Interview: The 2 Bears
"They're not bears! They're frauds!"
Cast your minds back to Stereosonic and you might remember a bit of buzz surrounding London-based duo The 2 Bears. Joe Goddard (yes, the Joe Goddard, of Hot Chip fame) and Raf Rundell started recording together in 2009 and have since released a trio of EPs ? Follow the Bears, Curious Nature and Bear Hug. Their debut album, Be Strong, was released today so we got to talking with Raf and Joe about bears (naturally). Koalas and pandas and drop bears... Oh my!
Ariane Halls: I don't have many music-related questions.
Joe: OK [laughs].
I have bear-related questions though!
Are you tired of talking about bears?
Raf: No, no. I don't actually know that much about bears.
Joe: I definitely need to do a bit more homework.
Good, because we've brought some honey for your bear-themed photoshoot. Do you have different types of honey in England?
Joe: Several. My mum makes honey, in fact. Well, she's an apiarist.
How many hives does she have?
Joe: She's got three. So she's not a large producer, but she has three in her backyard.
What does she do with it?
Joe: She sells it. Last summer was maybe the fourth time she's done it and she actually got a really decent crop. My dad complains — she actually sells it to him, she won't just give it to him 'cause he gets through it. He has it on his toast in the morning and she's like, "I could be making money here!". So, my dad has to pay for his own honey, even though when she smokes the bees out he has to put on the suit and get involved. He's being mugged, basically — my mum's taking him for a ride.
There you go. Were you fed honey where you were growing up?
Joe: Not specifically, but we had it.
So, it wasn't like that Roald Dahl short story?
Raf: I don't think I know that one.
It's called Royal Jelly and this couple has a baby that's underweight and they feed it royal jelly?
Raf: Rings a bell actually.
To make it grow faster and then it turns into a bee. Do you know much about Care Bears?
Joe: I remember a little bit about Care Bears.
You don't have a favourite?
Joe: I did go and see the film when it was in the cinema.
Raf: I did as well. I think I got given a Flexi Disc at the end as well.
What's a Flexi Disc?
Raf: It was like a record but it was on a bendy bit of plastic. You'd get them on the front of a magazine. They were totally hopeless; you'd only get about two uses out of them. You'd put it on top of a regular record, but they'd just get knackered.
Joe: I remember there was one with the Beastie Boys magazine Grand Royal. There was a Flexi Disc in one issue with Biz Markie doing a cover of 'Benny and the Jets' by Elton John. It was pretty awesome.
That would be worth a lot now.
Raf: That and the Care Bears one.
Joe: And the He-Man movie also had one. On one side it was like a rock tune that went, "He-Man, He-Man na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, He-Man, He-Man." And on the other side it was the evil version, like "Beast Man, Beast Man, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, Beast Man, Beast Man".
Do you know anything about koalas?
Raf: They're not bears.
Raf: Sorry, I said that a bit aggressively, didn't I? "They're not bears! They're frauds!"
Joe: No, but that's good knowledge.
Exactly, well done.
Raf: Actually I do know a bit about them.
Joe: They're smelly.
Raf: They're specialist feeders. They only eat eucalyptus and because it's full of alcohol they're always pissed. Or, really cranky 'cause they're not pissed.
And having withdrawals. Have you held one? How do you know they're smelly?
Joe: At the zoo in Sydney we got up close to them. You could pay extra to hold them but we didn't do that because they just smelled too much. Didn't really want to hold one, to be honest.
You'd think they'd smell nice, because eucalyptus smells nice.
Joe: Yeah, but I think they don't wash much.
Raf: They're drunks. They're shabby drunks masquerading as bears.
Joe: They're homeless. They vomit on themselves all the time. They're, like, shooting up...
Raf: Yeah, just mashed up, banging each other in the trees...
Joe: Talking shit by park benches...
What about pandas?
Joe: What about them?
Are they bears?
Raf: They're bears. They've got good coats. It's a good look, the panda look. It's quite on-trend.
Joe: The most on-trend of bear species.
Raf: That's the bear of this season.
Have you heard of drop bears?
Raf: Drop bears? No.
Drop bears are an Australian legend.
Joe: Like an Aboriginal legend?
More like the Loch Ness Monster. Actually no they're not mythical, people just tell tourists about them. They're meant to drop from trees.
Raf: They do exist?
No, they don't exist, but they're very easy to believe in over here.
Joe: Well we're tourists, so you could've probably fooled us with that.
If you look on Google Images you see them, people have made pictures using koalas with teeth flying through the air. So, I could've tricked you, but my phone's on airplane mode because it's recording.
Raf: [Laughs] That's alright.
What's your favourite type of bear?
Joe: I like big old Kodiak bears or whatever. Proper wild ones like the ones in the film Grizzly Man.
The ones that catch salmon.
Joe: The ones that'll knock your head off with one paw.
Raf: A polar bear.
Did you know that they're all left-handed?
Yeah, they all feed with their left hands.
Joe: Oh my God.
So, if you were to soundtrack a film, which one would you do?
Joe: Does it have to be bear-related?
No, I've finished with bears.
Raf: A film that's already been made?
Raf: Could we not make one up?
Yes you can do that.
Joe: You're just making this up.
Raf: Are you up for financing this venture?
Yep, we'll raise money.
Raf: Grizzly Man.
Introduction: Alanna Bromley
Bear-themed photo shoot: James Nelson