Thursday, 12 April 2012

K&A with Behold, the Old Bear

If you've been reading the blog recently you'll have seen me feature Behold, the Old Bear a few times already.   You may even have heard his brilliant cover of Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill on my last free monthly EP.   Well, the man behind it all is Raindeer of Mitchell Museum drumming fame.  I interviewed him last week, during which I probed him on his debut album plans, his favourite old bear, and what affect MM's reform will have on BTOB.  Before we get to that, here's one of the reason's he's gotten this blogger a wee bit excited!


Are you sitting comfortably?  Good... 'cos this may take a while!

Kowalskiy:  Who are Behold, the Old Bear?
Raindeer:  This question has baffled both scientifical and musictifcal brains since records began. Some say BTOB are nothing more than figments of someone else's imagination, some say they are the memory of your dead dog in physical form. I think Behold the Old Bear are an idea made possible by fellow humans and home recording technologies.

Kowalskiy:  Some may know you as Raindeer from Mitchell Museum. First up, what's with the animal monikers?  And secondly, how did Behold, the Old Bear come about in the first place?
Raindeer:  Hmmmmm, well... Firstly, I have been living with the understanding that Raindeer is my name since a family holiday when I was 15 I think. So that would be for the last 12 years of my life. I don't really think about it being an odd name until it comes to meeting new people. It is quite interesting seeing how people react to it. But its not a test or anything like that. There is no pass or fail system attached to people learning my name. I just judge them terribly if they react badly to it. KIDDING! No, some people make a big thing out of it, and some people are lust like, "oh hey Raindeer, nice to meet you" I like that the best.

And I felt like I couldn't really escape the Bear thing, tho I sometimes wish I did as there are already too many bear related bands out there. But there has been a progression to this bear business. I wasn't always the drummer in a band. When I first properly started getting into music, like many before me, I decided it would be cool to learn guitar. I did this and started writing really rubbish songs. I got a bit better at rubbish song writing and guitar and went to college when I was 16 to get even betterer. We needed to put a band together and the band needed a name. My brother Cameron came up with Digital Bear. I decided it was perfect and wrote and recorded and performed live wannabe Pavement songs under that moniker for the rest of college.

The last Digital Bear gig was in the old Stereo when I was 19, and that was the last time until January that I performed with a band as the front guy. So that would be 8 years, yes. I got heavily involved in playing drums with my brothers band, which turned into Mitchell Museum. I struggled to write songs for a long time. The problem was that I couldn't find anything that sounded like me. Later I decided I would call my imaginary band The Old Bear, after the CITV show of the same name. I liked that show a lot when I was small. A few years later, an old friend of mine brought a Spanish classical guitar into my flat. I fell in love with it and discovered that it gave me the power to write songs again. The first song I wrote is called 7 maybe 8. It was the first of the songs that would make up "the album" and its one of my favorites to play live.

Thanks to that guitar, some home recording equipment and some sad times, I was able to find a coherent sound and wrote and recorded 11 songs I decided could be an album. I then just needed a band to play them live. Meanwhile, due to some sort of technical issue whilst trying to set up a MySpace account, the band became Behold The Old Bear, and after a while I found the correct combination of humans, and that is that... Jesus, that is a long answer. I also really like animals tonnes. Dogs are my best.

Kowalskiy:  Anything else you'd like to add to that?!  I can't not touch again on Mitchell Museum. How would you say this new project compares?
Raindeer:  That's fair. Well, I would say that there are definite similarities that cant really be avoided. Me and Cameron are brothers, who have similar sounding voices and grew up listening to pretty much the same music. So we have taken influences from a lot of the same stuff. To be honest, Cameron is probably my biggest influence, as if it were not for him, I would maybe still be listening to Metallica all day. I still love Metallica tho. I owe much of my initial guitar stylings to them and The Smashing Pumpkins. Perhaps that is where the main differences between MM and BTOB lie. My songs are very much guitar orientated, at least at the point of writing and Cameron, well, to be honest I am not entirely sure what happens when he writes for MM. He locks himself in a cupboard with a pot, a pan, a beaten up keyboard and an MPC sampler and comes back out with something quite lovely. Also, my lyrics are usually very much to the point. I don't like a thing, and I write it down, stopping short of using peoples names. MM lyrics are hidden in metaphors and mysteries. Does that help? I don't know....

Kowalskiy:  You've got a handful of tracks up on SoundCloud at the mo, but what's the plans for some sort of release?
Raindeer:  Well I am currently working with a label towards the album getting a release. I can tell you that the album is called Some Kind Of Dark and that is the title track on the album. We are using a lot of my original recordings from my demos but adding overdubs and such like. I think we are quite keen to keep the bedroom recording sound but tidied up a bit. There are also plans to release a single with a music video in the summer. I am also working on a two minute song to be released at some point. The concept behind that is really cool. But I'm not sure I can say much else about that. oooohh the mysterious mystery!

Kowalskiy:  Perhaps the most important question... Who is your favourite old bear: Paddington, Pooh, Rupert, Bungle, Superted or other? There is no wrong answer, other than non bear-related ones.
Raindeer:  That's easy. Fozzie Bear is well the bestest bear

Kowalskiy:  As well as some form of release, are there any gigs on the horizon?
Raindeer:  Yes, We are next playing in Bar Bloc on May 10th. I believe it is for a new student radio night that will be happening quite regularly. Other than that, We are being allowed to play The Kelburn Garden at the end of June and Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival in August. Hopefully we will find more gigs to play soon.

Kowalskiy:  What'd be your ideal gig?
Raindeer:  That is a hard one. well, I think I would like it to be like Latitude. It is an amazing festival. So I would have all the nice funny people too being funny in a funny people tent. But as for musics. I think I would have Randy Newman with a full band, then the pAper chAse would reform, I would defiantly like to resurrect Harry Nilsson and to finish it all, I would have Pink Floyd transported through time from their 1980 tour of The Wall.

Kowalskiy:  So, now that Mitchell Museum have risen from the ashes of the band formerly known as Mitchell Museum, what does this mean for Behold, the Old Bear?
Raindeer:  All it means is that we sometimes have a bit of difficulty finding time for both bands to practice. That's what it means at the moment. I have been asked a few times if with the new and improved Mitchell Museum being back in action will effect Behold The Old Bear. I hope it won't. I have just got this thing going after years of trying, so I don't intend on putting it down anytime soon. Hopefully both bands can happily exist together in harmony.

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from Behold the Old Bear in the future?
Raindeer:  More Gigs, A Single. A music video. More Gigs, another Album? I have already written about half of the next album. But we need to get the first one out the way first.

Kowalskiy:  A topical question now... Where were you when Titanic sunk?
Raindeer:  What do you mean the Titanic sunk?.....I was on it just the other day. had a grand old time hangin' out at the Captains table. Silly Kowalskiy.

Silly me!  And Silly Raindeer too.  Everyone knows the bestest bear is in fact Yogi.  He'd wipe the floor with Fozzie any day of the week!  Anyway, more importantly, remember to mark those dates above in your diary if you fancy beholding this particular old bear in his natural giggy habitat, starting with the 10th May in Bar Bloc, Glasgow.  To tide you over 'til then, here's another cracking song.  Enjoy!

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