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Iwrestledabearonce: Exclusive Studio Report From Guitarist Steven Bradley

Jeremy Saffer, Century Media

“Tour years are sorta like dog years,” says Iwrestledabearonce guitarist Steven Bradley. “One year being on tour is like seven years of normal life in terms of wear and tear and the body and soul and such. I’m 27 now but in tour years it’s more like 75 or 113! I figure I’ll be in a wheelchair pretty soon.”

Welcome to wry and wretched world of Iwrestledabearonce. Noisecreep recently checked in with Bradley for an update on what’s up with the former Shreveport, Louisiana fivesome (now largely relocated to El-Lay).

For the minute, Bradley and the rest of Team IWABO are taking a break from summarily beating the tar out of themselves and the road. They’re presently ensconced in a North Hollywood recording studio kicking out the avant-grind-spazz-nonsensical-power-violence-jazzbo ramalamdingdong that IWABO has become known and loved (or alternately hated) for.

The yet-untitled disc, which, Bradley is producing himself, is the first to feature the vocals of new vocal recruit Courtney LaPlante, who has seamlessly assumed the spot of founding vocal-abuser Krysta Cameron. Cameron became a casualty of the road for very good reason – she got preggers. In the middle of IWABO’s stint on last year’s Warped Tour, that is. The culprit: Krysta’s longtime boyfriend, Andrew Sudderth, frontman for Texan alt-proggers Fair to Midland.

“We had a day off in Krysta’s hometown in the middle of Warped tour in Dallas,” Bradley recounts. “She took all her stuff off the bus and hit us up: I’m Goddamn pregnant!’ I was like ‘Congratulations – but that’s really unfortunate timing.’” Immediately a call went out to Canadian native, LaPlante, whose band Unicron had played with Iwrestedabearonce on a few occasions. “We asked Courtney fly out and finish up Warped Tour with us. She quit her job, learned as much as she could on the way and just got up there and winged it.

“It’s very strange that it’s worked out like this,” the guitarist admits. “Courtney sounds great. She also has the same sort of look as Krysta, which is not intentional by any means. And, she’s also batshit crazy and has the same weird humor like the rest of us. If you asked me what I was thinking the day Krysta quit,’I better get out my old Best Buy uniform.’ I think we would have ended the band if we hadn’t found Courtney.”

Iwrestledabearonce has earned its share of kudos, plaudits and people who just plain fucking hate ‘em. Their unpredictable, genre-defying sound has, however, won ‘em more than a handful of fans with their two Century Media-issued discs, 2009′s It’s All Happening and it’s 2010 follow-up Ruining it for Everybody. “We’re letting more of our non-insane influences come through now,” says Bradley of still-congealing racket of IWABO full-length #3. “It’s still spastic but the songs are better written.

“Our mentality has always been ‘Do whatever you want,’” says the guitarist. We’re also incorporating more of a Deftones-y, Thrice spacy feel. More delayed guitar on this record. More legit choruses but they’re also followed by more dancey parts and salsa-ish twists and turns. It’s still wild shit.”

After replacing Cameron, IWABO went off to conquer the world. They got on a few airplanes and fucked up their share of clubs and festivals around the globe. “Holding a Koala was kinda insane – I always wanted to do that!” says Steven of a decidedly “cute moment” is Australia. “Just to think that our shitty band from Shreveport can now go play a festival in Indonesia and go back and now headline in Japan on our second tour over there is mind blowing!”

Once IWABO finishes in the studio, it’s back to the road: a bit of globe-trotting including a handful of Euro-festivals and this Summer’s All Stars Tour with Every Time I Die, Chelsea Grin and Terror.

Not that there isn’t a (slightly) serious side to IWABO’s campaign for musical and mental mindfuckery. They recently teamed with Alternative Press magazine to sell a shirt online with proceeds going to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). No, surprise really. Iwrestledabearonce has long been selling a shirt emblazoned with rainbow-colored metal foil proclaiming: “Metal Just Got Gay.”

“The message of our band has always been about opening your mind and being accepting,” says Steven. “Everyone deserves to have their civil rights and be happy. There have been many famous bands and musicians that have made comments about not supporting same-sex marriage or ‘Gay people give me the heebie-jeebies’. ‘Gays are weird.’ Coming from Shreveport, Louisiana, that’s a mentality that some people still believe is true.

“We ain’t Slipknot,” the guitarist laughs. “But there might a couple fans who might listen to our f—ed, up, weird metallish band and what we have to say.”

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