A&E » Music

Bear Mountain moves music from laptops to labels

Vancouver band plays the GLC before recording their second album



Lead singer and songwriter Ian Bevis of Bear Mountain is at the stage in the musical process called "sharing."

He and the rest of the band — Kyle Statham, Greg Bevis and Kenji Rodriguez — are rehearsing the music he has been writing for the last 18 months, since the release of their last album, XO.

"I work almost entirely on my laptop and put the ideas for the songs together there," he explains. "Everything starts electronically and right now is the phase where I show everything to the band and we work on it together, the live instrumentation. It's a different process but it works for us."

Introducing the rest of the band to something that lives in Bevis's head or laptop is made easier because his band mates can sample it first.

"We have a shared job box folder and I put my ideas in there as MP3s and we go through it and listen to it. We decide which ones are best and work on those, and try to turn them into songs we'll play."

Once the selections are made, the beta testing can commence.

"When we're ready we show them to an audience. If they work, we know it's good," he says, adding this engagement — or lack thereof — becomes apparent pretty quickly.

"It's totally noticeable. If people are cheering and jumping during the chorus, we know it works. If they stand around and seem not to get it, then we're not doing their job, we're not translating it well enough. Ultimately, they're the judges," Bevis says.

"Now we're almost ready for recording, so the band is currently practicing several times a week right now to make sure we're as ready as possible. We're going to Toronto in early May to one of the studios.

"We're working on 11 songs right now and we will try to get the number of songs up to 15 and then whittle it down to 10. No filler. It's our second album so it has to be good, better than the first."

Musically, Bevis says Bear Mountain isn't easily pigeonholed. They are indie, electronic and alternative, depending on the song.

"I don't know how to describe our music. The album is a real mix. Someone was asking me what our next album would sound like and I couldn't think of an answer," he says.

"Genre-wise we never stick to one kind because we all listen to so many different types of music."

XO was first released independently by Bear Mountain, then rereleased last May after several labels courted them. Bevis says it was "a big year for the band," full of far-reaching decisions. Not bad for a band that isn't three years old yet.

"We were first offered a record deal from a major label in the States. They flew us to New York and we had all these meetings, then they flew us to L.A. and we had more meetings. It was a pretty crazy time, pretty exciting but also scary for not knowing anything about what a record deal is.

"We got great advice. We have a great attorney," Bevis laughs.

"If we did decide to go with the major, the amount of money we would be giving up would be crazy. They would take 80 per cent of our merchandise. And I think we'd be signed for something like 25 years and seven albums. It was crazy."

Bevis says they decided for go small and feel good about the decision.

"Ultimately, we said no. We decided it wasn't the right choice for us, we went with a small Canadian label."

Whistler's show, at the Garibaldi Lift Company on March 22, is one of 100 shows Bear Mountain has played in the U.S., Canada and Mexico since XO was released.

They are well known here and Bevis agrees the band is aptly named for the resort. They'd filmed their most recent video, for the song Congo, on nearby Rainbow Mountain.

"We will try to sneak one or two brand-brand new songs in there in Whistler. We try to keep it high energy. It's always a dance party," Bevis says.