Spirit rides roller coaster to record deal

Spirit of the Bear has been playing Black Friday shows almost as long as the band has been together.

Tonight’s Westside Bowl concert will be different. It will be the first hometown show since the band signed a record deal with BMG in the fall.

“It’s been kind of a roller coaster, but it just keeps going up at the moment,” drummer Jamie Vitullo said.

The indie pop band — James Harker, guitar and vocals; Danny Svenson, keyboards and vocals; Ethan Schwendeman, keyboards; and Vitullo — signed a management deal with Shelter Music Group in June, which ultimately led to a distribution deal with BMG / Shelter for an EP the band tentatively plans to release next spring.

“We have about two or three songs that are about completely done, and there’s got to be 20 different demos we’re still sifting through to fully decide what we’re going to pursue,” Vitullo said. “As big as they (BMG) are, they have been good about pushing us to keep writing.”

Oftentimes, bands will re-record older material after landing a national distribution deal. That’s not Spirit of the Bear’s plan for the new release.

“This one is going to be all-new material,” he said. “We talked about revisiting old ideas, but right now we’re all way more interested in the exploring new ideas.”

The crowd at Westside Bowl tonight may get to hear one or two of those new ideas.

“We definitely need a lot of practice, but I think we’ll play a couple of the new ones,” Vitullo said Tuesday. “It’s difficult because we all live in different parts of Ohio now.”

On Monday the band shot a video for one of those new songs called “Wires.” The set for the video was a house in Cincinnati fully furnished with 1970s-style decor. The house reflects the musical influences on the song.

“It’s probably the most ’70s-sounding song we’ve ever made,” Vitullo said. “Without giving away too much, we’re leaning into all the tropes you would hear in that kind of music back then. It was a lot of fun to make.”

Spirit of the Bear bass player Mike Perorazio stopped performing with Spirit in June, although he still is writing with the band, and Nate Gelfand will play bass with the band for tonight’s show.

“He’s appeared on a number of tracks of ours,” Vitullo said. “He’s a great bass player, a great violin player. We’ve known him for years, and he fits in really well with us live.”


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