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ED GORDON, host:

Montreal's orchestral rock sextet The Dears has been forming and reforming for a decade now. Lead singer and songwriter Murray Lightburn is the only original member. Other artists joined and then left The Dears as the band struggled for success. But Lightburn's commitment to his art is among the few things that's kept The Dears around for so long.

Mr. MURRAY LIGHTBURN (Lead Singer, Songwriter, The Dears): For me, as a writer, the songs are still coming. And, sure, money can be a little tight dimension, and you don't really want to work a day job most of the time. But, I mean, we're not driven by becoming rock stars, driven by making money. What drives The Dears is reaching as many people as possible and playing this music.

(Soundbite of music)

THE DEARS: (Singing) Don't you think that now is the time to move on? If you don't mind, well, I'll just be holding on.

GORDON: Today, The Dears are enjoying international acclaim. Their latest album, "No Cities Left," has launched the band on a worldwide tour, including dates this summer across the United States. Murray says it's the live performances that help him truly connect with his music.

Mr. LIGHTBURN: Every night, when we're playing, it's about closing your eyes, tapping into the cosmos and reconnecting with the original place where the songs came from and putting it out there.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LIGHTBURN: I mean, for me, when I get on the stage, I'm trying to find the original place where the song came from. If I find it, it means that I'm not even on the stage. I'm completely gone. I'm in that place, tapping in.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

THE DEARS: (Singing) My stomach hurts, it's tearing us apart. Stop! Stop! There's nowhere left to run. Stop! Stop! Stop!

Ms. NATALIA YANCHAK (The Dears): My name is Natalia Yanchak. Keeping the band together is just about like being human, you know? I mean, like, we're all friends and we all love each other and it's like a family. I like to say it's like, you know, you're brothers and sisters. And it's like sometimes they really annoy you, and it's, like, `Oh, can you stop chewing your gum, like, with your mouth open?' And then--but whatever. It's like inconsequential, you know. There's a bigger, you know, thing going on, and we just love doing it, and we wouldn't want to do anything else. And I think we're all driven to just keep it together.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

THE DEARS: (Singing) What do you say that we go down together and try to find out what we missed? Oh, no, drop everything. You better believe it, 'cause we mean it. And I know we can rise, if we can forget about the past and start again, again.

Mr. LIGHTBURN: I'm not going to sit here and whine or complain about how hard it is being a black man, doing his thing in a white man's world, you know. But entire life is--you know, I can scroll back think of all kinds of memories of things that made me sad about being black in this society that sometimes tries to make black people feel like they're subhuman. And I've never viewed myself as subhuman. To be honest with you, I don't always view myself as a black man, because I think for me that's taking a step backwards. "Lost in the Plot" was like one of those songs that was written out of a place that was just one of those things that just kind of came together really fast and the lyric that says, `Leave me in the middle of the ocean, I can walk the rest of the way'--that you can do whatever you want to me, you can do whatever and I'm still going to make my way because I have this love that I'm holding on to, to make me strong.

(Soundbite of "Lost in the Plot")

THE DEARS: (Singing) Oh, it's a sight my ...(unintelligible). Oh, it's a (unintelligible).

Mr. LIGHTBURN: Natalia is carrying a child right now, due in September. That's the first Dears' kid, and I'm the father. At least, that's what she tells me, unless...

Ms. YANCHAK: Oh, come on.

Mr. LIGHTBURN: Actually, it makes--I think it makes things a little bit easier, you know.

Ms. YANCHAK: Yeah, I mean, it's like there's nothing wrong with, you know, there being love floating around.

Mr. LIGHTBURN: Yeah. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Ms. YANCHAK: No.

Mr. LIGHTBURN: I mean, I like being able to spend 24 hours a day with Natalia. It doesn't bother me at all.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

THE DEARS: (Singing) Our love, don't mess with our love. Our love is so much stronger.

GORDON: Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak of the Montreal rock band, The Dears. The group is on tour right now around the United States, and you can hear music by The Dears on our Web site at npr.org.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

THE DEARS: (Singing) ...is so much stronger. Our love, don't mess with our love.

GORDON: Thanks for joining us. That's our program for today. To listen to this show, visit npr.org, or if you'd like to comment, call us at (202) 408-3330. NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American public radio consortium.

I'm Ed Gordon. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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