Montreal progressive grunge band The Dears have been through a lot in their 16 years together. With their fifth full-length album, Degeneration Street, set for release later this month, the band has achieved great success locally and internationally, but has also gone through some pretty dark and difficult times.
After touring to promote the album Gang of Losers in 2006, The Dears began questioning whether or not continuing was an option.
“It was a really tough time after we toured for that album,” keyboardist Natalia Yanchak admitted. “We were working from No Cities Left right through to Gang of Losers. We were touring and writing nonstop.” The Dears released two albums – No Cities Left and Gang of Losers – in the span of three years, opting not to take a break in between. Yanchak believes that this is a major reason for the band’s rocky times.
“I think we created this situation where nobody had the time to think about themselves and their own lives and reflect,” Yanchak revealed. “It created a tension that became undeniable. Being in a band is like creating a new family, or like a very intimate relationship, without the sexual part,” she laughed. “So when someone leaves it can be very emotional. People need to be happy above all else. You can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do.”
After that dark period, Yanchak said goodbye to every member of The Dears except for lead singer and guitarist Murray Lightburn (her husband and father of their child, Neptune). “There was a point when we were both like, well what are we going to do, are we going to keep The Dears going or not?” Yanchak said. “We realized it wasn’t about us, what I or Murray wanted. We kind of felt like it was more about The Dears, whatever that was.”
The decision to work through the difficulties of relentless touring and constant studio work wasn’t necessarily an easy one for Lightburn and Yanchak, but they believed they owed it to their fans and supporters to continue.
“It was partly out of respect for our audience and to the people that have had our music mean so much to them.” Yanchak said. “It was to keep the spirit of The Dears alive, beyond any of our individual desires.” That spirit seemed to carry the group after Lightburn and Yanchak recruited past members to fill in the vacant spots.
The newly-formed fivesome went on to record their fourth full-length album, Missiles, in 2008, and toured behind the album persistently. Their hard work and passion led to the creation of their new album Degeneration Street, whose release date is Feb. 15.
“I’m pretty excited for the album’s release.” Yanchak boasted. “It’s definitely its own beast, but it’s also a classic The Dears album, kind of like No Cities Left.” When asked how she thinks the band has evolved, Yanchak explained: “The Dears are just a spirit of song, and it’s sort of our duty at this point in our lives to propel that spirit.”
For a deeper look at The Dears’ latest album, Degeneration Street, check out this weeks quick spins. The Dears will be performing at their album launch party on Feb. 14 at Sala Rosa. Entry is free.