Brooklyn, NY (Zebulon) – For some reason or another, the music featured in Beast, Rest, Forth, Mouth led me to expect its creators to be artsy and inaccessible, if not downright pretentious. I haven’t been that wrong in a long time. Georgia natives Bear in Heaven’s synth-heavy space rock is likely to make you question what planet you’re on. So, it comes as no surprise that two of its members were, in fact, born light-years away. That said, Jon Philpot, Joe Stickney, Adam Willis, and Sadek Bazarra are four of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys with whom IF has had the pleasure of talking. We’ve always liked to think of our interviews as more of conversations, but these guys took that to the extreme. What was originally planned as an interview turned into a two-hour dinner party as band members and friends alike shared their thoughts, stories, influences, and extensive music knowledge. Even if we had the patience to transcribe what would have probably been over 20 pages of dialogue, we thought you might not have time to read it all anyway. So, we wrote down a few of our favorite segments from the inter-din-whatever you want to call it.
Note: Names are color-coded to make it easier to follow. Jon is green. Joe, orange. Sadek, blue. Adam, red.
Inflatable Ferret: So, when did you guys move up here [Brookyn]?
Jon: ’99 for me.
Sadek: I came up here in 2000.
Joe: Yeah, I came up here in 2000 too. Are you guys recording this?
James: Yeah, we’ve got a couple recording devices.
Joe: Oh, I didn’t see that camera there at first, so I was like, wow, you guys are going to memorize it.
James: We were talking earlier about how awesome that would be.
Joe: Yeah, and then you’d totally invent shit.
Aldo: “These guys are from Mars…”
Jon: You can tell anybody that we’re from Mars.
Joe: I used to tell people that when I was a little kid actually. That was my line.
Sadek: I told people I was from Sirius.
Joe: Did she say, “seriously?”?
Steve: Do you guys kind of have that intrinsic connection with people you meet here who are from Georgia?
Joe: I hang out with a lot of people from the south, for sure.
Jon: I think that just sort of weirdly happens.
Joe: Maybe it’s like, we’re all slow enough. Like, “this person’s running at about my speed.”
Steve: Do you have to consciously speed yourself up here, like on the sidewalk, for instance?
Jon: I can tell you this – when you’re walking down the sidewalk in the South, and you see somebody walking down the sidewalk, you say hello.
Joe: But when I first moved up here, I made a conscious decision – I was like, “I bet I can walk as fast as all these assholes.” But that’s gone now.
Jon: And also, up here walking up to a counter at any sort of establishment was really hard. Because I would expect that person to be like, “Hi, how can I help you?”
Adam: And this also gets on my nerves – “Next on line.” What the fuck is up with “on line”? It’s “in line”!
Jon: And I hate the way they say “DeKalb” here. They say it, “De-Kowlb.” I hate that shit.
James: We were actually just talking about how we hate how they say, “Or-e-Gone” for Oregon.
Joe: I was just talking about that – (laughs) that was the guy that interviewed us last night. He was like, “My wife freaks out on me about that. What do you say – ‘Or-e-Gone’ or ‘Or-gen’?”…That’s weird. Have you been talking to him?
James: I have.
Jon: It’s a conspiracy.
James: Everybody who’s interviewed you in the past month…
Jon: This is a giant fucking joke. Really funny!
Jon: Speech and Comp.
Sadek: I don’t think I knew that.
James: Where’d you go to school?
Jon: I went to the University of Georgia.
Sadek: I went to Georgia Tech.
James: Are you guys sports fans at all?
Sadek: [points to Adam and Joe} That’s the sports fan side of the table.
Adam: We’re not really sports fans. We like college football, a little bit of NBA, little bit of NFL.
Jon: Yeah, at Georgia my dorm room was right next to the stadium. It was so fucking crazy on game day. Cause it’s epic at Georgia.
Sadek: My freshman year I was right outside the stadium too, and I never went to one single football game. The only time I stepped foot in the stadium was when Pink Floyd played there. So, I was like, “I will walk across the street to see Pink Floyd.”
Steve: So what sort of very recent, past year music are you into?
Jon: In the last year…It’s so weird trying to think back and remember what was from this year and what was from last year.
Sadek: I’ve been listening to those Watchdog records.
Jon: Yeah, Watchdog’s good…I’d have to say, finding out about Martial Canterel. He’s part of Weird Records. That guy rules. That hit me hard this year…Black Devil Disco Club. He’s this guy who made library music – my friend Dan actually turned me on to him. Because we were DJing one night, and it turned into a kind of competition of who could out-freak the other freak. Anyway, I guess this guy had kind of been forgotten, but his older records have been re-released, and he actually started making music again, so check that shit out.
James: Yeah, definitely.
Sadek: Adam and Joe, what have you guys been super-psyched about listening to this year? Newer music, or I don’t even know if “new” is a prerequisite.
Adam: Canned Heat!
Jon: We listened to a lot of Canned Heat in 2009.
Joe: Big Business.
Jon: That’s more 2008.
Joe: I love that new record, man. That came out this year.
Adam: That new Flaming Lips.
Aldo: We were listening to that yesterday.
Sadek: Did you guys hear that new Atlas Sound EP? I like that more than the album, I think.
Jon: I’ve got to tell you, a lot of these newer bands that are sort of popping up that as kids are influenced by Animal Collective – I love that shit. I love every ounce of it. I’d say that if people are to have a good inspiration, those guys are great.
Sadek: We played with Pink Skull not long ago, and they were so awesome.
Jon: They did a remix for us. That’s how we found out about them, and then we ended up playing with them in Philly – awesome, and nice dudes too.
James: Who have your favorite bands been to play with?
Sadek: These guys we played with in Baltimore – I always forget their name.
Jon: In Every Room?
Sadek: Yeah, In Every Room. They were great and super-fun to play with.
Jon: I liked playing with Suckers…I don’t know. There are a lot of bands we’d like to play with.
James: Who are your favorite classic artists?
Sadek: I’m kind of embarrassed to say it…The Grateful Dead.
James: Hey, there’s no shame in that.
Sadek: Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine.
Jon: [to Sadek] You dropped some 90’s shoegaze shit on me a little bit ago.
Sadek: New school? Old school?
Jon: Old School.
Sadek: Oh, The Ecstasy of St. Theresa.
Jon: I always listen to Bobby Darin whenever I get the chance.
Sadek: Oh, I love Bobby McFerrin.
Jon: Adam came up with it.
Sadek: It’s a take on the four directions, obviously. But, Adam, where’d that name come from?
Sadek: I think I’m probably the only one who knows that answer fully. Because Jon was trying to name the album something that some of us didn’t agree with.
James: Which is to remain a secret?
Jon: It’ll forever remain a secret.
Adam: No, I’ll tell you what it is right now. He wanted to name it West in Peace.
Sadek: And as soon as he said that, all I thought about was Looney Tunes.
James: Elmer Fudd.
Sadek: Yeah, Elmer Fudd…So, yeah, Jon is definitely from another planet.
Joe: That’s similar to that Pink Skull album Endless Bummer. That’s a good name.
Sadek: But it doesn’t have a lisp to it at least.
Jon: You got something against people with speech impediments?
Sadek: I love your speech impediments, Jon.
Cameraman: Charlie Gibson laughed at the album name, right?
Jon: That was a high compliment. That was the first thing I emailed to everybody – I was like, “he laughed.” To trip somebody like him up – he’s read probably every word in the vernacular in every combination.
James: And I read something where someone called you guys “wankers.”
Aldo: For taking to long to set up or something?
Jon: Oh yeah, we lost a cable that night, so we weren’t intentionally being “wankers.”
James: From the 20 minutes or so that we’ve been with you guys I have to agree with them. I’m sorry.
Jon: I don’t know, I feel bad. I hope we can make it up to that guy who called us wankers. It probably doesn’t matter though. That show was fun though.
James: After listening to your music I immediately thought of three artists who influenced you. Creed, Baha Man, and Michael Jackson. Which one do you think had the biggest influence?
Jon: What do the Baha Men sing?
James: “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
Sadek: Oh, that’s right.
James: I definitely saw the Baha Men in your earlier stuff.
Jon: Yeah, we were more Baha back in the day.
Sadek: Yeah, when David Daniell was in the band-
Jon: He would just come into practice and yell, “Who let the dogs out? WHOO WHOO WHOO WHOO!” But now he’s doing really experimental stuff. He’s done a complete 180.
James: Do you guys keep in touch with him?
Jon: As often as possible. He’s actually the one that hooked us up with the guys were playing with tonight – Pillars and Tongues. They’re friends from Chicago, I guess. But in answer to your question, Creed.
Sadek: I guess we try not to let it out too much, but it is true that Jon takes a lot of inspiration from that style of vocals.
Jon: What’s that style called?
Jon: Crab-Rock or something like that.
James: Yeah, Crabcore. I think I’ve seen those same videos.
Sadek: Yeah, that blew my mind.
Jon: Do a lot of people listen to that?
James: I don’t know a soul who does. I just know it because my friend showed me as a joke. I’m sure it has some kind of following.
[Adam moves to our side of the table]
James: So, Adam, you’re the one who came up with the album…title that is.
Jon: The whole album. It was all Adam.
Adam: I mean, I wasn’t going to say that, but…
James: And it’s your second album as just you four. And who came up with that album name?
Adam: Jon came up with that one. Red Bloom of the Boom.
Aldo: Yeah, that’s a good one.
James: Are you guys just trying to come up with all the best album names?
Jon: [laughs] Yeah, we’ve got to keep it up now. It would be weird if we just came out with an album called, like, “Squares.”
Adam: Yeah, it’s classic to just call it “Bear in Heaven…III” or something like that.
James: Yeah, and I know so many bands do this, but I don’t really like when a band will name the album after a track.
Adam: “Drug a Wheel” is heavily related to the album title, so I suggested we call it that. But Jon made the good point that it throws too much attention on the track.
Sadek: Yeah, I agree with that.
James: So who had the biggest influence on you then – Creed, Baha Men, or Michael Jackson?
Adam: Definitely Baha Men, without a doubt. When the Giants won the Super Bowl two years ago, there were like 30 of us who all ran out of the house yelling, “WHOO WHOO WHOO WHOO – Who let the Giants out?!” Everyone else in the bar was celebrating too, but we celebrated so much harder than they did.
Sadek: I’d say that’s pretty customary with our celebrations.
Jon: Which do you like better – that one or that “Whoomp, There It Is”?
Sadek: Yeah, Tag Team. W-H-O-O-M-P.
Adam: Well, Tag Team had “Whoomp, There It Is” and then 95 South had a “Whoot, There It Is.”
James: Wait, there was a “Whoomp” and a “Whoot”? I had no idea.
Adam: Tag Team had the original one, but 95 South got bigger nationally.
Sadek: And then there was Dunkie Butt.
Jon: Dunkie Butt?
Sadek: Yeah, D-U-N-K-I-E.
Adam: So there are my top three influences.
James: What about for this particular album?
Adam: In all seriousness, I don’t know. It’s not my influences, but I want our band not to sound like, but be on the level of certain bands. Like a nice balance of accessibility and our artistic integrity. I don’t think it has anything to do with what a band sounds like. A good example, one that came up last night, is the Talking Heads. They are an insane level to reach. Somebody who writes perfect songs, but also seems like their music would be in a museum. We talk about how there aren’t any bands we want to sound like. But there are definitely bands we want to be like, because they’re cool, and they’re not sacrificing anything.
James: Yeah, I hear about a lot of bands who make the conscious effort not to listen to music similar to theirs because they don’t want it to influence them too much.
Sadek: We listen to so much stuff.
Adam: Yeah, we are carnivorous when it comes to music.
*For more BIH pictures, check out the gallery.
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