Dylan Rau used to be a small-time, teenaged criminal, but he's leads a proper artist's life these days as the singer/guitarist in indie rock band Bear Hands.
"Selling drugs was an easy way to make money, and I did it for a while," says Rau. "That's kind of where the song 'Crime Pays' came from. It was a song about trading a financially stable and viable lifestyle for a little more emotional stability and comfort in knowing that you don't have to worry about being robbed or busted."
"Crime Pays" is one of the standouts on Bear's Hands' most recent album, Burning Bush Supper Club. It's a fairly eclectic collection that ranges from the dreamy majesty of "Julien Donkey Boy" and beauty of "Wicksey Boxing" to the electro-funk of Rau's ode to his criminal past.
The band's name sounds like a malady that might be lampooned on Curb Your Enthusiasm, but in truth, Bear Hands is a Brooklyn dance-punk quartet, comprised of Rau, guitarist Ted Feldman, bassist Val Loper, and drummer TJ Orscher. They signed to Cantora Records for last year's full-length debut, Burning Bush Supper Club.
Bear Hands owes a debt to Gang of Four's slashing disco-punk, as well as spunky new wave-inspired indie acts like Les Savy Fav and Hot Hot Heat. It's a chewy propulsive sound fueled by insidiously catchy rhythms.
By the time they recorded Burning Bush, keyboards had taken over the driving role.
"It's probably indicative of our changing musical taste," Rau says. "We started listening to dance music and more hip-hop, so it was a natural transition from our listening tastes. Once we got into the studio, then it opens up a lot of different instruments you can use. You have more time to fuck around and be exacting. It isn't necessary to just play electric guitar all the time."
Bear Hands is looking to hit the studio for a burst in January to finish the follow-up.
"I think it's going to be a similar album to Burning Bush in that it's all over the map," Rau assures. "I don't think there's any stylistic disconnect."