'Barrage Rock' Band Dearly Beloved Take a Much-Needed 'Vacation' in New Video: Exclusive

Dearly Beloved
Joanne K Photography

Dearly Beloved

Toronto-based “barrage rock” band Dearly Beloved culled stories from its time on the road to write its latest album, Times Square Discount (which arrived Oct. 25 on Future Shock Records).

Vocalist-bassist Rob Higgins and vocalist-percussionist Niva Chow have toured 26 countries since forming the band in 2006 and have worked with numerous musicians over the years. This time around, those performers include OFF!’s Dimitri Coats, Bran Van 3000’s James Di Salvio and M83’s Jordan Lawlor. “It’s a collection of experiences over the last three years since our last record [2016’s Admission],” says Higgins, who met Chow while they were both attending the University of British Columbia. “A lot of the songs were born from the jokes we made while on the road.

“For example,” he continues, “the song ‘Al P’ is about a character we created in a hotel parking lot in Japan. We were joking about the pachinko place across the street while talking about Al Pacino, and Niva mixed up the words and said, ‘Al Pachinko,’ and I ran with it. That’s an example of the type of thing that fills up the record.”

The latest single off Times Square Discount, “Vacation,” is a “counterbalance” to some of their heavier experiences — like being stuck at the militarized Ukranian border for 12 hours, the rising tensions in Europe or the state of  “inequality and disparity” in the United States. It has a light-hearted, near-pop feel for a band that often skirts experimental garage rock.

The video was filmed guerilla-style with cellphones while on tour in the United Kingdom at a former estate of the Knights Templar. In it, the band wanders around 10 acres of lush grass and greenery in white robes carrying glasses of wine. Watch the clip below:

“It was so much fun, and we got a pretty good buzz after a while,” says Higgins. “We weren’t allowed to be doing it, though. We snuck out on the grounds, set up a cell phone and just went for it. Someone complained about us, and the manager came out and she said we could do it on one condition: put her dog in the video and promote her on Instagram. We held up our end of the bargain. So now, everyone follow Bimble the dog!”

Aside from their shared experiences on the road, Higgins says the album also was influenced by experimental hip-hop and avant-garde musicians PJ Harvey and Scott Walker. “Seeing PJ live made us fall in love with having a big sound with a big band,” says Higgins. And indeed, Dearly Beloved worked with no less than 18 guest musicians on Times Square Discount. “While making this record, we weren’t afraid to add different sounds and different layers that we wouldn’t have used in the past.”

When it comes to their live shows, Higgins says the experience is like “skateboarding with your friends. When you see us live, we don’t play our slower, weirder songs. All we want to do is play the energetic stuff and really connect with the audience.”

In mid-October, Dearly Beloved wrapped up a 21-date European tour as the opening act for lo-fi heroes Sebadoh. “You never know what it’s going to be like doing a month on the road with a headliner you’ve never played with before,” says Higgins of the European leg. “We just didn’t want them to hate us. But it turned out great.”