Interview: Dear Boy
Wed, 20 Nov 2013 11:53:39
Dear Boy create the kind of lavish smart alternative that nods to The Smiths and Joy Division without ever sounding derivative. It's a fine line to tiptoe, but they walk it masterfully on their self-titled debut EP. [iTunes link] It's an instantly inviting and invigoratingly infectious collection that introduces one of Los Angeles's most thrilling young bands.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Dear Boy singer Ben Grey discusses the group's EP and so much more.
Did you approach the EP with one vibe in mind?
Yeah, we wrote the record in the UK. We really left Los Angeles wanting to create something new. We didn't really know where it would end. We wrote twenty to thirty songs in our tiny one-bedroom flat. When we got back to LA, we wanted to make sense of everything we'd done because we left with no name and we had no project. We came back with Dear Boy. For the first five songs, we definitely knew what they'd be. We thought this would be a good introduction to the band.
It establishes a boundlessness from the beginning.
That was definitely part of it too. We didn't want it to be constrained by anything.
What's the story behind "Blond Bones"?
When you're sequestered from everyone you care about and everything you know, it really distills what your voice is and what you want to write about. Without giving too much away, it's one of the darker songs I wrote. It was the second or third song we completed, and it set the emotion tone. It's melancholy, but it's not hopeless. I was in a dark place when I wrote that song. When I came back, my family was definitely in a dark place. It had to do with me thinking about if I would be alone and by myself forever like I was in our little haunted flat in the UK.
It was haunted?
It was absolutely haunted, man! I don't say that lightly [Laughs]. We were menaced night and day by all kinds of things, which is an experience for sure.
What was the weirdest thing that happened?
There was a phantom chair. Outside of our flat, there was a tunnel that led to underneath the river. We were in South London. There was a chair that was always perfectly symmetrical sitting in the center of this tunnel. It would keep switching angles. It was really bizarre. You'd hear a noise. You'd go outside, and the chair would be facing some other direction, but it was always perfectly symmetrical. It was too much [Laughs]. Five months with three men and a ghost is too much!
Where did "Funeral Waves" come from?
Touching on the boundlessness you mentioned before, we wanted to hit the musical ceiling creatively in terms of what we could get away with and was the most chaotic and raucousness we could put into a four-minute song. I'd never written a song like that before where we really took it to the extremes. There's a riff in the bridge that's insane. It's the most fun and cathartic musical thing I've been a part of. When we started, it was like, "What can we do and what can we get away with?"
Pulp is a huge influence on this band. Then, there's Minor Threat, The Smiths, Stiff Little Fingers, and, Television for sure. Of course, I was in these terrible punk bands when I was 14-years-old, and I couldn't really pay homage to those influences. Now, I think I'm doing a good job.
If you were to compare the EP to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
What a fun question! Let me see if I can do that justice. For a combination of movies, I'd say if I could take The Graduate, Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, Pretty in Pink, and Amélie, it'd be that! That's seriously the most fun question I've ever been asked. I had to give a good answer [Laughs].
Check out the band's music vid for "Oh So Quiet":
Have you heard Dear Boy yet?