Spring 2012 marked the second time I interviewed Brooklyn indie/electronic cross-over musicians Bear In Heaven. Though two years had passed, the main underlying tendency of the interview was the same: staying on topic was damn near impossible. Stand in a room with them for ten minutes, and you'll realize that the trio, consisting of vocalist Jon Philpot, bassist Adam Wills, and drummer Joe Stickney, have some sort of superhuman attention-diverting capability that can suck all journalistic integrity into a black hole of joking and bantering. Humor seeps into all that they do, though it may not be evident by listening to their music in isolation. Instead, it is found in their tangential actions.
Take, for instance, their latest record, I Love You, It's Cool
. Its ridiculous title was taken in jest from a break-up letter written by the band's former fourth member, Sadek Bazarra. They also marketed the album with an ingenious tactic that involved stretching their entire record into an ambient drone track lasting a duration of three months, and their music video for "The Reflection Of You", directed by the force behind Wonder Showzen
, John Lee of the PFFR art collective, can be unbearably nauseating with its incessant zooms. To sum it up: reactions to Bear In Heaven's sense of humor are polarized, and Stickney jokes that one person's comment on last.fm ("Fuck your ultra slowed-down hipster stream") summarizes many of the reactions to their experiments.
It seems easy for some to write off Bear In Heaven's conceptually-minded artistic approach as pretentious and disingenuous, but I'd argue that would be misunderstanding the band members themselves. Their approach to music is hard to understand because they take themselves very seriously when they need to, but swing to the other extreme when they don't. In the interviews below, we're talking ideas
; some good, some bad, many completely unrelated to the original intentions. But the point remains that you will either like Bear In Heaven's ideas, or you won't. If only it mattered, though.