Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Bearsuit

The city of Norwich may not have given us much aside from the Tonic Solfa method of teaching singing and that woman who taught a grateful nation how to boil an egg but at least they've got a Bearsuit, which is a lot more comfortable than you might imagine. They caused a minor stir last year with their debut 7" single "Hey Charlie, Hey Chuck" which a sleeve insert tells us may be "what the death of Charles Shultz would have sounded like if it hadn't been for censorship…and bearsuit!". This lunacy and a spectacularly schizophrenic tune propelled them to the position of #4 in John Peel's Festive Fifty. They have followed this up with the recent 7" "Drinkink" which manages to drag the inter-gender dynamic of early Bis and the knockabout thrashings of Melt Banana into a scream therapy session. It's cutesy-poo and 'fuck you' all at once and bloody glorious to boot. To give you a better idea about Bearsuit, we asked drummer Matt H to answer a few questions.

>How did Bearsuit get together?
As far as I understand it Iain, Lisa and Matt Moss were all at school together in Bognor or somewhere. Iain and Lisa met Jan while they were at the University of East Anglia then I moved to Norwich to work at the UEA in 1998 and met Iain. They need a drummer so I went along to help out. Then Matt Moss moved up to Norwich and we persuaded Cerian to join and play cornet and violin.

>Please introduce yourself and your band mates. What qualities do you each bring to the band?
Lisa Horton is a star she plays keyboards, accordion and sings. Matt Moss on bass guitar is cool and looks like a rock star. Cerian and Jan between them can play any instrument and their synchronised tambourine playing is an impressive sight! They're good at shouting too most of our songs have shouty bits. Iain Ross writes the songs and plays guitar and sings. I play drums and try to keep a bit of timing to our shambolic noise! Oh yeah, Rhys Harper is our manager and general fixer. Without him we'd probably never have played outside Norwich!

>Who influenced you to be in a band?
No-one really. Most bands form cos they get sick of hearing so much crap music on the radio and tv and think "we could do that." We did anyway. We just want to make the sort of music that we'd like to listen to.

>If you weren't in a band just what would you do with your evenings?
We'd go watch other bands and drink booze. There's a good music scene in Norwich and there are gigs pretty much every night of the week. There are also some great up and coming local bands like kaito and motel so watch out for them!

>John Peel has certainly picked you up in a big way. Can you describe your day recording at Maida Vale?
The first thing that happened was we arrived at the studios in our hire van and ran straight into Jonathon Ross! And he gave us his parking space with about an hour left on the meter! Pretty cool. Then we hauled our gear to the studio and started setting up and Miti (the sound engineer) came in and sent us straight off for lunch while he fixed up our battered guitars and drums. It took ages to get the guitars and drums tuned up and sounding good. Then we ran through all the songs over and over till we got them right. They overdubbed the vocals and some other bits afterwards. Then we sat in the little tv room drinking beer and playing pool while the engineers mixed the songs. One of the songs had some scratching on it and it probably took longer to record that than anything else! They had to call in more sound people to try and hook up our knackered decks and stop them making bad noise. We got there in the end though!

>You've also done a live set from Maida Vale as well - did you prefer the studio session or feeding live to the nation? Tell us about the atmosphere in the place for the live set.
The live set was terrifying and amazing at the same time. I don't think any of us has ever been that nervous about anything else. All the BBC people were really nice to us though so they calmed us down a bit. Loads of our mates turned up to watch us and The Loves had lots of their mates there too so the atmosphere was great. The BBC helped things along by laying on loads of free beer and John Peel (who broadcasts from the same studio we played in) came out of his little booth and sat on the floor to listen to us play. It was really quite surreal. BBC Choice filmed it too so they kept pointing cameras at us while we played! I think we got through it with our typical shambolic live sound intact.

>You also got a very high placing in the Festive Fifty - were you surprised by this. How did you react when you heard?
We were pretty stunned. The others had gone away for Christmas so we couldn't listen to it together. Cerian and I (Matt) were listening on the last night and Peel said something like "and this is at number 4" and we heard the breathing at the start of the record and just went crazy! We started screaming and jumping about and our mates who were round must've thought we'd gone mad! Of course we were taping it so we phoned up the others and played it back full blast and all kind of screamed at each other down the phone. It's probably the most exciting thing that ever happened to us!

>You’ve begun to play away from East Anglia, is there anywhere you particularly like to play?
We'd love to play in Japan or the U.S. but it's not really on the cards yet. We have been offered a gig in Spain though in July. It's at some music festival that they hold every year and apparently we'll be the first U.K. band to play there. That's pretty exciting! We're going to drive over in the van and make a holiday out of it, we'll probably have to camp by the side of the road and cook our dinners in a billy can or something. Should be a laugh though! We'll pretty much play anywhere as long as we can get paid enough to cover our petrol so watch out for us, we could be visiting a town near you soon!

>You've released two singles proper now. Why should people buy them?
They both have 3 songs on and they only cost £2.50 each that's pretty good I think! Also, they have pictures of space on the sleeves so even if you hate the songs you could stick the sleeves on the wall and brighten up your home.

>What are your future plans for recording?
At the moment we have plans to release 2 more singles on 7" vinyl and then all 12 tracks from the 4 singles on Sickroom GC will be released as an album on vinyl and CD later in the year. We may re-record different versions of some of the tracks for the album or maybe even include some new songs. After that we'll release everything on CD AND vinyl cos we've had so many requests from people who don't have record players! Vinyl's so much nicer though and record players are very cheap these days!!!

>So daddy or chips? Why so competitive?
Someone asked us this in another interview and it caused such a hot debate among the band that we had to set up a voting system on the web site. It appears that Daddy is favoured over chips by most people that voted even though we were split 50:50.

>Bearsuit's Desert Island Discs
"The Soft Bulletin" - Flaming Lips (chosen by Matt H.)
"The Boatman's Call" - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (Matt Moss)
"Brighten the Corners" - Pavement (Cerian)
"Fantasma" - Cornelius (Iain)
"Teeny Shiny" - Melt Banana (Lisa)
"Poptics" various artists (Jan)
+ 2 more: "Dry" - PJ Harvey and "Death to the Pixies" - Pixies

>Bearsuit's Desert Island Book
"Head on/Repossessed" by Julian Cope. Every band should have a copy of this book, it's something to aspire to! We're trying to introduce the game of sock to the Bearsuit van although only Lisa has been willing to try it so far!

>Bearsuit's Desert Island Luxury Item
Are we allowed a computer with internet access? Then we could listen to Peel online.

>Bearsuit words of wisdom.
Listen to John Peel, he knows what's best. Ignore Steve Lamacq though he'll make you listen to Muse and Slipknot!

www.bearsuit.co.uk

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