Brooklyn-based trio, Bear In Heaven unfolds the sonic fabric of genres with their cinematic danceable, drone music in their sophomore LP, Beast Rest Fourth Mouth. As if in a parallel universe, Bear In Heaven defies gravity by masterfully manipulating prog rock, psychedelica, and Kautrack while somehow maintaining a pop sensibility. They have been compared to the legendary Genesis and Pink Floyd and to the more contemporary M83 and Animal Collective.
Bear in Heaven began as an off-shoot of the music of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, Jon Philpot, over a decade ago. It was not until 2003, however, when Philpot released Bear In Heaven’ s first EP, Tunes Nextdoor To Songs (Eastern Developments), as a solo artist. Four years and numerous line-up changes later, Adam Willis (guitar), Sadek Bazaraa (keyboard/guitar), and Joe Stickney (drums) rounded out the band at the release of their first full-length, Red Bloom of the Boom (Hometapes). The following LPs, Beast Rest Forth Mouth (2009) and Beast Rest Forth Mouth Remixed (2010), were also released on Portland’s Hometapes. (As a side, Bazaraa has left the band since these releases.)
To their credit, Bear In Heaven was awarded the title “ Best New Music” byn Pitchfork Media. And, they have recently embarked on a U.S. tour with Lower Dens, Sun Airway, Twin Shadow, and Cloudland Canyon.
SOTR spoke with Jon Philpot in a phone interview while Bear In Heaven are on their national tour.
SOTR: If you were to describe your music to someone that hasn’t heard Bear In Heaven, what would you say to him/her?
JON: It’s been a really big, confusing thing for us to kind of define ourselves. We’re doing music that we don’t know what it is but it’s us. In ten words or less – I can do it in less, I don’t know. Sort of dancy, drone music, I guess – with some pop in there.
SOTR: What’s the back story behind “Lovesick Teenagers?’
JON: Well, everyone thinks that “Lovesick Teenagers” was written before “Casual Divide.” It’s actually the other way around. Lovesick Teenagers actually came out of Casual Divide. We just added to it and made another song out of it. We kind of thought it’d be funny almost like a joke or something like that to have the thing come back and be like “Well, will anybody like that? Or will it be confusing?” I think people don’t necessarily even know that the song is even at the end of the record. I don’t know if people get that far or something. It seems like when we play it live people are like “What? Why are they playing the song again?” Making the record was brutal. It was a nightmare. It was actually a little bit painful. Having to hold down a job and record the record. I mean, we all live in New York so we all kind of have to work a lot to maintain.
SOTR: How has your background in film informed the way you write music?
JON: Well, the two are very similar like constructing songs and constructing, you know, something for film or TV or whatever. You know of have a time line and, in that time, you’re supposed to – you have your palate of images or palate of sounds and, within that time, you make a song or a movie. Working in that medium is just kind of, I don’t know, how we record and how we go
about trimming down, making things as precise or concise as we possibly.
SOTR: Which bands have you been influenced by?
JON: We have had a lot of influences, you know, from each one of us, we have a particular point that we came out of. We all find common ground in sort of stranger music but then also in old, goodtimes jams. Right now, we’re listening to The Zombies and we’re all very happy about that.