The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has seen some notable musical legends throughout the month of June – Noel Gallagher. Belle & Sebastian, Morrissey, Paul McCartney – but I’m excited, anxious even, to get back to the bars and clubs. And this week has a number of bar/club gigs that are worth getting excited about (Jessica Pratt, Blonde Redhead, Purple, Rubblebucket, Torres), but perhaps none more so than Dear Rouge, who will be taking the stage of MilkBoy tonight, June 23rd. The Canadian husband/wife duo, comprised of Drew and Danielle McTaggart just kicked off their first ever U.S. headlining tour, in support of their debut LP, Black to Gold, which was hit U.S. shelves this March. The album boasts a synth-heavy brand of dance rock not dissimilar to the New Wave revivalists that made up nearly all of the most-worth-listening-to bands at the turn of the century, but with an extra dash of sweet and soulful sass; every track is a legitimate dancethem that sounds set for far bigger and more glamorous spaces than many of the 200-capacity-ish venues they’re playing on this round of dates (Lucky us, although they are playing a plethora of festivals as well.)
A few weeks ago I got the chance to chat with both Drew and Danielle, who, still up-and-coming in the U.S., are actually a pretty big deal in Canada (All three of the singles found on their LP have cracked the top 3 on Canada’s Alternative and Modern Rock radio.), which was not necessarily something they could have predicted. “Our expectations were just to release it and that’s really all, but just the opportunity to have people want to hear it and have people request it is has been amazing,” says Danielle. “We released the first single off the debut album in Canada last year and when you do that, you don’t really have any expectations, but to see it climb the charts and be #3, behind artists like The Arctic Monkeys was really incredible,” adds Drew.
When I ask about what influences the band’s sound, Drew is quick to give me a list of artists they have an exceptional appreciation for, but then clarifies that they may not be the only things responsible for their own sonic output: “We made a Spotify playlist… TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Washed Out, St. Vincent, Phantogram. They’re what really influenced the sound, although what we’re listening to isn’t always necessarily what influences the sound.” When I ask the about the often-complex process of writing together not only as musical partners but spouses, they confirm that it can sometimes be frustrating, but that ultimately those conflicts only makes the music better. “They expect us to enjoy writing together, but we both have our opinions, so there are tensions,” Drew says, before Danielle confesses, “When we started we weren’t able to write in the same room [laughs],” but Drew adds, “But that’s good because it means we’re both passionate about it.”
I ask them about the immediate future of Dear Rouge and Drew tells me the second half of 2015 is shaping up to be quite a year.
“We have a busy fall schedule. We’re talking to a lot of partners in the states and in Europe. We want to do a headlining tour in Canada because we’ve played a lot here, but it’s always been festivals. I mean, we’ve played headlining shows, but we want to do a real album release tour.”
However, for the time being, the band is focused on their first U.S. tour, which is just underway. “We’re excited to come to you guys and New York; we’ve never been to New York before,” Danielle tells me. And when I ask what can be expected of the live experience, Drew tells me that while he suspects he knows how he and Danielle will go, he’s just as curious as anyone as to how the other aspects of the concerts will play out: “Lots of synths and guitars… We usually have a rule that, no matter what venue we play, we always want to have fun, but it’s definitely nice if we can have fun with an audience.”