Dear County — A left turn that feels right

Dear County (Photo courtesy of Miles Steuding)

Mark W. Lynn isn’t one to lie. So he has to admit that playing in his new band, Dear County, is a lot different than in his previous outfit, The Devil’s Own. For starters, there are no earplugs needed on stage.

“Yeah, it is kind of nice,” he laughs.

That doesn’t mean the California five-piece can’t get down, it’s just a different level of volume for the group started by Lynn and Arrica Rose that just released their first album, Low Country, last month.

“We’re excited,” Lynn said of the release. “It’s a long time coming, so we’re really excited to have it out.”

“There’s a little bit of that hoping that the album’s well received, a little bit of that nervous energy surrounding a release,” added Rose. “We want to find a good home for it with fans that are going to enjoy it, so there’s a little of that coupled with the excitement. You get used to the combination of nervous energy, excitement and adrenalin. It’s par for the course.”

Veterans of the music biz, Lynn and Rose actually come from the punk scene, which makes the country-rock music they now make with Dear County even more intriguing. But to both, it’s no surprise that this is the latest step in their journey.

“We have such an eclectic taste in music,” he said. “Arrica and my tastes overlap a lot, almost identically, actually. So it’s not totally a stretch for me to have played a lot of harder-edged, maybe a little grittier stuff. It’s actually nice to be doing some mellower stuff, but I don’t think it came as a huge surprise to anyone.”

“We had a different objective in mind, and I think it’s nice to be able to wear different hats and not just do one thing,” Rose adds. “It’s great that Mark had something like The Devil’s Own going on so he can do the 180 and do something like Dear County as well. That allows you to utilize more of your skills than just one.”

It’s a tact taken by more and more artists today, as they choose to pave their own path instead of one chosen for them by the music industry. Rose, who is still working on her solo projects in addition to her work with Dear County, is fine with that model.

“I think in some ways, there might even be more people doing what they want to be doing because the music industry has changed so much,” she said. “So maybe there’s less awareness for that group of people, but there is a freedom that comes with putting less pressure on yourself to find monetary success and just focus on the art, and I think that we would probably fall into that group of people putting the art first and doing what we love to do.”

“I think that’s the way we’ve approached music our whole lives,” Lynn adds. “Coming from a punk rock background, we always had that DIY mentality. We never expected anyone to be doing it for us, so we planned on doing it for ourselves anyway.”

Art for art’s sake — what a novel concept. But sarcasm aside, it may a romantic notion that those making the music we listen to are delivering it from the heart and not from a marketing manifesto, but Dear County is bringing that notion to life, so more power to them. 
“I think that putting the act of creating art first and feeling compelled to do that, no matter what, that ties in to the DIY scene and that idea that you’re just going to make this happen and you don’t need anyone to make it happen for you,” Rose said. “It may reach less people, but hopefully the people you do reach will care.”

And if they do, great. If not, Rose, Lynn and their band (Michael Smartt, Nelson Saarni and Julia Napier) aren’t going anywhere.

“I really don’t know how to not do music,” said Lynn. “That’s just what I do, and it’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I get incredible joy in creating music, I love making music with Arrica and I can’t imagine not doing it.”

Rose agrees.

“I think of music as eat, sleep, breathe, make music. It’s become such a part of my life, and it was when I was younger, and it’s carried me through to now. As much as it’s enjoyable and I love it, it’s also a lifeline for me and I can’t really imagine what I would do with the time I spend making music if I wasn’t.”

For more information on Dear County, click here

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