Interview: Eliza and the Bear
London-based 5-piece outfit Eliza and the Bear have returned with latest single Higher. The band, who were formerly signed to Capitol Records are now going down the independent path, having recently split from the major label. Their return has also marked a new musical direction for the boys who have shaken off their indie roots and adopted a much more mainstream, pop sound and their latest hit is a weighty teaser for things on the horizon for the ambitious and talented collectives second studio album.
As the band prepare for a couple of shows this month and with new single Higher available for fans to get their hands on, we were lucky enough to catch up with frontman James Kellegher to talk about the bands formation, their record label departure and the bands dive into mainstream pop. Here is what James had to say….
Brendon Veevers: Hey there James! How is the band doing today?
James Kellegher: We are great, buzzing to be back!
BV: For fans a little unaware of Eliza and the Bear, can you give us a rundown of how the band got together and how things all took off for the band?
JK: We are a bunch of mates from London/Essex, who got together one day about 6 years ago to write some tunes for fun. Apparently those tunes were good and one thing led to another and here we are on the verge of album 2.
BV: Who came up with the bands name and what exactly is Eliza and the Bear in reference to?
JK: Eliza and the bear is a collection of poems that, i think, our piano player found in a book shop. It had similar themes to what we were writing about back then and we loved the name! We emailed the poet and asked if we could, you know, maybe borrow the name for a bit.. Luckily she said yes!
BV: You have a new single out titled Higher. Can you tell us a little about the new track?
JK: Higher came out of a pretty dark time in EATB, we didn’t know if we were even going to be a band anymore. Leaving our label we felt like it was game over, we discussed putting on a “farewell” tour at the back end of last year. But then festival season changed all that, we realised people still gave a fuck about our band, that injected the life we needed to write Higher.
BV: With the new material you have been described as having a much more poppy sound to your previous songs. Was this a conscious decision or something that happened organically in the studio that you just went with?
JK: It was a very organic process, our debut album was written from the inception of the band so many of the songs are 4+ years old. On paper it sounds like a drastic change, but behind the scenes it was a much slower progression.
BV: What artists have inspired the members of Eliza and the Bear?
JK: They’re are so many influences for each member. Right now I’m listening to a lot of: Stevie Wonder, Haim, Anderson Paak, Mac Miller, Earth wind & fire, phoenix, Fleetwood Mac. A lot of stuff basically!
BV: Looking over press photo shots and your videos online, the band has a very polished appearance – everything all ties together very well in terms of your look as a unit. How involved do you all get when it comes to your general style as a band and how your promotional material like your videos are put together?
JK: We like to be hands on, this band is an extension of ourselves so that needs to come across. The clothes we wear are the clothes we wear day to day, that naturally changes through time and i guess being on top of each other 24/7 we’ve started to influence each other style wise and that makes it a cohesive look. As for videos, we had the pleasure of working with Marcus Schroder for all of our videos from the debut album. He would come to us with these crazy ideas, and that’s what we want, not just us performing in a moody setting. He really brought out the character and the meaning of the songs and put them on film.
BV: You were originally signed with Capitol Records. What was behind the decision to leave your home at this major label?
JK: Sometimes things just don’t work out, no bad vibes between us, we are still in contact with the team and they are interested in how we are getting on. But its a dog eat dog world, especially with the decline in record sales.
BV: Many more artists are going independent and breaking away from major labels. Having done things as a major label signed act and an independent one, what advice would you offer unsigned bands in terms of how to make that decision themselves?
JK: Make the choice that’s right for you, don’t be hypnotised by money, because at the end of the day its just a loan. Do you need someone who is going to nurture you as an artist and take your failures as well as your successes or do you need a big push, a one chance at the big time. But always remember, the only thing that really really matters, is fans. We live in a world where you have access to thousands of people at the touch of a button, build a fanbase on your own and the right label will come to you.
BV: You recently played a couple of gigs here in the UK – one in Manchester and the other here in London. How did the shows go and what was the fans reaction to the new material?
JK: The shows were amazing, it felt so good to be back playing new material. We debuted two brand new tracks at those shows aswell! Knowing that people love Higher as much as we do, we cant wait to release more!
BV: With it being Summer in the UK and the festival season still under way, are there any festival slots on the Eliza and the Bear calendar for fans to be able to check you out?
JK: We have 110 above coming up, and our first venture over to Northern Ireland for Moira calling in September!
BV: What else is on the cards for Eliza and the Bear throughout 2017? Where else can fans catch you playing and what other music is in the pipeline for release?
JK: Lots of new music, and maybe even a headline tour at some point.
BV: Thanks James
Eliza and the Bears new single ‘Higher’ is out now.