiles, holding hands, making out. I think [in terms of songwriting] I'm coming to grips with the drama and history of my life and what I would like to see for the future of mankind. If that's not grand enough, I don't know what is. It sounds really lofty but I don't give a rat's ass."
The Dears' tour dates, according to their publicist:
- 5/24 - Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
- 5/25 - San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
- 5/27 - Seattle, WA @ Crocodile Cafe
- 5/28 - George, WA @ The Gorge
- 5/30 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
- 5/31 - Denver, CO @ Climax Lounge
- 6/2 - Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck
- 6/3 - Minneapolis, MN @ Ascot Room @ Quest Club
- 6/4 - Chicago, IL @ Metro /Smart Bar
- 6/5 - Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
- 6/6 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
- 6/11 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
- 6/12 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
- 6/14 - Philadelphia, PA @ North Star
- 6/15 - Baltimore, MD @ Fletcher's
- 6/24 - London, England @ Hyde Park