Greg Dear returned to the Perth music scene a couple of years ago after immersing himself in a career in forensics. Two new Beautiful Losers albums, Fade Out (2015) and Owls (2017) have been released, but appropriately they were preceded by a compilation, Cherry Pickings, which collected and thereby preserved some important recordings from his past.
“Cherry Pickings was simply a way to re-release what I consider to be the best bits of my solo releases from the ‘80s and early ‘90s and from the Holy Rollers and Beautiful Losers vinyl releases in the ‘80s,” Dear notes. “I've got this mad belief that the kids of today should have the opportunity of listening to those recordings. I'm not sure that young people - i.e., those under 30 - agree with me or not, but the opportunity is there nonetheless.
“That 3-CD compilation also features some rare, never-before-released tracks as well, and some that were only released on short-run cassette offerings, such as the recordings in 1980 featuring David McComb and Alsy McDonald from the Triffids.”
In regards to any relationship the new Owls LP has to its predecessors, Dear says it “simply conveys where I am at this point in time with my songwriting.” Theme-wise there’s an interesting allusion to the behaviour of the Predator Owl.
“The Owl represents a number of things,” Dear explains, “contradictory as well as complimentary. It represents magic and wisdom, but also represents violence and predation; yet also represents beauty and a commitment to living in the night time.
“It therefore represents everything that my songs embody - beauty and delicacy, as well as the violence inherent in nature.
“On the other hand, I've been known to make shit up. You decide.”
The members of the Beautiful Losers have all known each other as family, friends and musical colleagues over many years. It brings much to the work, whatever it may be.
“Cliff (Ken, bass) was a member of every line-up of the Beautiful Losers that ever existed from 1987 through until now,” Dear says. “Shaun (Hoffman, drums) and Hurb (Jephasun, keyboards) have been members of the current incarnation of the band - since 2014. We've certainly got to know each other very well over the past three years - a tour of Melbourne, several recording projects, a side-project with the Emily Dickinson poetry thing that we did for the Fringe Festival, several regional tours and festivals, etc.
“I'm not sure what all of that brings to our work. Everyone in the band has other projects and bands they are involved with, so the Beautiful Losers are essentially my vehicle for getting my songs out there and I love these guys dearly because they make my songs sound better than they ever would if I tried to do it all myself.”
Being able to strike up the band again, and so gracefully at that, in the last few years, is testament to Dear’s love of music. His love of all music, actually, he is a frequent audience member for bands both old and (brand) new.
“It has meant the world to me,” he says. “I'm not sure what it means to the other guys. I did the occasional solo performance here and there in the 2000s, but when I turned 50 in 2010 I got some of my old bands together as part of my 50th and I thought, ‘bugger it, you only get one crack at life and I loved being part of the music scene back in the 80s, so why not see what happens if I get back into it?’ The reformed Beautiful Losers was one outcome of that experience.”
And the experience is set to continue...
“Having released two albums of new songs and with our recording of the pieces from our Emily Dickinson show scheduled for release later this year, we have certainly done quite a bit. We plan on maintaining that work rate. There are more new songs, so there will probably be another album released in 2018.”
The Beautiful Losers have a mid-monthly matinee show at the 459 Bar at the Rosemount Hotel from 2-5pm.This Sunday, September 10, Tanaya Harper (Bells Rapids) opens with a solo set from 2.15pm. More details at https://www.facebook.com/events/1326367380809150.