An Interview with Eliza and the Bear

It was on Monday when I met up with two members of London-Based Rock/Pop band Eliza & The Bear, frontman James Kellegher and guitarist Martin Dukelow, at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds before their headlining gig for their October tour. With a cheerful 'Hello!' and the shake of hands, we were soon sat down on some comfortable (albeit rather battered) sofas to have a bit of a natter...

Hello! Thank you very much for letting me interview you for my blog! How are you?

M: Hello! It's our pleasure! We're a bit tired aren't we? 

J: Yeah i'm feeling a bit under the weather, today. I'm feeling a bit bunged up. And, I didn't pack for rain either! I thought it might be a little bit cold, so I have this jumper and another jumper and then no rain jacket - so no hood. I've got my beanie to protect my hair though [laughs]

I have to ask about your name! I see no Eliza, nor a bear - This came from Eleanor Rees book of poems, didn't it? What made this name stand out for you and what made you choose it? 

J: Yes, well when we started, we didn't have any intention to be in a 'proper' band - we were just hanging around, writing music and then Paul, our drummer - I don't know where he found it - but he found the book of poems in a bookshop somewhere and we were all like 'Yeah, sounds cool!'. It sound similar to one of the first songs we ever wrote. We just emailed Eleanor and the rest is history! It is a bit of weird name when you think about it - 

M: With bands like Muse and Arctic Monkeys, the name - with no reference to it - sounds just a bit ridiculous but then it gives it, it's own personality, which I think we have done that. The band name on it's own it's alright but as soon as you apply our music to it, it works. Well in my head anyway! 

J: Yeah, I have to admit it's the only band name that I am not completely sick of! 

You're currently on tour at the moment and Leeds will be your fourth gig. How's it been so far? 

J: It's been a really good start to the tour! It feels like the shows that aren't in London have stepped up a major amount - Like it's more hard-core fans, sing-alongs and dancing around, clapping and all that sort of stuff. It feels as if they're taking it in for the first time time -

M: We're only out for eight days and we're only resting for two days in-between that. So, it feels as though you can give more, one hundred percent every night. Sometimes, when you have got a thiry-day tour, you do start thinking - say date number sixteen - "Oh, I'm really tired". It's been really good, and really well received and we've even doubled ticket sales. 

J: It's been really... humbling. Good word, I think! 

So, no disasters or anything? 

J: No! Well, not yet anyway - touch wood [knocks on wooden table]  

Have you had any tour disasters or any crazy experiences on stage or on tour before? 

J: On the first date of a big support tour we did, my guitar cut out. It was an intro, and it built up and then it dropped into the opening - this is when it's just me and my guitar - and nothing came out! I was just thinking "Oh, crap!" - 

M: We've actually got a selection of crew with us, when we're on tour, and we rely on them so much! Say if I break a string, or my amp breaks, they are straight over to fix it. So, disaster should only really last for a couple of seconds. 

J: We've so jinxed that now, that now haven't we? [laughs]

Has there been anywhere on your tour that you've been particularly looking forward to playing? 

J: London, obviously - Hometown show! But with this tour, everywhere has been reasonably good. I'm looking forward to playing at every show.

M: That's the thing, they are all key cities - everywhere we go, we've built relationships with these places. We've played Manchester plenty of times, we have a load of history with Newcastle and with Leeds - Live at Leeds, Leeds Fest. Every city that we have done a lot of touring, we've got lots of friends and we know where we're going to eat, we know what we're going to do.

You released your single 'Lion's Heart' back in July. This is something that is very upbeat and the usual material we expect to hear from you guys. Is this a snippet of what fans can expect with your up-and-coming album? Or have you got a few things up your sleeves?

J: There's a lot of different vibes in the new album. A few of the songs we're playing tonight as well - we've got Cruel - that's a lot slower, a kind of ballad-y, epic kind of song.

M: I think our sound has become quite different. There are a lot of songs that we have written that are a lot darker and a lot slower and different from our up-beat songs. I mean, we are well into writing our second album already. An album with, say thirteen really happy and up-lifting tracks would get a bit 'sickly' - 

J: Yeah, you want to - at least - for about three and a half minutes, have a bit of a cry [laughs] Do you know what I mean? A bit of cathartic emotion! 

You've supported huge names in the past, including Paramore! Is there anyone else that you're itching to support, or perform with? 

J: I've always wanted to support Death Cab for Cutie because, I love that band. But probably the chances of us doing that are quite slim -

M: Nah! I think we're quite similar in some ways. I don't think that would be a weird line-up. But that's what I find quite cool - Most of the bands that we're playing with we are big fans of -

J: Yeah like Paramore, Imagine Dragons, Hail Nation, Twin [Atlantic] we've known them for ages as well - Their EP was the first I bought from iTunes! 

Which artists are you loving at the moment? 

M: I went to a club in Kings Cross in London called The Big Chill and I had a Noughties R&B playlist going on, and ever since then I've just been obsessed with the likes of Destiny's Child and Eve. In terms of new artist, I've been loving Ellie Goulding's new single and I'm really loving chart music. Saying that, I've not really sat into an album - I love The Maccabees - I know the tracks but you know when you actually fully listen to an album, I've not done that for ages -

J: I liked The Maccabees' new album as well. But Foals' new album in great, Bring Me The Horizon, Don Bronco's new album and I like Drake's new album too, even.

Finally, if you weren't involved in the band, what could you see yourself doing instead?

J: I'd probably be trying to start a band in all honesty [laughs] I'm not really good at anything else!

M: I was studying to be a quantity surveyor before I got into music and got about three, four years into my qualification - not that I'd ever want to - but I have left it to the point where I could fall back on that.

J: I used to work in a school, so I could probably go back and do that too. I'm really annoyed that I didn't have a sh*t job that I could have just quit and slapped my manager round the face [laughs]

M: Yeah, we've had some woeful jobs as a band, haven't we: I've worked in Millie's Cookies, B&Q. Chris has worked in Homebase - 

J: I've worked in Primark - I hated it. I lasted about three weeks there. I phoned up and I said "I'm not coming in today. I'm not coming back ever." - It was honestly, just so bad! We'll never get free clothes from now, will we [laughs]. 

A massive thank you to James and Martin for letting me interview them! Why not have a listen to them?

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