We caught up with Joe Stickney, drummer for Bear in Heaven, and chatted with him about the recording of their great new album
I Love You, It's Cool, playing around the world, and how to make ass shakin' music.
How did you guys come up with the title for I Love You, It's Cool?
It was penned in a note that our buddy left in our practice space. He came over one time and had some beers with Adam (Wills) and they were listening to some of the demos, and he did some drawings for me and Jon (Philpot), and one of them said "I love you, it's cool" on one of it.
Could you talk about your drumming style, and maybe about how it was different on the new album?
Yeah, it was recorded a lot differently. The sounds of the drums worked really well. David Wrench (producer on I Love You
) did a really good job recording the drums. There's a lot less cymbal work going on, which is probably the major difference on this record. We've been reintegrating some of the old songs into the new set, and it's really clear to me how the old songs are like non-stop cymbal stuff. We all agreed we wanted to do less cymbal stuff and more ass-shakin' stuff.
So that was an intentional decision on this record?
Yeah, I remember something that Bill Withers said. He didn't want his drummers to use too many cymbals because the ladies didn't like it. He found that the ladies in the crowd liked the songs a lot more when they weren't going on.
Do you think that theory has proved to be true?
[Laughs] You know, I think there's probably some truth to it.
The sound of this record is gigantic, and it's hard to believe that it's only three of you playing at any one time. Do you have any techniques for expanding the sound in a small group?
Jon's got all kinds of techniques that I don't even know, or fully understand. A lot of it is going on in the synthesizer world over there. We all split up a lot of duties. There's a lot of stuff being MIDI controlled that Adam will be triggering, or I'll trigger. I don't trigger as much stuff as I did on the last record. Jon does a lot of double duty over on synth, and a lot of weird processing of sounds. In recording, I just play drums, Adam does bass and guitar, and Jon does the rest.
You guys have been playing all over Europe for a while now. Do you see any differences between the crowds in Europe and the crowds in America?
Yeah, I do absolutely, but it's hard to generalize, because I feel like there are differences just between the countries in Europe. But you know, you get a difference between crowds in America from city to city. But I think it's more a city thing than a country thing in general, although there are definitely tendencies. Like, in Spain bands were super enthusiastic. In certain places, bands are more ready to let loose.
Are there specific cities that you really love playing in?
Yeah, we love Copenhagen. It's really cool. Berlin is pretty rad. Mexico City is honestly probably my favorite city that I've ever played in. We're going to go back to Mexico in the summer, super psyched about that.
There's probably going to be brutal heat down there then.
Ah, I'm from Alabama, so I'm used to it.
Do you guys still call yourselves "A Brooklyn Band"? Is that a fair title?
Yeah we definitely are still a Brooklyn band. I mean, I knew Adam from college in Georgia, but I never met Jon until we lived here in New York. We've been playing as a band in Brooklyn for almost nine years now. We are fully a Brooklyn band.
What do you think is the best part of the Brooklyn music scene?
Just the abundance of really amazing musical ideas, I think. It's gotten to the point where we know a ridiculous number of musicians who are doing great stuff all the time. So there's lots of ideas kicking around. It helps you develop your ideas more quickly when you're surrounded by people who are doing exciting stuff.
Do you have any advice for bands who are just starting out, what would you tell them?
I'd tell them to get ready to work their asses off. You have to bust your ass if you want to make it anywhere.
Check out our pictures from Bear in Heaven's recent homecoming show at Music Hall of Williamsburg here
, and watch the video for "Reflection of You" below.