It’s been an interesting morning for Dears frontman Murray
Lightburn. The lead singer of the Canadian indie-rock band is
getting ready to open for his personal hero (and object of frequent
comparison), former lead singer of The Smiths and post-punk legend
Morrissey. What’s more, a friend has just text messaged him
in the middle of the interview to inform him that the Dears’
album No Cities Left, has sold 500 albums in their first day of
release in the United Kingdom. He seems genuinely astonished simply
because only their homeland has shown similar interest, “We
sold 900 records in Canada in our first week,” he
remarked.

On the cusp of their first world tour, so much seems new to the
Dears. Lightburn himself says he’s filled with optimism.
“We’re going to Europe for the first time and
we’re looking forward to that. It’s a teenage dream
come true. When I first heard we were going to be doing this gig
(opening for Morrissey in Canada), I just started weeping for a
couple hours. Everything is still kinda new for us.”

Lightburn, thanks to his sweet, soaring voice, has had critics
dubbing him the “black Morrissey,” and for his part,
Lightburn seems to be taking it in stride. “It’s kind
of flattering, I am a big fan. It could be worse; I mean I could be
called the black Meatloaf.”

It’s not just Lightburn that seems to be getting the
critics’ attention. Besides the Dears, the Great White North
has exported some fantastic indie-rock bands in recent years. The
Unicorns, The Stills, The New Pornographers and Broken Social
Scene, whose deep orchestral rock bears the most similarity to the
Dears, all hail from Canada.

“It’s a slightly generational thing, I reactionary
thing, because we’ve been pummeled by shitty Canadian music,
now we went through a long period of being represented by Celine
Dion and Shania Twain. People got sick of the crappy material on
the radio. There is a huge renaissance now.”

Though he’s upbeat about his own country, he said his
worldview has taken a serious downturn recently. “The world
is lost … it’s so lost, it breaks my heart,” he
says.

The Dears are planning to release an EP tentatively titled
Protest EP on the AceFu label on Election Day. When it comes to
protesting, he’s is especially critical and observant.

“There are people who really care about these issues and
just protesting … It makes the issues trivial; it turns it
into a big joke. Protesting, to me, is useless. There are some
systems that you can’t change. All we can do, as human beings
in our daily interactions, is to treat people with respect in
dignity.”

As for the future, Lightburn is concerned with taking the Dears
and their sound in new directions, “A big challenge for us is
to make our message more concise, more approachable. We still
don’t want to lose people who like our arty stuff …
“More than ever I’m still into the journey of self.
It’s an individual thing. There are songs that might seem
relationship-y. It’s not in the traditional way. It’s
the relationship with ourselves, our intentions towards other
people.”

Still, he’s is perpetually aware of what he thinks of rock
music’s role in society.

“The only solution is to interact in a peaceful manner.
There is a so much animosity, I’m far too sensitive. If the
Dears can bring anything to the table, that represents …
dare I say peace and love, we’re gonna bring it.”

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