Selten ist mir eine Band so ans Herz gewachsen, wie die südafrikanische Band Dear Reader dieses Jahr. Ein absolut wundervolles Debütalbum (“Replace Why With Funny“) und wundervolle Menschen, mit Liebe zur Musik. Vier Mal konnte ich sie dieses Jahr live sehen – mit dem Höhepunkt Anfang Oktober in Weinheim. Dort spielten sie nicht nur in ihrer mittlerweile größer gewordenen Besetzung, sondern auch noch mit ihrem Produzenten Brent Knopf (Menomena/Ramona Falls) zusammen. Und zwar doppelt: Erst als Band von Brents Soloprojekt Ramona Falls, um dann samt Brent auch noch ihren eigenen Auftritt zu geben. Nun aber zum Interview!
1.) Band facts
– Name: Dear Reader
– Band members + nicknames: Cherilyn MacNeil (Cheri, Cherly), Darryl Torr (D, Elijah Ben), Michael Wright (Wrighteous Mike, Mikey), Jean-Louise Nel (JL, John Lewis)
– Founding year: Harris tweed started in 2006. Dear Reader came out of that band (we had to change our name) in 2009
– Residence: Johannesburg, South Africa
– Current album: Replace Why With Funny
– How did you come up with your band name?
It comes from the novel, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. She writes it in the first person, so you are stuck inside Jane’s head the whole time, seeing things from her perspective. And then every now and again she throws out a ‘Dear Reader’ just to let you know she knows you’re there. I really liked that. And the fact that there are so many repeated letters in the words ‘Dear Reader’…
– How did you become a band?
Darryl is a sound engineer and producer. About 5 years back he heard me shyly singing some of my songs and took me into his studio and under his wing. After a year or so of his nagging I dropped out of university and started a band with him full-time. Since then it has existed in various configurations. But now we are very happily a four-piece. Michael is the little brother of a friend of ours, who suggested we give him a try. Turns out he’s amazing on vocals and drums. JL studies music at the same university as Mike, so when we were looking for someone to play strings and guitar, he knew the perfect person. We feel very happy with the band in this format. I feel like we’ve finally found ‘home’.
– How would you describe your musical style?
We call it Alternative Pop. The songs are simple, emotional, heartfelt, accessible… But we’ve experimented with structures and strange arrangements and instrumentations. Which I would say makes the music more alternative..
– Which musical influences do you have?
Menomena, Brent Knopf, Joni Mitchell, Sufjan Stevens, Laura Veirs, Regina Spektor, Bob Dylan, Radiohead
– What are you as a band/musician doing at the moment?
Right now, we have just finished our last show of the year. We put on a huge theatre show in our home town, Johannesburg. We played with a string section, brass section and 20-piece choir. It was really special. But it has been a very busy year, and now we are very excited to be taking a 2 month sabbatical from the band. We need to recuperate, get inspired, start working on new material… Then early next year we will start work on our next album.
– With which person would you like to work together and why?
Thom Yorke. Because he’s incredible. I love Radiohead. They’ve been my favourite band since I was 13. An opportunity to see how they make music would blow my mind.
– 3 top albums 2009? Why?
Ramona Falls – ‘Intuit’. Brent from Menomena’s solo project. We revere this man something awful, and I think that this first solo album is incredible. We listen to it on repeat.
Cortenay Tidwell – ‘Boys’. This album was released on City Slang this year and I had the opportunity to watch her opening for Gossip in Berlin. I have had this album on repeat in my car. It is really beautiful, something genuine and enduring.
HEALTH – ‘Get Color’. Also a City Slang release. I love it because it is intense and loud and whenever I play it in my apartment my neighbour knocks on the door to tell me to shut up.
– 3 top albums of the last decade? Why?
The Dodo’s – ‘Visiter’. Full of naivety and energy. A truly distinctive sound. Creates an uplifting mood, and yet is full of angst. And a sing-along record too!
Menomena – ‘Friend and Foe’. A masterpiece, something I will listen to my whole life through. No matter how many times I listen I never get tired of it, and I’m always hearing new things.
Sufjan Stevens – ‘Come on Feel the Illinoise’. Also a masterpiece. It’s rare that something sounds so completely unique. stands so alone among contemporaries. This album is one for the history books.
– What did you learn 2009?
I learnt that if you don’t worry about things, they are much more enjoyable. And that you can learn to worry less, which is what I’m busy trying to do.
– Your best personal experience in 2009?
Doing the highest bungy jump in the world! For our music video for ‘Dearheart’ we went bungy jumping at Bloukraans in the South Eastern part of our country. It was absolutely terrifying. When I was standing there with my toes over the edge of the bridge I almost chickened out. But I am so glad I did it. It was the most empowering and exhilarating experience. I would recommend it to everyone.
– Your plans for 2010?
Hopefully we’ll be spending some time in Berlin. We’re trying to get through the pile of paperwork that the bureaucrats at the immigration office need in order to make that happen. We’re going to be focusing on writing and recording a new album. We’re looking forward to this different season – a more quiet, creative space.
– What’s on your rider?
Health bread, tuna, cheese, cold meats, pesto, olives, dark chocolate, good coffee, strong black tea, corn chips and salsa, fresh fruit, fresh raw veggies and dip, red wine, beer, a bottle of Jack Daniels, 1 9-volt battery and 2 AA’s…
– What do you associate with Bedroomdisco?
Little side-table speakers blasting Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and the four of us jumping up and down like crazed monkeys on the bed.
– Who did fill out this questionnaire?