Getting strong now3/11/2015
Strong Like Bear is an alt/jam/prog/rock four-piece out of Ames. For those familiar with the band, its willingness to experiment and get a little weird with its sound is the act’s biggest hallmark. Frequently seen messing around with surrealist blues outfit Electric Jury, the two bands have joined forces for projects ranging anywhere from performing Pink Floyd’s “Animals” in its entirety to live-scoring Alejendro Jodorowsky’s surrealist fantasy masterpiece, “The Holy Mountain.”
The music is intellectually heady stuff and a far sight away from where the act started.
“(We) started out as just Jordan and I,” guitarist Bryon Dudley said of the band’s start with singer Jordan Mull. “She and I got together after she moved back to Ames and asked if we could play music together. We started out playing acoustic music at places like Ritual Cafe. A few months later, the rock band I was in broke up, and we kind of joined forces and started electrifying our songs.”
Mull and Dudley added bassist Greg Bruna and drummer Rachel Dudley to the mix, and Strong Like Bear was off and running. What had started with quiet acoustic songs quickly turned into sprawling, prog-centric works with a high emphasis placed on sonic experimentation.
“It’s been very organic,” Dudley said of the band’s evolution. “Melody is important, so we always try to make sure that everything is written on an acoustic guitar. Our bassist has a really strong jam band background, so he was the one who brought up the idea of having fewer set pieces in the songs and more room to just play.”
When he’s not playing with Strong Like Bear, Dudley heads up Ames-based recording studio Nova Labs, who have turned out highly regarded music from the likes of Holly and The Night Owls and Leslie and the Lys. Having Strong Like Bear’s music come out on his own label affords Dudley and his bandmates even more freedom to experiment with their sound and follow their own creative whims, which is right where Dudley feels like the band’s wheelhouse lies.
“I have a huge experimental streak,” he admitted. “So if anyone wants to go a little weirder, I’m right there with them.” CV