Like so many musicians touched by Queensland’s tropical swelters, Bear Hunt’s music comes caustic and wrenched from the gut. As self-professed purveyors of sludge pop, they cobble together a signature sound coursing with agitation and primal emotion. They draw influence from the hard and heavy sounds of 90s alternative rock, names like PJ Harvey and Soundgarden wouldn’t’ be out of place. Yet a sharp focus on incisive lyricism could just easily place them alongside Australian contemporaries The Drones.
Given the four’s affinity for the grunge soaked ‘90s, it might not be too much of surprise that they’ve paired with Violent Soho producer Bryce Moorhead for latest EP Fallen on Deaf Ears. ‘Who Made You God?’ thunders forth as a mess of stripped back vocals and thundering riffs while tracks like ‘Grand Scheme’ smoulder with ache and guitar shredding angst. Catching bassist Murray alongside guitarist and songwriter Llyod ahead of a recent performance we talked unexpected influences, Brisbane life and the experience of working with a producer as eccentric as he is acclaimed.
Rabbit Radio: You’re just about to play a set at BIGSOUND. How are you feeling going into it?
Llyod: [Laughs] yeah pretty much what he said. We played this last year and it was pretty wild, it was good.
RR: Your both local boys as well, is there another act on the line-up you’re excited to see?
L: They’re from Auckland New Zealand.
M: They’re playing tomorrow night at the same venue, here at Greaser. We’ve were just chatting to them before, they’re f*****g good dudes.
RR: Musically what are you guys up to at the moment?
M: We’ve just filmed a video clip for a single we’re bringing out and there’s the EP and a tour coming later in the year as well.
L: We just released another single ‘Name and Shame’ last week and it’s going pretty good. 4ZZZ have been playing it heaps, they’ve really seemed to get on it. It’s come at a good time, everyone in the world is going absolutely ape-shit and here we’re just being like “…you’re a dickhead.” That’s pretty much what the song is about! But like Murray’s saying we’re doing a tour in late October and early November where we’ll be going all the way down the east coast, to Adelaide and back.
RR: Brisbane is an interesting be a musician and be making music, many people consider it a small community. What’s been your experience of Brisbane as a city?
M: The music scene here is very tight-knit. Everyone knows everyone. You go out to a gig and you’ll bump into people. But it’s good vibes, everyone’s cool.
L: We’ve been playing here for about five years. We know so many bands, when you put a gig on everyone wants to play with everyone. You’ll be playing a gig alongside an indie band, a metal band and psychedelic rock band. Whereas places like Melbourne everyone has their own things. Indie bands hang out in Fitzroy and another sort of band will hang out there. With Brisbane its fairly open waters for everything.
RR: When you’re not gigging in Brisbane where’s your favourite place to play?
RR: You were just bashing on Melbourne a second ago!
M: I like playing in Byron, we’ve played down in Byron Bay a few times. Northern NSW is a great place, good vibes there for sure!
RR: What’s one of the craziest things that’s ever happened at one of your gigs?
M: One time I was playing down the Southside of Brisbane and a mate of mine jumped up onto a table while we were playing. We played this one song and he actually got naked. Well, not completely naked, he got down to his jocks. He’s dancing on this table and the bouncers came in and tried to kick him out, but eight of his mates had formed a circle around him. They were actually pushing the bouncers away. That was interesting, but it was fun to play too!
RR: Llyod do you have anything to add to that?
L: One time, Footstomp put this Christmas part on and I drunk a tonne of tequila as well as everything else. It was the drunkest I had ever been on stage, it got to the point where during the last song I fell over and couldn’t get back up. I had to solo on the floor!
RR: What’s a musical influence on Bear Hunt have that people might not expect?
M: I’m really into a bit of country music and hip hop, Aussie hip hop even. I’m more into American stuff but there are a few good Aussie rappers around the place. There’s local guys like Lazy Gray, Ken Oath, 750 Rebels and CRS, all awesome groups I used to listen to when I was younger.
L: I’m way into indie rock. I used to be big into the scene. I’m from England originally so things like Bloc Party. Slowly I’m bringing that to the band now with more riffs and delays, things like that.
RR: Backing up a little, can you tell me a little more about this new EP?
L: We’ve just finished. We recorded with [Violent Soho producer] Bryce Moorhead.
RR: Bryce is an interesting guy! He had sort of quit music and was tree lopping for a living until Soho bought him back for Hungry Ghost, now he’s this renowned Australian producer.
L: Yeah man! He’s a freak of nature that dude. You know when you meet someone and they don’t say much and when you make a joke they don’t laugh?
RR: I’ve talked to James Tidswell from Soho before and he’s said Bryce doesn’t say very much at all, but when he does he’s one hundred percent on the mark.
L: ‘Who Made You God’ was a single from the EP which we released last year. We worked with Bryce and spent a whole day and I really mean it when I say that. A whole day miking up the drum kits and tuning the kit perfectly to the song. When it came to my parts he just said, “Well play what you play.” Then when I played it he turned around and said “Oh no, that’s shit! You’re not going to play that! Play something else right now!” I was like, “What the hell?” So he just ripped my pedal board apart and made this new rig. He switched everything on for me and switched all the actions. He’s crazy!
With our singer he’d just sit there and play guitar, playing exactly what she was doing with her voice. He’ll find all these random keys that we’d just never think of. He’ll say, “Sing like this,” and he’ll show us exactly how himself. He can do everything; play guitar, sing and do the drums. It’s just…genius! He’s a freak of nature, but he’s also a cool dude. A really relaxed guy.
But one other crazy thing is this. We’ll rock up to a recording session in our car and he’ll get there at the exact time as us but has ridden his bike all the way from Whoop Whoop. He’ll rock up in his riding speedos, eat a sandwich and then go, “Let’s get straight into it.” This could be at six in the morning and then we might finish at one at night and he’ll still ride all the way home!
THE BEAR HUNT SINGLE & EP TOUR DATES
Wednesday 25th October | The Lass O’gowrie Hotel | Newcastle NSW
Friday 27th October | The Hideaway Bar | Sydney NSW
Thursday 2nd November |The Old Bar | Melbourne VIC
Friday 3rd November | Music Man Megastore | Bendigo VIC
Saturday 4th November | Hotel Metro | Adelaide SA
You can grab tickets here.