Benjamin Grey, the lead singer of Dear Boy, chats with Sylvia Borgo about the band’s new album, their fan base, and kicking off their tour at the Soda Bar on September 22!
Two weeks ago, you released “(On My) Mind,” the first single from your forthcoming album. How does this single illustrate the pathos of the new album?
I think (On My) Mind is a good representation of what we do and how we’re going to do it this time around. Believe me, we were stressing ourselves OUT trying to pick the right song to set the right tone. It’s a dense and expansive album, but we also wanted to assert right at the top that we’re not afraid of leaning into our bittersweet, melodic jangly roots.
And since you mention pathos… (loosens tie)… Ostensibly this is a bright and optimistic love song but it’s really about distance and finding joy in pain. Complicated dichotomies are the types of things we’re interested in writing about and this album is full of them.
And speaking of the album, did you have to approach the writing and recording differently due to COVID?
We had it both ways. Recording started in February of 2020, so most of the basic tracks were finished by the time Covid hit. 90% of the album had been written in the years prior, so the arranging/pre-production work, the all-of-us-in-a-room stuff was completed before life freaked out.
But vocals were another story. I started singing in late March at Keith’s studio and nothing about that was normal. I went straight from my apartment into the vocal booth, swapping one quarantine for another. And then as covid went on, we went deeper into the recording, working on the album pretty much every day until December. Then we started new songs from scratch, took things apart, really immersed ourselves in the project. I’m grateful we had so much time because the album really did become something special as a result, but I never want to go through something like that again. Now, all we want to do is play.
I really could spend months answering this question, but to end on a positive note… I loved singing along to music we had recorded before the pandemic started. It was an emotional tether to a world outside of the reality we were living in and a splash of optimism every day before work.
Early this summer, you announced that Dear Boy signed with Last Gang Records. Can you tell us a bit about this partnership?
Last Gang has put out some of our favorite records of all time. I really mean it. They’re so cool, smart, transgressive, and interesting, all while still understanding what makes a great pop song. As soon as we started talking to them, I knew they were the ones. They really understand what Dear Boy is and what we’re trying to do and I think it’s a blessed union. If you hear different, please let me know.
After a challenging 18 months, Dear Boy will return to performing live. How are you all feeling? A little nervous?
It feels so surreal. I know that’s the obvious answer, but I truly can’t believe it. We all realized when we started rehearsing that performing is the key to our mental health and being away from our people is a really painful thing. And because we were making the album in such an isolated, private way, the idea that anyone would ever hear or that we would be the ones PLAYING it was such an abstract concept. So, to be here, days away from an actual concert is really emotional. Although, I still need the right outfit.
I saw you for the first time two years ago and became an instant fan. What is your secret? How do you so easily convert the mild-mannered concertgoer into a Dear or Die fan?
Firstly, that is such a kind thing to say. And maybe you can answer better than we can. But I will say that being in a DIY band for so many years gives you a lot of perspectives. It really distills what it is that you love about music and what you hope your work will mean to the people who find you.
Music is alchemy and magic. I don’t know why it works when it works, but you feel it in your soul when it does.
I do think our fans can recognize the authenticity of what we do and can emotionally identify with where we’re coming from. There is nothing artificial here. We are best friends and we do this because we love it. That’s always been our true north. And our community and our connection with our community have always been our greatest source of pride.
Assuming things go back to what they were before COVID, what might you have planned for 2022, or is it too early to say?
Early 2022 will see the release of our debut album. My hope is that no one’s life is the same after that happens.
9/23 – Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar
9/25 – Houston, TX – Secret Group
9/26 – Austin, TX – Mohawk
9/29 – Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
9/30 – Salt Lake City, UT – Loading Dock
10/3 – Seattle, WA – The Croc’s Second Stage
10/5 – Portland, OR – Lola’s
10/6 – Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone
10/9 – Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour