As their name would suggest, Bear vs Manero are a band that thrives off of the hypothetical, belligerently pitting foes together in a blackened version of Doodle God. They’re a local delicacy, pumping sweaty life into the chapped and cobbled streets of England’s Medway Towns, and having recently completed and self-released their very first full-length, we tasked bassist Peter Bevan with upturning the sofa that is their career to gather the miscellany of crumbs and long-passed insects that reside underneath.
Noted: As hobbyists seeking to de-fibrillate lives half-lost to the strip-and-spank of a nine-to-five, your output and ethos exhibit a fast and loose mentality. With Paunch, was it a case of chucking a wall at some shit and committing it to tape? Or did you go in with tangible intention?
Peter: We spent about a year writing it, so I wouldn’t say that is was just thrown together but at the same time I wouldn’t say we really put that much thought into it either.
We don’t practice very often or for very long, so there’s not much time to sit around considering what we’re doing. We write quite sub-consciously I think, what you get on this record is pretty much what came out when we just said “OK, lets write an album… go!”
All that said – Luke will regularly turn up with a riff in hand which he’s been whittling on his back porch in private and I think secretly Dan must put some serious level of thought into his lyrics – if you read any of them in any depth, there’s quite a lot going on there…. Either that or he’s a sneaky part-time savant… or possibly stealing all his words from some obscure band we’ve never heard of and it’ll come back to bite us when the big bucks start rolling in (about 2072 at this rate)… time and litigation will tell!
As a result of that non-committal answer which somewhat perverts the form of your interview I’m going to answer both of the next two questions. Take that, “The Man”.
Noted: (Assuming the former) Would you say that music which is largely improvised/ham-fisted is inherently of little to no consequence? Would it even matter if that were the case?
Peter: Not at all! Improvisation can be amazing done right – you can’t really discount the works of say Ornette Coleman, Frank Zappa, The Mars Volta or whoever.
I’m in a 2-piece improvisational doom/riff/noise band called Bad Taxidermy. We usually just turn up and play whatever occurs to us in the moment – it’s great fun, and always seems pretty well received. You just have to be disciplined about changing things up often enough to keep it interesting and be mindful of the room you’re in – I like to have a rule of never really playing any one riff more than 4 times before moving on to something else. I think where improv sometimes gets a bad name is when the performers forget that there is an audience… then it can very swiftly turn into self-indulgent jamming and no one should ever be asked to stand through that bullshit!
I’d also say that probably half of the stuff Bear vs Manero write is made up in the instant – not to get too wanky about it, but a lot of the best art is at least partially subconscious.
Noted: (Assuming the latter) Do you ever find yourself stressed out by not attaining a certain result with your music? Do creative woes ever render your escapist past-time as soul-draining as the daily grind?
Peter: I don’t think so; no… as we’ve never really had much of a clear goal in mind, there can be no disappointments. Don’t want to get too Zen about it – but if you go setting yourself goals all the time, you’re going to come up short often. It’s much more about just doing things you want to do and letting that be the reward unto itself – if something positive comes form that great, but if nothing else the doing of it was a joy…. that’s enough I think.
The day all this becomes a grind, it’d stop in an instant – they very purpose of the endeavour is to bring some childlike joy into our lives – the last thing any of us wants is an artificially produced source of misery!
Noted: Is there a particular measuring stick you would use to discern your success? Money made, fans accrued, volume of seething, venomous hatemail?
Peter: See previous answer I guess… we’re already so much further down the road of this thing than we ever thought we’d be. This started as a bit of fun with the idea that maybe we’ll do an album and play a few gigs – now we run a record label (Skingasm Records), put on shows and have this enormous network of wonderful friends and bands who all just want to make and do things too! Point being we’re already way past any measure of success we could have imagined at the start, so I don’t really know from here… maybe we can measure it in unsuccessful rehab visits or something?
Noted: Music born from political dissent: important and time-reflective, or gimmicked pseudo-anarchy?
Peter: This is a really complicated question, we could talk around the finer points of it for hours – however I think I can pretty much sum up the whole debate in four words, make of them what you will:
Noted: Are you especially a brand-loyal gear geek? Or are you the type who doesn’t care and would just plug a cat into an amp and strum its undercarriage in the absence of a guitar?
Peter: I quite like nice sounding equipment – it’s too easy to be all punkier-than-thou about it, but quality instruments tend to sound better – it’s not rocket science. It’s just that they only sound a bit better – it’s not going to change what you do that much to have a £1000 guitar, so what’s the point, you know?
As individuals I think we’ve all been through our little gear-obsession phases – but as a group it never really seems to come up – so long as you can hear us on stage, I think that’s about the limit of our ambitions really
We do like a fuzz pedal or two mind…