Interview w/ Bear in Heaven


Bear In Heaven’s album “Beast Rest Forth Mouth” is a kaleidoscope of detached drums and ethereal vocals. The chaotic symphony pouring from your speakers sounds like a swelling of marred beauty and yellowed memories of adolescence. Jon Philpot, the lead vocalist of the Brooklyn band, channels an otherworldly voice that wafts and ducks throughout the group’s sullen world of distortion and sadness. The album has accrued critical acclaim from leading music journalists across the world as being, among other things, one of the best new bands in music today. Philpot is a jack of all trades, from a title designer on a plethora of movies to a laying down multi-textural music, the artist is at the vanguard of two very important mediums.


Robert Patrick: Pitchfork – whose praise in some circles has become more important than being critically lauded in Rolling Stone Magazine – has given your newest record, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, the “Best New Music” moniker. Has this particular coverage changed anything for the band?

Jon Philpot: It changed everything for us.  We’ve been given a golden key to the golden door that opens up in clubs across the world.  It’s raised awareness of the band to a level I never thought we’d achieve.


If you had to choose one song as an introduction to your music, for a first time listener, which track would you choose and why?

I would pick Lovesick Teenagers.  I never would have pick that as the song people would like the most off our record…  I’m glad they like it though.  Also, that song can ease people into our sound.  It’s probably not a good idea to slap them across the face with a song like Fraternal Noon.


Unbeknown to many, you have been an editor and a title sequence designer for quite a few shows and films. How did you decide to that you wanted to pursue professions in both music and film?

I didn’t really decide to pursue both.  I just love playing music.  Always have.  And!  I love making films and TV shows.  It’s been a challenge living a duel identity.  The film world is demanding… the music world is equally demanding.  I had to summon a lot of inner strength to make it through a 10 hour work day and then go to practice or a show afterward.  I kinda feel like a crappy super hero.


The mediums of music and film often seep into one another. Has film ever influenced you, even in the smallest of ways, when writing or performing your material? If so, what are some of your favorite pictures?

Absolutely.  Both mediums inform each other.  They’re pretty similar to create too.  I have a lot of favorites.  So I’ll name two that just came to mind.  “Au hasard balthazar” by Robert Bresson and “The Brood” by David Cronenberg


If approached, would you ever consider scoring an entire film? What type of movie would it be?

I would consider it.  I know how hard it is, so I hope its a movie with a nice budget.  Maybe it would be a romantic comedy about two lovebirds breaking out of a retirement home?


Beast Rest Forth Mouth is an exceptional album, something that is a marvel to listen to front to back. In an era that is so consumed by singles and mp3 playlists, was having a record, that one could sit down and listen to as an entire album, something that you wanted to accomplish with this release?

It’s something we want to accomplish with every release.  We’re fans of records and albums that you listen to from top to bottom.  It may not be the most practical way of looking at things… but we’re stubborn.


How did Bear in Heaven get involved in remixing Gonjasufi’s “Love of Reins”?

Warp contacted us saying that they liked our music.  And that was that.   Warp’s a great label.  We were happy to be a part of it.  Plus, Gonjasufi is crazy awesome.


IMDB says that you were the “special sequence designer” for Pootie Tang, a favorite amongst the site’s staff. Can you give us an anecdote about your experience working on the film?

That was a great and tough experience for me.  I stayed awake for a month.  As far as stuff that happened… hmmm.  A lot happened. I think I’ll keep that stuff to myself.  Though, I want to encourage your readers to rally behind my petition for Pootie Tang 2!  If we get enough support behind it… it could happen.


There is a reissue of your material coming out, remixed by quite a few artists, that shows songs such as “Lovesick Teenagers” being re-imagined. What remixes were most surprising or impressive to you?

I can’t pick favorites all of them were amazing.  it’s a lot of work to do a remix…


You have a show at the Casbah this November. Can you tell us about any memorable experiences that you have had in San Diego?

I’m sure everyone says this: The Planes!  They come so close!!!  And, our sweet after show party with the folks in Primative Noyes.  They have a great deck.  You can see Tijuana.


Touring in your thirties is obviously much different from touring in your twenties. How age changed the dynamic of touring – if at all – for you and the band?

I think I’m a little more responsible, Europe has one currency and I have a laptop.  i.e. It’s easier.


For more on the multi-talented Jon Philpot of Bear in Heaven, visit and

Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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