Refreshing was a popularly used adjective for the endless summer of 2009, but Beast Rest Forth Mouth is refreshing not in the chillwave, tropical drink sense, but in the way it takes a couple of days to soak in. You can’t skip over songs; they grow on you while you’re doing laundry, getting ready for work.

Jon: (Laughs) Thanks. It was kind of written the same way.

Was the recording process different on this go around in order to get a more complete album?

The recording was a little ramshackle. We recorded a lot of it in our practice space and we also had one of our friends who works at a real slick recording studio help us out a bit. He gave us two nights and we went in on these nights that were a couple months apart from each other, and recorded whatever we could get done in the span of four to five hours. The mixing process was the long endeavor. Our friend Roberto Lang helped us toward the end because I was getting worn out with doing all the recording and writing lyrics and I was getting tired, plus I was getting broke, (laughs) so I worked while Roberto finished it up. The icing on the cake was getting it mastered at The Lodge with Joe LaPorta. That mastering process is magical. I’m not kidding, Joe made magic happen. So yeah, I think those two guys can take credit for the “completeness” of the record.

 It’s funny that I think of Beast as something that needs to be looped and played while multi-tasking because some songs could easily have gone into the seven-minute range.

Yeah, we did a bit of that on our last go around, but on Red Bloom of the Boom and even on a few EPs before that, the songs were all really long and it didn’t appear that everybody had patience for a record that only had seven-minute songs on it. And it’s not necessarily them, it’s also us, we have to get into the songs when we’re playing them live. We definitely trimmed them down for our fun as well as the people listening to it. It also cuts out some of the fat, you know? Sometimes you can be caught in these boring loops that are fun to play, but not all that enjoyable to listen to.

Do you have a song from Beast Rest Forth Mouth that’s your favorite to play live?

I enjoy playing “Fake Out” a lot. I really enjoy playing that song. It’s just something about it. The song doesn’t really push, it’s kind of this nice hum that goes along, and it’s really fun to play.

The track order seemed to play a big role in the overall listening experience of Beast.

Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a big thing. I think that’s the reason why people like, and still like, records or even their songs—the overarch. We did a theme with this one, the whole teenagers and casual goodbye thing which started off as kind of a joke until people really dug it and it had this, I don’t know, it made them happy. More than like, “what are they doing?” it made people happy. It was like, “oh yeah, there’s that thing again.” I think the sequencing of the record was a big part of that.

Writing about love is difficult, especially if you’re critical of your work. Was it hard writing something you were proud of while also using the teenager theme?

That comes with a lot of self-editorial, writing a lot and then getting rid of what’s stupid. The songs are not necessarily focused on love, but there is a certain idea that you can be love-sick, but it’s not necessarily a love song like, “Oh I miss you and I want you back in my life,” I think it’s a bit more of a twist on the classics and in that regards different. I guess if I’m going to write a love song, I’m going to twist it in a way that there’s something of value in that song. You know you go down these paths when you’re writing a song and you’re trying to write a song about I don’t know, some person or some event and life, and by the end of it, it’s about some mountain or a cool lunch you had. The road you go down, well you just don’t know where it’s going to end up. The writing is honestly the hardest part of the whole thing, it really is. I spend more time doing that than I do really anything else. I write and write and write, and then I edit just as much.

I’m glad to hear that because I’m real jealous of the people who have their muse on tap and can write in one take.

Yeah I’m jealous of them too, and I have friends who are like that but unfortunately I don’t have that gene.

How is writing at twenty-five different than writing at thirty-five?

I think in my thirties I write better words than I did in my twenties. It’s maturity and it’s also being at a different place in life you know? I’m not out hunting for ladies every night. I’m not drinking that much, so its more thinking about other things I guess. I guess you could say that with age comes wisdom, but I’m still pretty fricken stupid. My memory is going so I guess the writing helps (laughs).

Well was your move to Brooklyn a career driven change?

I moved to New York specifically for work. I do video stuff, you know like editing and effects, so I moved up to New York for that. I chose Brooklyn because it was more affordable than living in Manhattan, and more exciting than living in Queens or the Bronx. I also had a friend who had a room that was free and she was like, “you can come up and stay in this room for free and get yourself situated,” so I did that for like three years.

From recent interviews, I’ve been impressed with how humble artists have been about good reviews or increased exposure. It’s as if they’re flattered but the feeling is just a simple pleasure.

Yeah, I’m very very excited about the reviews and it is kind of something to brag about, but not really out there like, “I’m the best” and shit. But we are very excited about it and it has opened up a lot of doors for us. I guess the difference is, well it’s a different world. Just because you get good reviews and more followers, doesn’t mean that things will be easier. It just means that you’re going to have to work more.

And there could be added pressure…

Yeah, there is definitely added pressure because now we’re faced with the overhead of our life in New York which is you know, living in New York is pretty expensive. And now we’ve got to go out on the world and make something out of ourselves. We’ve been a band for a long time now, and to see it to this point, to see it thorough, that’s important to us. It also makes us feel good; we came from nothing. We’re not like sons of famous musicians, we have friends that are musicians and are doing well and stuff like that, but essentially, we’re nobodys. We started this thing, and it kind of got around and then we started working hard and we’re still doing it. But, the pressure is only going to make us better I think.

 Did you moonlight as a musician for a while, or have you been doing Bear In Heaven as a full-time job for quite some time?

Music was always the thing that filled up all my spare time. I still video stuff, and those hours are still pretty intense. I work that sometimes five, six days a week so I do that and then go and rehearse. We’ve been rehearsing two nights a week for a long time, and then we started recording and that happens between full-time jobs, and then I record whenever I have spare time. I freelance so I book myself on doing the band stuff and not making money, and do whatever it takes to get a big chunk of work done in one period of time. That’s how it has pretty much worked, and for now, it’s looking like for the next few months it’ll only be music. Hopefully I’ll find some work to pop in to stay afloat.

 What specifically do you edit?

My claim to fame is that I was one of the two editors on this show called Wonder Show and before that I did a bunch of MTV shows and kind of reality style shows, and I still work with the guy that did Wonder Show and we’ve done some stuff for Adult Swim. Over December I was doing some videos with the comedian Eugene Mirman out in Copenhagen and that stuff is fun. Just because it’s comedy doesn’t mean it’s any easier though.

I get childishly excited about the release of music videos. Are there any in the works?

We’re trying man, but we’ve got no money (laughs)! The only way is to play more shows, and we’ve been playing a lot of them—and selling them out! Hopefully we’re selling a lot of merchandise at those shows. It’s great that more people are hearing our music, but most of it is just downloads though. By the way, have you been using a tape recorder?

Yeah, I’m pretty old school. Broke is more like it.

That’s great! I thought I recognized the sound over speakerphone. I love our talk so much more now. With the recorder you have something physical to remember, not just something virtual.

It’s a humble operation

I hear you. We’re doing the same thing man, the same thing.

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© 2009

Bear In Heaven Interview

Matt Marsaglia