Interview: Bear Hands


A few months ago while listening to a random alternative playlist on Spotify, I heard something that absolutely blew me away. It was one of those songs that made me stop everything I was doing and immediately find out who was sining this ridiculously catchy song.

The band was Bear Hands and their songs “Giants” became my favorite songs of 2014. The New York band consisting of Dylan Rau (vocals/guitar), Ted Feldman (guitar), Val Loper (bass), and TJ Orscher (drums) take modern indie rock and perfectly blend it with rich post-punk sounds to create a truly, truly one of a kind sound.

Bear Hands are currently on tour with Cage the Elephant and will be making a stop at Starland Ballroom on July 29th. I recently spoke with Dylan Rau about the bands influences, touring around the world, and their plans for the rest of 2014.

Photo Credit: Mark Lopez
Photo Credit: Mark Lopez

Pop-Break: Is there a story behind the name of the group or did you just decided on Bear Hands because it sounds awesome?

Dylan Rau: The bass player is very pun happy and he had it hanging around from a previous round of meeting with another bands. I couldn’t imagine naming it. Too much weight and too much pressure, so it became Bear Hands.


PB: Your sound fits in the alternative rock genre, but there are also some elements of punk rock in there as well. How was the sound of Bear Hands developed?

DR: I listened to punk bands in high school and that’s the genre I most identified with my youth. I think the punk influence will always be there, but each year that you live you listen to new music so I think it’s just going to keep evolving.

PB: Are there any specific musicians that have directly influenced the group?

DR: Of course. Bob Dylan, Biggie Smalls. Currently I love Chance the Rapper, I listen to him a lot.

PB: “Giants” off the latest album Devotion has become one of my favorite song of this year. How has the track been received so far?

DR: It’s been really great. It’s the first time we have been played commercially and then on the Billboard top ten alternative charts for a while and it’s crazy that it’s happening. My parents are really happy about it too.

PB: The music video is also fantastic. Where did the idea for the video come from?

DR: The music video was by Mark Pellington he lives in L.A. he directed the “Jeremy” video by Pearl Jam. We didn’t really have anything to do with the video, besides star in it (Laughs). We shot it in L.A.

PB: You’ve opened for popular alternative bands such as Passion Pit and MGMT. Have any of the bands you’ve toured with given you advice along the way?

Photo Credit: Nina Westervelt
Photo Credit: Nina Westervelt

DR: Yeah definitely, that’s something we’ve talked about when we have time. We talk about business moves that kind of stuff. I always feel kind of like a union type of thing that bands really have fun and talk to each other.

PB: What are your plans for the rest of 2014?

DR: We have ton of touring to do still. We started the tour in Pittsberg and we are going all over the eastern half of the United States. We are playing Lollapalooza in Chicago, Outside Lands Festival and we’re also playing europe and playing in Germany for the first time and playing some other festivals. I’m really excited about the year and I can’t wait to go overseas.

Bear Hands will be opening for Cage the Elephant on Wednesday July 30th at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey. Click here for tickets.

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Al Mannarino is the associate editor and photographer for Pop Break. He is also host of the News Over Brews Podcast, Loot Care Unboxed, Backstage Break, and the producer of Behind the Brews. He graduated Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film & History. When he isn’t writing he is either trying to build his own TARDIS or taking a nap. Follow him on Twitter: @almannarino. His photo website is: