Hello there beautiful people! My name is Ant Heald and recently I got the chance to speak to a band that I’ve wanted to cover on the Mixtape Mouthoff for a long time and have been evangelizing about them to anyone who would listen. They’re called The Bear, and based out of the Shoals area in Alabama they have released their second album “Overseas Then Under” which has a tremendous, unique sound. By mixing many genres together, they’ve created a collection of songs that could seem like an oxymoron. It’s dark, yet light. Heavy, yet soft and seemingly balances these elements all at the same time.
The Bear seem to have taken a lot of ideas and influences from a number of different genres and worked to fuse them together, creating an awesome sound. How do you explain what you are and how did you come about onto it?
We like such a wide variety of music and have never had the urge to stick to one genre. We enjoy experimenting with different instruments and sounds so we wind up with a pretty eclectic group of songs.
You guys have been together over six years, a long time in ‘band years’, how has the band changed over this period?
The band originally started as a duo so our sound definitely filled out over the years. I think we’ve gotten tighter as a band after playing together for so long. We’ve also gotten a little more adventurous with writing and recording.
Your second album came out in March of this year, and I immediately found myself captivated by your lyrics, especially on the track ‘Red Giants’. Is there any particular method in the madness when it comes to writing and what inspires you?
I’m an avid reader and am most inspired by literature. I sometimes write songs from the point of view of characters from my favorite books. That song in particular combines things that happened in my own life with Edna Pontellier’s experiences in ‘The Awakening’.
What track would you say best represents The Bear in who you are as a band and who you all are personally?
I don’t think I could pick just one. I’d say you’d get a pretty good sampling from Jack & Joan, Dark Star, Fabled and He’s Not Mine.
I have very limited exposure to bands from Alabama, the only other band that comes to mind are Lynyrd Skynyrd and they’re not even from that state! Is there anyone that you would recommend?
There are a lot of bands from Alabama that are getting noticed right now. Alabama Shakes just played over your way at Glastonbury. We actually share a band member with them (keyboardist Ben Tanner). You should definitely give them a listen. The Civil Wars and The Secret Sisters are two other Bama bands that have gotten a lot of attention. We’re from The Shoals area and there is a great musical community here right now. I’d point you towards Dylan LeBlanc, Belle Adair and Dillon Hodges. They’re some of my favorite locals.
Finally after seeing video for I Want and photos of the band, one thing that stuck out to me as a fan of facial hair is your bassist’s magnificent beard. Does it count as its own member of the band?
It is totally magnificent! His beard probably has a band of it’s own that is much better than ours.