Artists You Should Know: Werebear

The Fresno BeeAugust 28, 2013 

Orosi band Werebear is Cristobal Carrillo and Enrique Ramirez. The band's new album gets a Fresno release Friday night.

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A werebear is a full-moon man-beast in the same mythological family as the werewolf. According to the Urban Dictionary, they "are not known to be violent unless provoked, will steal pies from windowsills and swim around in your pool looking for fish." Sounds kind of cute.

Werebear (capital W) is an Orosi-based band whose live shows have been known to get interrupted by a slam dancer in a bear suit. Fun to watch, but not so cute.

"To this day we have no idea who it is," says the band's frontman Cristobal Carrillo. "Is it a crazy person? An uber fan? A real life bear in an actual bear costume?"

In advance of the Fresno release of the band's new album (with a show Friday night at C.A.F.E. Infoshop), we asked Carrillo about the band's name, his new Korg keyboard and why it's easier to write songs about mythological bear-men.

Who plays what in the band?

I sing, play guitar, keyboards and the occasional bass part. Ricky Ramirez Jr. plays drums and guitar when I can't manage the harder chords.

How'd you come by the name Werebear?

I remember vaguely trying to come up with names for another band I was involved with a few years back. Werebear was one of the names I came up with and loved, but it was soundly rejected by the other band member. I instead adopted it as the name of my wifi network.

Lo and behold, a few years later, while trying to come up with a name for this band, our bassist at the time connected to the network, saw the name, and was like, "How about Werebear?" The rest, as they say, is history.

Once the name was chosen, we just kind of decided to stick with it as a storytelling device. I'd grown up thinking musicians had to write about their own tortured emotions, or about serious issues, and doing so was always difficult for me. Once we picked our band name I pretty much jettisoned all that confessional nonsense in favor of the fantastical world of the Werebear.

I have described your music as synthed-out garage rock, but I've heard it described other ways. Can you accurately describe it?

The most satisfying term I've heard used is "Vato Rock," which should please all the old school Chicanos in your readership. I tend to like "garage rock" or "post punk" as descriptors, if only because they seem to best exemplify the whole "something old, something new" sound that we seem to have going on. Basically it's loud, fast, noisy and fun.

When you started, you were playing on some kind of toy Casio keyboard. Have you upgraded the equipment?

I recently acquired a Korg keyboard from a local hip-hop producer, which we used extensively in our most recent album. That said, I still use the old keyboard on occasion, most recently for playing a pre-programmed "My Heart Will Go On," the Billboard No. 1 smash single by Canadian singing sensation Celine Dion.

Know a local band or musician people should be familiar with? Send details to Joshua Tehee, or @Joshuatehee on Twitter.

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