Welcome to Sound Cheque, where we sit down with one of our favorite bands to get the scoop on their city-by-city dining picks.
Bear In Heaven, left to right: Adam Wills, Joe Stickney, John Philpota
Bear In Heaven has made all the stops on the road to indie cred, from receiving Pitchfork's "Best New Music" Award to filming one of indie film guru Vincent Moon's Take-Away Sessions. Over their seven-year history, the band's sound has ranged from thick psychedelic jams to layered kraut-rock as they've gone from an Atlanta-based solo experiment to a Brooklyn three-piece. I caught up with guitarist, Adam Wills, to talk Southern cooking and big city eats.
What are the favorite local places you miss most on tour?
The old standbys for an amazing meal in my hood are Diner and Marlowe & Sons in Brooklyn. Definitely my go-to place for a nice meal. Our pockets are pretty slim these days, so it's been a while, but I can't name a more consistent restaurant, it'll never let you down. The oysters there are a must and I always order from the specials.
What other US cities do you dig for the food?
There's a lot actually. Chicago, Portland, Los Angeles, Austin, Atlanta, and Ashevlle, North Carolina... I think one of the best places we keep going back to is the Admiral in Asheville. Fresh ingredients, inventive menu, amazing beers, and really relaxed. I don't care what time sound-check is, if we are in Asheville, we are eating there!
What do you think has been your most unique dining experience on tour?
Oh man. Without a doubt, this crazy restaurant The Oxford Saloon & Cafe in Missoula, MT. There are poker tables, shotguns on the wall, lots of local sad folks. Literally one of the scariest places I've ever eaten in. You can order sweetbreads and scrambled eggs, the dish is called "he needs em." As awesome as that sounds, do not go there!
Hah, any dining disappointments?
This random barbecue spot in Raleigh, NC we went to while waiting to get our oil changed. North Carolina hosts our fave barbecue spots, but it's as if this place had never even heard of barbecue or knew they were in a state famous for it, it was sooooo bad.
Aside from being barbecue connoisseurs, do you have any other dining requirements on the road?
None of us are vegan/veggie, but after an entire year on the road, it's very obvious that salads are GOOD. It can be tough, we are on the road now and only lasted a week eating very healthy. If we have the time, then we are definitely going to a local spot that either we've been to before or was recommended to us. We seek out Whole Foods whenever we can, as the buffet is just the best! Fast food is a sad last option, but, sometimes that can hit the spot.
When you're forced to do fast food, what are your chains of choice?
Being Southerners, we are obsessed with Chick-fil-A. We even have an iPhone app for it. Our rule is to never order anything but a #1 with a lemonade. Classic!
Do you ever splurge on upscale noshes on tour?
Rarely. Tour budget is a real thing. But as mentioned before, when it comes to the Admiral, we go all out.
Do you guys have a hangover meal of choice on the road?
All I need is a shower and a coffee.
How do you typically go about finding good local places in new cities?
Well, my mom is a huge foodie and has traveled a lot, she gives me lots of recommendations... (Hi Mom!)... but we start asking locals first and if that doesn't pan out I'll definitely launch Google or Yelp and see what can be found.
Bear In Heaven was originally started in Atlanta - do you have any Southern food biases?
Jon and I are from Atlanta and Joe is from southern Alabama, so, hell yes we have a Southern bias! Rule #1: Sweet tea shouldn't be more than a dollar and should come with free refills. (I'm lookin at you Pies n' Thighs!). There are a lot of Southern favorites on our list too: Daddy D's, Eats, Mrs. Wilkes, Bens, Backyard BBQ pit, I could go on....
Best burger: Shake Shack (sorry In-N-Out, I know they ripped you off, but it's better!)
Best pizza: I've been to most of the best spots in New York City, and I love them all equally, but I'm gonna go with Vinnie's in Savannah, GA because it holds a special place in our hearts and they make a mean slice.
Best taco/burrito: South Beach Grill in San Diego, CA
Best barbecue: Back Yard BBQ Pit in Apex, NC
Best coffee or tea house: Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francicso/New York
Best food cart: I can't pick a fave because I'm having a hard time remembering names, but Portland, OR really knows what they're doing!
Check out their shoot for Pitchfork TV, playing new single "Beast In Peace."
Bear In Heaven's latest album "Beast Rest Forth Mouth" is out on Hometapes/Dreamboat Records and the band is currently touring the U.S.