Bearstronaut know how to work a crowd. Their infectious electronic pop begs for dancing and chances are, whether you’re at a show or alone in your room, you’ll do just that. Take the EP Paradice, which earned the Boston-based band a nomination for Album of the Year at the 2013 Boston Music Awards, their single “Passenger Side” was nominated for Song of the Year, and Bearstornaut won Electronic Artist of the Year. So yeah, they’ll make you dance alright.
The four-piece is in Austin this week for SXSW and Philip, Paul and Nate sat down with Sound Dessert (at a miraculously quiet bar patio amidst the madness downtown) to discuss their pulsing new single “Black Bells“, plans to release an album, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, their ultimate SXSW fantasy scenario and much more.
Sound Dessert: You’re based in Boston but known for your “tank top pop”. How does living in frigid Boston influence your warm, tropical sound?
Paul: Sometimes it’s so cold and so miserable the only thing you can think about is getting out of there. You can’t even leave the house without freezing to death so it does inspire us to make something that sounds warm and bright and escape feeling. I read an interview with The Tough Alliance from Sweden where there’s entire seasons with no light and they make bright, shiny pop. It’s a response in contrast to what your situation is.
Phil: As opposed to relishing your environment.
Nate: Can this be the interview where we renounce the term tank-top pop?
SD: Go for it, now is your chance, what do you want to be called?
Nate: Sweater pop (laughs).
Paul: We’ll take tank-top pop, it’s sort of a joke for us.
SD: How did it feel to have your song “Passenger Side” played at Fenway Park?
Nate: That was really crazy. We’re not originally form Boston, we moved up there about 5 years ago. Fenway is a huge looming entity in Boston, we’d never imagine that a song we made would be playing in that stadium one day. TJ, who’s the DJ at Fenway, is a really cool guy and playing a lot of local Boston stuff which I think is really good for the city.
Phil: We’ve actually had people reach out to us who were at games, heard the song and called Fenway Park to find out what it was which was pretty cool.
Paul: There’s a vibraphone part on that song and it was literally done on a $20 keyboard from my basement and I was messing with the vibraphone sound. If I knew “Passenger Side” was going to be played on one of the biggest sound systems in Massachusetts, I probably would’ve picked a different sound, but now I like the fact that a $20 keyboard is what we used.
Nate: It’s crazy having friends walk by the stadium and hear us playing inside. It’s cool to be able to impress your friends like that.
Paul: Too bad we can’t afford a ticket to go to a game.
SD: Are you big baseball fans?
Nate: Not since Mo Vaughn stopped playing for the Red Sox, honestly.
SD: What sports are you into? Anyone play anything in school?
Phil: We’re more casual sports fans.
Nate: I support the sports.
Paul: General athletics. I was a swimmer in school, I swam butterfly, that was my one stroke.
Nate: I did the casual backstroke…
Paul: Pool floaty
Nate: I was on the raft
Nate: I’m just going to say no…I did, but nothing worth mentioning.
SD: You released the single “Black Bells” last week, do you have plans to release an EP or album this year?
Paul: We have plans to release an album in place, hopefully by the end of the year. We produce it ourselves so it takes as long as we take, but we’re trying to push ourselves.
Phil: We tend to go through a process where we sit on songs and see if we still like them. There’s different ways we put songs together to see if things still sit well so it’s a lengthy process.
SD: You also DJ. What are some go to tracks when you’re on the decks?
Paul: We tried something at our show at Maggie Mae’s where Phil played drums along to the tracks. It actually worked really well, I want to do that more.
Phil: Definitely Tensnake “Love Sublime” featuring Nile Rodgers.
Paul: Dwayne Omarr “This Party’s Jam Packed”. It’s dirty, sloppy funk. Having Phil play drums to it was really funny, he did a good job.
SD: SXSW is a festival where anything can happen, what’s your ideal accidental scenario?
Nate: Lenny Kravitz and Prince. Hanging out with those guys.
Paul: When we came two years ago we looked through this fence and saw Dinosaur JR. playing. We just sat and listened through the fence, that was pretty fun. We also ran in to Andrew W.K. wearing white pants.
Nate: We saw A$AP Rocky. We heard Best Coast last night, we were just walking by and heard them at Stubb’s which was cool.
Phil: It be crazy if Stevie Wonder was walking around, on the off chance that he would go to SXSW. It be crazy if I met him.
Paul: This just turned into ultimate fantasy.
Nate: If Stevie Wonder covered one of our songs on the roof of Kanye’s condo…that be pretty cool. But no one is there to see it…the entire city just hears it.
SD: You played the Boston Calling Music Festival last year. Did you meet Solange who also played?
Phil: I saw her get out of her car and I almost passed out.
Paul: I got real close to her by accident. I came around the corridor and she was on her iPod looking down and I was doing the same thing and we walked into each other. I couldn’t say anything, I just froze, and she walked around me and did her own thing.
Nate: She was hanging out with her son which is really cool that she brings her son with her and doesn’t leave him to be watched. I have a lot of respect for that. We met her guitar player, he was really cool.
SD: How’d you come up with the name Bearstronaut?
Paul: It’s from an online comic by Brad Neely and it’s pretty funny, he does some cartoons on adult swim.
Phil: Off kilter humor.
Paul: Dave picked up on it and we were like okay sure.
Nate: It’s Google-able
Paul: For a little while we were questioning it because we were trying to be a serious band, but we couldn’t pull it off.
SD: Any last words?
Nate: Watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians because sometimes our songs are played on there. When they’re going to get their hair done sometimes, and their car is driving there will be a snippet of our song, like transition music. The one time we watched it, Kim Kardashian announced she was getting a divorce, and our song “No Reunion” immediately started playing. We all did shots.
Phil: Another time our song “Birds of Prey” was played in a transition where there was footage of seagulls flying…I guess that works.
Nate: Good job on the music placement, guys over there.
SD: Do you guys have a favorite Kardashian?
Nate + Paul (in unison): No, no idea who they are really.
Nate + Paul(laughing): Whoah, Phil! We’ve got a secret Kardashian fan!
Nate: My ex-girlfriend bought me a Kim Kardashian poster once…I’m still really confused at to why.
Paul: It was foreshadowing.
Nate: Hopefully she’ll buy me a poster of a million dollars, that would be great.
After the interview officially ended, the conversation continued and we found ourselves talking about chem trails, aliens and other conspiracy theories. Thanks Bearstronaut for the memories. Learn more about the band on their website and download their EP Paradice on iTunes. See where you can catch them live here.