Sounds like: An intense Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting where all arguments are made on electric guitars.
For fans of: Battles, Dan Deacon, Holy Fuck, Mothertapes.
Why you care: With the help of a looping mothership known as the Gibson Echoplex, Bearcubbin’ builds towering math-rock monuments via off-tempo rhythms, percussive guitar, effects-pedal tinkering and ferocious drum work. Save a few vocal bursts and samples, it’s all instrumental.
Mastermind Chris Scott acknowledges the influence of experimental wunderband Battles, but he’s tired of the comparison. The bands share the same jazz-minded abstraction, but Bearcubbin’ feels less rigid and more animated—literally. “There’s a part in a song on the new record called ‘Master Cylinder,’ and it’s what I remember the bluebird from Snow White sounding like,” Scott says. “It’s that thing of being powerful but at the same time whimsical.”
Scott started the band in 2009, after stepping in to play with drummer Mike Byrne’s previous outfit, Moses, Smell the Roses. Byrne briefly manned the kit for the Smashing Pumpkins the same year, being hand-selected by Billy Corgan over thousands of candidates. “Mike’s always had a larger-than-life personality,” Scott says.
Unsurprisingly, Bearcubbin’s meter is crisp and its sound highly percussive. Girls With Fun Haircuts, the band’s second full-length, is rich with stop-start pacing, layered guitars and zany effects. While there’s plenty of noise, there’s always a core progression the listener can grasp when shit gets weird.
The trio, rounded out by bassist Patrick Dougherty, Scott’s former bandmate in the Jezebel Spirit, has since played SXSW, Treefort and a slew of Portland shows. Record deals and touring would be great, but Bearcubbin’ is going to hang out in Portland for a while. Graduation, new jobs and a remix record are all on the horizon. But what Bearcubbin’ wants most right now is its newest album out on vinyl. “That’s kind of our top priority,” Scott says.
SEE IT: Bearcubbin’ plays Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water Ave., with Moon Honey and Animal Eyes, on Saturday, May 3. 9:30 pm. $7. 21+.