Bearstronaut
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Bearstronaut

Medford, Massachusetts, United States | SELF

Medford, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Band Pop EDM

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BEARSTRONAUT - Paradice
Recently nominated for the "Best Electronic Artist of the Year" (2012’s Boston Music Award), part-Britpop, part-new-wave, part-synth pop outfit Bearstronaut have been touted as one of Boston’s bands-to-watch over the last twelve months. Paradice is a long way from the group’s youthful dance punk days and comes of age with more electronic influences, taking with it the elements of their new wave predecessors Talking Heads and Roxy Music. Painted In The Dark is the EP’s anthemic 80s synth mix but Paradice is the definitive dance track (if we’re allowed to use ‘dance’ as a loose term) with powerhouse guest vocals of Amy Douglas featured on the track, sounding as Proud as Heather Small, liberating the masses to flock straight to the dance floor. - MoreThanDisco.com


It’s telling that in this town that is so often bogged down with indie jangle-rock, the real competition was in the electronic category — and that the winners, far from glowstick dorks with LEDs and visor helmets, are these modern-rock heartthrobs who are just as much in the world of Ride and Cut Copy as are, say, M83 or Delia Derbyshire. The band’s new single — this month’s “Painted in the Dark” — is no slouch either, its whumping metallic edges leaving sparks that are at once majestic and iridescent, with soaring plaintive cries and crescendoing synth waves. Rock isn’t dead, it’s just moved over into a new category, hiding in plain sight.

RUNNERS-UP: Birthdays, Stereo Telescope, Glass Teeth

_Daniel Brockman - The Boston Phoenix


No matter how much we grow to appreciate electronic dance music, it still doesn't change the fact that standing in a room watching someone fiddle with a laptop is kind of ridiculous. It's much more natural to watch someone fiddle with an actual keyboard, right? That's why the new prevalence of crossover bands that straddle the line between electronic and more traditional rock is such a welcome change. Bands like Bearstronaut, who combine the euphoria of the club experience with the grounded humanity of a rock band.

Of course, drawing lines in the sand between what actually constitutes electronic music and what doesn't has become an increasingly futile pursuit; but when you can combine the best parts of both into one package, that sort of thinking becomes irrelevant anyway. That hasn't stopped the Boston four piece from landing atop the best-of lists as "electronic act" for the past couple years, however, including a recent Boston Music Awards nomination, for which they'll perform as part of the lead-up festivities tonight.

The four piece, who are set to release their Paradice EP tomorrow on Vanya Records, with another hometown performance on Wednesday, and a stop at the Rock Shop in Brooklyn on Friday, showcase a nimble sprint through tropical rhythms and beachside dance party revelry on songs like "Birds of Prey" and "Passenger Side," with falsetto-fronting disco glee, twitchy guitars, and handclap beats blending into the big room disco house momentum of "Entrapment" and "A Better Hand," which we're premiering here today.

Multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Paul LaMontagne and Dave Martineau (the band also includes Phil Boisvert and Nate Marsden) explained the method behind their process, and where they fit into the overarching genre landscape.




COLLEGE IS A TIME FOR LEARNING: LaMontagne: We met at college at UMass Lowell, and just messed around for a while. I don't want to say we were just joking or not taking it seriously, but we had a lot of member rotation and we kind of changed our sound a lot. The last two and half years, we've been fully formed, or at least trying to be fully formed. Before that, every song was anti- the last song we just wrote; we were trying to throw everything against the wall and see what stuck. There's just one song, "Wired," from our first album where we kind of hit something we like—the only one we still play from back then—and we kind of took it from there.

THE MISSING INGREDIENT: LaMontagne: Keyboard, basically. I used to play guitar, we were a lot of guitars, trying to be more like a dance-punk band like The Rapture, but then we started learning about keyboards and synths and adding that in. That was the first experiment that went well.

Martineau: "Wired" was the first song where we got more than, "Oh, you guys sound pretty good." We got, "You should stick with that, and hone in on that." We asked some good friends, and they guided us a little bit. A lot of friends we had in college, we still live with them, they've kind of seen the evolution, and between them and paying Boston a lot, that song carried over. I like to think of it as the first good song that we still keep intact.

ELECTRONIC VS. ROCK: LaMontagne: We thought we'd go for the more pulsed end of dance music. Somewhere between the new disco and house music that we like, and the more traditional rock setup. We try to be the bridge in the middle; not a lot of live bands fit in our genre. Somewhere between Roxy Music, and I dunno, like an Aeroplane remix or something. I'd like to think we [fit into the mix with Yeasayer]. I think they're great. I know we kind of like a bit of the '80s style, where there was live dance performance. We looked at a lot of '80s soul groups and funk groups and wanted to get a live setup that's as exciting as those bands were. We do have sequencers and arpeggiators and synth bass, but for the most part it's more of a live feel when we perform.

It has been hard to replicate the sound live for a long time. It was tough because we only had four of us, and sometimes we'd record songs with 100 tracks, so it was tough to cover all the bases. We had a minimal setup, with one keyboard player. I couldn't do most of the stuff that was on the track, so we kind of split it in the middle, with more samplers and sequencers, with Nate playing some synths, and samplers with the drums. We brought more of the electronic element in, so we could play the songs live.

STOP LOOKING AT US AND DANCE: LaMontagne: Since we're sort of like a rock band, sort of like a dance or DJ act, if we're in a setting where it's a rock club and people are standing around not dancing, not getting into it, that makes the show tough for us. Maybe a house-music crowd; they don't want to hear us either. That's really what determines a good show. If people want to stand around and cross their arms and watch, it's fine, but it's a lot easier for us to portray what we're doing if people are having a goo - Interview Magazine


It’s telling that in this town that is so often bogged down with indie jangle-rock, the real competition was in the electronic category — and that the winners, far from glowstick dorks with LEDs and visor helmets, are these modern-rock heartthrobs who are just as much in the world of Ride and Cut Copy as are, say, M83 or Delia Derbyshire. The band’s new single — this month’s “Painted in the Dark” — is no slouch either, its whumping metallic edges leaving sparks that are at once majestic and iridescent, with soaring plaintive cries and crescendoing synth waves. Rock isn’t dead, it’s just moved over into a new category, hiding in plain sight. - The Boston Phoenix


The Mashable staff is in Disney World for the Mashable Connect conference, and you best believe we’re not sitting here, listening to the Aladdin soundtrack on repeat.

No, we’ve complied an eclectic playlist to accompany our event, replete with music from bands that have graced the digital pages of Mashable. Check out the player above, and read below for more info on the bands gracing your eardrums.

Thanks to all the bands and labels that gave us permission to include their music in this awesome playlist. - Mashable


Bearstronaut did an interview, so read it, punks!

How do your songs get written? Is it a collaborative effort or is there a musical mastermind behind it all?

All of our songs are written collaboratively. When we approach writing a new song, we usually decide on a concept, sound or some quality that we really want to focus on. Once we’ve got that, a lot of times ideas will be sketched out on the computer using synth software to get an idea and we’ll brainstorm throughout the week. Once we get to practice, we do a live interpretation, add vocals, arrange, rearrange, and hopefully get it one practice, but that doesn’t always happen. That’s our methodical approach, but sometimes its best to just get in a room and see what happens with no preconceived ideas.

What do you think of any recent Passion Pit comparisons, and of Passion Pit in general?

I think it’s inevitable, but I feel like our approach differentiates us. I’ve got a lot of respect for those guys, we’ve known them for a long time and they’ve earned a lot of success, rightfully so, but I don’t think they have much of an influence on the way we write songs. On the surface level, it’s pop music that relies heavily on synths and dance rhythms, but whereas they have one lead songwriter and he’s got a very distinctive character and sonic qualities, we’re four very opinionated songwriters that are always pulling in different directions. Our guitars clash with our synths and sometimes we don’t even have enough hands to play bass. We’ve got to figure all these things out and theres a lot of conflict, when we do it right. I think I’d relate to an Ultravox comparison more, half of them wanted to be the Clash and half of them wanted to be Kraftwerk, but that’s interesting. I feel like that.

Your new single, “Shannon,” doesn’t sound exactly like your first album. Why the change and what should fans expect next?

Shannon certainly is a new sound for us. We record and produce our records and feel like the recording process is almost as much of a creative process as writing the actual song. When this song was written and we got that chorus, we knew it was the most directly hook-oriented thing we’d done and we thought we’d really challenge ourselves to make a worthy single. In production for the song we wanted to give it a real disco shine and a pulsating feel. We’ve got some new tools and this song was really our best attempt at making a catchy and memorable single. A lot of the last record was recorded in my dorm room and was a very learn-as-we-go effort. We’re pushing ourselves to not only write better songs, but to become better producers.
The EP that we haven’t titled yet is about halfway through production and it’s continued to be an experiment. The EP varies a lot, it’ll be 6 or 7 songs that go from more punk or riff oriented to thick synthpop like Shannon. Shannon approaches one extreme of our sound and we’re pulling towards the other on a lot of these other songs, at the same time maintaining some continuity.

What are your strongest influences that people might not know about? (The influences do not have to be music)

I don’t know if I could pinpoint many uniting influences for all of us. We all come from different backgrounds, I know people always give that answer, but for us we had a punk drummer, our singer used to play medieval metal (I’m still not sure what that is), I was into the Smiths and jangly britpop, and Phil is big into funk and soul. One thing we did come together on was Bowie, we all love David Bowie, but for completely different reasons.

How did you all meet, and who came up with the idea to start a band?

Luke, Dave, and Phil had met in college and wanted to make dance music somewhere in between Daft Punk and The Rapture, two really big bands at the time. By the time this was getting off the ground I was brought in through Phil. When I joined, they had 10 seconds of music and the name Bearstronaut. We were fortunate to be at a music college that would close down at night and we could go up and practice in the classrooms all night.

What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened at a Bearstronaut show?

One time, a gypsy took over all our instruments and tried to turn our set into a blues jam. I don’t think she remembers that.

What superhero would each member be, and why?

Are there any French-Canadian superheroes?

Was anyone in the band surprised by the way your recordings came out, like for example, did you think you’d end up playing in a different genre or sounding like U2?

Well, we don’t have a label to please, no producers to follow and no investors to respect. We’re just making music for fans and for ourselves. We bounce around styles, recording methods, arranging ideas, and everything a restless band experiments with and it’s true we’re still learning and finding our sound. So we definitely surprise ourselves, sometimes what we go for becomes totally different and sometimes that works.

- Racecar Spacecar


Runners-up
2. Streight Angular
3. Bearstronaut
4. Razors in the Night - The Boston Phoenix


Hot on the heels of 2009’s Broken Handclaps, synth favorites Bearstronaut are gearing up to release an EP of new material. A string of live shows throughout the spring and early summer has definitely helped the band further craft their sound and form up an even tighter act. Watching bands grow and develop like this is one of the best things about living in this city right now.

“Shannon” combines early new wave and the best elements of arena pop to form a catchy, dancey, synth pop hybrid that’s just as comfortable on the small Great Scott stage as it would be on a giant European festival stage. From the get-go the song is thick with grooves enticing the listener to get up and move, but it’s never overbearingly electronic. Lead singer Dave Martineau has clearly taken great pains to firmly root his vocals in the natural realm, preventing “Shannon” (and all of Bearstronaut’s offerings) from devolving into a purely mechanical exercise.

This is just the first track off of the band's as yet untitled EP, so keep your ears open for more in the months to come. - Boston Band Crush


Dave Martineau was literally in the closet when he recorded his vocals for Bearstronaut’s 2009 debut Broken Handclaps. “It was definitely comfortable,” Martineau says of that spot in the band’s shared Lowell apartment. “I was just singing into my clothes.”



Now the group’s built a recording space in the apartment, which they’ve used in addition to professional studios for a new EP due this fall. They’ve already released “Shannon,” a synth-wound track about a dance-floor pickup, as a free download.

“Your first album, you’re trying to find your sound, and the [new] songs are little more cohesive,” the singer/guitarist says. “I’d hope a listener would maybe say, ‘That sounds like Bearstronaut.’”

After all, he only formed the band two years ago with fellow UMass/Lowell students Paul Lamontagne (guitar, keyboards), Phil Boisvert (bass, keyboards) and Luke Steere (drums), bonding over danceable rock like Daft Punk, Talking Heads and the Killers.

“We all are very interested in technology and the ever-expanding world of synths and PCs and DJ programs,” Martineau says. “But we do try to keep an even keel. We’re still a rock band.” - The Improper Bostonian


21st Annual Boston Music Awards: The Winners

Act of the Year (National) – New Kids on the Block
Album of the Year (National) – Who Killed Amanda Palmer – Amanda Palmer
Song of the Year (National) - This Lonely Love - Juliana Hatfield
Act of the Year (Local) – Girls Guns and Glory
Album of the Year (Local) – Absolute Value – Akrobatik
Best New Act – The Low Anthem
Best Song of the Year (Local) – One and One – The Great Bandini
Female Vocalist of the Year (Local) – Sarah Borges
Female Vocalist of the Year (National) – Amanda Palmer
Male Vocalist of the Year (Local) – Eli “Paperboy” Reed
Male Vocalist of the Year (National) – Al Barr (Dropkick Murphys)
Outstanding Americana Act of the Year – Girls Guns and Glory
Outstanding Blues Act of the Year – David Maxwell
Outstanding DJ/Electronic Act of the Year - Baltimoroder
Outstanding Folk Artists of the Year – Miss Tess
Outstanding Hip-Hop Act – Termanology
Outstanding International Music Act of the Year – Zili Misik
Outstanding Jazz Act of the Year – Grace Kelly
Outstanding Live Act of the Year – The Camp
Outstanding Metal/Hardcore Act of the Year - Doomriders
Outstanding Pop/R&B Act of the Year – Jada
Outstanding Punk Act of the Year – Big D and the Kids Table
Outstanding Rock Act of the Year – Wild Light
Outstanding Singer/Songwriter of the Year – Marissa Nadler
Outstanding Tribute Act of the Year – Joshua Tree
Producer of the Year (Hip-Hop/R&B) – Matty Trump
Producer of the Year (Rock/Pop) – Ed Valauskas
College Band of the Year – Bearstronaut
Humanitarian of the Year – Chad Stokes Urmston
Unsung Hero Award - Billy Beard - Exploit Boston!


There's a distinct absence of wildlife or astronauts on Lowell electronica quartet Bearstronaut's latest release. But their name is not total nonsense — it's actually a fitting description of their sonic approach, which combines groove-heavy dance pop and noisy punk rock.

And whereas a bear helming a spacecraft would go over as well as a fart in a spacesuit, Bearstronaut pull off their particular trick quite well. The housey bass line on "Shere Khan" sounds right at home among the speedy tempos and brackish guitar riffs, and on "Pink Ladies and Sassy Babies," frontman Dave Martineau's distorted vocals about punching holes in the ceiling pump up the intensity while synths dance in the background.

In other words, it's kind of amazing — it could put bears on the moon. - The Boston Phoenix


Discography

"Where I'll Die" Single
Paradice EP
"Passenger Side" Single
"Birds of Prey" Single
Satisfied Violence
"Roger Was a Dancer" Single
"Moniker" Single
"Shannon" Single
Broken Handclaps
Wire EP

Photos

Bio

Dance is a loose term, but its also an inevitable directive. Whether on stage or on record, Boston electronic-pop quartet, Bearstronaut, has made a name in their hometown for sparking instant dance parties. Despite their rather frigid-weather Northeast origins, Bearstronaut has been dubbed "tank-top pop" due to their warm, tropical synth-pop sound.

Their growing reputation has been staked on two distinct entities: their energetic, dynamic, and engaging live performances, and their uber-polished, glossy home recordings. After self releasing an EP in 2009, Bearstronaut inspired the creation of one of Bostons most in-demand record labels, Vanya Records. Vanya founder Michael Marotta (the pill, WFNX) stated that he launched Vanya just to hear Bearstronauts Moniker on vinyl" - the way the bands signature, post-disco epic was meant to be heard. After releasing the Moniker 7-inch in September 2011, Bearstronaut teamed up with Vanya again in November of 2012 for their home recorded EP titled, Paradice.

Bearstronaut has garnered several nominations from media and other music organizations (Best Electronic Act, 2012 Boston Music Awards; Best Electronic Act and Song of the Year, 2011 Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll; 2011 CMJ Top Bands To See; Best New Act, 2010 Boston Phoenix BMP). They have also shared the stage with such acts as Passion Pit, fun., A-Trak, Bad Rabbits, St. Lucia, Surfer Blood, Araab Muzik, Body Language, Japandroids, Dragonette, Holy Fuck, and Divine Fits.

The band has had multiple songs placed on the 2013 Season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and their single "Passenger Side" is in regular rotation as a pump-up song during Red Sox home games at Fenway Park. Bearstronaut recently participated in the Boston Calling Music Festival earning an enormously positive response.

BANDCAMP:
http://bearstronaut.bandcamp.com

Band Members