It was simply about exhaling, taking in life and listening to something that will never happen again and never was before.
BY KARA HENDERSON
PHOTO BY NICK HELDERMAN
Bear In Heaven ascended into the indie stratosphere in a cloud of critical acclaim with their sophomore LP, Beast Rest Fort Mouth in 2009. Since downgraded from a foursome to a trio, the band spent the following years on tour and in the studio prepping their highly anticipated re-emergence this year with I Love You, It’s Cool.
If you’re expecting a full-length revival of “Lovesick Teenagers,” think again. Bear In Heaven won’t be caged by any measure of success, which is quite clear upon listening to I Love You. Synthesizers run rampant throughout the LP, giving it a stronger, more ambient feeling than the less digitized tracks on Beast Rest Fort Mouth. However different the sound, their vocals and affected lyrics remain, and purposefully so.
Chicago Innerview caught up with vocalist/keyboardist Jon Philpot to discuss this ever-important lyricism, critical comparisons of I Love You, It’s Cool to the synth-laden music of the ‘80s, and generally figuring out, as Philpot put it, “that balance between playing shows, writing, and life.”
Chicago Innerview: What was the transition like going from being a 4-piece band to a 3-piece band?
Jon Philpot: It was a pain in the ass. It was a real drag. It happened just after Beast Rest Fort Mouth came out. So that was a bummer because we had just learned the songs and how to play them and we had actually gone on a couple small tours. We knew it was happening but then it was pretty short after that that we were like, ‘okay, either we have to hire somebody and definitely not make any money or learn how to do this as a 3-piece and make just a little bit of money.’
Chicago Innerview: What was the biggest difference/transition between producing your own album and being signed by a label? Did it affect the music in any way?
Jon Philpot: No, it didn’t. Now we’re on our third label. So each time a record label signs us, they basically know what they’re getting into. They know what’s going to happen when they play with us. We’re not going to lie to them or anything like that.
CI: There are a few writers and critics who christened I Love You, It’s Cool an ’80s throwback. As an artist, what do you think about this comparison?
JP: I don’t really care. I listen to a lot of music from the ‘80s, so I guess maybe that’s one of the reasons why. But it wasn’t necessarily a conscious effort to try and sound like the ‘80s. Not in the least. I guess it has synthesizers on it, so that’s somewhat of a narrow definition of what we’re trying to do.
CI: You slowed your album down 40,000 times and streamed it on your website until the release date. Can you explain where you got this idea or what you were trying to accomplish by doing it?
JP: It was this sort of art experiment and we had no idea what it was going to sound like and it was really just sort of a beautiful catharsis to sort of reach into this record and breathe out. It was sort of like this long exhale. I guess at the time when that happened it was pretty trendy to just put out some video and say ‘my record is coming out and here’s this abstract video about something that doesn’t make any sense.’ So there was that element as well, but more than that it was simply about exhaling, taking in life and listening to something that will never happen again and never was before.