On We Will Be Fossils, She Bears frontman Stephen Pence spends a good deal of time considering his place in the universe, the concept of legacy and what it means to continue making music once those youthful dreams of rock ’n’ roll glory begin to give way to harsher everyday realities.
“There’s a moment in every musician’s life where they realize they’re probably not going to be U2, and that definitely happened with us — not that I wanted to be U2,” Pence said with a laugh during a late December interview. “[The album] is about figuring out a path because not everybody is a statue. Most of us are mannequins. We’re a glimpse of something. We’re here, we’re gone and that’s it. But we still mean something.”
Perhaps it’s not surprising Pence chose to explore concepts of transition as the group was undergoing an evolution of its own. In 2011, just weeks before album recording sessions began, keyboardist Caitlin McGlade left the band. Rather than adding a new member Pence and Co. chose to soldier onward as a four-piece — a decision that forced the musicians to learn how to play with one another anew.
“It took us a while to figure out how to rebuild our band,” said Pence, 27, who grew up in the Texas Hill Country and relocated to Ohio in 2007. “A lot of the early rough mixes just didn’t feel quite right, but I never had a doubt it would get where we needed to go.”
While the songs on We Will Be Fossils might explore heavier themes, the music itself tends to be weightless, shifting from melodic, guitar-driven dirges (“Fewer Cigarettes”) to ragged indie-rock anthems like “Tracks in the Snow,” a spiky tune that could rightly be described as She Bears’ attempt to put a local (and louder) spin on LCD Soundsystem’s “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”
“It’s kind of my Columbus-I-love-you-but-you’re-always-bad-to-me song,” Pence said. “There’s a line at the end where it’s like, ‘I promise you when the weather warms up we’ll cut the bottoms off our pants and we’ll go outside.’ So the whole thing is like, ‘Yeah, it’s frozen everywhere and awful and we can’t do anything, but soon enough it’s going to be over and everything will be fine again, and I know that.’”