Interview with Bear Hands guitarist Ted Feldman | By Jameson Ketchum
With praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, it’s a wonder that Bear Hands have been able to stay under the radar—though this may not be the case for long. Brooklyn’s finest dropped You’ll Pay for This on April 15 via Spensive Sounds, showcasing their subdued yet contagious brand of rock on tracks like “2AM,” which is already racking up the views. Just before the album’s release, guitarist Ted Feldman gave us the rundown on why the record isn’t necessarily a whole new direction for the band, yet finds its footing in encouraging personal progression.
Your new record was released this month. What is the anticipation like within the band as you await this date?
Just a couple days ago, I got to hold the vinyl in my hands for the first time, and I can’t tell you the joy that brings. [It’s our] third album, and it feels like we have a real body of work. Very excited for people to hear this collection of songs. And we know that April 15 was just the start date. Hopefully, we’ll have a long journey around this album.
Some have called You’ll Pay for This a whole new direction for the band. What brought on this change?
Is it a whole new direction? I think it’s a significant development, but it’s not like a 90 degree turn or anything. After some measure of success with [2014’s] Distraction, we came to this album with solid legs under our band for the first time. And so, I feel there’s a confidence to the songwriting—even when the lyrics connote self-doubt. There’s more of a depth and a coherence to the overall sound and the message.
Bear Hands have received praise from some huge sources such as Rolling Stone and many others. Are critiques of your work something you put much stock in? Do you read reviews?
We read reviews, yeah. I’m always curious how our music is being received, or how it’s being packaged and broadcast to people who haven’t heard it yet. But I don’t take any one review as truth. Whether it’s negative or overwhelmingly positive, I don’t really take it to heart. As long as I can look myself in the mirror and be proud of what I’ve done, I’m good.
This record was built alongside some very notable names in music, like producer James Brown. What was it like co-producing with such a well-known producer and what did you learn from the experience?
James mixed our last two records, he’s been a supporter of the band for a long time, and he’s a good friend. On top of being a very talented and hardworking soundsmith, he’s a pleasure to be around. I learned a lot of tricks from looking over his shoulder, from passing files back and forth, but I also learned a lot about being a producer just from his good attitude.
What do you want Bear Hands’ listeners to walk away with after hearing You’ll Pay for This?
Recognition of self, and a desire to listen to it again.
Photo by Nina Westervelt