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Photo credit: Dusdin Condren
Bear In Heaven has set out on a big tour supporting the band’s fourth full length, Time Is Over One Day Old (out now via Dead Oceans). The new album was recorded and written with newest member Jason Nazary (drums) following Joe Stickney’s departure in 2012. Nazary is no stranger to the stage though, he toured with Bear In Heaven in 2012 supporting the album I Love You, It’s Cool. This band is totally ready to rock with you.
BIH hits Minneapolis tomorrow night and MFR spoke with original mastermind and leading man (also Rochester, MN born) Jon Philpot ahead of the show. Check it.
This tour is two months long and you guys haven’t played live much lately. Has it been a huge transition into preparing for these performances?
No, we’re all really cool. We’ve been playing together now for a long time, because he [Jason] toured with us on the last record, so we’ve been playing together for two years now. It’s cool on many different levels. Jason is more a part of the songs now, he was part of the writing. It seems like were more of a cohesive group of dudes. Group of dudes? That’s a horrible thing to say. Strike that.
You guys self-produce your albums, right?
Is that so you can keep it close to home? Retain control?
It’s a weird combination of things. The producer role is a weird thing. I haven’t quite figured out how that works. Number one, we don’t have money for a producer. There’s that. Once you are put in that position, where you have to do this, you just do it. I’ve been for better or worse producing all BIH records. Either co-producer or just by myself. It’s a weird place to be. Then I have to take off my hat and not be producer anymore and be the musician. Particularly on this record, the engineer and the guys in the band are very helpful (try this, try that), and also our guy Nick [Vernhes] who mixed our record. We appreciate any input. I think that the idea of trying to control your music seems like a bad idea. You have to be open to it, you have to be open to criticism and trying different ideas because it just makes it better.
Are you more of the type to go into the studio with songs ready to track, or do you experiment in the studio?
We have everything pretty well figured out before we go in. Less so on certain songs on this record [laughs], some of them changed quite a lot. Once again, we didn’t have any money, so we recorded the record as fast as we could. We were in the studio over four weeks… it might even have been less.
We did it though! We did what we could with what we had. We also like nice wine, so it’s cool to spend money on nice wine.
Sometimes it can be beneficial to do something on a deadline because it doesn’t make you overthink it. Thoughts?
Oh totally. You can get caught up in “making a masterpiece” or you can continue making music from where you’re at. Eventually you will get to a place where you realize you’ve made a bunch of cool stuff. Living by deadlines is sort of a necessary evil otherwise you would never get anything done. It’s like watching TV and thinking, “man I want to make that TV show”, but then just watching more TV.
Is there any part of the recording process that is your favorite?
Yeah, two parts, the best part is jamming, and not really thinking about making a form of a song, just making noise, freaking out. That’s one part, the other best part is the first time you do a song together and think “hey that’s a song”. That’s the best. Playing shows is super fun too but getting to the place where you can play shows is great.
Do you get nervous about how people will respond live to a new album?
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I definitely do. That never goes away. What is the crowd going to do? With the last record I sort of had expectations, and with this record I have none of that. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. Hopefully they enjoy it. I want people to have a good time and get lost. That’s what I want more than anything. Get lost, then go about your day.
Do you have pre-show rituals you take on as a band?
I kiss everybody here that I love. No sacrifices or anything.
You’ve been writing and recording under Bear In Heaven for 10 years now.
Yeah, even more.
When you started it, is this even remotely what you thought would come of it? Did you see it as a long term project?
I didn’t think it would turn into what it is. I had no idea. I had a very vague idea of what I was doing. To me, when it has come as far as this, I have to kick myself once and a while and remind myself that this is cool. Not a lot of folks make it this far. We’re pretty persistent in this making music world. We’ve had good press. Bad press. We’re weathering. We’re making it. Making music.
I feel like my friends, for unknown reasons, people that are close to me, are most happy with this new record. Which if anything is a big thing.
(Jon on MFR…)
This is a very positive interview. I saw the name of your site and thought “man, are we going to be talking about partying? Something crazy? Breaking shit? But wow, this was great. Thank you.
Catch Bear In Heaven in Minneapolis tomorrow. Time Is Over One Day Old is out now via Dead Oceans.
Interview by Laura Yurich
Bear In Heaven w/Young Magic & Weeknight
Wednesday, September 10 2014
730p // 18+ // $14
The party is at 7th Street Entry
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