The Dears’ Murray Lightburn is reluctant to spat off at the media types who liken his band to a rehashing of The Smiths or Blur. It’s not that he is concerned about offending those who could potentially bread his butter; he’s actually honored to be placed in what he considers respected company. The Canadian composer/singer spent years analyzing The Smiths’ catalogue and this emotional effort finally culminated when Lightburn and band opened for the Pope of Mope this past year. “I got to meet [Morrissey] for, like, maybe a minute and a half and that was it. He was gone in a puff of smoke,” recalls Lightburn sardonically.
But Lightburn isn’t a truly passive person. His opinions become strong when the subject turns to the destructive detour the world’s culture has taken. “People wanna point the finger at George Bush, but I think it’s more than that. It’s within ourselves. We need to find the strength in ourselves to get past the fear.”
Lightburn reiterates the notion of self-recognition and personal responsibility: “At least I know that, when the bomb drops and my ass is toast, I’ve tried to live my life in an honest, loving, and peaceful way. That’s what I try to do and that’s the fucking point. People are missing the point. They’re distracted by fear so much that they’re forgetting to love each other.”
The Dears’ goal isn’t to change the world and Lightburn isn’t anywhere near the “Bono level” when I comes to world aid. “If there’s anything that The Dears wanna say about it, it’s like, ‘There’s nothing to be afraid of.’”
The band is relatively young at this stage, after being reformed by Lightburn in 2000. (The original lineup began in 1995.) After climbing up the Canadian college radio charts and appearing on Much Music, MTV2, and MTV Canada, the roads out of Montreal expanded and extended into the alleyways of the U.S. market. That wasn’t a calculated move, but it happened nevertheless. “[The U.S.] is a pretty huge beast to tame,” admits Lightburn. “The West Coast is going all right for us; the East Coast is going OK. Maybe there are some parts in the middle we could work on.”
The big picture is not necessarily the best one. “If there’s people out there, we’re playing to them. It doesn’t make a difference where that person is from and what that person looks like, whether that person is a boy or a girl, whether that person is a fucking Hindu or Muslim, or a fucking Jew. You know, it doesn’t really make a difference.”