A while back I did a post on a pair of Arizona musicians, Tyler Blake and Lattney Jones, going by the name of Grumpy Bear (here); anyway, I got an email from Jon at Abandoned Records offering me an interview with the Grumpy fellers themselves. Well, I bit, and it turns out they’re not such a grumpy pair at all. In fact, they’re more than a little witty, I’d say…
It turns into a rather long interview, so I’ll not post it all in one go…
Where are you now? Where do you live? What’s it like?
Lattney: We live in Hell, both environmentally and culturally. Top 40 and Country Music rule the radio and the youth, while hundred-degree-plus weather rules most of the year. The color brown dominates the color green and while there is a large riverbed, it's more often than not a very dry riverbed. "Ethnic Cuisine" does not exist here, either.
Tyler: Actually, I just moved to Lattney’s home town this past week. It is a tiny rural town with lots of cotton and lots of Mormons. It is painfully conservative. I moved back to Arizona three or so years ago so that I could get my master’s on the cheap. Now that I am done I really need to find a way out of the desert. Just like Moses, man, just like Moses.
Not wishing to offend anyone, but I’m guessing you haven’t yet packed in your jobs and started pursuing the dream full time. How do you earn a crust?
Lattney: I work in a nondescript aluminum building which nonetheless houses a highly-sophisticated system of robotics--which I do not get to play with.
I do, however, have access to plenty of acids and reagents with which I turn soil into solution, or "dirt into water." Only one person has picked up on the alt-Jesus connection. I used to spend eight hours a day talking to the locals while serving Satan, but he simply had no heart for retail.
Tyler: I teach under-aged murderers and rapists. Seriously. I am a school teacher at a federal/county juvenile detention facility. It is a strange job. I have had students as young as 9 and as old as 22. In some cases the 9 year old has had more education than the 22 year old. I am certified as a social studies instructor, but we are effectively a one-room school, so I teach all subjects (poorly).
In the pictures I’ve seen, you’re both impressively bushy fellers. If you’d done a cover version for Track Records’ Will Oldham tribute, what would it have been?
Lattney: Our beardedness depends largely on the season and the need for facial warmth. Apparently, we've only taken pictures when it's chilly.
Tyler: Yep, we are both intermittently hirsute. It is obligatory to have a beard if you’re gonna play beard-folk, yes?
Actually, we began working with Tract Records just after they put that Oldham tribute out. I would have loved to have contributed. I think I would have pushed for “Hard Life”.
When I looked up Grumpy Bear on Wikipedia, I got this:
“Grumpy Bear shows that while it's okay to be grumpy sometimes, it is also silly to let grumpiness go too far. He is blue and his symbol is a dark rain cloud with raindrops (some of which are shaped like hearts).”
Any thoughts? Why not Tenderheart Bear?
Lattney: Tenderheart is a pussy. Plain and simple. We're just too masculine and filled with bad-ass testosterone, as well as piss and vinegar, to be tender...or sharing...or cheery.
Tyler: I actually dated Tenderheart for a few months in the late 90s. Tenderheart is the reason I am so Grumpy.
Why haven’t you got your own Wikipedia entry? I think we should put this right, what should it say?
Lattney: "Give this band a record deal so their families will stop casting stares of disappointment."
Tyler: I just don’t want to be a disambiguation! Naw, it’d be nice to have a Wikipedia entry, but (as you can probably tell) neither Lattney nor I are any good at interpersonal communication. So who would write it?
The couple of lyrics quoted come from the following song, which you can get here, or from the Grumpy Bear Myspace page.
Never Going Back Again – Grumpy Bear