Bear Mace – Interview with Chris Scearce & Mark Sugar
Interview by: Beandog
Metal Rules recently had the pleasure of speaking to Chicago death metal band Bear Mace about the release of their densely heavy new album, Charred Field Of Slaughter. We gave the album a blistering 4/5 review which you can read by following the link HERE.
In the meantime you can read what the band had to say about it all below:
Greetings! To start things off, can you give us a quick intro? Tell us how you are and how things are in the Bear Mace camp at the moment?
Hi there! This is Chris Scearce (vocals) and Mark Sugar (guitars). We’re doing fine. We’re excited about the new release and wishing we could play live.
The lack of live shows is absolutely a point of frustration for bands and fans alike. Our hope is it all resolves itself soon. For those of us who may be coming to Bear Mace for the first time, can you give us a brief history of the band? What brought you guys together?
M: Chris and I formed the band based on a random conversation about how much we loved bands like Death, Massacre, Bolt Thrower, and so forth. This was at a time when most throwback death metal was of the Swedish variety and few bands were referencing the Tampa/Morrisound style. We did a few demos and kept it more as a “project” for a few years. Over time, we came around to the idea of playing live, so we found additional members. There’s been a bit of turnover since then, but the current lineup is rock solid.
Kudos for rolling things forward. You seems to be making some positive moves. There is a brutal new album in the pipeline which you’ve dubbed, “Charred Field Of Slaughter.” What can you tell us about the title? Does this refer to anything specific?
C: Well, the title comes from watching a documentary on Vietnam, and at one point there was a camera shot panning around a completely blown up battlefield; this got me to thinking about the cost of this scorched piece of ground, strategically worth nothing but bragging rights, and how many men from both sides had died. Young men fed to a meat grinder all for a hill that didn’t even have a name. You can apply that scenario to any modern conflict and the result is always the same. These desperate battles that to the combatants are all consuming but to the rest of us remain forgotten and futile.
It’s a powerful, tragic image and an appropriately heavy subject matter given the weight of the music. What can you tell us about the sessions? Where did you record and who was involved?
M: We did basic tracking at a studio called Mercenary Digital Audio, with Scott Creekmore engineering. A bunch of additional recording was done at my home studio. Everything went extremely quickly and drama-free. We then sent the tracks off to Mr. Damian Herring to mix, and he did a fantastic job bringing out the sounds we were going for.
How do you feel about the result? Did it turn out as you expected? Were there any surprises/unexpected outcomes from the sessions?
C: I think that the record came out better than expected, the production value is excellent and it was by a wide margin the easiest recording I’ve ever been a part of.
M: The recording process went off without a hitch, and things came out pretty much how we intended them to. It’s not a very exciting answer, but I’m grateful for the lack of “surprises” this time around!
Hey, that’s all fair enough. I’m glad it all went well. The results certainly indicate it was a successful project. I’m interested to know what differences you might highlight when comparing this to your debut release? What would you say has developed or changed?
C: I really like our debut but this new record is taking it to a level that showcases our strengths as a band and sound-wise is HUGE.
M: I’d say our songwriting has improved and gotten more focused. The first album maybe had a little fat on it, but this record has none. Also, having two new guys in the band made a huge difference in our sound and overall playing ability.
I read that you were fairly elusive in the early days, choosing not to publish the names of the line-up. What prompted the decision to “go public?”
M: We couldn’t think of stage names ridiculous enough for John and Tommy when they joined. That’s really it. We just gave up.
Haha! And Bear Mace is a powerful name. I’m intrigued to know if there were other suggestions made, and what they were… Also, what IS a bear mace?!
C: I think the name “Blood Eagle” came up but there were a good 15 to 20 bands with that name. The name Bear Mace was more unusual and it stuck. People definitely like it. As to what it is I like to think of a large medieval weapon.
M: It could be a mace used to hit bears. Or a mace that bears use to hit you. Or a mace made out of bears. It’s all subjective, really.
Let’s talk about music in general. What are your first musical memories?
C: My parents had a bitchin’ vinyl collection that I spent endless hours listening to. Thankfully they had good taste in music.
M: I grew up hearing my parents’ music, which was pretty standard boomer rock — Beatles, Elvis, other British Invasion-style bands. Maybe some show tunes on occasion.
And what drew you to your instruments?
C: I started singing in church choir at a young age. Not sure how I discovered I could croak out guttural, but hey, it’s death metal…
M: I found my dad’s old guitar hidden in a closet, and taught myself how to play it.
When did you discover HEAVY music? What was it that made it an appealing genre for you?
C: When I heard ‘Hit The Lights’ fade in for the first time. I was hooked from then on.
M: I found heavy metal in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Specifically, thrash. I think the musical complexity and non-conformist attitude were what drew me in. Those bands all hated the same things I did, so I related to it pretty strongly back then. I still do.
Looking to the future, what are your aspirations as a band? What would you like your legacy to be?
M: With the current state of the world, I’m trying not to think about “the future” too much.
C: To drive our enemies before us, crush them, and to hear the lamentation of the women.
And, finally, just for fun… If Bear Mace was a recipe, what would the ingredients be?
C: Pepper spray, Vodka and maybe some Mentos.
M: I’d assume that ground beef would be involved somehow.
Gentlemen, thank you for chatting to us. It’s appreciated!