Not the average bear
Bear Hunter finally releases its first album, and it’s well worth the wait
One thing that has always been surprising about Bear Hunter is the fact that the band has been around for years and has played plenty of shows, but never seemed to have the modus operandi seen in so many established bands. It was still playing anywhere it could, with any band, in front of anyone willing to listen. Sure, a lot of groups make this claim, but after a while they start to play with the same bands at the same venues for the same people.
It was like Bear Hunter was perpetually just starting out.
I talked to the band members, and they asked if they could reschedule the interview to coincide with the release of their first album. That was more than a year ago. It seems the members of Bear Hunter—vocalist/guitarist/ bassist Maurice Spencer, and the band’s namesakes, guitarist Chris Hunter and drummer Clint Bear—wanted to take the extra time to make sure it was something they’d be happy with. So the story was postponed.
Then about a month ago I received a copy of You Will Be Heard, Bear Hunter’s long-awaited record. I went home and put it on and … let’s just say it was like hearing from an old friend whom you have kind of forgotten about.
There is an honesty and passion that is next to impossible to express. Every song wipes away the masks used to hide insecurity, and strips sentiment down to the human essence. Bear Hunter doesn’t mess around. It’s a leviathan of an album.
Then came the interview, and I understood why Bear Hunter wasn’t molded into the typical routine of every band. Its members are able to approach music from a fresh and enthusiastic vantage point every day. When they get up in the morning, they are excited to be playing music. That’s something you can’t say about many bands these days.
The new album has been a long time coming …
Spencer: Three years. Things weren’t working out with the person originally doing our mixing, so we decided, “Why not take our time and do it right?” So we threw the deadline out the window. We did a re-tracking, and threw out the original mixes. I was mixing it for about two years before I got one that I liked, and then Clint and Chris listened to it and said, “It’s a good start.” [laughs]
Bear: We wanted to make sure we were pretty happy with the way things turned out. We were a little worried that Spencer would take it personal. [laughs]
Spencer: I had to circumvent my massive ego. I wanted to make sure this was something that we could all be happy with years from now. Not just have it done and then be fine with it for a few months.
The tone of You Will Be Heard is brutally honest. Do you feel you show a side of yourselves in Bear Hunter that you otherwise keep hidden?
Spencer: I tend to hide behind sarcasm, and I like to mess around. Bear Hunter is a time to say how I feel honestly about something. A lot of bad lyricists hide behind bullshit. It’s one of the big issues I have with pop music. A lot of pop musicians have trouble with communication.
Bear: I think Chris expresses himself a lot better through music. He’s very quiet and subdued, but he means what he says.
When did Bear Hunter become something special?
Bear: It was special for me from the get-go. Chris is a really unconventional and surprising guitar player. He can pull out a riff he made years ago and it will still sound fresh. After we had Spencer come in and write lyrics to the songs, we wound up living under the same roof. That’s what’s made this band really cool, is that through it we’ve all become really good friends for life.
So what’s next?
Spencer: More war in Iraq. Fewer water resources. The music industry will crumble. The USA will lose its superpower status. And I’m hoping aliens.