Dear Boy is a new band that has spent the past year playing clubs across Los Angeles, building up a strong following. Boy, have they without having even released a record yet. Scene Point Blank had a chance to sit down with frontman, Ben Grey, after only their fourth show that was filled to the brim with fans. We discussed how the band came to fruition, their upcoming EP, and even Tom Hanks. Check it out! Dear Boy will be releasing their debut EP on September 10th with shows lined up at LA's Bootleg Theater this September. including the EP's record release show.
Scene Point Blank: We'll keep it simple. You guys are still sort of new, so why don't you describe Dear Boy a little? Maybe what's influencing this band? How's it differ from your last project?
Ben Grey: My last band was something I started when I was 18, so a lot of the songs didn't mean the same things to me anymore, and trying to interpret them in your 20's--not something I wanted to do. So, I left and moved to England with Keith [Coops].
Scene Point Blank: Was that when you were doing the residency over there?
Ben Grey: Yeah, we went under the pretense of doing a residency under the name of my last thing, but--
Scene Point Blank: You just moved there?
Ben Grey: We moved there, because I kind of needed to figure out if I even wanted to do music anymore. I was just over it. Burnt out. We made great fans and friends and everything, but it was just like--"I don't know if I want to sing this song anymore. I just don't know if I have it in me."
Scene Point Blank: Like the Pirate Song?
Ben Grey: Man, that thing haunted me. One night, it was like, "we should do this. Sounds like a great idea. I'm going to do that." I was 19 or 20. We recorded it that same night and it just haunted me for years.
Scene Point Blank: It's like Outkast, where they did "Hey Ya," and now that's all anyone wants to hear, and it haunts them.
Ben Grey: At least I think with "Hey Ya," at the time they thought, "this is a great song."
Scene Point Blank: And it still is.
Ben Grey: But yeah, I left. I was just like, "I need to clear my head." So the four of us moved into a really tiny, one bedroom flat in London with no heat. Totally gnarly.
Scene Point Blank: When was it you went over there? It was like September wasn't it?
Ben Grey: Yeah. We moved late-August of 2011, and we lived there until December.
Scene Point Blank: Isn't it really humid there?
Ben Grey: It is, but it was mostly fall/winter, so man, it got cold. And there was black mold where we lived. Nightmare. We had one actual bed in the whole spot, so Keith and I shared it with everybody else in the other room. But, it was cool being in the UK at that time because we were really sequestered and displaced from anything that was comfortable. It kind of helped distill what we really wanted to write about… So, we demoed there, in our haunted shower--we had a haunted shower.
Scene Point Blank: [Laughs] I don't know why I'm laughing, that's not funny.
Ben Grey: [Laughs] It was really freaky.
Scene Point Blank: When you opened the shade, would you see writing on the mirror?
Ben Grey: Weird things were always happening.
Scene Point Blank: Like toilet paper going all the time?
Ben Grey: Constant craziness in the whole place. Running on the ceiling with nobody living above us. Hearing really strange things. A chair outside would constantly switch positions, but always wildly symmetrical. Ominous warnings from neighbors. Just the oddest stuff. Anyway, yeah… needless to say, I was so far away from anything that was my normal life, that I could really be focused. It was great, and like most American musicians, we all have deep anglophilia, so it was perfect. But, yeah… I finally got to be in a band I really wanted to be in from the very beginning. I guess that...kind of answers your question. So fucking long. Sorry. [Laughs]
Scene Point Blank: It's fine. Not like I have to type this all out or anything [Laughs]. You kind of already answered the next question anyway, which is just, how long have you been accumulating all this songs?
Ben Grey: Oh ok, well we wrote what would be the EP during those months, so from mid-September to December [of 2011].
Scene Point Blank: Is the rest of the album already recorded?
Ben Grey: Yes it is. We finished the record in September of . We were sitting on it because we care too much about these songs to just have it out there. As soon as something's an MP3, people are over it. There's no value in it because they've got it.
[Ben Gets distracted for a moment]
The record's done. Yeah. It's funny, we were talking about how it's kind of this 60's tradition, where our fans have to actually go to the concert to hear the songs. It's so not modern. But there's this romantic quality to that, which we really like, but we're finally going to cave and put the record out.
Scene Point Blank: Have you thought about just releasing the lyrics, so people can sing along? I mean, there are videos of them now.
Ben Grey: Are there?
Scene Point Blank: Yeah. A few videos.
Ben Grey: Dammit. It's out. It's all happening. My greatest fear [Laughs]. That's actually a really good idea to release the lyrics first. Maybe I will. We're going to release a new video in late-July for the next single.
Scene Point Blank: Alright. Do you have any specific producer or was it you guys that produced it?
Ben Grey: We co-produced it with our engineer, Chad Bamford. He tracked that great Spiritualized record, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. He's done a lot of cool things. So great to work with. We co-produced it with him and then our friend Jade Puget did some sound design stuff for us. Nobody is better at that in the world. The rest of it was us. Then we brought on Michael Patterson to mix it. Great guy. He did the crucial Black Rebel Motorcycle Club records, some Fischerspooner, the Trent Reznor soundtrack stuff like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Social Network. He's wonderful. Then it was mastered back in the UK by Mike Marsh who did Savages and Pulp. It's just this crazy team and the first time we ever had a budget to be able to afford said team. It was a dream for me. I feel super lucky to even have a chance to work with people like that. Especially without a label or even management.
Scene Point Blank: So, for your second show, you did a cover of "Sister Golden Hair." Is that something you thought about putting on the album?
Ben Grey: Yeah. Oh god, no. I'll tell you why--because it's a "pirate song." Since we're a new band and people don't know our songs, we wanna play some covers. 40 minutes of stuff people don't know is a lot to ask. But you have to be careful. You don't want the cover to be too good. The first song we ever covered was "In the City" by The Jam and people thought it was an original. Great. But then, Nils has the idea to do "Sister Golden Hair," because he thought it suited my voice. He was driving home from practice and he's like, "dude, this is perfect for your voice." We were scared of it because--
Scene Point Blank: I was so stoked to hear that song.
Ben Grey: Thanks. Yeah, I love it too, but it's almost this fixture in your mind. You never really look at it objectively as a song anymore. But yeah, so we started doing a really slow, buzzy, version of it, and it worked out really well. I mean, we love it. But we did it at Bootleg, and then we did it again at our last Troubadour show with Meg Myers and everyone was started expecting the 'Sister Golden Hair' cover and asking us to put it on the record. So I was just like, "Done. Never again." It'll be a while before that happens again. But thank you, I'm glad it was cool.
Scene Point Blank: Ok, now that we've got that one out of the air. You're done with that for now. Are you guys going to be touring this year?
Ben Grey: I believe so. This is technically our 4th show--so it's all very new. But the plans are to tour in the Fall, yeah.
Scene Point Blank: And the album was written in The U.K. [Laughs].
Ben Grey: It was, yeah. Man, I would go back in a heartbeat. I love it there. I love walking around and my skin is so pale, it's perfect. I mean, I'm burning up right now. We're in a theater. As I said before, American musicians always romanticize The U.K. but it really is the best ever. Really inspiring. I'd love to go back at any moment. Plus, I can wear a top coat [Laughs].
Scene Point Blank: So, have you guys been working on trying to get a Dear Boy song on the radio?
Ben Grey: The whole approach to this has been--we're not trying to force anything. If it happens, that's amazing, but nothing is pass/fail. The project has been seriously enjoyable, largely because no one's been trying to strangle it. It hasn't been swallowed up by a business model. It's all happening organically. So when we heard that ["Come Along"] was played on Live 105, that was a huge thing for us. We didn't even know it was going to happen and that's exactly how you want it to happen.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah. Do you think getting the word out on Dear Boy would be easier through the traditional means, like getting your song on the radio or social media? Having just people talk about your band.
Ben Grey: Goodness, I wish I knew the answer to that question. So far, it's just been social media. Tonight, I'm just so happy. I can't believe that many people came.
Scene Point Blank: You guys packed the house.
Ben Grey: It's unbelievable. It's such a great feeling that there was such support at such an early stage. For me, I'm not even really thinking beyond that. Just because--
Scene Point Blank: Because you're just enjoying it so much right now?
Ben Grey: I am. It's growing organically. Obviously, to have somebody play your song on the radio--the ten year old version of yourself can't even handle that. Of course I would love for that to happen, but if it didn't then this is fantastic, I'm thrilled.
Scene Point Blank: Alright, you can relax now. These are going to be simple questions. What's your favorite Tom Hanks movie?
Ben Grey: Oh, it's Big. I love Big.
Scene Point Blank: This counts animated movies.
Ben Grey: Oh damn. My other favorite's That Thing You Do!. That doesn't really count even though he directed it.
Scene Point Blank: That counts. He was in it. That's my favorite.
Ben Grey: Yeah, but when I think Tom Hanks movie, it's like, "T.H. He's running this thing. [Laughs]." But he was kind of the swing doll in that movie. I love That Thing You Do!, but you have to turn it off at the last 10 minutes. It's just sad.
Scene Point Blank: Have you seen his edit of it? The Director's Cut of it?
Ben Grey: No, I have not.
Scene Point Blank: It's really bad.
Ben Grey: Is it?!
Scene Point Blank: It's a lot slower and there's a lot more focus on the whole Faye and Guy relationship. It's more of a love story than of a story of the band. It's a really interesting cut.
Ben Grey: Ok. Got it. It's funny, it's our drummer, Keith's favorite movie. That and Selena.
Scene Point Blank: I love that movie.
Ben Grey: I've never seen it.
Scene Point Blank: What?!
Ben Grey: I know! His mind was blown, too. Here's the thing. I see a lot of goddamn movies. But it just slipped. I slipped, okay? But he quotes it all the time--
Scene Point Blank: SALENAAAASSSSSS!
Ben Grey: That's it! That's what he does.
Scene Point Blank: I knew it. That's one of the most quoted lines of any movie. You've got to watch it now.
Ben Grey: I absolutely do, but yeah. That Thing You Do! and Big. Aw fuck, I love Big.
Scene Point Blank: Now, this is always a controversy: Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail?
Ben Grey: That's tough. That's actually really tough 'cause I fucking love me some Nora & Delia Ephron. For me it's Sleepless in Seattle, but it's not fair because they're so close. I love You've Got Mail. Man, the scene with the mother dancing with the daughter--can't handle it.
Scene Point Blank: You're getting so deep right now.
Ben Grey: I don't care! I'll share everything with you!
Scene Point Blank: Ok, final question. Xbox, Playstation, or Nintendo?
Ben Grey: I..don't play video games, but I would say--because I'm the most familiar--Nintendo.
Scene Point Blank: Ok. That's all you had to say [laughs].
Ben Grey: Yeah, I'm just--full transparency [laughs]. I remember when kids used to have Neo Geo. The rumors were like, it was $600 or something?
Scene Point Blank: I have no idea.
Ben Grey: You know what I'm talking about. It had that game Bubble Bobble on it. Sorry, not Bubble Bobble. That was Nintendo. Bust-a-Move was Neo Geo.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, they're like the same thing only Bubble Bobble came before.
Ben Grey: Bubble Bobble was cool. There were like 99 levels. I remember being super into it. You could put guys in a bubble and pop them.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, but there was one point in my life where I just spent a whole week playing Bust-a-Move the whole time. Now they've got the ripoff versions of it. It's just not the same. It's got to be Bust-a-Move.
Ben Grey: Yeah, it's just not the same.
Scene Point Blank: And that's it.
Ben Grey: Cool. Thanks for talking to me.
Scene Point Blank: See, it wasn't that hard.
Ben Grey: That was great.