Bear in Heaven Likes Austin’s Population of Bats, Hates Boston

Bear in Heaven is a three piece ensemble hailing from Brooklyn who made their first Austin City Limits appearance on Saturday. Before their set, we chatted up guitarist Adam Wills and drummer Joe Stickney about being an up-and-coming band and their stellar 2010 SxSW breakout.

Where in Brooklyn do you call home? Joe Stickney: I live in Bed-Stuy. Adam Wills: I live in Williamsburg and (vocalist) Jon Philpot lives in Fort Greene.

Favorite hangouts: JS: Music Hall of Williamsburg is a good place to play. GlassLands is a cool place to hang out. AW: I like Zebulon. JS: I played at Brooklyn Bowl during CMJ, which was cool but also was weird, because they have all those screens over the bowling lanes, and we’re playing and I’m looking over the side and watching Mick Jagger strutting down the runway, upstaging us. I also bartend at a bowling alley called The Gutter down the street.

How does it feel to be back in Austin after SXSW? AW: It’s great. So good, in fact, that we made it our band vacation. We’re here for five days, just playing and partying. Austin rolled out the good weather for us.

Are you feeling the festival vibe? AW: This part of the festival is great, free beers and free food. JS: Seeing your friends that you haven’t seen since Wales or wherever you were. AW: The 30 minutes leading up to playing is terrible because it’s really stressful. If you play a regular club, you get an hour long soundcheck and here it’s just bam, bam, bam. And we don’t go up there with an acoustic guitar and a bongo – we have a bunch of shit to plug in and make sure it works. So that part’s stressful. For our roadies especially and our drum techs. Well, that’s not true at all. We do everything ourselves.

Places you’re pumped to hit up on your tour? JS: Should we say places that we’re not excited to go to, to boost our popularity? Boston. Can’t wait to play Boston again. AW: It’s a tough town to play music in sometimes. We never had an easy time there. But hopefully this will change.

Describe the evolution of your sound. AW: I like to think we’re getting better. I’m writing songs that I’m more and more happy with. This last album stood up to playing it at well over 100 shows without us getting sick of it. I really like the songs still. We usually just play the entire last record with a few earlier songs. JS: Sometimes we get requests from the first record that we just don’t have the ability to play anymore.

Favorite thing about Austin? JS: Bats. They have that bat bridge here that I haven’t seen yet. There’s this bridge here and when the sun sets, hundreds and thousands of bats fly out from underneath. AW: Austin has the largest urban population of bats in North America.

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