Bear Hands’ “You’ll Pay For This” Reveals The Bands Maturity [INTERVIEW] BC ARTIST PROFILE: Interview with Ted Feldman of Bear Hands
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Bear Hands is an indie electronic quartet based out of Brooklyn, New York. Consisting of Dylan Rau (vocals and guitar), Val Loper (bass), Ted Feldman (guitar), and TJ Orscher (drums) this band has been rocking out since 2006 and released their 3rd studio album, “You’ll Pay For This”, earlier this year.
Currently on a national tour with FOALS through the middle of November, playing a few headlining gigs along the way, I was able to spend a few moments on the phone talking with their guitar player, Ted Feldman, ahead of their gig at the Hollywood Palladium that I was approved to shoot (see the photo gallery below). We spent most of the the conversation talking about tour life and digging into their latest album.
You guys are a road tested band. Is there anything you guys do on tour to break up the monotony?
Our front of house sound engineer, [Rubes], he’s an excellent cook. Because he spends a lot of time on the road, he takes a lot of pleasure in making really impressive meals on the side of the road. Sometimes we carve out [time] to cook a meal together. Sometimes we’ll go to a public park, we’ve [cooked in] an ally behind the venue, we ‘ve made steaks in the parking lot of the hotel where we were staying.
You tour with a grill?
Actually, we do. We have a little portable charcoal broiler. [Rubes] gets a little creative. We’ll go local supermarket, and pick up some food to throw on a fire. And [Rubes] carries around a set of knives. It’s our tool kit. It’s hard to find good food [on tour] and there’s something homey about [cooking a meal together]. There’s something nourishing that helps bring you down from tour life.
Shifting over to your music, are there any particular songs that you love playing live on tour?
For me, personally, there are. I like changing it up. It’s exciting for me to play new things. There’s always an ongoing debate [between us in the band] about getting pleasure from nailing a set as written, doing the best version of a set that we’ve done many times [versus] changing it up so that every show is a different setlist or order, so that there’s some looseness to it to keep it fresh. There’s a bit of a tug of war between those two impulses.
So do songs morph over time on tour?
[We’ve had] to make some adjustments in the arrangements just to execute them live. There’s a song “Winner’s Circle” on the new album that I love [but it] has a lot of production flourishes, programmed synths and layers that are great and would be cool to do live, but we only have so many hands, and we felt we should just lean into it with the guitars more. That song works really well live, but it’s a more spare arrangement [that leans a little more] rock and roll […]. Songs definitely morph over time, and its kinda jarring sometimes to listen the record and remember the way it was.
“You’ll Pay For This” is a solid album. One of the songs that I was particularly fascinated by was “2AM”. I thought that the lyrics were really interesting and wondered how you guys came up with that song. It sounds like a song written from a woman’s perspective. Am I totally off?
I imagine that it’s the “best dressed” line that your referring to. That song was a collaborative effort […]. It came in sections, but I wouldn’t say it was disjointed. In terms of the lyrical voice, I think it’s about … There was some sense when we were writing this record that we were, after many years of partying […], everyone was now in a long term relationship, and no one was that interested in partying after gigs. There was a sense of time passing us by. Our neighborhood was changing, and other things that people feel when they age out of their 20s. But the “dress” line was meant to be gender ambiguous. It comes direct from us.
That touches on what I perceived the overall theme of the album was. I thought the album’s theme was “maturation”; writing and singing from that personal revelation. The song “Chin Up” I thought was a cautionary tale to the youth. “Winner’s Circle” was a song reminiscing about the past. “Marathon Man” was a song about looking forward from where you’re currently at.
It wasn’t a conscious effort to create a record with a theme in mind. Certain things just came to the fore. Particularly, “2AM”, “Too Young” and “Like Me Like That” are songs about changing and aging and maturing. Something about shedding skin. When we started seeing those themes emerge, I think we embraced them. [Like I said], it wasn’t the aim at the-beginning, but when we titled the album, we had those ideas in mind.
I also thought that the sequencing of the album was pretty solid. Each song seemed to be positioned where it was meant to be, culminating in “Purpose Filled Life”, which felt like your band’s mission statement. How much thought went into sequencing?
Sequencing matters a lot to me. I listen to album front to back. You gotta think about the general sequencing of the album, sequencing for the vinyl, and [we take input from people about what makes sense for the casual listener] who may not get through the whole thing. There were a few opinions about how to go about this, but we knew from very early on that we wanted to have “I Won’t Pay” first. We thought that it was a strong, punch in the face, opening track, plus [we thought it was funny] cause our album was titled “You’ll Pay For This”. Personally, I liked how “Shallows” […] ends a side, then “Like Me Like That” announces a new section. We try to keep things interesting but also have a singular flow. It’s a really tricky thing. I think it could have gone a number of ways, but I’m really happy with [where each song is on the album]. It flows fairly well.
I agree. I think the album flows extremely well. I feel like it tells a story, or conveys a message.
It’s very important to me […] for people who’ll sit and listen to the album [in its entirety], that they’ll experience it in a way that’s in context.
So, what’s the goal of this stretch of tours?
Well, this is the first run of this year where we’ll be playing major cities in bigger venues. I”m excited to see these cities in a slightly new light. Hopefully, we’ll get in front of some new people, and spread the gospel a little bit.
If Any Of The Photos Below Are Pixelated, Try Clicking The “VIEW FULL SIZE” Link For A Better View
Bear Hands @ Hollywood Palladium 9/27/16. pic.twitter.com/HkatAMqAzq
— Derrick K. Lee (@methodman13) October 10, 2016
Bear Hands @ Hollywood Palladium 9/27/16. pic.twitter.com/15Usz40zRu
— Derrick K. Lee (@methodman13) October 10, 2016
Derrick K. Lee is a music attorney, blogger, concert photographer and co-owner of Blurred Culture. He goes to a lot of shows and sometimes he writes good. Music is his boo.
All photos are edited with iPhoto. Lightroom edits can be made upon request. For prints and/or approvals for special uses of any photo taken by Derrick, please contact him directly.