Bear in Heaven has always done their best to embrace the changes that come with progressing as a band, and they've done their fair share of progression over the last four albums. Whether they're performing more ambient, synth-driven sounds or diving headfirst into more solid rock territory, the Brooklyn-based group has found a way to persevere despite the curveballs life continues to throw their way.
On their latest release, Time Is Over One Day Old, the trio digs deep within themselves to create what is arguably their best album to date. Rocks Off caught up with Adam Wills on the verge of their upcoming tour to talk about their new album, and what it's like to continue looking up despite pressure from the outside world.
Rocks Off: You guys are about to embark on a pretty lengthy tour -- how is tour prep going? Are you guys ready to get back on the road? Adam Wills: Touring is one of the things I enjoy the most, so I'm definitely in an excited state. I'm not really feeling entirely positive or negative, though. You know what you're getting into, so it's kind of chaotic, but it's gonna be a lot of fun. We're just a little weary though -- we know what's in store.
Time is Over One Day Old just came out, and from the time I've spent with it, it seems the strong post-rock sound has returned, combined with the more ambient and New Wave-inspired tones heard on your last album, I Love You, It's Cool. What do you feel it made an impact on the arrangements of these tracks? I think it was a natural combination, you know. We don't usually have those conversations, so it's about as natural as it gets. With each record, we've been in different emotional and mental state. On the last record we were listening to more dance, but we're kind of back to where all of our true interests lie in music.
We wrote the record during winter, so it's kind of moody. I think we just wanted to make something that was a little more true to ourselves in that moment.
How about the name, Time Is Over One Day Old -- how did that come about, and what exactly does it mean to the band? Our good friend who helps serve as art director came home one day and that came up as a TV error. You know, sometimes you're at the grocery store or doing something normal and the universe delivers a message and it catches you off guard.
But we liked it because it seems like such a pliable statement; it seems like anyone could apply meaning to it, and I think that's what we saw in it.
The album itself seems to have a theme of space and time - much like the band name from what I've always assumed it meant. Was there any specific idea that inspired this album? Time is something we really neglect. In terms of relationships, the word time is just part of our speech. You say things like, "It's just bad timing," but it just sounds like words. But time is super-relative and doesn't exist unless you share with someone else, but that's because it's so big. It has so many meanings.
So when you focus on time as a factor and concept, you see it so many ways. As creators, it's nice to work around something so open-ended versus something more two-dimensional, like heartbreak or what classes poets and songwriters have touched on. Time is something anyone can attach their own meaning to. It has specific meaning to us, but it could have specific meaning to someone else as well, based on the moment.
I know that Joe Stickney left the group a little while ago. What prompted the decision to work with session drummer Jason Nazary, and how will he be incorporated into Bear In Heaven from this point forward? Joe, John and myself had been in band together for decade, but we saw the end. We asked ourselves, "Do we want to be bandmates or friends?" We chose friends, and it was a no-brainer, but we needed someone to fill in and those are big shoes to fill.
We met Jason through music scene here and asked him to fill in two-thirds of the way into the tour for our last album. We needed someone to learn songs and eventually not be a session drummer anymore. We also wanted someone to help with creative breath, but also work within the boundaries of the band. It's been great -- he's so patient and creative. He's definitely a member of [the] band now.
Story continues on the next page.
Over the past couple of weeks, Time Is Over... has been getting mixed reviews. One thing that stuck out to me in particular was someone's mention that although this is a strong album, after the latest release from Animal Collective (to whom you are often compared) this style might have run its course. What's your response to that? You know, very few critics actually criticize anymore. Nowadays people just practice what I call "copy/paste journalism." One person will write something and it just cycles through, especially once Pitchfork weighs in. Being in a band is like being a high-school teacher. You read one review and then you see where everyone just stole someone else's ideas. It's funny, too, because we have nothing to do with Animal Collective.
It's especially disheartening when you read reviews and they just want to complain that it's not what they want it to be. Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes you'll get reviewed by someone that truly studies their craft, but I try not to even read that, because I don't agree with the positive stuff either.
I tried to explain this to a friend, once. It doesn't hurt or feel good, but other than selling records or getting people to shows, it doesn't affect our fan base.
So how do you feel about the progression that's been made through each full-length release? I think it's the first real record we've ever made. I lived and breathed this record. This one actually hurt to make; the other ones didn't.
I'm proud from a technical point, and there are serious parts. But I finally feel like we're comfortable in our skin.
Bear In Heaven performs tonight at House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room with special guests Young Magic and Weeknight. Doors open at 7 p.m.
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