May 18, 2010 | The Newport | Columbus, OH
photos by Ed Luna
The Newport. Legendary venue, not only in Columbus, but in the USA. It is the longest running rock club to date. I had been there many times. Upstairs, downstairs, out front, out back, but never backstage until now. Aaron, Bear in Heaven’s tour manager, met Ed and I out front with a smile. Then led us around the left side of the stage, down some stairs, through a narrow hall behind the heavy musty black stage curtain. I had to shimmy sideways to get through. Then, we cautiously climbed up a tightly wound metal staircase to the second level. Aaron opened the door to a black room, with a black couch, table, and a mirror with a bright white light shining above. Joe Stickney, a gentle spirit donning spectacles was relaxing inside and Aaron introduced us. Adam Wills, clean cut and sharply dressed entered a few minutes later followed by Jon Philpot. Jon was sporting flannel and an epic moustache.
KP: You guys just came back from Europe a couple days ago.
Jon: Yes, we just got back.
KP: Didn’t you get stuck because of the volcano?
Jon: We were stuck momentarily.
Joe: Yeah we got stuck in between Spain and the UK
KP: What did you do while you were stuck?
Adam: Drove around [Laughs]
Jon: Didn’t sleep, enough.
KP: How long were you in Europe for?
Jon: 5 Weeks?
Adam: No, 4 weeks…
Joe: We were 5 weeks in the states and then 4 weeks in Europe.
KP: How do you think European audiences differ from American audiences?
Jon: Uh. They speak a different language. [laughs] The thing that’s odd is, a lot of the times, you just play by yourself. No opener. I think expectations were high.
Joe: You get really good hospitality in Europe. I mean, the UK is pretty much just like the States. But, in the rest of Europe they put you up in nice hotels, cook you dinner. People seem genuinely happy to have your band playing there, you know?
Jon: Yeah they’re glad to have us in the States. But they just don’t have the behind the scenes so much.
KP: Your latest LP was released late last year. But your first record came out in ‘07? How has your recording process or creative process changed?
Jon: The creative process was… really, just about the same, but I think it was more effective because we were playing live. In the process of writing we were playing shows and working stuff out. Live.
KP: So you perfected your live show?
Jon: We did perfect it!
Adam: No. It’s totally perfect!
KP: What do you guys do when you’re not recording or touring?
Adam: I don’t remember… [Laughter]
Jon: I could tell you what I want to do…
Joe: I serve people drinks.
Jon: I want to watch movies… make movies…
Joe: I’d like to go waterskiing. But I don’t think it’s going to happen.
Jon: We could make that happen.
Joe: I’m going to have to go back down south.
KP: You could go waterskiing on Lake Erie tomorrow… in Cleveland.
Joe: I don’t know anyone with a boat.
KP: Boats should be in the water by now. I’m sure you could find someone. They’ll take you skiing.
Adam: Wassup! I’m in Bear in Heaven! Take me skiin’!
KP: Just post it on twitter!
Joe: Actually, that’s a good idea! Yeah! [laughter]
KP: So day jobs… Joe works as a bartender. And Jon, you’re a videographer?
Jon: Yeah, I like to shoot and do editing. All that kind of stuff. I’ve worked with some great people.
KP: Who has been your favorite person to work with?
Jon: Let me think here. Who was the best person I’ve worked with. Hmmm…
Jon: Yes! Actually, Adam Wills has been my favorite person to work with. He does video stuff too.
KP: Do you guys collaborate a lot? Make videos on the road?
Jon: We haven’t been able to do so many videos lately. We would like to do more. We are always thinking about that stuff.
KP: Have you thought about making a music video yourselves?
Jon: We’ve thought about it… [laughs]
Joe: They’ve done music videos. Jon did one and Adam did one for the last record.
Jon: We haven’t had time really, because we’re touring.
KP: Yeah. It’s a lot. Traveling that much.
Jon: Don’t get me wrong. It’s a lot of fun, a good excuse for not making a music video.
KP: I’ve seen a lot of interviews with you guys online lately. Have you ever had one that was really bad or uncomfortable?
Adam: There was one I didn’t participate in, but I heard about. The guy was like, “So! Let me just tell you I haven’t heard your band.” And that’s the type of thing where you’d rather be spending your time with a friend who is at the show, you know?
Jon: Ohhh yeaaah! I remember him.
Joe: He was just like, “ Yeah, this is just gonna go on my blog. I haven’t posted anything on it in 6 months.”
Jon: It was like a dissention! [Laughter] Wasn’t he working for Wired? Yeah, we though Oh cool! Wired Magazine! And then it just got shittier and shittier as it went on!
Joe: He was like, “Yeah I don’t know you band. I really came here to interview Freelance Whales and Cymbals Eat Guitars, but people just told me I should interview you guys too so…” That’s when our answers started getting completely nonsensical.
KP: Have you had any misadventures on tour? Here or in the states?
Jon: I think all of our adventures have been completely intentional. No mis-.
Adam: I think the greatest misadventure was our last day in Europe. We had a day off in Gent, Belgium. Our tour manager took us to this street that had a bunch of bars on it. We’d go in one bar and have a couple beers and then go to another bar… Then we were like, “What the hell is going on here?” Didier, our tour manager was like, “Oh yeah. The legal drinking age is 16.”
Jon: It was CRAZY!
Adam: It was insane!! I don’t think they were carding either because there were definitely kids that looked like they were 12. And Jon’s 36, [Joe] 32, [I’m] 31. We could have been all these kids dads!
Jon: I looked like a fucking loser. I mean… [Laughter]
Joe: We were on the dance floor…
Adam: So it was like 5 dudes, all just dancing with ourselves. Probably the most fun night of tour.
Jon: We went crazy. We got a shit ton of high fives too.
Joe: We high fived close to 100 people that night.
Adam: That’s another thing we noticed in Europe. People think high fiving isn’t cool over there. But getting drunk with a bunch of 13 year olds….
Jon: Someone actually asked me, “Do you really high five?! Is this a real thing?” And I was like, “YES!! An actual thing that we enjoy doing.” [Laughter]
KP: On this tour you’re opening for Metric. That’s pretty huge!
KP: How many shows have you done with them?
Jon: Just one, this is number two.
KP: How was the first show?
Jon: It was awesome. Nerve-racking a little bit, I’m not gonna lie. I think I feel better now.
KP: Do you have a set goal before you go on stage, like to pump the audience up?
Adam: No, its kind of weird b/c we’re so different than them. I think we’re gonna make new fans, but its obvious that we’re gonna weird people out and turn them off. So I fully embrace that. I’m just like lets scare so people tonight!
Joe: That’s entirely true. Last night it seemed like everyone was generally digging it. People were moving, you know? I think if you can get that response from people who are probably hearing your music for the first time, then I don’t think there’s that much of a disconnect.
Adam: I read a review on some website from someone who was at the NYC show who was like, “It seemed like they were makin’ noise rather than makin’ songs.” Or something like that.
Adam: Well… its true… [Laughs] we do make a lot of noise. Which is cool for Metric because their taste is pretty wide, it seems. For them to bring us out is pretty ballsy I think.
Jon: It’s not the easy bet, you know? So, they’re taking a chance and it’s really, really cool.
Joe: I think they’re doing it b/c they like our music and they’re in a position where they don’t need a support act that’s gonna help fill out the room. They’re gonna fill the room regardless. They’re in the spot that all bands want to be in where you just get to pick whoever you want to open up for you.
Jon: When we get big, we’re going to get Marshall Cantrell and Tony Conrad to open up for us. Or a rappin’ bum. [Laughter] (The rapping bum is local Columbus celeb.)
Bear in Heaven’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth is available now through Hometapes and it is sooo good. Make sure you wear quality headphones and open a window when you listen to it. Perhaps a slice of pizza will accompany it well too?
The interview continues here:
KP: Well thanks guys! Actually, if you guys are looking for a place to eat afterwards… if you want the landmark place in Columbus, you gotta go to Hounddogs Pizza.
Adam: Oh we already know about it! Aaron (tour manager) was like, “I know this place dude!”
KP: You have to get it with the Smokin’ Joes crust.
Adam: Are you coming with us?
Aaron: I was offered falatio in order to trade one of my extra pieces of pie that had walking out in the parking lot there…
The rest is too good to type, I leave you with the first JitP Audio clip from an interview.
visit JackinthePocket.com to access audio file.