Dearly Beloved tour diary Western leg May 2012
Headbangerwoman warrants a mention albeit brief
….where the only pulpit is opposite a stage and is occupied by lighting and sound guys.
The congregation is tattooed, shaven headed, leather clad and holding a beer not a bible.
There are two Preachers present with this particular travelling church.
The very Reverend Ms. Niva Chow and the very very Reverend Mr. Robert Michael Higgins.
For Higgins and Chow to be revered, is probably the least of what should happen, but it is a start.
Not too long ago this formidable pair were in a studio in Joshua Tree, California, USA, recording the now newly released (May 22nd 2012) Hawk vs. Pigeon. The band also worked on the record at their Phoebe Street Studio in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This record must have been a pretty easy kill, the name of the cd certainly suggests as much? “Well, I am sure we will be asked about that a lot, but we pretty much already decided on the name of the cd before it was near completion. The fact that we saw just that, a Hawk vs. Pigeon on the last day of recording was a definite sign. We went into the studio with nothing and came out with some really great songs, we were truly blessed.” Tells Higgins. He added; “Had it not been for Brendan Canning, a founding member of Broken Social Scene, who helped me navigate through a difficult time, it would probably not have happened. At the time he was probably the only guy I would listen to and take guidance from.”
Canning, along with Patrick Pentland of Sloan and Dave Catching; Queens of the Stone Age, also make an appearance on the record. Not forgetting Care F and Tony Bleed of Die Mannequin, label/tour mates of Dearly Beloved, who give a punk poke to the track On Better Days.
Dearly Beloved has a new, fresh sound. Not comparable to any other thing, which these days is almost un-heard of. Both Higgins and Chow are lead vocalists and Higgins is at the fore on bass. Unfortunately the music they are producing is not considered mainstream by many music executives. The suits of the Music business like it to sound smooth and easy. Where is Val Doonican when you need him?
“It is too easy now to get someone into a studio and make them sound good, overproduce them and put them out on air. That is what has been happening since the decline of the big record companies in the late 90’s.’’ Higgins is well informed and stays abreast of changing situations in the fickle business of music. He is not afraid to share his truths, which is extremely unusual in such a seemingly cliquey business. One would worry that it is not good for the business of Dearly Beloved, but it is no deterrent for Higgins. “Eric Alper and EOne Music Canada are changing all that. They are putting real music out again. Rival Sons, Die Mannequin and The Cult are all with EOne. Of course we are still hearing new bands out there that sound just the same as someone else.
It is very difficult to disagree with that statement.
Not so un-original are Dearly Beloved. With a heavily bass lead sound and a mix of male vocal and a female vocal that could strip the wallpaper border off your grandma’s kitchen in one bar, it is hard to believe that this is the fourth piece of art for the ears from this band. Although through the past six years there have been several line –up adjustments, the backbone is not broken and the body just continues to grow stronger.
What is needed here is for Canadian broadcasters to grow some balls and play some new, more relevant music. Music with a message, something that is a little eclectic, alternative, rock based and thought provoking. We all know that Rush, Neil Young and The Tragically Hip are out there, but they could step graciously to one side and allow new noise to be heard.
“I said it before; now it is just too easy for radio stations to play the foot tapping, electrically processed stuff and feed it to the masses. Canadian broadcasters must play a certain amount of Canadian artists on air every hour but they choose dated artists or songs where there are no musicians only a backing track or auto tune.” Higgins is sticking by what he holds true.
It would be so easy to understand if Dearly Beloved and in fact many of the real musicians and rock bands out there were to just quit, give up.
“It’s really not that easy,” gives up the bands drummer Andrew McMullen. “I have to do this, it is just in me, I am just meant to be out there performing. When I am not on the road, or on the stage, it is like there is something missing.”
It is certainly a hard slog. The band endure the nightly lugging of equipment in and out of dark, dank clubs, up and down stairs, staying in often undesirable lodgings and playing salesman for their merchandise before and after a set. That coupled with daily drives of 15 hours on average, and a diet of, in the words of Higgins; “a lot of weed in the past five days,” that and snack food from gas stations, has got to be a strain on anyone’s resolve and yet it seems to fuel this band.
“It won’t be long before we are in the studio again and this time we will maybe produce 15 songs,” Higgins shares, as the band mascot, a two feet tall, dressed up mannequin of Lord of the Rings character Gollum, peers over his shoulder.
No doubt Chow, a seasoned singer previously with the band Sticky Rice, who also has a background in Media/TV production, will continue to log the travels and tribulations of this not well enough recognised, home grown, musical epiphany. It will be considered a great shame if there is no-one saving a few live shots of Chow on stage. She has an in your face energy so powerful it could be considered aggressive. The presence she gives is of someone more physically commanding in stature. Yet it is undoubtedly her voice and intellect which will raise her status as a star.
All future recordings will be well used in years to come when this band receive the recognition they have worked so damned hard to gain.
Rarely will the music world see such an honest, hardworking, un-beleaguering, hospitable, artistic, talented group of people dedicating themselves to providing music to those around them.
They should be revered at the highest level.
While you listen to this new record and await delivery of the next, purchase if you have not already previous releases and catch a live show if you are close to a location where the band is appearing in the near future.
You will quickly find yourself worshiping at the Church of The Dearly Beloved.
The only disappointment you will have is that the set is not long enough and merchandise is sold out……..
By Karen Graham 31 May 2012 16:59
Edmonton, Pawn Shop May 16 2012
If the most original thing you can do as the foremost performer/s in a band is jiggle your tits and use your family name to promote this non skill, while sucking in your belly and arse and emitting a semi shrill squeak, (in stereo) general opinion would probably be, you are not cut out to be on stage. You should concentrate on your cheer team and whiten your teeth again.
If you remind the audience of a band from 25 years ago each and every time you open your gob, you would be well advised to not give up your day job, presuming of course, that you are gainfully employed. The paying public already own The Sisters Of Mercy back catalogue and Andrew Eldritch does/did at least looks the part. Besides which, those old enough to remember probably couldn’t use a reminder. Those too young to realize you are not entirely original probably need to get a real music education.
If however, you can persuade your public that they believe what you are telling them and then, like a Hawk stalking a Pigeon, eyeball, chase and engage without them feeling a thing, you probably come closest to what should be considered a professional musician, a true performer, an artist.
In today’s fickle and seemingly lazy music world, during paltry excuses for live musical performances, more often than not the artists fail to use the stage in its entirety and do not deliver a sound uncharted by any other, a sound that promotes thought and feeling, offered to those willing to absorb, with a passion and aggression that can only come from the soul. This is of course no mean feat. It means actually putting in an effort. It is far easier to rely on digitally processed noise, while a few short skirted, nice titted birds with finely toned glutes wiggle around a bit affront the stage and you stand looking pretty, considering your next big purchase; Gucci or Prada. Porsche or Lamborghini?
It is pretty widely known, delivery of a child is difficult for the mother, but children are by biological design esthitically pleasing. They may vomit constantly and smell of shit, but they will be loved by all who glance upon them none the less.
When hours and hours of painful contractions have already occurred, giving birth, in front of a room full of strangers to your newborn, night after night has to be physically draining. Some would perhaps say it is a constant battle of nerves. How does your brain process what may come to pass in the forty minutes that you are crowning?
What could happen if the audience are not pleased by your production of new noise? Suppose they don’t like your words. Maybe this sound is still too new for people to really get it?
Perhaps a less professional, less confident, less musically accomplished outfit would be hard pressed to pull off such a delivery.
Not so the band; Dearly Beloved, who are currently on tour Canada wide with punk band Die Mannequin, to promote the new record Hawk vs Pigeon.
At first glance you would probably want to feed the guitarist, stretch the tambourinist and shave the bassist; probably just his face.
You can’t see the drummer, but that is OK, he is quite far back and his glasses have steamed up so he can’t see you either.
That triviality is forgotten as soon as the band is three chords in and doesn’t end until the set is at its completion. This band deliver; raw, real, rock music. No more, no less. What more could a modern day rock music fan want?
At the fore two vocalists, giving both a female and male perspective and a bassist that plays his instrument hard enough to make up for the sound of two tall bearded guys ripping into it. The noise produced is mesmerizing. Dearly Beloved is here with a sound that has real music standards, no use of computers, synth or voice changing wizardry. This is real music, for the real music fan. Live, Dearly Beloved has no flaws. Even if they dropped every second note and forgot the words, they perform with feelings and integrity. They are convincing. Is that not exactly what live music is?
It is said that great things come in small packages. So does TNT and the equally comparable Niva Chow. Commanding you give your attention with her undeniably sharp vocal and looking likely to face up and scream at you if you do not provide to her as she performs. Is Chow likely to go further and slap you across the face swiftly with her tambourine? Who can tell?
To the right of Chow as you look at the stage, is the formidable and slightly giddy Rob Higgins. Bearded, this Bassist is also well known as the band boss. He is the male vocal of the outfit. He may look a little hot, sweaty and tired. Well, that would be because he is. He is on the road driving long distances all day and sleeping in cheap hotels, or a minivan after each performance! Can he bring it despite this?
What a fucking stupid question.
This band is Rob Higgins. The sweat he produces during his live show should be collected and force fed intravenously to lesser musically inclined individuals to aid their performances. Higgins sweats 100% rock jizz right down, one would imagine to his socks, which most likely reek of seedy nightclub!
If that is not enough for you then the right side of your brain has possibly failed and you may require an instant lobotomy.
Dearly Beloved it would seem, have taken music back to its roots, using real musicians, real passion and real live performances and lots of weed, in the past few days.
by Karen Graham 22/5/2012
5/23 Lethbridge, AB – The Rhythm House
5/24 Regina, SK – The Exchange
5/25 Brandon, MB – North Hill Inn
5/30 Ottawa, ON – Zaphod’s
IN THE BAG
Calling All Wave
Susan Blue Ashley
INTERVIEWS TO COME
Stacey Blades LA Guns
Seven Year Riot