Eliza and the Bear Interview

// Taken from the Nottingham Post //

Eliza and the Bear are a five-piece rock band from London who formed in 2011. Katie Beard spoke to the band’s guitarist, Martin Dukelow, ahead of their gig at The Bodega on February 8.

How was 2015 for you?

It’s been good! It’s been an odd one, we’ve not necessarily played a whole ton of shows, but the ones we have played have been fantastic. We’ve kind of been in a sort of build up period if you will, getting everything together for the album.

We played a couple of cool festivals. But predominantly we’ve been in the studio writing songs and rehearsing and getting together for meetings to make sure that everything about the album is ready. So it’s been an odd set up year but it’s been necessary and I think that everything we’ve done is really gonna come into play next year so I’m excited for it.

You mentioned playing festivals, you played Reading and Leeds – how was that?

Oh, Reading and Leeds in particular was a massive milestone, especially for me personally. I mean, I went to that festival every year as a kid since I was like 16. It was a great experience, especially the Reading part of it. It was lovely to see some of my friends and family there and the show went really really well.

It was definitely a memorable one as our first time at Reading. Yeah we really enjoyed it, it was sort of the pinnacle of our festival performance, so really really enjoyed it.

Let’s talk about ‘It Gets Cold’ – it was Track of the Day on Radio 1, that must have been pretty cool?

Yeah, it’s one of those things where sometimes we don’t get told that we’re gonna get that until the last minute. So it was a really really nice surprise to find out. I think we were told a couple of days before. The fact that Radio 1 have picked up Lion’s Heart and now picked up It Gets Cold is a really cool thing for them to do.

It helps us get music to the people that want to hear it so we can’t thank them enough. And now XFM and Absolute have started picking it up as well. It’s a really exciting time for the track.

The video for It Gets Cold is pretty abstract like most of your videos. Is it the band who comes up with the ideas for them?

Well I do sort of get involved. There’s a guy called Markus who directs. He directed both Lion’s Heart and It Gets Cold. So we’ll send out the track and then the directors and filmmakers make their judgements on how they feel and what sort of images they get when they listen to the song. And this guy, Markus, conjured up something for the Lion’s Heart video and it really connected.

I just thought the idea, especially for the Lion’s Heart video was absolutely on point. So we did that and the Lion’s Heart video went really really well and then we sent over a video, sort of treatment, for It Gets Cold and instantly I got that sort of Smashing Pumpkins Tonight, Tonight video sort of vibe from it. I just absolutely loved it so we chatted and then that’s where we put our stamp on it. So he had the initial idea and then we just steer it and say we like this, we like that.

We had a couple of phone calls with him and then next thing you know you’re watching the video. I’m really really excited about it. He’s got a certain style about him, Markus. So yeah, it’s stuff that we do get involved in and I think we might have to look at Youtube. I kind of like the idea of a continuation of the director on those videos. But yeah, really happy with the video, I think it looks really cool.

How does an Eliza and the Bear song normally come about?

Well, it’s usually myself or Callie the piano player, cause I play guitar. It will usually come from a guitar idea or Callie might play something on the piano. Then me and him will sit there and we’ll just start coming up with stuff, something just happens. It might be a little riff or a little sort of vibe, a line or a song form.

Then we’ll start playing it in the room maybe coming up with some pop line melody idea. James will start coming up with lyrics or little top line ideas and then we’ll take it into the boys, Chris, Paul and everyone. We’ll all play it together and see how good it feels live. Then we’ll just slowly watch it become a song.

There’s a studio in the place that we rehearse, so we’ll go and sit in that room and get the song down into demo form, spend a couple of weeks with it and then it just becomes a song.

Let’s talk about your album Eliza and the Bear – it’s been on preorder since August. How has that been?

Yes, yeah it’s been a long time. It’s been a bit frustrating I guess but, to be fair at the time we set up the preorder we didn’t know what sort of state the radio was going to be in. So we didn’t know how radio was going to perceive it. But then the fact that Lion’s Heart and It Gets Cold have been received so well it’s kind of like hold on.

Considering it’s our first album, we want to absolutely nail the release of this. To the fans that have heard the songs and been with us from day one, we can’t thank them enough for sticking by us but obviously there is such a massive selection of people out there that the album is going to be an introduction to us for them. So just wanna make sure that when it does come out we’ve got the biggest weight behind us and the radio are completely on it and then when it does come out it’s like perfect timing, just before the festival season.

That was a decision made by the band and everyone in our team. Just to make sure that it comes out at perfect timing for us to be at the biggest point that we’ve been at.

Were there any particular influences for you whilst making the album?

Not really, not specifically one person. I think each song has its own influence. At the time we might have been subconsciously listening to the radio or listening to a specific artist. But as a whole, the album didn’t really have a specific influence from an artist or anything. It’s more of a collection of songs.

Especially the fact that’s kind of the reason we decided to self title it because this album has kind of been a collection of songs for over three years. So we’ve been in quite a different place, it’s like our journey from right until the beginning until now. It was hard to put a name on it that encapsulated everything and all the songs.

It’s good to get it finally all recorded in one place and hear it. Hear our journey from day one until now and hear it all in one collective. I’m just really excited to get people excited to listen to it, I guess.

What can we expect – is it all as upbeat as the singles?

No and that’s sort of part of the reason I am so excited for people to hear it. You’ve got a couple of heavier numbers on there. Maybe slightly more guitar driven. You’ve got a couple of slow ballad ones. I think that’s the thing with the album, it’s gonna give a wider range and a way more 3D view of the band.

We do love writing upbeat, happy music, of course. It that’s how we feel, we’ll write those songs. But at the same time, where we have had a lot more time together now, there is more mixed emotions in there. I think an album of twelve upbeat, happy songs can get very sickly. But with this there are some slower songs and some heavier songs and I think they could be some real fan favourites after the album comes out. We’ll have to wait and see.

You’ve toured with some big names over the years – do you think that played a part in your success?

Yeah, the support shows. I mean the Twin Atlantic one we were on the same management and they offered us the shows so we took them. It was the same with Paramore. We just took them because they were offered to us. It massively helps getting out there and playing to fans and putting yourself in front of a massive audience.

I kind of feel that as a band our strongest part is playing live so it’s a good time to advertise ourselves and show people what we can do as a band. A lot of the fans from those shows have ended up coming to our shows now, seeing them on twitter. So you do end up making live connections with people so it’s cool for us to do those shows.

What can we expect from the tour in February?

Obviously people will be hearing some songs from the album, songs they haven’t necessarily heard before, which is exciting. We did play a couple of them on the tour just gone, but there will be a couple of extra tracks in there. Bar setlist, we don’t really pre plan anything that goes on in the show.

We just get up there and we love playing live and to make sure that it’s off a certain class and create a bit of an echo in the room. But it’s just about getting up there and playing songs and giving people a little bit of excitement about what’s coming from the album.

So you’re playing The Bodega in Nottingham on tour – how are the Nottingham crowd?

Yeah we’ve played The Bodega before, I’m sure. I’ve got a couple of friends that actually go to uni there, so I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Nottingham. I used to go up there and go out a couple of times. So always had a bit of a soft spot for there.

The show we actually played in Nottingham last time was brilliant and we went out and got really drunk after, so we’ve had some fantastic times in Nottingham. I’m really looking forward to getting back up there and seeing some friends and seeing how the show goes!

What are you hoping for in 2016?

Well yeah the album is, you can’t really hope. I don’t almost think about it sometimes, you just have to let things happen and let things take their natural course.

But obviously deep down I just wanna play some really cool festivals, maybe some festivals we haven’t played before and watch our fanbase slowly grow and play bigger shows, push ourselves, push our live shows, push our variety and just do all of the things that I need to do to grow as a band. The main thing is just seeing the album be received really well and see people get really into it and excited about it. That’s the most you can hope from it I guess.

Eliza and the Bear will be playing at The Bodega on February 8. Tickets cost £10. bodeganottingham.com

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