Bear in Heaven

Minute By Minute

Dec 15, 2014 Photography by Ray Lego Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J
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It's Bear in Heaven's first interview in support of their fourth album Time Is Over One Day Old and it's early in our conversation. But already they've been stumped.  

"Umm...probably December 2012," says guitarist Adam Wills when asked when the writing process started. He confers with frontman Jon Philpot, who confirms the date, linking it to the band's last tour in support of previous album I Love You, It's Cool. "Let's just say it was over one day ago," he jokes.

Time has always been expendable for the New York-based trio (which also features drummer Jason Nazary). Since the band had to fit writing and recording in between jobs, family obligations, and occasional one-off shows, creating Time Is Over One Day Old took nearly two years. It was an unusually long gestation period, says Wills.

"Doing things very quickly can be good," he notes. "But the album took a long time to write, and it just so happened that we were just as elated and happy that we captured all the emotions that we were writing."

A leaner version than previous efforts, Time Is Over One Day Old strips down the layers, pushes the percussion to the top of the mix, and features both fuzzed-out bass lines and lyrics tackling many of life's biggest questions, among them life, death, and the great beyond. But the album isn't simply a song-cycle about the passage of time. Nor is it a concept album. No creative project, says Philpot, is just about one thing. ("If you could do that, it would be the perfect piece of art," he pragmatically points out.) All of Bear in Heaven's music, its members insist, is about life's uncertainty as time progresses.

"There's sort of a feeling of, whatever is happening, just let it happen," explains Wills. "Not fight it, you know? That was sort of the way that it went. This is what came out."

That laissez-faire ethos is embedded in the album title—coined by Philpot's ex-roommate (who has also had a hand in the band's artwork).

"He came home one night, sat down to watch a movie, and [the television] had an error [message]," Philpot recounts. "'Time is over one day old.' That's a pretty heavy thing to contemplate if you're just wanting to watch a new episode of Hoarders!"      

Looking into the future, the members of Bear in Heaven feel optimistic about what's in store. After all, the past has treated them well.

"We have people who listen to us and that's still unbelievable," says Philpot. "I feel like one day someone is going to pull the veil and say, 'Oh, it was a joke! You should have done something else with your time!'"

In short, they're enjoying life, even if the exact hours and minutes can be hard to pin down.

"Time is relative, and everyone has their own definition of time," explains Wills. "I'm sure Jon and I have different views of time and how it was spent on the record. Just being within a band, it just seems very right. We're still spanning time. By the time someone is done reading this article, we just took a bunch of their time."

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's September/October print issue (Issue 51).]

www.bearinheaven.com

 

 



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