Since releasing Talker, its compelling 2013 debut, indie rock outfit Dear Blanca has been lauded locally for the raw and earnest presence of leader Dylan Dickerson, as well as its vehement and vigorous arrangements, bolstered on record by horn charts contributed by Charlotte’s Bo White. With a new album, Pobrecito, due later this year and with the band headlining tonight’s Arts & Draughts at the Columbia Museum of Art, Free Times caught up with Dickerson to chat about recent lineup changes and what new directions Dear Blanca’s next record might explore.
What: Dear Blanca (Arts & Draughts)
Where: Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St.
When: Friday, May 2, 7 p.m.
With: The Tills, Keath Mead, The Prairie Willows
Price: $8 ($5 members)
More Info: columbiamuseum.org
Free Times: I know there’s been a personnel change. Who has joined the band? How has it affected the group dynamic?
Dylan Dickerson When we did Talker the band was a two-piece, just myself and Marc [Coty]. We went to Charlotte and worked with Bo White to fill it out with the help of some of his many talented friends. Dayne [Lee] and Cam [Powell] have joined the band since then on percussion/vocals and bass. It has evolved so much with the addition of Dayne and Cam. Adding them to the rhythm section really defined the shape of the new batch of songs.
Tell me about the recording process for the new album. Where did you record? How long did it take?
It was recorded again with Bo White over a month or two in living rooms and practice spaces. The parts were recorded instrument by instrument for each track.
What’s the significance of the title?
“Pobrecito” is a Spanish slang term that roughly means “poor little thing.” It’s a nickname of sorts that my grandmother had for me as a kid.
What about the lyrics? What themes are you dealing with? Are there any songs you’re specifically excited about releasing?
The record has a pretty wide range of lyrical themes. A few of the songs reflect on recent events that have impacted me significantly. One song is adapted from a poem written by a friend named Chris Walonski. The song I’m most excited is one that features Dayne as the only vocalist. It’s a short tune with minimal accompaniment from the rest of us, and it sounds fantastic.
Do you discern a difference in the musical approach between the upcoming album and Talker? If so, was it deliberate or more of a natural progression?
There was a deliberate difference in the recording process between the two albums. Talker was recorded almost entirely live with as few takes as possible for each song, whereas Pobrecito utilized more overdubbing. The musical content was way more of a natural progression from one album to the next. We solidified our current lineup right around the time we started writing these songs, so the tracks reflect us finding new musical ground as a four-piece.
There seems to me to be a clear divide on Talker between bitter sarcasm — “Musclehead” — and clear-eyed sincerity — “Comrade” — with little time spent in between. I don’t assume that this distinction was intentional, but do you agree or disagree?
“Musclehead” is a song about time I spent living across the street from a trap house. The verses are snippets of conversations between myself and neighbors. It’s not meant to be interpreted; it’s just my account of the wacky interactions and events that took place there. “Comrade” is a song I wrote when I was 17 for a friend who passed away. The songs come from wildly different places and times in my life.
If Pobrecito was a film, what genre would it fall into? And what would its tagline be?
Genre: Documentary; tag line: “Started from the bottom, now we’re here.”