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    Interview with James Falck from BEAR

    "I feel like we really hit our Stride with 'Vanta'"

    Interview von Anne
    30.06.2023 — Lesezeit: 6 min
    Deutsche Version lesen
    Interview with James Falck from BEAR
    Bild/Picture: © BEAR

    It's finally official! BEAR have announced their new album! They are going to release "Vanta" on September 29th. You can already listen to their pre-released Single "Piece" on all music streaming platforms. I'll add it to this interview so you don't miss it! Yes, you read that right! I had the chance to talk to the self-proclaimed "guitar killer" James "Jamie" Falck about the album, the band's plans for the future and the personal trials they had to deal with over the last few years. Please enjoy the read!

    Anne: Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time! How are you doing?

    Jamie: Hi! No problem at all. Thank you for having us. I'm doing great today. I hope you are too!

    Anne: Congrats on your newest song and pre-release "Piece" and your upcoming album, "Vanta"! They're both remarkable! People can really look forward to your release in September! Would you say "Piece" is one of the definite highlights on the record?

    Jamie: Thank you! We're all really proud of this record. It wouldn't necessarily call "Piece" a highlight, but more a taster of where BEAR is at in 2023. The album is extremely heavy, there's no doubt about that, but I feel like there's a lot of variety. I think people will be quite surprised.

    Anne: So, you're overall satisfied with the outcome of your work?

    Jamie: Absolutely! This is my second record with the band, and while I'm quite happy with what we achieved together on "Propaganda", I feel like we really hit our stride with "Vanta". We knew exactly what we wanted and how we wanted to do it this time around, and that allowed us to focus more time on creating something exceptional.

    Anne: We were all looking forward to a new BEAR release. Now that you're finished creating "Vanta", what would you say changed since "Serpents in the Rabbit Hole" in 2021? Are there particular parts of the record in which we can hear these changes?

    "Serpents in the Rabbit Hole" is part of "Vanta"

    Jamie. Bild/Picture: BEAR
    Jamie. Bild/Picture: BEAR

    Jamie: We were already deep into the writing process for "Vanta" around the release of "Serpents in the Rabbit Hole". Although it was a standalone release, it was always intended to be a part of the album. There is a re-recorded version of the song (simply called "Serpents"), with a few small changes here and there, which features on the album.

    I think that song is where we really started to question the band's "core" sound and where we started to experiment a little more with how this new version of BEAR would sound going forward. It has this sort of pop edge, which isn't that present in most of our music.

    Anne: When talking to your record label, you said you've worked through some personal trials when writing "Vanta". Would you like to talk about them?

    Jamie: Sure! I suppose the main personal trial that was experienced while writing the album was my experience with cancer. I was diagnosed in October 2019, right after we wrapped up recording our previous album, "Propaganda". It certainly turned things upside down, not just for me, but for the whole band. That, combined with COVID-19, personal loss for various members of the band, as well as internal struggles and conflicts, resulted in probably some of the most difficult years we've ever had collectively.

    Rather than letting all that destroy us, however, I feel like we've really come out stronger than ever and reflected all of that pain into this new record. We wanted the emotions, whether it be rage, melancholy—or even hope—to come across as believable as possible. And I really think we achieved that, and a lot of that is thanks to our amazing producer Chiaran (guitar player in two amazing bands, Hippotraktor, and L'Itch, and producer/mix engineer)

    Anne: So, how long did you work on "Vanta"?

    "I'm glad, we took our time"

    Jamie. Bild/Picture: BEAR
    Jamie. Bild/Picture: BEAR

    Jamie: Longer than we would've liked, haha. The entire process started even before we had finished recording "Propaganda" and didn't really truly finish until the songs were recorded, and we weren't able to change anything anymore! COVID-19, as well as those personal struggles we experienced, definitely contributed to things taking longer than anticipated, although I'm really glad, we took our time.

    Anne: When you're about to record some new songs: Is it more like one big jam session where everyone is jamming, and you're working towards a piece that feels like a song you want to record? Or are you more the structured kind of artists, making plans, working on your parts individually, and then you gather to combine everything?

    Jamie: Well, previously (before I joined), the songs were fleshed out and essentially almost entirely written by the band's previous guitar player, and then finished off as a band. "Propaganda" was similar in that regard, where I would come up with skeletons of songs, and we'd work together on them to make them feel more like BEAR tracks. This time around, though, we made a conscious decision to collectively write as a band. I would come with a "bag" of riffs, basically, and we'd try and piece things together using those plus ideas from Dries and Serch (our drummer). It was a really interesting and fun experience, and I can't see ourselves doing anything different for the foreseeable future.

    Anne: You're from Antwerp. How would you describe your music scene there? There are some bands from the late 90ies and early 2000 I also truly admire from over there. I guess the musical landscape is still flourishing. Is it?

    "We love Botch!"

    Dries. Bild/Picture: BEAR
    Dries. Bild/Picture: BEAR

    Jamie: I'd like to think it is. Even more so now than ever! I'm still a baby (only 31). So, I was never lucky enough to witness the Antwerp music scene in the 1990s and early 2000s, but I know that the other guys (those old farts) really experienced some amazing music and shows around that period. I'm pretty jealous, to be honest.

    Anne: If you could pick one band to go on tour with to share the stage with for some weeks or even months. Who would it be, and why?

    Jamie: Well, we're all collectively big fans of the band Botch, who just recently performed their first European shows in 22 years. I was lucky enough to watch them twice, once in Haarlem in the Netherlands and once at Hellfest in France. BEAR is definitely influenced by them, especially when it comes to our newer output, so I'd absolutely love to tour with those guys for sure.

    Anne: Besides music, my blog is also about topics like climate change, sustainability, and animal rights. Is there anything you would like to add to this chapter? Maybe a thing every band or artist should do to tackle climate change?

    Jamie: That's very cool. I think, as a band, it can be something very challenging, especially when talking about climate change and pollution. Reducing your carbon footprint as a band can be almost impossible, but I suppose the best thing you can do is try to live as green and sustainable as possible where you can! Sustainability is something that we can all apply to our lives, and I do strongly believe that the over-consumption of anything is damaging to our planet, so that's something we should all take responsibility for.

    With regards to animal rights, three out of the four of us are vegetarians. I've been a veggie for about seven years now, and I do often strive to cut out animal-based products where I can. I'd love to see myself going fully vegan at some point soon!

    Anne: The first official BEAR release came out in 2010 if I'm correctly informed. Were there other projects for you before that time?

    "We're playing at ArcTanGent this year!"

    Dries. Bild/Picture: BEAR
    Dries. Bild/Picture: BEAR

    Jamie: Absolutely! Mainly for the other guys, I was kind of starting out around that period, but the other guys all have previous projects such as Death Before Disco, Reply, Lost In Rhone, Clouded, Minus45Degrees, The Setup & Gazoleen!

    Anne: Even though it hasn't much to do with your new songs, I feel the urge to ask you this question: Would you say Djent is more like a musical sub-genre or more like some form of calming therapy everyone should try once the time is right (I think perhaps it is)? Or is it really a thing? Does it exist?

    Jamie: Hmm... Calming therapy sounds interesting. I'm not sure I would call it that. In either case, I'm not really sure BEAR is really in that world anymore, to be honest. If people are looking for Djent in this new record, I think they might be quite disappointed!

    Anne: What should every human being do to support their favourite bands?

    Jamie: Come to shows, buy merch & records, and stream the hell out of the band's music!

    Anne: What's up next? What do your plans for the next few months look like?

    Jamie: Well, we've got a few great shows coming up, including ArcTanGent in the UK in August! After that, we'll be doing a few gigs with our Pelagic Records labelmates in Spook The Horses, and then our album release show at Trix in Antwerp on October 1st! Plenty more to come after that, too. We're really excited about getting this album out!

    Anne: Thanks very much for this inspiring interview! All the best for your plans!

    Jamie: Thank you for having us! Really enjoyed talking to you!

    BEAR – "Piece"

    © 2024 · · Anne Reis