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It's been two years since the members of She Bears left the rolling hills of Athens and relocated to Columbus. The move, although only an hour and a half away, proved to be the better choice for the band’s success and members’ careers.
The band is currently working on a new album, looking at a release date sometime this fall. Besides playing music, Stephen Pence of She Bears works two jobs--bartending at Kobo and lending a hand for a tattoo shop called Evolve. The rest of the members hold jobs as sound engineers, managers and kitchen bosses. They’re heavily involved in the Columbus music scene and promote many events around the area.
Even though She Bears are gearing up for a big summer festival season and the release of their upcoming album, Pence took some time to talk to ACRN about playing Lobsterfest 2012 and other plans that the band has.
ACRN: So are She Bears working on a new album?
Stephen Pence: Yes. It’s in the works, [we're] close to finishing it up. We’re finishing up tracking and we’ll have the album done pretty quickly after that. We’re figuring out how we want to put it out and our game plan as far as promotion and playing shows. There’s a whole lot of work with all of that.
ACRN: Have you named the album yet?
SP: No we haven’t, unfortunately. That’s one thing that’s been holding us up.
ACRN: Will the album still be released on Deep Elm Records or are you looking to branch off from them?
SP: We’re looking to [branch off]. Deep Elm has been good to us but it’s time for us to grow a little past what they can give us at this point. Really, they’ve been a good label and we’ve gotten a lot of good exposure--they’ve put us in a good place for us to record this album financially, but it’s not exactly our scene. We feel like our best chance to grow and be successful as a band is to go after [a label] that is a little bigger where we can have things like vinyl pressings, tour support. Those things are options through Deep Elm, but it’s not really something that they push for. We’re looking for a label to get behind us and push us to the next level.
ACRN: Will you be pressing this album on vinyl then?
SP: Definitely. We’ve had a couple smaller labels willing to do it already, but we’re trying to definitely go bigger. No matter what, this album will be pressed. It’s sweet because it’s a life-long dream of ours [to release on vinyl].
ACRN: So, why vinyl? Is it purely aesthetic or does it have more meaning than that?
SP: There’s a lot to it. Vinyl is such a rich medium to begin with. There’s big colorful pictures compared to the artwork on a CD, which is like five and a half by five and a half. You have to pay attention with vinyl because you’re flipping it over every 25 minutes. It’s something that you have to care about more. You can just pop a CD into a car and drive around and listen to it or put it on as background music at work but when you’re listening to vinyl, you care. If someone’s picking it up, they’re going to show it some love. There’s a certain responsibility that goes with buying vinyl. To know that somebody wants your music bad enough to want to put in the extra care and responsibility to listen to it on vinyl is a big thing for me.
ACRN: What are your summer plans? Tours? Fests? I saw that you are on the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest bill in Cleveland.
SP: We’re doing a couple small festivals. Things that we really enjoy [doing]. We’re doing, of course, Lobsterfest, Old West End Fest, Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, Com Fest and we’re doing a few other small things late in the summer to get the buzz going before we release the album this fall. We’re hoping for a mid-September release, but it really depends on what our label situation is at that time.
ACRN: Will you be playing some new material at Lobsterfest?
SP: Almost entirely. We actually might be debuting a song or two. I think we’re going to save at least one, if not two of the songs for that Casa show.
ACRN: What are you most looking forward to coming back to Athens?
SP: We’re going to try to get in early and head over to Dragon’s Cup and see some of our friends. We know most of the bands playing and haven’t had the chance to see these bands grow. It’s going to be really exciting to see where they’ve gotten in the last couple years. We’re really excited to play with Indigo Wild and The Kyle Sowashes [who] are really good friends of ours. So that’s going to be exciting for us. Hopefully we’ll be able to stick around a little bit for the next day and catch some of the bands during the main day before we have to head to Toledo.
Also, it’s going to be nice to see some actual sunshine and some hills and trees. Those are things that I definitely miss living in Columbus. I just want some fucking hills.
ACRN: When She Bears come back to Athens do the shows still feel like hometown shows?
SP: It’s not that we separated ourselves from Athens--most of the people that we knew [in Athens] are no longer there, but Athens still feels like home even after we left because the people there are so welcoming to us. It feels like we know these people. They’re very attentive. It’s one of the most fun places to play because people dance and move. People want to have fun in Athens. It will always feel like home, but it is definitely different looking out and seeing fresh faces and only a handful of people that we know. It’s a very strange feeling.
ACRN: So, how many Lobsterfests has She Bears played?
SP: This would be number four. Our first one was the one with Jay Reatard and Blueprint. This would be the fifth one overall that I have attended.
ACRN: So since you’ve been in attendance for around half of Lobsterfest’s lifespan, what trends have you noticed?
SP: It’s always had a similar feeling. There’s this excitement with it being the end of the year and always a feeling of the last hoorah for a group of people and for the community of musicians. That hasn’t changed at all. There’s still that level of excitement and that spark. There’s something in the air that gets you a little bit more excited than most shows that you play. It’s sort of bittersweet because it’s the end of the year and a lot of people are moving on and graduating.
We’ve played very different stages at all three of the ones we’ve played. We’ve played main day the last three years and the year with Jay Reatard on a big stage. We actually played in the South Pole for the second year because it was raining and we had to move it inside. Last year we played out on South Beach and that was cool. This is the first year we’re playing a venue show. Since we’re playing Old Western Fest in Toledo on Saturday we couldn’t do the main day. Every single experience has been different and new in the way that ACRN attacks the planning process and the setup of everything. They’ve been really good at making the most they can with their budget because the budget has changed up and down every year, but they always adapt.
ACRN: Is there a relationship between Lobsterfest and She Bears in terms of the band’s career?
SP: It’s nice to be a part of Lobsterfest--that’s the main thing. It’s nice to be put with these really great touring bands. And it’s flattering to be considered now that we’re not in Athens. We’re not an Athens band and we know that. It’s not like ACRN feels like they’re required to book us. It’s a privilege for us to play it. The main thing that we get out of it is the satisfaction of knowing that we mean something to you guys and you think of us on a level that’s on the rest of these bands. It’s the most sincere form of flattery.
ACRN: What memory of Lobsterfest sticks out in your mind?
SP: There are a couple. The first fest I saw was the Andrew W.K. one and that was ridiculously good. That show was shut down four or five times during the set because people kept stage-diving and climbing up the rafters. The magnitude of that show was really impressive. The second one we played was our goodbye. Our friend’s band, Russenorsk, had gotten back together for that one last performance. That was incredible. It was our last show before we went on tour for six weeks that summer. In particular, there was that feeling of excitement that I mentioned before. There’s always that feeling of rebirth and us--we were all moving on, moving out. We were all going to be homeless for the summer. We were going to be moving to Columbus after tour. We were going to be seeing half the country on tour. So that was my favorite.
ACRN: Anyone that you are really excited to see?
SP:I believe Vagrant Beat is closing Dragon’s Cup. I’m excited to see those guys. They’ve grown a lot over the last year and a half since I’ve known them. Really good dudes, really exciting.
And it’s always fun to see our good friends Indigo Wild and The Kyle Sowashes. Since I’ve been in Ohio, The Kyle Sowashes have been a band that I’ve looked up to. And, we’ve become good show buddies with Indigo Wild. A couple of [those guys] live down the road from us in Columbus.
ACRN: Anything else you would like to add?
SP: Long live ACRN, man.
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