Denver’s indie rock trio Dear Me, are self-described “socially relevant, humorous songwriting.” Members Andrew Rogers (guitar/vocals), Sam Columna (guitar/vocals), and Jamie Beekman (keys/vocals) have been playing shows together since 2014, though they didn’t start gigging consistently until close to a year later when Sam told us, “It wasn’t until f*cking July 2015 when we agreed to play a gig at The Gothic with Chemistry Club that I honestly did not think we were ready for. But we somehow managed to survive and after that, shit was real.” It’s comments like these that kept me smirking during my recent chat with Sam about Dear Me,’s new single, which we’re stoked to premiere exclusively on BolderBeat from the band’s upcoming record Present Perfect.
Listen to Dear Me,’s new single “The News”:
“The News” is an undeniably timely tune in subject matter, and expresses a sentiment I think most of us can relate to: as informed as we want to be, the current media whirlwind of world news can be overwhelming at times and force us into one story before we’ve processed the others that came before it.
Said Columna about the track, “Part of me maybe wants to evolve past the magic of hearing something that you’re feeling expressed in a song- like it’s sort of cliche and basic and that makes it a character flaw. But every single time a song nails my inner monologue- dead to rights, word for word, kills me softly- it’s like a transformative experience. I’m reminded how lucky I am to be able to make art. If anything I make has that impact on anyone, then probably I am doing a good thing."
Sam continued, "[With “The News”] I was just hoping to capture some of the Groundhog Day-esque overwhelmed horror that I found myself feeling all the f*cking time. I actually wrote the hook, ‘I need something stuck inside my head besides the news,’ in like 2014 when I was a sunglasses salesman and I couldn’t afford to be in touch with my feelings at work or else my numbers would suffer. And that year planes disappeared out of the sky, Ebola happened, the Israel-Palestine conflict flared up, Michael Brown was murdered, there was that hostage crisis in Sydney… and yes I’m looking at a list of 2014 events right now... Robin Williams also died... and all of this happened to coincide with me falling in love with NPR, so I was hyper-aware of everything. And all of it was immediately politicized. There was no acknowledgement or time taken for human suffering- everything immediately felt like currency, or else like a weapon. I couldn’t f*cking deal with it. The hook [from “The News”] was super, ultra, mega-literal for me.”
Though the subject may seem a bit dark, Dear Me, manage to express Columna’s inner monologue of that time with a catchy hook and poppy vocal melodies, driving keys, and a strong percussive build interspersed with quick guitar breakdowns, while also weaving their stylistic humor within “The News.” This ability has had the trio previously described as “Louis C.K. meets The Beatles.” Though Columna admits there is definitely a comedic element to their work, it’s clear there is an important balance to Dear Me,’s songwriting.
Regarding this balance Sam, told me, “Oh man. Well when this comes up I always like to make it clear that we’re not Flight of the Concords or Axis of Awesome. We’re not a comedy band. We just sing songs with lyrics that are often blunt about social circumstances, and are sometimes funny, in a caustic, dark, Louis C.K. kind of a way. I actually didn’t really think of my songs as being particularly humorous until I started hearing people laughing during open mics. But I’ve always been a person who has found a lot of life to be depressing, or awkward, or uncomfortable, or shocking, or whatever, and I’ve always responded to those parts of life by laughing at them. I think Andrew is that way too. And since art is an outward expression of inward shit, it was inevitable that some of that would make it into the songs.”
“The News” is the first single from Present Perfect, Dear Me’s debut album. The record is a followup to the band’s three-song 2015 EP Name On a Page. The nine-song record was, in some ways, five years in the making.
Said Columna, “Present Perfect has lots of fingerprints on it. It was tracked either at Streetlight Audio or at Beyond the Infinite Multimedia, run by Dae Dupont, George Till, Quinn Blue and Leo Cashin. It was mixed and mastered entirely at Streetlight Audio, which is run by Tyler Paul Glasgow, Jack Roberts, and Jeff Hummel. Tyler Paul Glasgow produced and added some tasty slide guitar and synth layers on a few of the tracks. Elliott Cook played drums on any track with drums on it, and bass responsibilities were split between myself and Casey Cormier. That just leaves the core members of Dear Me,: Andrew and I both played guitar, Jamie played keys. Andrew and I split lead vocals on the album, and the songs were written by either me or Andrew, and arranged collectively by me, Andrew, Jamie, and whoever happened to be in the rhythm section at the time. Jamie mostly arranges all of our vocal harmonies, and we credit her with keeping us from sounding like a bag full of cats in a burning dumpster.”
When asked about whether Present Perfect is comprised more of old tunes the band has played over time, or new songs written just this year, Sam told me, “In some ways it’s like a greatest hits collection of a band no one knew about that had been skulking around in living rooms and cigar bars for five years and finally managed to stumble into a studio.”
More seriously, he added, “The vast majority of the songs are relatively recent, like written inside the last couple years. But something we really wanted to capture with the album was sort of the breadth of all the junk that we’ve kicked around over the last however many years. We wanted the album to capture everything we’ve been over the last five years, [and] I think it does that. Some of the tracks were multi-tracked in studio, some were tracked as full band performances with overdubs, and some were live acoustic trio tracks. That’s all the stuff we’ve been. And I think we managed to massage it into a mostly cohesive product. So I feel pretty dope about that.”
It’s this play between laughs and seriousness (and those same interplays throughout the band’s new record) that had me wondering who some of Sam’s influences are in the comedy and music realms.
“Beyond Louis C.K., I’m a fan of Mike Birbiglia and Dave Chappelle. I like storytellers. Obviously there’s innumerable musicians that I love, but my three desert island albums would probably be Abbey Road by the Beatles, Curse Your Branches by David Bazan, and Stadium Arcadium by Red Hot Chili Peppers.” he told me.
And local artists?
“Danielle Ate the Sandwich is one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard. Andy Sydow and I have peed in many backyards together. He’s my closest non-Jamie friend from CU Denver, and he got me a job teaching music. I really admire his musicianship, and his tenacity. He puts on a pretty sassy live show too. Corsicana went on tour with us last October, and together we discovered the healing properties of cayenne pepper. Ben has the voice of an angel and is irritatingly young. Andrew actually taught him to swim a billion years ago.”
After the release of Present Perfect, Dear Me, have a CD Release Show booked at Syntax on June 10th and are planning to tour around Colorado and the region. They also want to jump back in the studio.
Said Sam, “I feel a little bit like releasing this album was the top of a roller coaster, and the five years before that were the long slow ticking part while we climbed up. And hopefully from here it’s screaming and raising our hands in the air for awhile.”
We’re definitely raising our hands for Dear Me,’s newest release, so give their single “The News” a listen for yourself above, and make sure to grab tickets to their Syntax show by contacting the band here. Keep up with Dear Me, on their Facebook.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.