The Dears' Murray Lightburn The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Published Feb 20, 2011After more than a decade of work, the Dears have proven themselves Canadian indie mainstays. But things haven't always been peachy for the Montreal troupe, as band differences in 2006 led to the eventual dissolution of the band's original line-up in 2007. Keen to move forward, the band have released two albums since that rocky time, the latest being Degeneration Street. Asked how the band dynamic has changed in the past few years, singer Murray Lightburn is keen to point out the band's new positivity and sense of accountability for the Dears.
"I guess mostly we work as a team," says Lightburn, "but we also work alone. Everybody submits songs. I appreciate that because everybody knows what goes into making a piece of music. I no longer feel like I'm carrying the cross by myself, as I was in the past. I'm willing to do that work, but it's nice to work with people who understand what it's like to have that burden."
The band, according to Lightburn, have much to look forward to this year. "There's talk of putting together an EP. There's also talk of a Dears book that's coming out that my friend Lorraine Carpenter wrote. I think we're going to be spending a lot of time on the road this year, and there's also talk of releasing the concerts we did in Mexico. So, there's a lot of stuff happening, actually."
What are you up to?
Right now, this very second, I'm actually typing out an email message to our mailing list, personally.
What are your current fixations?
Roberto [Arquilla], our bass player, just turned me onto this show called Ancient Aliens. It's wild. It's a History Channel show, in documentary style, and it's trying to convince us that aliens existed or came to Earth and gave us a lot of technology. I'm only in the first season, but they talk about the pyramids being some sort of alien design and that technology now existed a long time ago. It's basically telling us that aliens have been here before, telling us what to do.
Why do you live where you do?
I really don't know [why I live in Montreal]. I ask myself that every winter.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
My daughter, Neptune.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I guess it would have to be at the Hummingbird Centre when we opened for Morrissey. It would have to be that because we were starting with "We Can Have It," and we came out on stage and essentially stood there for what felt like a full minute before we could bring ourselves to play a note. Finally, we started playing; I think it was only 15 seconds, but it was pretty weird, especially knowing that our show was coming through the intercom speakers in Morrissey's dressing room.
What have been your career highs and lows?
Just the other day, we played on The Late Show with David Letterman. I have to say a career high was sending horn charts to the band and having Paul Shaffer call me to go over the arrangements. That's up there. The obvious low point would be the meltdown of 2006/2007 that resulted in a fracture in the band. But it's in the past, and look where we are now.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
You know, I've seen this question in the Questionnaire before, and I've always thought "how would I answer that?" I don't recall anyone ever saying anything mean before, during, or after a show. I can't think of a moment when that's happened.
What should everyone shut up about?
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I wish I was calmer.
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Sweatpants, hanging out with Natalia and Neptune, ordering pizza or making pizza, and playing video games.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Don't read reviews.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Lying to my face.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Right now, Classified. "Oh Canada, oh, oh, oh, Canada!"
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
[The Smiths'] The Queen is Dead, 1986.
What was your most memorable day job?
Working at a Burger King.
How do you spoil yourself?
I get permission first, but I'll buy myself a piece of gear. Usually a piece of ProAudio gear.
If I wasn't playing music I would be...
A private detective. I hope that exists, because if this Dears thing doesn't work out, I was hoping to get a Private Detective license. It's just about the gear, really ― the gadgetry.
What do you fear most?
I don't fear anything anymore. I've faced my fears. I've faced the ultimate fear, so I don't fear anything anymore.
Can I ask what that ultimate fear was?
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
My wife? [Laughs.]
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
I haven't met many celebrities. I can think of the time I met Kevin Shields in London, after a gig many years ago. I remember meeting him and just being overcome that he was at our gig and we were standing in front of each other. I remember being so drunk that I was speechless. I didn't have anything to say except "I love you," or something like that. Then I hugged him. It was really weird.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
I'm actually going to say Chris Seligman from Stars. He used to come over for dinner all the time, like sometimes four times a week, and he doesn't come over so often any more, but I wish he'd come over as often as he used to. I miss him coming over for dinner almost all the time. This is my very public invitation to Chris, 'cause I want him to read this, even though we talk almost every day, and know that he's long overdue for coming over for dinner.
What are you going to serve him as enticement?
He's pretty easy; I just have to describe it, and he'll go for it. Especially if it involves rapini.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
She probably wishes that I was next in line to take over the Church and take care of a flock.
And be a private detective on the side?
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
I thought about this recently! Probably Mahalia Jackson's "Last Mile of the Way."