Last month I interviewed the Black Bear Saloon for the Big List-and here it is, in all its glory.
The Black Bear Saloon
This month, the Black Bear Saloon play at the inaugural Big Gig on April 24, so we sat down with singer Aaron Abernethy to talk about new beginnings, celebrity bears and beard wigs for baldies.
Let’s start from the start, how did the Black Bear Saloon first open its metaphorical doors?
Mid 2007 I got a call from Mike [Barr, BBS tub thumper] asking if I’d be interested in singing for a new project that he and Russell [Crookes, bassist] were cooking up. At that stage Willy [Mundell, guitar] who was also in Throat with them was in the band as well, but he left in January last year to concentrate on Dutch Shultz. Shortly after that Peter [McCavery, guitar] who used to be in Element with the In Case Of Fire guys, joined as guitarist, and that brings the whole sordid tale up to date.
Why are Black Bear Saloon different to Throat/From Where I Stand/Element?
Throat and FWIS were very different animals from BBS. Throat was a very riff-based outfit with heavy influences from the likes of Helmet and Therapy?, whereas FWIS was a straight-ahead old-school hardcore punk band, in which I did much screaming and not a lot of actual singing. Black Bear Saloon is much more song-based than either band. It’s still a hard rock group though, so it’s a combination of balls-to-the-wall riffage and catchy-as-chlamydia melodies.
What’s been your favourite gig so far?
Easy-headlining the NI:NG gig in the Attic in Lavery’s in February. It was the first time I’ve ever heard anyone shouting the lyrics to one of our songs, before we’d even got round to playing it.
Even easier-four days earlier we played to exactly no-one in the Bunker, just one floor below the Attic. We just treated it as glorified practice, with mild applause from the support band.
Do you feel like BBS fit in with the local scene?
Nope, not at all. Hard Rock isn’t really that popular in Belfast at the minute. There are only a handful of local acts that are standing in similar territory to us like LaFaro, Dutch Shultz, ASIWYFA to name a few. The rest of the local scene seems to be more focused on getting nice haircuts and playing something called ‘Indie.’ I’m sure it’s lovely and credible and all, but does it make you want to do a flying kick off a bus-shelter?
You’ve been known to be quite the shit stirrer online Aaron. Has this adversely affected the band? Do you make people hungry for your blood?
I’ve never shied away from saying what I think about things, but the stuff that usually winds people up is more often than not related to movies or organised religion. I’m passionate about one and disgusted by the other. I don’t know how hungry for my blood it makes people-I’m just some arsehole with WiFi and too much free time. If folks are going to get all worked up about it then they probably need to get out more.
You’ve two releases now-tell me about them?
We recorded our first EP when Willy was in the band, back in November ‘07. It was mostly used to pimp our tunes around the place and was never properly put on sale. Another four tracks were laid down in November ‘08, but we’ve decided to re-record those and the first EP with Peter on guitar for eventual release as an album.
Favourite BBS tune?
‘First Against The Wall’ is my personal statement of intent about what should happen to so-called ‘psychics.’ It’s a big ol’ rock tune about just how full of shit they are.
Favourite celebrity bear? (Mine would have to be Danny Devito).
Decisions, decisions. Brian Posehn and Steve Agee from the Sarah Silverman Program are both current favourites, as is Kevin Smith. I reckon DeVito isn’t really hairy enough for bear status though. However, some of my gay friends have told me I’m perfect ‘cub’ material.
Do you have plans to play outside the North?
Steady on! We’d need to leave the city first! Of course we’d love to get out on the road, it’s just harder when you have jobs/wives/babies. Hopefully in the next year we’ll book some tours for all over Ireland and maybe even make our way across to the rest of the UK.
What are your ambitions for the Black Bear Saloon?
It’s mostly about having fun for us at the moment. There’s nothing more fun than playing gigs. Eventually it’d be great to be able to play some gigs in some far flung places. Like Tokyo. Or Strabane.
Finally, if all of the members of the Black Bear Saloon shaved off their beards do you think the resulting hair would be enough to make a wig for celebrity baldie Patrick Stewart?
Possibly, but first dibs on our facial hair has been claimed by Elton John. He only wants proper-decent rock ‘n’ roll follicles for his next fright-wig.
The Black Bear Saloon play the Spring and Airbrake in Belfast alongside Continuous Battle of Order and Comply or Die as part of the Big List’s Big Gig on April 24 at the Spring and Airbrake. Admission is £4. www.myspace.com/theblackbearsaloon.