Bear On Fire
BEAR ON FIRE
The members of Bear On Fire are all from Woodland Hills and Los Angeles, save for one outlier from Seattle. “We were friends first,” they informed us before their show at The Satellite this spring, which was clear from their collaborative answers and hilarious banter between questions. Their tight-knit personal relationships contribute to a very tight-knit sound, and their performance is fun to watch because it’s obvious they’re having a good time on stage. Good vibes from these guys all around.
BOF came to fruition organically, beginning with jam sessions starting in 2009. “Random combinations of friends meeting up in basements and garages creating cacophonous noise for fun.” Though the more they all played together, the more an idea of a band made sense. And with each new friend that came around to jam, they gained a band member. “That’s why we have a 6 piece band, ha.”
The guys had me cracking up throughout our interview; it’s clear their friendship is rooted in quick humor and witty jokes that they all can keep up with. It wasn’t much of a surprise when they explained that before they were a band, four of the members were in a sketch comedy group together, which is how they thought of the band’s name. “Bear On Fire” is a result of a brainstorming session for a sketch about bad band names - a game Justine and I also often play [some of our best names including “Velvet + Black” “LG BLT” “Frenchie Meetup” and “Dog Perve”]. Surrounded by parody names, “Bear On Fire” stood out and stuck.
We also had to ask about their album name, partly because we had trouble pronouncing it: Velicata Back comes from a lyric in their song Scrappy - a song about a ‘half-badass half-punk’ dog, roaming its backyard kingdom. If you know LYKA at all, you know that puppies and punk-rock are our main infatuations, thus any song that personifies a rebellious dog named Scrappy is worth mentioning. Anyway, the phrase had a nice ring to it, and much like their name, it just stuck. #LongLiveScrappy
Their humor naturally infuses light-hearted emotion into their music, and contributes to their songwriting success by creating an environment in which no one feels shy about sharing new ideas. A true jam band, their sessions are expectedly collaborative, with every practice revealing new measures and melodies. Individually a lot of them are songwriters on their own, so it’s natural for each member to bring new ideas to the group. As each song is built the ideas go through a figurative ‘ring of fire’ before making their way out the other side as a song.
“It’s all about what catches, because we’re so jam-based. We could be writing a song for a month, and all of a sudden someone will add in a little something new that everyone latches onto it and it’ll change the song. For an idea to make it all the way to a song we play on stage it has to go through a lot of approvals and withstand us playing it over and over. Each song goes through the fire - every piece is torn apart and put back together before it becomes an official BOF song.”
BOF is collectively influenced by true rock and roll and bands like My Morning Jacket, and their range of tastes comes through in their sound. Each member contributes personal affinities that create an interesting mix of elements from a broad range of music. Influences encompass classic rock guitar legends and jam bands like Pearl Jam, The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin, and, along with a deep affinity for Pinback, their taste carries over to funk and jazz drum beats. BOF’s subsequent sound ranges from country twangs, to R&B feels, to true rock and roll.
“A lot of us have backgrounds listening and learning to play our instruments in different styles, so those influences definitely sneak into the back-beats and melodies; any song might change from what could’ve been just a very jammy rock song to something that feels funky or jazzier.”
In conclusion, these bears are smarter than trap. No wait... Grab your kindling because we’re about to light this bitc- no... As forest fire season draws near... ok… Thanks to BOF, our friend Smokey the Bear has some melodic competi- Check your smoke detector for batteries?? K no more puns [because I’m clearly not PUNNY xoxo]. Be sure to check out Bear On Fire’s new album on iTunes and Spotify!
Who were you most excited to share the Sasquatch bill with?
KENDRICK LAMAR, hahaha
We’ve all got on To Pimp a Butterfly...
I don’t every even really listen to hip hop, but that album is insane.
Glass Animals, we just got into them, we’re stoked on that.
There’s a band called Saint Paul and the Broken Bones, I really like them also, they’re like Southern / Atlanta, they have a full horn section, rocky Southern…
Jose Gonzales, I’ve been a real fan on his.
Mark Mcguire, haha.
OH, can’t forget Robert Plant!
Do you have any upcoming plans for a tour? What does your upcoming year look like?
I feel like we’re in an interesting time right now, where our album’s coming out, we’re working with our management to get on a good tour bill and we played Sasquatch, so I think creatively we’re burning pretty bright right now. We’re excited to write new stuff and try to get another album out. We’re definitely working on songs we’ve been keeping on the backburner that we really want to get to. And we’ll see where this album goes, see if anyone’s interested in having us come on to their tour; We definitely want to do that if it all works out.
Any plans for music videos?
Music video… Good question…. Now we do! haha. A lot of us do that sort of thing separately - cinematography, writing - I suppose we could just make one amongst ourselves. If we wanted to I think we have the resources to do something creative and fun... you know what, we’ll be right back...
What do you like to do outside of music?
It’s interesting that all of us, before BOF organically came together, have such separate and unique focuses outside music, so it’s been a testament to how awesome playing together has been; despite other full-time focuses, we’re all really committed to playing with the band.
Do you always dress in suits?
Haha honestly it’s always different - because this is our CD release show, we’re thought we’d class it up a bit… If we played the dive bar down the road we’d just show up in whatever. This is only the second show where we’ve even thought about our outfits - but it’s kind of fun to bring an energy that gives us a shared vibe. The last time we matched we were playing a show in Palm Desert and we all decided to wear Hawaiian shirts and we looked like 6 guys who just got lost from Coachella…“Where’s the fucking main stage, man..?” [Or in our case, where’s the Mojave tent ;) ]
What are your favorite LA venues?
There’s a dive bar deeeeep in Woodland Hills called Scotland Yard that’s really small and rowdy and fun; it’s an awesome place to play and not have any worries. It’s a good place to test stuff out. There’s so many great venues in Hollywood too - the Satellite is great, the Echo & Echoplex, the Bootleg, The Shrine, the Ace Hotel, the El Rey - we had a really great show at Harvard and Stone… There are so many places in LA we love playing them and seeing other bands perform. It’s cool to regularly go to the stages that WE want to be playing - it’s motivating. You know what place is really great? The Hood Pizza Bar and Grill in Palm Desert, haha shout out to that place. Great venue.
What’s your favorite brunch spot?
Our answer will be very Valley based haha...
Flake in Venice… It’s not a big production for brunch, it’s kind of this hole-in-the-wall surfer place but it’s great.
And Niko’s, we always go to Niko’s.
I would say my favorite is Dupar’s in Studio City - Dupar’s is bomb.
What about Aroma?
Aroma is great, but like Dupar’s is really good. They’ve got like the waitress there who looks like she’s been there since it opened...
Bloody Marys or Mimosas?
[everyone answers differently]
So that’s…. 2 bloody mary’s and 4 mimosas?
I guess it depends how long the brunch is - if we’re just having 1 drink, bloody mary - but if there are multiple, mimosas.
I just love orange juice..
I’ll just take the celery from the bloody marys...
How about this: a Bloody Maria, which is tequila instead of vodka.
sidenote: www.bearonfire.com is not their website