Bear Hands at Lolla 2014 – photo by Teresa McCullough

Photo by: Teresa McCullough, Interview by: Devin O’Toole
New York proto punk/pop/post experimental band, Bear Hands have endured their litany of monikers and qualifiers as well as surviving the Williamsburg buzz band tag.  Bear Hand’s Dillon Rau and Ted Feldman took some time to chat  about what that means in 2014.
Talk to me about the new record “Distraction”; it’s your first record in four years, was that a conscious decision in waiting that long?
Dillon Rau:  No we would have loved to get the record done sooner.  We had to marshal some resources, but we’re always collecting songs and the songs were all written a few years ago.
Ted Felman:  We were also trying to tour on the other one. We toured on ‘Burning Bush Supper Club’ for a long time.  Do it to death.
DR:  Now we don’t want to have to wait another three years to put out new material.
Business wise, Is it all about catching the right cycle as a band?
DR:  Yea, it’s nice to have people make those business decisions for us. I appreciate the way that all works but I don’t really have the answer to that. We can now start putting music out when we want.
Virally, have you seen a return on investment in the music videos you’ve made?
TF:  We definitely haven’t made any money off of them but I like music videos.  They’re important to me because I used to watch a lot of them.
DR:  They’re elemental to the way people consume music.
TF:  But I don’t think people discover you through your videos unless it’s a really gimmicky video or there’s a celebrity in it.  It’s moreorless a destination and I’d like that destination to look nice.
What’s the story behind the controversial “Crime Pays” video?  
TF:  I was talking to my friend Sam Shainberg about doing a video that wouldn’t be too on the nose about this person committing this crime– we just want to evoke a sense of “badness.”  So we called in a few favors, rented a couple animals.
How did you guys go from New York buzz band to the thought this could be a viable career?
DR:  It was always a thought.  Even though Ted and I didn’t start in “professional” bands, we didn’t start out as amateurs either.  We both played in high school bands, we both played CBGBs, so it was always a fantasy.  One day you come to the realization that if not us than someone is going to do it. It’s probably not going to work, but here we are now.
We’re you guys in punk bands in high school?
DR:  Yes, it was called Building A Factory, with my best friend Paul Sicilian; we played the Connecticut suburban scene, doing VFW halls.  I don’t keep up with the punk or hardcore scene, I always needed melody.  But our rhythm section were in a hardcore band called In Pieces, toured a lot and had a semi-big following.
What’s it been like playing the new songs?
TF:  It’s been really good.
DR:  I think people will listen to “Giants” and then get further into the record. We hope “Agora” does equally as well on the radio but it’s going to take some time.
TF:  We write songs one by one, or even three by three so we don’t go into it thinking we’re a post-punk anything, we write songs based on our influences or as a reaction to the previous three songs we wrote.
What are you guys currently listening to on the road?
DR:  Chance the Rapper, Calvin Harris, Tame Impala, Parquet Courts, Run the Jewels, Wu-Tang Clan, Bob Dylan.
Your based out of Brooklyn and lived through the mid 2000s New York indie band scene, what does it mean if anything in being a New York band?
TF:  Absolutely nothing.  Very few “New York” bands are actually from there.  I grew up in the city, but it’s a mecca– you go there to start the band, it’s a meeting place.
DR:  We have people from Kansas and Texas and the press comes there and there are foreigners, so it means virtually nothing.
Did you get an artistic vibe right away as an outsider?
DR:  Coming from Connecticutt, Boston was the city I associated with, but after I went to Wesleyan, there are a lot of people there from New York and I realized then that it was the place to get in front of people that could further your career.
Bear Hands are currently touring under their new album, “Distraction”. 
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