Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Bear Hands play a dark, melodic brand of indie with a hint of punk-rock. The band combine spiky, angular rhythm guitar and sparse, mechanical drums with lush, ambient lead guitar lines to build up a rich wall of contrasting textures. Sonically exciting and lyrically adept, Bear Hands deserve to be heard. The Badger sent Ben Hobson to have a chat with them before their recent gig at Concorde2.
Why are you called Bear Hands?
Dylan: I was just going to use it for another band! But they didn’t like it. It was going to be B-A-R-E, but I thought it sounded a bit too Emo, so I thought it would be funny to make it B-E-A-R. I guess it’s not really very funny anymore. But we’re stuck with it now.
How long have you been in a band together?
TJ: We’ve been together for two years. We pretty much all grew up in the Connecticut punk-rock scene, and knew each other from playing in various bands there. When our old bands fizzled out we all moved to Brooklyn and met up there.
What’s the New York music scene like at the moment?
Dylan: I think it’s probably the best place to be in a band.
Val: Everyone’s really cool, but it’s bad because the rent is really high, and loading your fucking gear sucks – you always get parking tickets and stuff.
TJ: There are a lot of hassles, but it’s the place to be, certainly.
Dylan: I mean, as long as you make good music, play good shows, you can get pretty much immediate exposure.
How do you write your songs, do you jam as a band or does one of you do most of the writing?
Dylan: I usually write the skeleton of the song, then we put it together as a band. Everyone writes their own parts and stuff – we’re definitely a democratic band.
Val: There’s usually some deconstructing that goes on. We change things around a lot.
Dylan: They won’t even let me play some of my best songs, because they say there’s only one chord in it! I’ve got all these gems sitting in my pocket – they’re for the solo record I guess.
Why did you decide to tour here in England?
Val: We just want to tour everywhere. When we got the offer to come here we jumped at it.
TJ: Europe has a different appreciation of music than in the States. When we were up in Glasgow everyone was so enthusiastic, you don’t get that same enthusiasm in the States, people are more jaded and blasé.
What bands have you been listening to recently?
Dylan: From the UK? I really like the grime rap scene. I think Dizzee Rascal is really, fucking, the tits!
Val: I just heard Late of the Pier, they’re pretty awesome.
Dylan: And Radiohead of course, they’re the godfathers.
Val: And I know its cliché, but every single fucking Manchester band. Especially A Certain Ratio and Happy Mondays for me.
On your MySpace, you describe yourself as ‘experimental’. What do you mean by that?
Val: [laughs] err… drug use?
Dylan: I don’t actually consider our music to be that experimental, I didn’t pick that.
Val: I didn’t pick it either, I don’t know how that got on there!
Dylan: We very much operate within the confines of pop music. We try to challenge ourselves, but its still pop music.
Do you write a lot of your stuff, ‘under the influence’, as it were?
Dylan: [laughs] It depends on what drug really. I’ve written good songs on LSD. Marijuana is a tough drug to use though. It can help you write music but it really limits my vocabulary.
Val: I personally write all my best stuff high, on weed usually. I would say, every single band practice this band has had, I’ve been high. Every single one. It helps me really get into the music.
TJ: We’ve already smoked two joints since we’ve been here.
Val: You smoked the second joint!?
TJ: Oh… I meant one joint!
Val: I can’t believe you smoked the other one, you fucking idiots.
Thank you, Bear Hands
Get yourselves to www.myspace.com/bearhandsband right now to the hear what the band are about. They really are, in the words of frontman, Dylan Rau: ‘the fucking tits!’.