In the middle of the last decade, Chicago alt-rock band Dear Dario was on the rise. With a handful of solid releases out, high-profile shows on the books and more music in the works, it seemed like the band was poised for a strong future.
But circumstances don’t always comply. Priorities shift. Life changes.
After what Anthony Dario — the band’s founder and vocalist — calls a pause, Dear Dario is back with a new single and a video released over the last two weeks.
“Name,” which leans heavily on the band’s grungier alternative influences recalling rock touchstones from the mid-90s, is a stage-setter for a band fighting back to the music scene. The artwork depicts a person walking through fire — an apt metaphor conjured by the single — and the song challenges listeners to remember, to learn and to grow after they’ve crossed their own personal fire pits.
“What this song is really meant to do is to make you strong enough or help you find the strength to be able to face those things head on,” he explained. “To turn around and be like … you’re not going to run my life. You’re not going to tell me how I’m going to live my life.”
As a firefighter, Dario has seen firsthand the havoc and devastation addiction, mental illness, abuse and even other people can wreak. And channeling that in the new single, he urges listeners to be strong, but to still remember.
“I still remember your name. I still remember everything that you’ve done to me. I still remember all this stuff, but I’m not going to let you take over me,” he added. “Now I’m able to really explain to people and help people with music in any way possible, to just make them realize you don’t have to hide that stuff. You don’t have to run away from those things. And if we could prevent anybody from hurting themselves or taking their own lives or feeling like they’re not worthy enough because of things that they’ve gone through in the past, then that is the message that I want to deliver. It’s about them. It’s about people. It’s about helping people get through those things that they need to get through because there’s no reason that we should be suffering in silence.”
The song also means a lot to the band’s new bassist, Tico Nerval, who was confined to the ICU while visiting family in Brazil last summer after contracting a severe variant of COVID-19.
“I was like, ‘I want to get out of here. And I’m going to Lollapalooza in Chicago in August. And I’m gonna go all in on this music thing,’” he said. “I was listening to the song and thinking about this new thing that we started. We met and we started this project and got together. I was just overwhelmed with this feeling of being grateful for life, because that’s it. I needed to be here. In order to be part of this, in order to do something different and meet these guys and keep going with this music dream. I was like, ‘I don’t know why I love this song so much’ when we started playing. We had a lot of songs, but this should be the single. And then I sat down and was like, ‘That’s why it means something to me, because of this whole experience.’”
The band Dear Dario, a love letter to Dario’s late grandfather who inspired the singer and guitarist to pursue music and supported him along the way, is back in action because of a series of coincidences.
Last October, the band was invited to open for Saving Abel’s tour to a Joliet venue. Even though the band hadn’t been active for a while, Dario reached out to a drummer he had been playing with — Rafa Fernanz, a filmmaker and rock star on the Brazilian emo scene now living in Lisle — to see if they should pursue it. Through Fernanz, Nerval joined the group, and Dear Dario started practicing for the big day. And even though the show was canceled the night before they were supposed to take the stage, the trio decided to forge ahead.
“It was almost like a glass that’s overfilled and has nowhere to go. We didn’t know where to put that energy. We were all so bummed. So we said, ‘Let’s go back to the studio and let’s cut this album,’ and we ended up redoing everything that I had done beforehand because it didn’t feel right. … We basically just kept dismantling what we already had and just came up with a whole new record,” Dario said. “Our chemistry between us three is like we’ve known each other since we were kids. It almost was like we’ve known each other forever. And I call these guys brothers now. I mean, we literally have an amazing thing going.”
“Name” is accompanied by a slick and stylish performance video (shot, directed and edited with panache by Fernanz) featuring all three in an introduction of sorts, a fitting welcome back to the scene. The single is the first of many releases planned by the trio for this year, along with several shows and festival appearances in the works for the summer.
For Dario, the step back from the scene clarified his path, driving the band’s return.
“The only thing that I really, really feel I am meant to do and also enjoy doing in life is music,” he said. “It really opened my eyes to realize what it was.”