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Bears of Manitou Wants to Fight the Colorado Wildfires (And You Can Help)

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See also: Take Cover: Bears of Manitou Cover Damien Rice See also: Want to Write a Song for Bears of Manitou?

Tons of bands use Kickstarter to secure funds to finish an album, but how many of them offer to take you camping and plan on donating excess funds to charity? Tempe folk rockers Bears of Manitou do, of course. (See the band's Kickstarter page.)

The band has 13 days left to reach its goal of $5,725. We took shelter from last night's haboob to chat with singer/guitarist Gabe Williams about Origins, the fundraising campaign, and the lyrics he is considering getting as a tattoo.

Bears of Manitou will debut Origins at its CD release party on Saturday, August 4 at Martini Ranch.

Up on the Sun: If I'm not mistaken, you put out an EP before releasing Origins.

Gabe Williams: We did, but it was never officially released, there's probably several hundred copies floating around. We did it for the International Wildlife Rehab Council. They had us play a show out in Albuquerque, New Mexico for one of their conferences. We were in the process of self-recording our own CD and decided to give that to them for their own profit. It's pretty much only a handful of people that have been to our shows since then and a handful of people that bought it at the conference.

How's the Kickstarter been going so far? You set it up to run for a month?

Yep, for 30 days based off of Kickstarter stats and what they recommend. 30 days is a better, shorter time frame for everything. We've got 13 days left as of today and it's been going really well. We're actually just over 40% funded for our project.

So, you're about halfway there.

The stats show on Kickstarter that towards the last couple days, the pledges increase. We're definitely not banking on that, we think that we'll continue to get solid pledges throughout that time. We're not worried about being fully funded because we feel like we have a lot of great supporters out there.

What can we expect from your CD release show?

The show is going to be epic. The line up is awesome, Micah Bentley, Steff Koeppen and The Articles, and Ladylike are opening up, playing along with us. We are having a special guest appearance by the Short Leash Hotdog food truck. We're very excited for them, and it's going to be at Martini Ranch. They're going to be parked in the Martini Ranch parking lot to provide tasty food. We're super looking forward to that event, it's going to be awesome.

Are you doing any deals like free CD with cover?

We are giving the first 150 people a CD because we want people to get there early and stay for the whole show. There are so many options when you're releasing a CD. I don't remember the band that's doing it, but there's a CD release coming up at Sail Inn and there's like 11 bands playing and it's just not our style. I understand because the point of a CD release sometimes is fundraising, but we decided we wanted to have a really epic, memorable show with great food and fun bands and then raise funds in a different form.

I saw a couple people have bought the option where you write a song for them. Have you written those yet, or can we expect those to show up in the future?

In the future. It was kind of an off the cuff decision based off of some other Kickstarters that other bands had done. We actually did this thing on Fivver.com that I think Jason [Woodbury] wrote about briefly. For five dollars, we would write a 30 second song for somebody. They would provide the lyrics and we would tweak them and pump out music. It was kind of fun, we did four or five of them.

The songs haven't been written yet. Obviously we're the artists, but we want to hear inspiration that people have, we want people to be able to say that song was inspired by something that I said. We want to have a closer connection with the people that are actually giving that amount of money to contribute to our project, it's their project as well. The plan as however many people choose that option, hopefully there's going to be at least four or five, we will do a digital release of those songs through iTunes and Spotify so they can share them with their friends as well.

The 30 second songs are very fun to do, it was just very, very fun and humorous for the most part. We had some quirky requests, one of our friends and family submitted lyrics that were inspired by a Monty Python skit called "Bouncy Bouncy." Tell me about the benefit you have set up for the Colorado wildfires.

If you go to that link, it talks a little bit about where we got the name for the band and why Colorado means a lot to us, and specifically why Colorado Springs and Manitou means a lot to us. That historic town and a lot of that area and people's homes are in jeopardy. It's hard because that's the history of the band. None of us are from there, but it still speaks to who we are as a band. We thought what better way if we surpass our goal we can either take that money and reinvest it towards us. We're going to continue to find success in other ways, or we can hopefully break our goal early and keep pushing and help these people. Some of them lost their homes and some of them don't have a place to stay right now.

Tell me a little bit about the album itself. What went into it and what inspired it? There's some Colorado in it too.

That song ["Out of Colorado"] was actually written during my second trip back to Colorado Springs. I was dating somebody at the time several years ago and that relationship was one of those relationships that was doomed from the start. We were in Colorado and there's this line, something about surviving the forecast flurries. Basically, it was surviving to get back to Phoenix. We went on this trip all alone together and came back to Phoenix, and it wasn't the same. It's hard to explain from my perspective that that means that song, Colorado.

"Your Story" is a perfect one, actually, that one means a lot to me. I'm contemplating getting a couple of the lyrics tattooed on me because I've got several meaningful tattoos. There's so many people in this world that don't realize that the things that they say and the actions that they do are everlasting. You have such a short amount of time to make an impression on people in the world and build a community. I think sometimes people are reckless with that. The song is basically about taking care and realizing that there shouldn't be so much sadness and there shouldn't be so much negativity because we have this one life, this is your story. This is the only life and the only story that you have to tell of yourself, so choose wisely and put your best foot forward because that's how you're going to be remembered. Those are the words that I want on me because I wrote it, to me it still resonates. There aren't any other of my songs that resonate like that, but this one, your story, it's always meant something more than a song lyric to me.

Has this process surprised you at all?

One of our friends and fans tweeted that if [collective pledges] reach $1,000 before or on July 1 that he would match that pledge and pledge $1,000 as well. Kind of a cool thing to throw out there. You never know what people are doing, but the $1,000 actually gets you if you're in the Phoenix area, or we have travel accommodations to a private show. We'll play for you, so it's a cool incentive along with it.

Check out Bears of Manitou's Kickstarter page.

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