Arts & Culture

Bear Hands guitarist talks band history, new album

Ted Feldman discusses dissatisfaction with Brooklyn, band’s name before recent concert

By
News Editor
Monday, April 4, 2016

Brooklyn-based indie rock quartet Bear Hands opened WBRU’s April Fools’ Bash Friday. The tour prefaced the debut of the group’s upcoming album, “You’ll Pay for This,” which is set to be released April 15. Guitarist and keyboardist Ted Feldman sat down with The Herald to talk about the new record and the band’s evolution.

Herald: Bear Hands is self-releasing their upcoming album. What does this mean for you?

Felman: There are a variety of ugly business decisions that have to do with money, and it’s not fun. But I like that we have all of the control. We’re doing it with our management and a very smart team of people. It seemed like the best idea at the time. We’ve always had complete freedom (over our sound and style) so that hasn’t really changed. It’s allowed us to have con

trol over other creative decisions that aren’t about the music — the music videos, the artwork, even release schedules.

How did your band come together?

Dylan (Rau, the lead vocalist,) and I went to Wesleyan, and we met there. I met Val Loper and T.J. Orscher, our other two members, at our first practice. We were back in New York over the summer and Dylan had some songs and wanted to jam. I met these two guys, and then we kept doing it for almost two years.

Brown is really similar to Wesleyan. Do you think the environment at all shaped your sound?

I think the environment was really encouraging to musicians and to creativity in general. … It was an amazing place to start a band — very encouraging and probably dangerously so. Everyone thought that they could do it as a career, and it’s not the easiest thing to do.

What have been the biggest challenges?

Making enough money to stay afloat and to keep doing it. There are other challenges to being in a band, like spending time with the same people forever. It’s always just an endless competition for ears. When you go to college, (music) is not a sound career choice. I was studying film at Wesleyan, also not the safest career.

How do you feel your music has grown since the band started in 2006?

I think it’s grown a lot. We were more of a scrappier, punkier band in 2006 — very spare. Also, the first songs grew out of Dylan’s writing on acoustic guitar, so there were more folky elements at the beginning. As we settled in, the songwriting patterns changed, and we added synthesizers and different sounds, and we tried to make more interesting and less guitar-centric music. The sound developed. Everyone plays an essential role in how we sound. By virtue of my place as a guitar and keyboard player … I’ve had probably an outside role in the soundscape, but Dylan and I do the bulk of the songwriting.

What are you hoping to achieve in this upcoming album?

World domination. … I think it’s a better, deeper collection of songs. I hope that we reach more people and play bigger shows and keep us going.

What’s your fan base like?

Hopefully they’re extremely intelligent and attractive people.

How did the band name come about?

I feel like band names are the most impossible things. We hated our name for a long time. It’s always been Bear Hands. We didn’t have a band name, and then we had to come up with our name on the fly. Val, our bass player, had that one in his back pocket, and it was the first one that people didn’t just absolutely abhor. We did it, and then we were stuck with it. Our name is a stupid pun, as well. You think it’s clever for a second, and then you realize you have to live with it forever.

You guys are based out of Brooklyn, New York. What do you think of Brooklyn?

I’m leaving. I grew up in Manhattan — uptown. Brooklyn was the spot for the last 15 years, but it’s so much “the spot.” I really like my apartment and my friends there, … but it’s really expensive, and it’s not getting cooler. I’ve lived in New York my whole life, so I’m going to try something new. Not that this is the most special place in the world, but I’m going to Los Angeles.

Is this the first time you’ve been to Providence?

No, we’ve played before at The Met and Lupo’s (Heartbreak Hotel). The last time I was here wasn’t with the band, but I do remember getting a delicious Ethiopian meal at a place called Abyssinia.

It’s closed!

No! What happened? That’s (expletive) up. … Well, at least I have my memory.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.