Known for a consistent output of indie rock anthems, London-based outfit Eliza and the Bear have been almost 5 years in the game before releasing their self-titled debut album. We caught up with frontman James Kellegher and vocalist Martin Dukelow on tour to speak about life goals, recording in Nashville and 80s rock ‘n’ roll…
How’s the tour going so far?
James: It’s a weird one for us. Show days are really hectic; we’re doing in-stores so we load into the venue at 11 for sound check and then head along to HMV or Fopp to play some acoustics. Although it’s short it feels like a proper tornado of a tour.
Martin: We haven’t had a full album out before so this tour we’re feeling the full wrath of promo.
Tell us about the recording process behind your new album.
J: Some of the songs are from as early as 4 years ago. The way I describe the record to everyone is that it’s like a notebook of everything we’ve done as a band from the start.
We went to Nashville, Tennessee to record it and spent the first couple of weeks in pre-production ripping songs apart and making sure the structures work and then spent the rest of the time knuckling down and making it shiny.
M: We had a producer called Jacquire King who’s worked with Kings of Leon and Mutemath; those were bands we love ourselves so it was really cool to get out there and work with a bigtime producer.
We felt like small fish in a big pond. Nashville itself is a music city and it was awesome to be immersed in that for 2 solid months while making the album.
Nice segue. Next question: Who are your musical influences?
J: As a band we’re quite broad. Each member has their own influences which we collate into a central pool. We keep track of new music and what’s fresh. We’re not afraid to look at different genre avenues because we like to experiment in our own material.
M: I’m a massive Radiohead fan. My dad took me to see my first concert at Wembley which was an AC/DC show. I was also big into my guitar listening to guys like Carlos Santana and Gary Moore. As we grew up we all went through that really heavy…
M: …heavy rock sort of…
M and J: Emo phase.
M: As we’ve gotten older we’ve been following pop music and that’s what gives our music that “pop edge”.
Over the years you’ve toured with bands like Paramore, and you were recently on Radio 1 Live Lounge. Where do you see the journey going next?
J: Who knows? People always ask: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?”
For a considerable number of years we’ve been able to play music as our job and grow steadily as a band. As long as we’re still doing that and not dead in the water in 5 years’ time that’ll be amazing for us. Going on tour and writing music is what we enjoy doing most, and getting to do that for a living is an opportunity not many people have.
Speaking of going on tour, who’s your ideal touring partner?
J: Mötley Crüe.
J: Imagine an 80s tour with them! Everyone’s saying that rock ‘n’ roll is dead, but I would love to have toured with them back in the day.
M: I don’t know really. Maybe someone like…I don’t know…Little Mix have got loads of really good looking girls haven’t they?
J: We’re going on tour with Mötley Crüe and Little Mix. So yeah, rock ‘n’ roll and a girl band. Have some female company rather than a load of geezers knocking about.
You’ve been around for a few years before putting out your first ‘proper” album, how has your songwriting developed since you first started?
J: We’ve gotten wiser when it comes to writing songs. We can do it quicker now, whereas before we were trying to think too much, trying to be a bit too clever. Now we’re a lot more focused on just writing music that we enjoy.
M: The process hasn’t really changed. We still practice in the same practice room and the music still goes through the same journey from starting as a really early idea.
We’re all about making the song sound brilliant for a live experience where we’re turning it up as loud as we can and the drums are smashing out. We always make it work on that level first.
What are you listening to right now?
M: I listen to Childish Gambino quite a bit. I like JME’s album which is actually a little old now. I started listening to an artist the other day called NAO. Bad Blood was on in the HMV shop and I shazamed it…really good.
J: I’ve been listening to the new Deftones record, that actually came out the same day as ours.