Metallica's James Hetfield recently stated that the band was in the final process…
- Posted on Sep 18th 2008 3:00PM by Jason Cohen
What's a six-piece band to do when two-thirds of its members leave? Become a seven-piece. Montreal's the Dears return next month with a new album, 'Missiles,' and a brand new touring line-up. Out are Patrick Krief, George Donoso III, Martin Pelland and Valerie Joidon-Keaton. In, along with incumbents (and married couple) Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchuk are Lisa Smith and Laura Wills, Jason Kent, Yann Geoffroy and Christopher McCarron.
The reason for the change? Well, if you believe one Canadian message board, it's because Lightburn's a self-important diva who makes Morrissey, Courtney Love and Sting seem like those friendly Los Campesinos! kids.
"Murray doesn't talk to anyone but Natalia or his assistant, Leopold," one post reads. "Don't try asking him a question or even bother saying hello. He won't look at you, let alone answer. If Murray wants to record a guitar part, he'll whisper what he wants to Leopold and Leopold will tell the engineer. Also if, for example, the engineer wants to know what amp Murray will be using, he asks Leopold, and Leopold relays the info to Murray. One of the engineers who was working on the record early on addressed Murray directly, to ask if he would be partaking in some Thai take out. Big mistake. What did Murray do? Fire the poor engineer? Forget that. He packed everything up and changed studios! You'd think I was making this up."
You think? The post continues:
"The absolute most insane thing I saw was when he sent Leo out to the Lightburn homestead for some cheese and crackers. Leo came back with some seriously expensive cheeses, including a big chunk of Gauro Glas, a hunk of Caciocavallo Podolico and some Swedish Moose Cheese. Murray shared the cheese and crackers with everyone (one thing the guy is not is selfish). We were all a bit sheepish about taking too much since these were some really pricey cheeses, so there was a ton left over. Can you guess what happened to the rest? Leo f---ing threw it out! There must have been at least a hundred dollars in grade A cheese in the trash. When we freaked because Leo threw the cheese out, Murray, for the first time since we'd been recording, burst out laughing. He leaned over and whispered to Leo, after which Leo looks at as and says Mr Lightburn asks, why we don't remove the cheese from "the bin" and send it to "the needy?" Then he fired us, on the spot. Just like that. Five engineers, two runners, four guitar techs, two keyboard techs, a drum tech, a vocal tech, the lighting guy and the make up artist. All fired over cheese. Unreal."
While no Swedish moose cheese was harmed in the making of 'Missiles' the band did apparently implode due to the usual "creative differences." As the Dears' main artistic force, Lightburn thinks of himself as a "deliveryman" of words and music. "Songwriting has always been like a sonic explosion in my brain," he says. "I don't just sit there and diddle on a guitar until a riff appears. S--- comes in, I write it down, I record it, I put it out.
"And I think the other [members] that split, maybe they thought they were deliverymen as well," Lightburn adds. "And they were. But maybe one guy is the driver, and one guy is the guy that brings the package to the door. Everybody has a different role. And that's fine. That's how I realized that the Dears are bigger than a group of individuals: that it was more about songs and music. Because the thing is, those guys had all replaced people as well at one point. The Dears are always starting over."
Indeed -- guitarist Krief, so spectacularly integral to the band onstage these past four years, didn't even play on 2003's 'No Cities Left,' the band's masterpiece and breakthrough album. (Krief, who does appear on 'Missiles,' is now fronting Black Diamond Bay, a band that also includes drummer Donoso.)
And the Dears line-up that's about to go on tour might not be the Dears line-up in 2009. "The agreement that we have is, everybody's committing until Christmas," Lightburn says. "All these people have other projects that they want to pursue."
Lisa Smith and Laura Wills were plucked from Pony Up, a Montreal band Lightburn has produced. "I got to know them pretty well, and we had a really good time making that record. It isn't coming out until February, and one of [the other members] is pregnant, so they won't be doing many shows in the fall."
"Right now, the plan is to review the line up every six months until it settles into people who want to be in the band," he continues. "And it's up to them. It's not up to me. Best case scenario, we go into the studio and make a record, because until we do, essentially we're a Dears jukebox kind of cover band. The stuff from the new record is taking shape -- it's actually sounding fucking awesome -- but it's gonna be a while before we own the old stuff again. We just hope the hardcore fans are patient with that."