OK, I’ve got the second half of the Grumpy Bear interview here, which is good stuff but as well as that the guys themselves have given me a new track which I think I’m guessing makes this … well… an exclusive! Oh yes.
So, read through the interview (I like what they say about song writing) and then download the new track, “Wojciech Frykowski (Dead Playboy Song)”.
(btw you can look up Wojciech Frykowski on Wikipedia, which is kind of interesting but I’m not sure how it all fits in…)
Is that a mandolin on “Luis Bunuel”? I really like it; is all your stuff acoustic or do you ever … ahem… rock out, as it were?
Lattney: ...or are we just happy to see you? Mandolin has made its way into a few of our songs, but the gorgeous strumming you're probably referring to is some of Tyler's most inspired spirit-lifting acoustic guitar rhythm pieces we've ever put to record. As for "rocking out", what about "Our Own Ocean?"
Tyler: Lattney is wrong. Although it is not mandolin, the sound you hear actually is Lattney spryly strumming a nylon-string guitar. We do use a mandolin on some other tracks. We do occasionally pull out the electric guitars and let-er-rip, but mostly we just sit and sob into our instruments.
“Yellow is the colour of my true love”
You’re obviously big Donovan fans (feel free to reconsider…). I saw him at Green Man, and it must be said that he was a tad embarrassing, insisted on speaking in a ridiculous cod Jamaican accent. What other heroes would you say you have? Any contemporaries you really admire? And, thinking about it, are there any future heroes in the making that I should know about?
Lattney: I remember being obsessed with "Mellow Yellow" around the age of six, and I will always have "Hurdy Gurdy Man" screaming somewhere in the far recesses of my mind. But my big three would have to be Pavement, Roxy Music, and the Legendary Pink Dots. For the most part, I tend toward the goth/darkwave side of music, (as horribly silly as those tags are) but lately I've really been enjoying Spoon, the Walkmen, and particularly the Black Angels' "Passover" album.
Tyler: Whoa! Let’s not get carried away, no hero of mine is Donovan! We had been asked to do a Fleetwood Mac cover for an Art Installation in Baltimore. My dad, who was going through a divorce at the time, suggested “never going back again” from Rumors (I am not much of a Mac fan so I took the suggestion). I had this faux-Fahey, open-string tuning version of the song and realized that ‘Colours’ just seemed to fit right in melodically. So…in terms of my musical heroes, well, I have over 1,000 CDs of all different genres. I love all the usual suspects (Beatles, drake, VU, Pixies, Smog, Mangum, Eno, et al.). More recent groups that I enjoy include Akron/Family, Caribou, Iron & Wine, Animal Collective, Okkerville River, m ward, Cass McCombs, the Graves, and Bla Bla Bla. Some of my less obvious loves include American Music Club, Mississippi John Hurt, and Can. I love music. Plain and simple. Oh, and in terms of someone new, I really like Kevin Hume. He has an album called “The Truth About Ants and Aphids” which is gorgeous.
“Been there one time, been there two times, never going back again…”
Are you comfortable talking about your lyrics? They seem pretty personal at times… I really liked the vocals on this song, are you going to be doing any more work with Anna Järvinen?
Lattney: Tyler's lyrics certainly sound personal to me; the man has a knack for turning pain into poetry. My lyrics serve mainly to keep songs from being instrumentals, and to keep us from drawing Tangerine Dream comparisons.
And Ms. Järvinen is welcome to bless our humble music with her beautiful voice anytime she wants!
Tyler: Well, when I write lyrics it is purely intuitive. I almost never write directly about myself. Mostly I just put pen to paper and hope it isn’t shit.
Anna was so gracious and kind to work with us. We were in a bind. I had written that song on piano and had shelved it for months. Then Lattney and I finally recorded it while in a hotel room in Tucson before the opening show for the Iron & Wine/Calexico tour. Sadly, neither Lattney nor I could really do the vocals justice, so it was shelved again. Then we heard Anna. Her voice was perfect, so we asked her to add the vocals. Luckily she agreed. I would work with her again at any moment. She is wonderful.
What’s the news for the future? I’d really like to buy a Grumpy Bear CD, is there a full length record on the way? Are you likely to come to the UK?
Lattney: Hell, I'd really like to make a Grumpy Bear CD! We self-released a full-length a few years back, and have put out quite a few EPs and compilation tracks. Of course we've got enough material in the footlockers to make plenty more and thus have an actual "discography." We just need the time, resources, and support! Playing in the UK would be like a Frampton Comes Alive, but again...time, resources, support...probably a following, as well!
Tyler: Yeah, well, we really have released a large amount of material. We have been recording for 3-plus years and in that time have released 2 full lengths, 5 EPs, 2 splits, and songs on numerous comps under 6 different names and on 5 different labels. Basically we’d do anything anyone asked us to do. Because Lattney has a demanding job and a family he has very little free time. I teach full time, and up until this past summer was going to grad school full time. Between those two hectic schedules Grumpy Bear is only able to get together and record once every three or four months (and even then for only a weekend here or a day off there).
I’d love to play the UK, but it seems Über-unlikely. Lattney and I are old fogies who are tied down tightly by the rope of adulthood.
Which is all a bit of a shame really …
Wojciech Frykowski (Dead Playboy Song) – Grumpy Bear
btw Jon at Abandoned Records, who was good enough to arrange this interview, has mentioned that the Luis Bunuel track is also available for download from the AR site, here, (scroll about three quarters of the way down the page…)