"Lovesick Teenagers" mp3
Chad Radford: Bear in Heaven has really reaped the rewards of being a Pitchfork darling for a minute. Beast Rest Forth Mouth got an 8.4 review. Did that make a noticeable difference with attendance at your shows?
Adam Wills: Totally, and it happened overnight. We've been playing around New York for 7 years and doing one-week and two-week tours every now and then. Bear in Heaven was always just a creative outlet side-project for us. When we put out that record and the week Pitchfork gave it their seal of approval, we had a gig booked at this bar in Brooklyn called Zebulon, which is about the size of 529 in Atlanta; it holds maybe 100 people. Normally, a month before that review I would have sent out tons of e-mails to all of our friends saying 'please come to our show! I know I've sent you a hundred e-mails like this before, but please...' and some of them would show up. But then when the Pitchfork review dropped there was a line to get into the show that was two-and-a-half blocks long.
The downside is that now there are people who want to hate on us just because Pitchfork liked the record. Our first tour after that was a week-long trip to Chicago and back. Every show was sold out, even in weird towns that would normally be kind of difficult to sell, like Pittsburgh or Bloomington. Then all of the sudden there were Twitter or Last FM comments from people saying 'these guys aren't as good as Pitchfork says,' or all of that kind of business. So it made us super nervous. You don't want to play for a room full of people that are judging you. You want a room full of people that like your music. So one of the goals all year has been to elevate beyond just being a Pitchfork hype band. We're not 22 year-old kids. We're well into our thirties and making decisions about our music that are integrity based, and we don't want to be lumped in with a fly-by-night, one record kind of band. But we've definitely been able to survive the downside of the Pitchfork effect as well.
It's smart to listen for a nugget of wisdom in some of comments, but you can't invest anything in the kind of trash-talking that goes on in comment forums.
Oh yeah, I know you have to take it with a grain of salt, but it doesn't not effect you.
Beast Rest... isn't really what I think of as the typical Pitchfork fare.
I was stoked on it, and we were all happy that we got their thumbs-up, but we always have and forever will feel like outsiders. We're not a normal band but we're not too weird either, and we don't have a lot of current musical brethren. We're an odd man out, which is cool because not just Pitchfork, but everyone who reviewed the album was pretty much on board with us.
From my perspective, I was writing about Philpot's stuff when he still in Atlanta working with Presocratics and releasing stuff on Table of the Elements and Eastern Developments, and the first exposure that I had with you was when you played at Eyedrum with Rhys Chatham. So, I'm coming to the music from an outsider perspective already and by those standards Beast Rest... is a pop album.
Right, and for the first two or three years we were trying to be a Table of the Elements kind of band and still have a hard time relating to popular indie bands. We'll read these interviews where younger people talk about influences and say 'Weezer!' or something like that, whereas we were into Mayo Thompson or Gastr del Sol. We have all the interest in the world in becoming a headlining band, but we want to do it on our own terms, so it's fun to teeter on the line of where you're getting popular without using too many gimmicks. All of our tastes are pretty rich and we're looking at thirty years of influence. We're aware that a lot of people made music like this 30 years ago, and did it a lot better than us.
And yes, Beast Rest Fourth Mouth is a pop record for us. For years there were times in the practice space when we constantly fought the idea of having a chorus in a song. We would be like 'Oh... That's the stupidist thing ever...' There was a constant fight to make the music not catchy. But after playing shows to people who look bored as shit for 5 years we realized that we can be catchy and challenging at the same time.
The appeal of Beast Rest.. is that the songs are catchy. "Lovesick Teenagers," for example, is a very cyclical number but it's also very stark, very minimal.
We got lucky with that one. It was the last song on the record and Jon just kind of looped i. It's a crack up that it's the most popular song on the record. It was supposed to be more of like a textural piece where we took the refrain from "Casual Goodbye" and used it as a hint of what was to come with the next song.
Jon uses his voice a lot differently this time around as well. It took me a while to realize that there's not a female vocalist on this record.
Yeah, that's Jon with his Barry Gibb falsetto. People will trip out because he will talk between songs and then sing and people expect his voice to sound like a chipmunk or something... But that's just the register in which he's able to sing a tune. It's pretty hilarious, but I like it. The music does have kind of a testosteroney aggro vibe sometimes and it's nice to offset that with a voice like Jon's because it would be a whole other animal if he was singing in another register; so it balances things.
Tell me about the 2xCD version of Beast Rest Fourth Mouth that you released this year.
The second disc is just a track-by-track remix version of the record. We had friends that wanted to remix the songs and over about 6 months we had about 3/4 of the record remixed. We thought 'what do we do with all of these?' So we came up with a list of a few more remixes that everyone agreed on and did it.
A lot of people are weary of remix discs, but we did it because we had some distribution F-ups that are symptomatic of being on a small label. When the record came out it wasn't everywhere it should be. Some people have said that it's just a ploy to make more money on the record, but we didn't make any more money. It was just one last stab to make sure that everyone got the record, and if someone already had it, this was just an extra thing for them.
Stop Lying. I know that you're counting stacks of hundred dollar bills right now.
Yeah, it's true, the limo is pulling up now so I gotta go... But really, we had all of these remixes and thought they were good and wanted to do something with them. The double disc is still the same price as the original CD, so it's not like a repackaged, super edition kind of thing. The CD had to be reprinted anyway...
Will the remixes be released on vinyl as well?
No, I wish... It would make sense. The reason our record is the length that it is — 40 minutes — is because that's the ideal length for vinyl. If you go longer you're going to want a third side. With the remixes, there are a couple of songs that were originally 3 and-a-half minutes long. Now they're 9 minutes long. The remix record is closer to an hour long, and it's just too expensive. Maybe someday.
Maintaining the sound of this record is important, too. It comes across like a Joy Division record, or any old Factory Records release. There's sort of a foggy new wave sound to it which adds an awful lot of depth to the music.
Jon (Philpot) labored over the mastering process, and really, it was kind of a process of not knowing what we're doing. Jon produced most of the record. 85-95% of it was recorded in our practice space and we have a few nice mics, but not a whole closet full of mics and amps to choose from. Jon was cruising bulletin boards for different techniques while he was doing it so he was definitely learning as he went. We weren't going for a specific sound, just what we thought sounded good.
Does anyone know what time the gate opens and the shows start for Friday the…
"Cat Power postponed her 2012 European tour dates again because she…
Why did she cancel?
u tell 'em, math4eva!
or just do it yourself.
Could be worth a try.
Here it is Summer of 2013 and the sound of Royal Thunder is ringing across…