In late 2015, bed. began work with producer and engineer Larry Crane (Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, M. Ward, Elliott Smith, The Thermals) on their debut LP “Replay.” As recording and mastering wrapped up the following year, the rock band, fronted by husband-and-wife duo Sierra and Alex Haager and joined by drummer Devon Shirley, was just starting to gain traction in the Pacific Northwest and was on the receiving end of fawning coverage from Willamette Week, Portland Mercury and OPB. National outlets like Vice’s Noisey and NPR Music even gave them a shout. It felt like “Replay” had a chance to be a breakout release for the Portlanders.
But the album never left the studio.
In March of that year, the Haagers found out they were expecting a child. Shortly after that, they made the choice to put their music careers on hold in order to raise their son. And since then, save for a few gigs in the past few years and the occasional single release, the band has remained pretty quiet. It’s a decision they don’t regret at all. For the Haagers, family comes first. But on Friday, Dec. 14, with the long-awaited release of “Replay” via Bug Hunt, the band once again takes center stage.
If you have any doubts, let me reassure you, it was worth the wait. “Replay” is a shoegaze masterpiece. The nine songs are loud, angsty and caked in a splatter of muddy distortion. But tracks like “Girl,” “Replay” and “Guys” are also incredibly catchy and completely unafraid of hooks.
You can hear the full record here at opbmusic and read excerpts from my interview with Alex and Sierra Haager below:
bed. have an album release show on Saturday, Dec. 15 in Portland at Polaris Hall along with The Domestics and Small Million. They will also be performing at the 2019 Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho, in March.
Interview With Sierra And Alex Haager Of bed.:
On the lyrical themes in “Girl”:
Sierra: I wrote that song for my mom. I am aware of the anxiety — I have experienced the anxiety of being a woman, a girl, in the world and it’s just a lot of insanity and pressure. Needing to show up so you can belong to someone. Needing to just kind of be perfect and keep it all together. Now, you need to be smart and pretty and effortless and cool and nonchalant. There’s just such a mania around it.
And so my mom — oh, my mom. There was a guy that she was with for about 10 years when I was a kid and a teenager who was so super not cool to her. And I guess I just wrote that song coming from a place of wanting for her to just feel what it would be like to just be in her body and have it be her’s and to just be in the world and be in her own first person. Not that I don’t think she specifically has ever been able to have that experience. … [But] to me, the state of being a woman is this anxious, claustrophobic thing. And it’s about wishing for something better for someone I love.
On The Writing Process Behind “Replay,” The Album’s Title Track:
Alex: This started as Sierra sort of humming the verses to me in the car and me telling her that I hated it.
Sierra: Alex is so supportive. So, one of the things that we have learned is that there is a level of baked that a song has to get through before we can share it with the other person. That is something that we now know that I didn’t used to know quite so well. But that was actually a pretty cool collaborative song. It’s super personal. It’s about my experience reliving the ghosts of a traumatic childhood in a new marriage. That’s fun stuff, right? … Without that fucked up guitar line, it’s just this kind of dopey Paul McCartney chord progression and really kind of a dopey Paul McCartney melody as well I think. And then Alex came in with a very grunge progression for the chords for the chorus … like Nirvana.
Alex: I think I like it even more than Sierra does now.
Sierra: You know what I really like about that song? I really like the guitar line. That’s probably the best guitar line I’ve written.
On “Guys” And Gender Roles:
Alex: “Guys” is a song written by Sierra from Sierra’s perspective that I sang, which was kind of fun and the only time we’ve done that. It’s a pretty intense song thematically, but it was actually a lot fun to get to do that without having to write it.
Sierra: To explain the song, it’s about kind of throwing shit in the face of men who look at women as objects. One of the lines is “How good is your body?” There’s all this pressure on women to just be so hot all the time, but the alpha dudes — dudes sleeping around, dudes who are the hot shit on the scene — are just physically nothing special, nothing to look at really.
Like, guys get to have personalities and women have to have bodies. Let’s just start it there. And so, it’s talking about in the future when men are seen as property, do you hold up? Do you hold up to your own standards? Are you going to be seen as desirable when things are different? I don’t feel like it came from an angry place, but it’s not an angry message. It’s just like check yourself. How are you doing? Are you super physically hot? Are you ready to maybe have other people’s personalities be as valuable as yours?