When in doubt, always look to Justin Bieber for inspiration: Brooklyn-based Bear in Heaven took a cue from producers who previously made Bieb's “U Smile” 800% slower when they decided to give their own music the same glacial treatment. Technically, I Love You, It's Cool the band's fourth outing (out April 3 via Hometapes) has been available since last year, although in its current state the music is unrecognizable. “I definitely got sucked into [the stream] on a number of occasions,” drummer Joe Stickney tells Prefix. As for the record proper—the one that will go on sale in stores and online—I Love You, It's Cool is a colorful, dizzying assortment of synths; as much a study in electronic architecture as it is a straightforward celebration of pop art. Stickney sits down with Prefix to talk fundraising strategies, the band's upcoming tour and their new record.
I just watched the video for “Reflection of You” and thought it could have used more zooms.
I think my favorite part—it seems a little selfish—but my favorite part is when it zooms over and over. It's a funny maneuver. Super exciting; those rocket zooms.
I feel like we've offended a lot of people...I don't know if people are just getting soft, but people were tweeting that the video was making them sick. We've been getting very extreme reactions.
Speaking of extreme reactions...what was the motivation behind slowing down the official I Love You, It's Cool stream? Was this a move against piracy?
No, that wasn't really the point. We just found out [recently] that our album got leaked. These days, it's like, it's gonna happen at some point. You just have to accept it.
I'm kind of ambivalent. I mean, it's kind of a given at this point. Hopefully fans still buy the record, but you just put shit out and hope people come to shows. It's unavoidable. You can't get around people trading stuff, so it doesn't really bother me. It's a fact of the music business.
I recently read about the earnings for rapper MC Lars, who released a pie chart of his earnings. He revealed that album sales made up 13% of his revenue.
I don't know where most of the money would go if we made a pie chart or earnings. I'm sure most of the money would go to live shows. Compared to record sales, that's definitely been a form of revenue. Now, gasoline prices are getting so high that, you're going to go on tour and spend so much on gas that you'll be throwing all that money away. We need to get teleporters.
Times are tough, and I'm pretty sure teleporters don't exist yet. What will Bear in Heaven do to raise money?
“Bear In Heaven Car Wash.” Or “Bear In Heaven Fan Club”...if we had a fan club that was just a bunch of people sending us money, that would be nice.
What's different about this record? Perhaps I Love You, It's Cool will inspire millions of Bear in Heaven fans to start throwing money at you.
[Laughs] We had never done as much touring with Bear in Heaven songs as [we did in support of Beast Rest Forth Mouth]. It was a new experience for us. With as much live performing as we did, that impacted the types of songs we wrote more than anything. What we enjoyed playing live, the kind of feedback we got from people...we played with a bunch of good bands on that tour too, and we definitely picked up on that. Lower Dens were a good influence on a lot of stuff we were writing, and Twin Sister had a good influence. Playing with good bands—it influences you in ways that you don't even consciously realize.
Our songwriting has gotten a little bit more focused. This is the first time we've ever written a full record in one go. In the past, the songs were written over the course of, longer than a year in a lot of cases. With [I Love You, It's Cool], worked on writing the songs for about six months, and then did the mixing in about five weeks. Even though it seems like a long time, it was a relatively short amount of time for our process.
And the title I Love You, It's Cool—what's the story behind it?
We were kicking around a bunch of ideas, and one of the potential ones was Greater Elevators, which is a line from one of the songs [on the new record]. At one point though, when we were working on the record, Sadek [Bazarra] who used to be in the band, but has since left the band because he has his own graphic design company, he came to the practice space with Adam [Wills] to check out some of the demos. While he was there, he drew a couple of drawings for Jon [Philpot] and me. One of these drawings had three elbows, extra eyes and all this shit. The drawing was called “I Love You, It's Cool.” And it stuck out to us while we were trying to come up with different ideas for the record title. It just seemed like the most fitting. It was also a nice way to keep Sadek involved in the picture. He also did the artwork for [I Love You, It's Cool]. We like having him involved in the band even though he can't be a part of the music making anymore.
It's April 3, the new record is out in stores and online, and that slowed-down stream has finished its 2,700 hour life cycle. Where are you guys and what will you be doing to celebrate?
We'll be on the road at that point. We don't know what city we're going to be in that night, but it'll be about two weeks into the tour. Right now, we're just trying to take care of the last minute stuff that we need to do before we go on tour. We're programming lights as I speak. And I gotta go back out to Bushwick and finish these light setups that we're working on. Right now, it's the “pre-tour chaos.” Once we finally get on tour, it's gonna be relaxing. When the stream finishes, we'll be chilling in the van, between somewhere and somewhere else.
Tell me more about the visual aspect of the live show.
We don't have any projections, but we have some pretty interesting setups being programmed. Our friend Johnny Woods knows how to program these chips. You can use them to convert MIDI into a signaling program. So we built these light poles that are gonna be synchronized with the set, and then we're gonna bring along the same lighting setup we had on the last tour. We're pretty much going to be expanding what we did on the last couple of tours; adding new tricks. Trying to keep it interesting. It should be pretty good. But I don't recommend anyone coming to shows if they are epileptic. There'll be strobe lights going off. Tell your epileptic friends to bring a blindfold.
Transport several months into the future. The tour is over and was a success. Where are you and how are you unwinding?
I'll be eating some crawfish and chilling on the beach.