Bathed in a deep blue light, The Dear & Departed take the House of Blues stage Saturday night amidst a flurry of meditation-style chants and background rain noise. As the band members approach their various locations, lead singer Dan Under, just before setting into “I Will Love Again”, declares “We are The Dear and Departed, and we’re from a long, long way away!” Just then the rock kicks into full gear and the audience sways to the music, but how many of them know just how true that statement is?

Hailing from around the world, The Dear & Departed is truly an international band. Under was born in England and relocated to New Zealand at a young age, while guitarist Simon O’Gorman is straight from New Zealand (“born and raised” he declares proudly). Guitarist Darren Parkinson has his roots in England, bassist David Williams comes from Wales, and drummer Joel Bourne calls Australia his home. Band manager Hambone is the closest to home in the United States, hailing from nearby Canada. So what brought this eclectic mix of guys together?

Something Quite Peculiar“We’re all the best of friends, so even when we’re not touring or practicing, we’re probably hanging out with each other anyway,” says Under. Though from varied backgrounds, they all have a penchant for English music, citing such influences as The Cure, The Smiths, and Placebo. Under writes the band’s lyrics, but he’s quick to point out that “A band is made up of five individuals with five individual influences.” He pauses to scratch his solidly tattooed arms. “We all have different tastes and everybody kind of comes together and compliments each other in odd and unexpected ways.”

Originally consisting of Under, O’Gorman, and Bourne, the trio made a name for themselves as Australia/New Zealand’s Day of Contempt. Relocating to Southern California, they quickly discovered that they had “more in common with other guys from around the world than with guys from California.” After meeting Williams and Parkinson, The Dear & Departed was formed a little over 18 months ago. Losing no time, they started recording their first album, Something Quite Peculiar, with producer Chris Vrenna, drummer for Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. Since wrapping production on their album, they’ve been touring pretty steadily around the country.

Recently spending a month on Van’s Warped Tour – traversing the country in an actual van to add a touch of literalism to their tour – The Dear & Departed are already back on the road and making their first appearance in Chicago… “well, collectively as a band,” adds O’Gorman quickly, “I mean I’ve been here before on my own.” Relaxing backstage at House of Blues, the band’s laid-back personalities and easy familiarity with each other are on display as they lean back in arm chairs and dish out mock compliments on each other’s hairstyles while a muted television showcases the world news from the corner of the room.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff in the works right now,” says Under. And by their schedule, it’s pretty evident. As soon as this tour with Within Temptation ends on the 24th, they’re kicking off a tour with Saosin on the 28th. But even that’s not enough for these driven musicians. “We’re probably going to be back out again before the end of the year,” says Under. “We’ve been really pleased with the feedback we’ve gotten from the record and we want to finish strong this year and then get out there next year and really make something happen.”

And tonight in Chicago they’re definitely making something happen. After the dramatic entrance and the darkly enchanting rhythm of their first songs, The Dear & Departed cut into the faster tempo rock melody “Fireflies”, complete with Under’s dancing and microphone spinning stage tactics, and a tambourine intro that most rock singers couldn’t have pulled off. On stage, the band’s history is evident in their movements around each other and the intertwining of their rhythms. By the time Under has thanked the audience for being amazing, and the last notes of “Tonight’s the Night” have graced the venue, it’s clear that being from a “long, long way away” isn’t the band’s only memorable attribute.

For more information on The Dear & Departed, including tour dates, visit their homepage

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