Dear Boy, likely not name you would associate with an alt rock band. To me, when first asked if I’d heard of them, I wondered if it was an acoustic act or something with a more gentle sound than I’m prone to be interested in. This assumption was quite wrong. So yet again, it just goes to show, don’t judge a band by their name. Badass Band 87 is Dear Boy.
The first time I saw Dear Boy they were a headlining a show in which Badass Band The Active Set was on. I liked them by the end of their set, but I wasn’t quite in love yet. They courted me over two more shows, and the second time was when they really took me. There is something dreamy about the gents of Dear Boy during their live show. I don’t mean looks-wise (though they are handsome guys) its more like when you watch them play, I feel like I’m watching them drift into a dreamlike state in which they’re just letting the music take over their whole being. On stage they aren’t big talkers, they aren’t super flashy, but they are engaging and play music that is generally simple, but so goddamn well crafted that you can’t help but love it.
Dear Boy has a five song self-titled EP available for your listening pleasure. Personal standout tracks for me include: “Blonde Bones”- a poppy tune with ghostly ringing vocals and deep bass lines that complement the higher range guitar sounds. Stylistically, I feel a little touch of Depeche Mode in this one. “I am not the man you were at 23. Some ghost I turned out to be. Go on, go on, go on, would you leave me behind? Go on, go on, go on without me. Let me lay my, let me lay my, let me lay my blonde bones to rest.” The transition of the harmonies of the last line that build into the pre-climax is perfection. This song builds to a pre and then actual heavy climax, finishing off nice and mellow with just the bass plugging away. Then you have “Funeral Waves”. This song is a nod in the punk direction with its faster paced rhythms, shout-y vocals (which stay clear- not distorted thankfully) and dark chorus, “Are we having fun? There’s never anybody left alive when she moves. She’s so phenomenal, phenomenal, phenomenal. Behave if you must, but nobody is safe from us.” All in all, the five songs on this EP are well crafted and solid. You will find that Dear Boy does have a bit of a signature sound in each, but they are all just different enough to keep your ears and mind engaged.
Dear Boy is comprised of Ben Grey (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Keith Cooper (Drums/Vocals), Austin Hayman (Guitar/Vocals) and Nils Bue (Bass/Vocals) and you can catch this foursome TOMORROW NIGHT (January 27) AT BOOTLEG THEATRE with Vanaprasta. Go see and hear for yourself what makes Dear Boy badass.
However, before you do that, finish up reading here, because the lovely Ben Grey took some time to answer some questions for BBB. Find out what “Spicy Yogurt” has to do with his beginnings in music, why this is the most organic project he could have ever hoped for and why he doesn’t chase inspiration.
When and why did you start playing music?
I started playing guitar when I was 11. My friends were starting a band called “Spicy Yogurt” and I wanted to be in it. Sadly, Spicy Yogurt never really got it together, but that cruel turn of fate didn’t stop me from continuing to learn. As soon as I picked up a guitar, I knew it would be a huge part of my identity.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
As a kid, I wasn’t very discerning about how I found my music. I mean, you really couldn’t be. Either someone had an older brother who hipped them to something cool or you liked the logo of a band that you saw on some other kid’s notebook or backpack or whatever. So in that spirit, the stuff I got into was punk. All waves. As I said, I was a kid… So Minor Threat, Stiff Little Fingers & NOFX would’ve been purchased on the same trip to the record store. Not that I lived any of that stuff for real as it was the mid-late nineties.
What changed my perception of what it could all be and mean came later. Late 80’s-early 90’s brit-pop, post-punk of the late 70’s & The Beatles… Becoming acquainted with next level songwriting, melody and story telling are the things that really shook me. So now, that’s all I listen for… real songs and real points of view.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
For me, I admire guys like Jarvis Cocker, Morrisey & Bryan Ferry. They’re unbelievable communicators. To me, that’s the most important thing.
How did you guys all meet?
We’ve all been friends for years and I’ve always wanted to work with each one of them in some capacity. I always say this, but it was seriously the first time they were all musically single. Strangely, this was the first band that I’ve been a part of where we were friends first. The most organic project I could’ve ever hoped for. Usually that kind of thing happens when you’re 11, but I had to be in my twenties to finally experience it.
Why the name Dear Boy?
We were living in England, writing these songs without a moniker and a waitress just said it to me one night. It was Thanksgiving in South London and after she said it, we all just knew it was right. People have speculated that it’s a nod to the great Paul McCartney song, but it was more cosmic than that.
Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
That’s tough to answer objectively, as I’ve never seen us live… I would say though, that musically, it’s a lot more raucous than the recordings. There’s just something about the chemistry between the four of us that ushers us in that direction. Visually, we’re always experimenting with things that reinforce the Dear Boy aesthetic from show-to-show, so that’s case specific. But I can promise that you’ll never see one of us wearing a hat.
How does your creative process typically work?
In a phrase… I guess I would just say being open to the inexplicable. Each song is its own process, so we like to stay away from the same set of rules. A lot of artists spend their lives chasing inspiration, but really it’s about being able to capture the moments when inspiration chases you.
What do you think you biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?
I think the Bootleg Residency was a real turning point for us. It was a lot of pressure, but we knew that being trusted with it meant something. KROQ started playing us… The shows started selling out… We were awarded the double edged title of “buzz band.” Honestly, we just felt like were anointed in a way. We went from being this tiny little thing to a band that people needed to see. I’ll always owe The Bootleg a debt of gratitude for giving us that opportunity.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
Answering the question; “Can you set me up with one of the girls in your video?”
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you the rest of this year?
We’re about 70% done writing our full length. So, for the rest of the year, you can expect us hibernating, drinking coffee & finishing the demos for the album… Then we’ll be back playing Mid- January. (This was before Christmas folks!)
Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan, what would it be?
Honestly, I try to stay away from any didacticism when campaigning for the project because everybody is going to have different experience… But, I think that above all, our point of view is unique. Obviously, people have explored these themes before… I mean, arguably these are the same themes that inspired songwriting in the first place… And I hope this doesn’t come off as arrogant, but I think that we’re strong representatives for our generation’s brand of love & melancholy.
I’d rather not call this a slogan, but this phrase is used quite a bit in our circle… “Dear or die.”
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
I’d just like to see the ritual of buying music come back. I mean, that won’t ever happen obviously, but it’d be really cool to see some semblance of pride of ownership coming back. Personally, I still only buy cds and vinyl, which makes me sound 1,000 years old, but part of what I love about buying music is the ingratiating aspect of the experience. Sitting with a piece of music that challenges you. That’s how you become a better listener. Musicians aren’t the only ones who need to practice, audiophiles do too. Judging something based on 15 seconds of an mp3 on an iPhone to me is total and profound bullshit.
One song you never get tired of.
“Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths.
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
That’s really hard… I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen so many great things in my life… From Paul McCartney to Pantera… Most life changing? The Hippos at my friend Andrew Kutsatsu’s Bar Mitzvah.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
Getting coffee with my friends is number one. I love to cook. I love going to restaurants with Paisley. I love movies. I love reading. If there’s a dog around, I wanna pet it.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
What kind of jobs did you have before you were in the music industry?
I’m proud to announce that I have been a receptionist, librarian, smoothie maker, Bar/Bat Mitzvah DJ, waiter, guitar teacher & I even had a brief bout with construction if you can believe that.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what is one band you would feature? (Exempting yourselves of course.)
Kitten. Dark Furs. Xtremist.
FIND DEAR BOY HERE: