November 21, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 47  

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The Dears' eclipse-free rock 'n' roll situation

By Maggie Wrobel
Gazette Staff

Aaron Seligman/2003
LOVE FROM MONTREAL. The team of Murray A. Lightburn, Natalia Yanchuk, George Donoso III, Valerie Jodoin-Keaton and Martin Pelland are not as dark and dour as you think.

Did you see the total lunar episode a few weeks ago? If not, you missed an opportunity to witness the moon's near disappearance due to the shadow of the earth.

The total eclipse of the moon - light that appears to be hidden by darkness, depending on your personal perception - is a perfect metaphor to describe Montreal orchestral rockers The Dears.

Between torrid album titles such as End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story, Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique and their most recent effort, the effervescent epic No Cities Left, several member departures and an explosive live show, The Dears have garnered a reputation among media types as a dark and dour group of individuals.

Natalia Yanchak, the multi-talented Dear responsible for organ, clarinet, piano, synthesizer and lead and backing vocal duties, finds the image ascribed to the band humorously untrue.

"To us as individuals, it's hilarious!" she laughs. "[Journalists] seem to think we're all brooding and pretentious and that when we walk offstage we sit and drink port wine by the fireplace with these serious faces, when in reality, when we're together - and I know this sounds corny - we're all about good humour and laughter. We're all great friends and we have a good time together night and day."

This perception may have been born from the fact that passionate hipsters seem to instantly connect with The Dears' unique brand of rock; be it due to themes within the songs like love lost and won and perseverance against all odds, or the music itself - rich arrangements featuring a huge assortment of instruments.

Yanchak states that, while she's unsure what it is that draws people towards the band, she and her bandmates cherish their relationship with their listeners.

"Even when we're not playing a show, we're thinking about performing these songs for people. I think it's bullshit to claim that you're making art for yourself and that you don't care if people see it or not. Art, although this definition is debatable, is a form of communication; not only between the artist and the art itself but also between individuals."

However, although the fans are important, Yanchak is quick to point out that The Dears remain self-contained.

"We never want to absorb anyone's expectations because we know that we can't let that affect what we do," she states firmly. "You can't internalize other people's opinions of what you do, even in a non-rock 'n' roll situation."

Currently on their third Canadian tour, The Dears' own "rock 'n' roll situation" is progressing nicely.

"Murray [Lightburn, the band's principal songwriter] just brought us a few new songs, but we haven't even begun to work on them as a band yet. But it's brilliant stuff. We're all really anxious to start working on new songs."

The Dears bring their sunny-yet-serious rock 'n' roll to Call The Office tonight. Tickets are $10 at the door and doors open at 8 p.m.



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