blackbear has had quite the year thus far. Not only did he release his fifth album, "Everything Means Nothing," he also performed alongside Machine Gun Kelly at the VMAs and welcomed his first child into the world. We caught up with bear to learn more about his upcoming virtual show at the Hollywood Roosevelt on October 21st, his process for recording an album during the pandemic and his new tattoos.
What went into putting your new album together?
It was one long year where I’d make like four songs a week. I made the album in the order of when I recorded the songs, which was pretty cool. That’s something a lot of people don’t do. It was a long year of half pandemic, half regular life. When I made “hot girl bummer,” we were still out at the club.
How has your music changed with the pandemic?
I think it probably got more emo, more sappy and sorry for yourself. At the same time, some of my best baselines and the best grooves have come out of the pandemic. We turned our recording room into our own personal dance club.
What’s your favorite song from the album?
I was saying for a while “sobbing in cabo,” but now that it’s out and I’ve lived with it just like everyone else has, “me & ur ghost” is really special to me. They’re actually just starting to pick it up on radio, which is pretty cool. I think that “half alive,” the one that I did with Marshmellow, is pretty cool.
How did you approach getting collabs for this album?
It was really easy because specific songs called for specific artists. Like the song with Lauv, “if i were u,” wasn’t really a song until he came into the picture and saved the record. He really is fifty percent of that song. I would say the same thing with Trevor Daniel on “clown” and “half alive” with Marshmellow. “half alive” definitely wasn’t as funky, it was more 2000s house.
What are some of the themes you explore in this album?
One of the themes is overall just feeling bad for yourself. Persevering through your own personal anxieties and this little hollow box we all live in. Pushing through your depression and dancing through the tears.
I’ve really grown on this album and if you haven’t heard it, please go and check it out. It’s probably a great album to get tattooed to. It’s 37 minutes, so a great small blaster album.
How has the pandemic impacted your ability to promote this album?
It’s insane. Usually when we put out an album, we get to go on tour and really live together. We’re putting together a virtual show right now for October 21st at the Hollywood Roosevelt. It’s definitely going to be a challenge to play without the fans' reactions, but hopefully I get to read all the comments afterward. Maybe they’ll make me feel like those are the screams in the crowd.
What do you hope your fans take away from this performance?
I hope maybe there’s a kid there that couldn’t come to a show because I haven’t played in their country yet. I’ve never played in Africa and I’ve toured very little of Asia—so it would be cool to have them come to the show. I want to give a show to people who haven’t been able to experience it yet. I don’t want to compare it to a normal blackbear show, I just want to give something to hold people over and hold myself over.
You recently collaborated with Machine Gun Kelly and performed alongside him at the VMAs. How did that collab come about?
It was a very long process and took a little over a year. He’d been working on this album for a really long time and I didn’t expect it to be anything but great. I feel like this album is a huge stepping stone for him into pop punk and crossover records altogether. When we started, we had a totally different chorus and then we changed it. I didn’t like the new chorus at first, but he was like “trust me on this.” So I trusted him and it went really far. I really appreciate Kells.
Performing at the VMAs was really sick. I feel like if I was actually at the VMAs, I’d be a lot more nervous but with this one I didn’t stutter or fuck up my words at all. I did a better performance because I wasn’t at the VMAs, so it actually saved my ass big time.
This year, in addition to your album and performing for the VMAs, you had another big life milestone and that was becoming a dad. How has your first year of fatherhood been so far?
The best way to sum it up is tiring. I’m constantly tired all the time and I also struggle with mental health, plus the pandemic, the wildfires and people not respecting people aren’t helping. It’s easy to just sit here and be pissed off, but I’m trying to create a safe space for my son to grow up in. He has a tiny piano and I try to put art and music into his life. We watch “Adventure Time” every morning and he’s only eight months old. It’s been different but I take everything a bit more seriously now because I have to feed a family.
We interviewed you back in 2018 and got the low down on some of your tattoos. What have you gotten since then?
I did my entire torso. It’s really ugly, but it works for me. My tattoo artist is Kelly Scott Orr and he uploaded a picture of me into Photoshop, then we put shit on it and that’s how we created my tattoos. I don’t know if anybody else uses that method, but it’s cool to see how I’m going to look after.
Do you have any plans to get tattoos for this album?
I was thinking about getting the word “Pain” tattooed right under my chin. I feel like that’s the overarching theme of this album and I want to tattoo pain on my fucking face.