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Months ago I stumbled upon the debut release by this perfect throwback 60's pop band Bears (read the review) and I've been trying to turn as many folks as possible onto them, certain that anyone with a sensible ear will take to them like flies to honey. Bears create perfect pop music as a band made up of what could easily be the children of the Kinks and the Zombies.
Singer/songwriter Charlie McArthur was kind enough to give me a little of his time so I could get to know this wonderful band a little better.
How long have Bears been creating music together? How did it start?
We have been making music together since June of 2005. Craig and I have been friends for a long time, and we wanted to start writing pop songs for fun when I got back from college... So, we wrote and recorded the song "Walk Away" in our first two sessions, and it has been magical ever since. We didn't really expect much of anything - besides a good time - to come out of this project, so we are really excited about the response we've gotten so far!
Reading your bios it seems that most band members are big fans of Smashing Pumpkins, yet I don't really hear that in the music you create... What is the biggest direct influence on the sound you have?
Yeah, some of us definitely love Smashing Pumpkins, but they've never been a big influence on our writing. We all listen to a lot of different music and have played in - or currently play in - different kinds of bands, but our music seems to be influenced by 60s bands like the Zombies and the Beatles, as well as newer bands like the Lucksmiths and Acid House Kings. The idea when we started this band was to just write pop songs that we really liked. So far we're pretty happy with the results.
I had a hard time searching for information about your band online until I read some music blogs. How did you end up with the name Bears?
We were out camping in the woods of southern Indiana in early summer, and while roasting marshmallows over the campfire at night we frequently heard rustling in the brush. Well, on one special evening, we were visited by a little baby bear who had a keen interest in making some s'mores. He jumped up on my lap, and we had a grand time! We feasted on chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers until our stomachs could hold no more. It was as if this little bear had been delivered to us from heaven above! So, needless to say, we had no choice but to name our new band Bears.
Who did the cover art for your album?
Our cover art - and our honeybear logo - was painted by Kate Pugsley. She is a lovely young woman, and I am quite fond of her and her artwork. It is very nice to have such a talented artist on our side. Check out katepugsley.com to see more of her work.
What is your most favorite personal music accomplishment (right now)?
I am extremely proud of our first record. I know there are some things that we would change if we could do it again, but I'm really happy with it. So... the album, and the fact that we got to play with Camera Obscura, one of my favorite bands. That was a really fun night!
Do you, either personally or as a band, have any superstitions?
It's not so much a superstition, but I like to have small toys with me in the car at all times. On any given day, it could be a sock monkey, Gumby & Pokey, and/or a squeaky pink bunny.
What is the worst album in your home collection(s)?
That's a tough one. I think I like all of my records, but I'll tell you right now that I hate Aerosmith, and I know Jared has at least one of their records! Some might also consider the first Spice Girls album to be a "bad" album, but I disagree.
A lot of independent artists today give their songs to TV Show soundtracks, commercials, and teen-retail stores in hopes of reaching a bigger audience. Where is someplace you might enjoy hearing your music played to appeal to a bigger audience?
Ideally, it would be played in every independent record store in the country... but, that could be a bit unrealistic, so I'd like to have our music in movie soundtracks. They would have to be good movies, though, because there's a lot of crap out there right now.
If you could go back and score the soundtrack to any film that has already been made, which film would you pick and why?
That Thing You Do! I guess that falls more along the lines of "what film soundtrack do you wish you had written," but that song is so good.
Is there anything you guys do as a group other than play music?
We try to go to $5 movies on Monday nights when we can. It's a pretty good deal because you get free popcorn, and sometimes we even see a movie that we like. We saw Snakes on a Plane last week. It was pretty ridiculous. Other than that, we'll go see each other's bands play. Craig plays in Kiddo and The Lovekill, Rachel plays in Plasma For Guns and Patrick plays in Mara Lai, so there are lots of chances for that. Jared will tell you that he is a little bitter about not hanging out too much outside of "band activities" anymore... but tough luck, buddy!
What's more important, time with or time away from the band?
That's a tough question. I've definitely been in bands before when there was tension and people didn't get along, and we almost looked forward to the end of practice, but our practices are never like that. When Craig and I get together to record, it's just two friends hanging out and making music, and it's really nice to be able to do it with someone I've known for a long time, as opposed to my last band where I didn't really know the guys too well. So, both time away and time with the band are important, but I wouldn't say that I like one more than the other. The majority of my time away from the band (outside of work) is spent doing things for the band anyway!
What's the best advice you've ever given or received?
Don't worry about what other people think about you. I know that sounds corny, and some might see that as a fault, but I seriously think it has made me a lot happier.
Where do you hope to be a year from now?
We would like to have released another album by that point. We think the new songs that are being written and recorded right now are even better than those on the first album, and we want to make a record that we totally love. We would also eventually like to do some touring to support the record.
The Bears' self-titled debut is out now and you shouldn't miss it. They will (hopefully) be touring around this country reeking havoc in your town - in the way only Bears can do… while smiling and dancing and swaying to the beautiful music. SEE ALSO: www.bearspop.com
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he's afraid of really growing up.
See other articles by Bob Ladewig.
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