As the bears trundle off in search of food a few hours before unleashing sonic havoc on the Joiner’s Arms, drummer Matt remarks “If you want you can just make it all up.”
DiS: Alright then, I’ll put something sensational, like, say, ‘Bearsuit Eat Babies’.
Keyboard-tinkler Lisa, whose voice sounds like sherbet tastes, casts a knowing glance in the direction of boy guitar-wielder Iain. “Well,” she says with a muted grin, “funny you should say that…”
Iain (also referred to as Mousy, presumably because he’s so soft-spoken his voice is barely audible over the Joiner’s plumbing) puts on a defensive middle-distance stare. “But…but…it just looked so tender!”
Such are the bizarre digressions discovered when venturing into the world inhabited by Bearsuit. We caught up with them on the Southampton leg of their first ever UK tour (!) which was initially intended to promote the long-awaited arrival of their ‘lost’ (read: unreleased) debut album ‘In Charge Of Meats’, but now that’s scheduled for release some time before the year is out, apparently in a “different guise”. The band admit they want to release a greatest hits package called ‘Louder Than Bums’, but Sean from their UK imprint Fortuna Pop! apparently said this title would only apply over his dead body.
Girl guitar-wielder Jan is still made up with it, though. “It would be great to ask for it in a record shop,” she ponders with a glint in her eyes, “‘Can I have Louder Than Bums please?’”
DiS: What’s this about a new Country & Western direction?
Matt quickly denies any newly-found deep debt to C&W. “We’ve got a country & western song but we haven’t really been working on it.”
Trumpet-presser Cerian then jumps in. “It’s country & western in the sense that there’s a lot of shrieking on it”, she states, with Lisa adding that “it’s just an excuse for Iain to wear a little Stetson”.
Although tonight the twanging remains un-showcased, the new songs are belted through as promised – one’s called ‘Stephen Fucking Spielberg’, and one collapses unintentionally in the middle before the band argue over whether they should finish it or not, then pick up where they left off in a whirlwind of speeding guitar and manic jabbering.
How do you make one of those?
Lisa responds instantly: “Iain writes a song and then we all ruin it.”
Iain (nodding sagely): “Well yeah, I write something and it’s incomplete, although it’s got verses and choruses and everything, and then it gets fucked up…”
Matt: “We go, ‘No no Mousy, it’s too long, it’s got too much guitar in it’”.
Are there any new themes in these songs?
They all respond in unison: “space”, although as Lisa correctly points out “that’s not new”.
“Girls”, adds Jan, before describing the new material as “more bear, less suit”. Matt says one is about “robot sex”.
Bearsuit, as it has been approximately for over five years now, began when school buddies Jan and Lisa both bought guitars.
“We didn’t really buy them to do anything with them though,” remarks Jan, “we just bought them to have them.”
Iain was suitably inspired and duly did similar.
Lisa: “He fancied the girl in the guitar shop so he was always there”
Matt: “What was her name?”
Iain: “Dunno, I didn’t speak to her! I just kept buying guitars! So me and Lisa decided to form a band, and initially we were going to sound like the Pixies, which we did really but without any drums or bass.”
Lisa: “I couldn’t play guitar very well though so I got a keyboard ‘cos it’s free-standing and not very heavy.”
Iain: “Then we met up with our friends from school who could play drums and bass and moved up to Norwich”. Cerian: “You’ve confused me, Jan wasn’t at school with you, you’ve gone backwards in time.”
All this time Matt is giving directions into his phone because resident tour support posse Retro Spankees (the ‘Suit’s 'new favourite band', and we hardly disagree) have passed the venue and are heading rapidly towards the Channel.
Iain: “This isn’t very interesting anyway. Say we all met at a Smiths concert”.
Having established the Bearsuit ‘sound’ that we now know and love, the band took delight in seeing those intrigued try and put a label on…well…what would you call it?
“The soundman last night said it sounded like chaos” recalls Matt with a look of pride. Bass-bear Richard chips in, saying “someone else said it was the musical equivalent of Tourette’s syndrome.”
“One of the posters says ‘Melt Banana meets Busted’”, says Cerian with a wry grin. “If only it sounded more like Busted…”
Initially they seemed rather elusive about their influences, but have recently been reeling off many names, the most controversial from the recited press release being Belle & Sebastian.
Lisa: “It’s only because over people said it. I don’t really like Belle & Sebastian…”
Matt: “people seem kind of desperate to find a reference that you sound like. We don’t really sound like anything.”
Iain: “It’s more to do with the way they make music than the music itself…because they’re shit! Not really, I quite like them…it’s more that they’ve kept sounding like they sound even though as a band they’ve changed”
Matt: “They do what they want really. They haven’t sold out.”
Meanwhile, in the corner, Cerian has been becoming increasingly peeved with each dig at the fey Scots. “I really like Belle & Sebastien”, she warns, “and I’m willing to fight any one of you!”
“I’ll do the sound effects!” screams Jan, adding a squeaky ‘kapow!’ as an appetiser.
Lisa continues though: “Glasgow’s the feyest place we’ve been to. The people were so twee it was frightening.”
Cerian: “They were dancing sat down”.
Matt: “They were dancing around a beret or something.”
Some bands like Lightning Bolt insist that the front few rows kneel down so that they don’t have to play on a stage and the back rows can still see them.
Cerian: “We’d have them kneeling on their shoes so they look really short. That’s our new gimmick!”
So…does this mean you’re all schizophrenic, then?
Richard: “Yes. No. Yes…Lisa is.”
Lisa: “I never!”
Matt: “Not in the sense that we stab people to death randomly in the street…we’d never get another gig.”
Jan: “Although you were saying today that you should take a knife with you wherever you go in case you get trapped in a bouncy castle. Lisa did when she was little.”
Lisa: “I wouldn’t be carrying a knife when I was five years old. I did try and strangle a boy in playgroup though and I got chucked out of the classroom”
Cerian: “I punched a boy at playschool too. I hit him three times and he cried. His name’s Dominic.”
Matt: “If you’re out there Dominic, get in touch.”
Lisa “Iain punched a girl once and she fell to the floor!”
Iain: “She asked me to! I was only about eight or something. She said ‘Come on, I bet you can’t hit me, punch me punch me.’ So I hit her really fucking hard and she flew back and hit her head on a cabinet. It was the one time I hit her back because she told me to, I didn’t want to.”
Matt: “Wow, this is like counselling”.
Cerian: “See, I bet as children Bearsuit looked angelic but we were really just little fucks inside”.
Jan: “What was the question? Are we schizophrenic?”
Lisa: “I think the music is because there’s just so many of us and we play different instruments and stuff”.
Doesn’t that make song-writing a problem, because you all like different things?
Cerian: “I don’t think it does at all, I think we all just do what we do and everybody else tends to like it. I think it’s more difficult for people who listen to us”
Iain: “I guess we just change with the sound, really. Become more…modulus, or something.”
Matt: “ We don’t think about what people would want to hear, though, we just do it.”
Do you not argue over what you want a song to do though?
Cerian: “It doesn’t ever really happen because generally we make up our own bits and nobody ever really says ‘I don’t like what you’re doing’”.
Jan: “Well I remember making up some really big parts on my really expensive fancy keyboards but it had too many good sounds and I had to go back to my shoddy little keyboard.”
Matt: “Well it wasn’t great…”
Jan: “It was bloody brilliant! I was really chuffed with what I did there”
Matt: “Generally if somebody does something we don’t like it just gets mixed down really low. Like ‘it’s in the mix’.”
What’s next for the bears, then?
Matt: “World domination”
Lisa: “I think, we may have to quit our day jobs. We’re starting to record our new album in June.”
Jan: “We’re trying to go to America. They might not let us into America though ‘cos they think we’ve all got mad cow disease”
Lisa: “We can’t have, we’re all vegetarian.”
Richard: “I’m not though, I might have it.”
Lisa: “Though don’t you get it when you’re really little? Like in the eighties.”
Matt: “If you ate meat before ’85.”
Cerian: “I didn’t so I’m alright. You’re all fucked!”
If time and money and reality held no bounds, what would you be doing next?
Cerian: “going to Japan”
Matt: “World tour. I’d like to do Australia too. We’d be going that way so we might as well do Australia too”.
Cerian: “Just quit working and be a band.”
Jan: “Really? I wouldn’t do anything! Just buy a mansion or something.”
Matt: “Buy a shopping centre”.
Lisa: “Go to the moon! Mousy can get a private jet to the moon.”
Iain: “Nah, I’d wanna go to Mars. I’m sick of the moon”.
Lisa: “You’d be killed on Mars”
Cerian: “Yeah, shit! You can’t live on Mars, your bones would burn”.
Matt: “Yeah, apparently it’s impossible.”
Iain: “Shut up! LALALA NOT LISTENING TO YOU!”
Richard: “But in Total Recall they wear spacesuits and they can walk around…”
Matt: “Uh, it’s not real”.
Iain: “They got really bulgy eyes through lack of oxygen or something.”
Jan: “You’ve got quite bulgy eyes anyway”.
Iain: “The serious answer to that question is we’d make the best album possible and then split up.”
All: (shocked disappointment) “Oh, Mousy!”
Cerian: “Can we still be friends?”
Richard: “We’d make the best album possible and then make an inferior one”.
Matt: “We should make four really bad albums and then one brilliant one”.
Iain: “That’s the original plan! Although every band member was going to write a different one”.
Jan: “Matt would write the shit one”.
Matt: “There were going to be four shit ones weren’t there?”
Jan: “Yeah but yours would be the worst!”
Matt: “Well there would only be drums on it”.
Iain: “We’d all buy it though.”
Cerian: “Well me, Lisa and Jan are going to form an offshoot called I Breast U.”
Jan: “It’s an anagram, see.”
Iain: “And we’d form I Burst U. We’d be like the two extremes.”
Cerian: “Why not Hirsute?”
And so off they go, willing to expand the world they inhabit, the school they rule. Iain ponders how easy it would be to book Ewoks for the gig, although then mournfully remembers that there’s a Star Wars film on general release that he hasn’t seen yet. This lot, though, you won’t want to miss. Catch ‘em before they make those shit albums…