California Grizzly: An Interview with Bear Fight

The city of Coachella, California is nearly 29 square miles of desert, located 68 feet below sea level and 130 miles east of Los Angeles. Although it is home to the 78-acre Empire Polo Club – the host of the infamous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – it is also home to a four-piece indie/rock band by the name of Bear Fight.

“It’s always someone’s grandparents live out here so that’s usually the way it goes,” vocalist Michael Ramirez jokes. “Yes, there are people indeed who live out there. We were some of those people.”
While Ramirez and drummer Ryan Cenicola have been friends since they were toddlers, their group – including guitarist Evan Boydstun and drummer Matt Sutton – have known each other since high school. After discovering one another’s love for playing music, jamming together was a no-brainer. By having the influences of the festival on their side, learning about the industry early on is what helps them stand apart.

“I think that being in Coachella humbles you in a way because there’s such big artists that come through and you have to keep your head down early on and really, really work hard because you realize how tough it is to make a name of yourself in the industry,” Ramirez said. “There’s hundreds and hundreds of bands that have played Coachella so we learned early on to set yourself apart. That’s the main thing we’ve learned throughout the years is that you need to be unique; you need to set yourself apart. Don’t go chasing genres, don’t go chasing fads or a certain thing. Just stick to your own and success will come from that so that’s what we did… We adapted our style around that in a way and learned from a lot of the artists that we would see come through.”

Putting a genre label on Bear Fight is far from simple. Their influences stem from a variety of sounds including blues, soul and classic rock. “Everything that we make together has our own twist on it,” Ramirez said. “That really inspires us when we’re making our music because that music you could have played it 50 years ago or you can play it 50 years from now and it will still have an amazing impact.”

By not pigeon holing themselves, they’ve been able to release two tracks this year that abide by that timeless theme they’ve tapped into. “She” originally came from a poem and was put to three chords in a means to be short, simple and powerful. Written around the same time was “Harlem”, a song with vintage past and present.

As news of a record release anxiously awaits those who have heard the two tracks, Bear Fight continues to test the boundaries between genres. These four friends have something unique on their hands, and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world tunes in to see what’s next.