When the members of The Bear sat down to work on their new album they did it in a space they were more than familiar with.
The home of The Bear songwriters Louisa Murray and Nathan Pitts was partially turned into a recording studio where they worked on their album, “Overseas Then Under.”
The song engineer for The Bear, Ben Tanner, who also played keyboard and some percussion for the band, said the space allowed them a great deal of freedom.
“Instead of using a proper recording studio, we just did it all at their house,” Tanner said. “I just brought stuff, and we just set up a studio in their house.”
He said working in the home as opposed to a studio space afforded the band the time to experiment and try things on time they weren’t having to pay for.
“We all wanted to make a record this time that was a little more experimental,” Tanner said. “And give ourselves the time to chase ideas and try things. Even if it meant that something didn’t work, you at least explored the idea.”
But recording in a home isn’t without challenges. Those challenges were worked into the album, creating a sound that is unique to The Bear.
“We ran into problems from time to time, but those problems sort of became part of the character of the record,” Tanner said. “We just felt like we could make an album with a lot more character if we experimented in that way.”
Murray, who plays banjo in addition to singing and songwriting for The Bear, said “Overseas” has more polish than their last.
“I think we’ve been playing a little longer together as a band now, so the sound is a little more mature,” Murray said. “And the production ended up being a little more polished this time.”
Pitts, who also plays guitar, said the band didn’t experience a sophomore slump artistically — the main challenge was getting everyone together from a logistics standpoint — with many of the band members working with other local bands as well and Tanner playing with Alabama Shakes.
“The experience (of recording their first album) definitely helped,” Pitts said.
“We knew what to expect, so that was the biggest advantage of having one under your belt.”
“Overseas” may sound a bit different to those who listened to The Bear’s first album.
“The first album a lot of people said was pretty folk-influenced,” Murray said. “I think we went away from that on this album. There’s a little more pop influence than the first album.”
The songs and their mood were a big influence on the sound of the band, Pitts said.
“I don’t know how much of it was a conscious decision. It just kind of worked out that way,” Pitts said. “I think the songs kind of dictated what the sounds would be like for it. They just kind of happened to be more pop-y or electric and less folk-y songs.”
The title “Overseas Then Under” also is a reflection of some of the themes of the songs, Murray said, which heavily feature water.
“A lot of songs have to do with rivers and oceans,” Murray said. “It came out to be pretty sad, it’s a pretty sad album. The power of water and drowning. A lot of fun things like that.”
But that sadness doesn’t define “Overseas,” or The Bear, Pitts said.
“There are some dark themes, but it’s also kind of upbeat at times,” Pitts said.
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.